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History of Entheogen Use


Importance of Historical Study of Entheogens. 1

Spiritual Plants in Religious History. 2

Scientific American: Intoxication at Delphi 3

News article: Bronze Age Drugs. 3

Entheogen references in the Book Christ Conspiracy. 4

Timothy Leary.  Need Full History of Entheogen Use. 6

Robust permutations of entheogen theories, new chronologies. 7


Importance of Historical Study of Entheogens


>I'm a big fan of Acharya S [The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold], Alan Watts [The Way of Zen, Beyond Theology, This Is It], [and entheogen historical researchers].

I'm glad some people are seriously interested in the history of mystery-religions and Watts' approach to religion, in addition to entheogens.  I shouldn't be surprised: you are not merely interested in current use and 20th-century history of entheogens, but rather, the complete history of entheogens, which goes much deeper than mere 20th century popcult history. 

The 20th century history is essentially a-historical research.  Such lack of true historical awareness has caused harm.  Prohibition, which is persecution-for-profit, depends on keeping people ignorant about the important role of entheogens throughout human history and culture. 

The 60s researchers made a pretty major mistake in emphasizing these materials as a modern innovation, and also in promoting the false assumption that Christianity is truly opposed to entheogen use.

>>proposing entheogenic ego-death allegories as the only sufficiently compelling alternative to the historical Jesus.

>>I thought that Barbara Thiering would be a little more open minded, she was quick to discredit the entheogen theory.

Thiering is not a Christ-myth theorist.  She believes in the Historical Jesus.  Her pescher theory of reading the gospels as encoded politics is impressively developed, but after a while, unconvincing because much too stiff and artificial. 

She is committed to the historical Jesus, therefore she would maintain that entheogens are not necessary to explain the origin of Christianity. 

Supernaturalists are out of the running now.  The entire debate is between the historical Jesus camp and the Christ-myth theorists.  You can count on the historical Jesus researchers to reject the entheogen theory as unnecessary, and you can count on the Christ-myth researchers to embrace the entheogen theory as the fitting explanation. 

I have discussed entheogens with the Christ-myth researchers, including those who have published books.  Generally, those who conclude that Jesus was a myth back-projected are very open to considering the entheogen theory of the origin of Christianity -- because if Christianity didn't begin by a famous miraculous bodily resurrection, entheogens provide a sufficiently compelling alternative: a mystery-religion experience of entheogenic ego-death and rebirth.

Acharya S (The Christ Conspiracy), Freke and Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries), and Earl Doherty (The Jesus Puzzle) have all told me that they consider at least some of my ideas on mystery-religions valuable.  I have been fully clear in proposing entheogenic ego-death allegories as the only sufficiently compelling alternative to the historical Jesus. 

I have only hesitated to write these authors further because I want to more firmly establish ownership of my ideas, to protect the integrity of the whole system I have been at pains to gather together.  If the world wants my ideas about entheogens, I also want to make available the ideas which I believe are related: mystery-religion allegories and the encounter with and transcending of fixed-future determinism. 

So I'm not going to trip over myself in a rush to give other active, established scholars a heads-up into encountering the full set of ideas.  I've invited them and this is an open discussion archive.  They now know a little about entheogens and know that the Christ myth research points to entheogens -- it points toward me; a search on "ego death" and entheogens delivers me to your web browser.  So does a search on "christ myth" and entheogen.

Andy wrote:

>That mistake did a lot of damage. I just hope to see the paradigm shift in my lifetime.  I fear that the "Jesus is Krishna, is Mithra..." loop will be the downfall of the Christian Church and the sacrament will remain hidden. That's why it's so important to spread the word about not only entheogens, but the 'Christ Conspiracy' as well.

>Some history and only be studied thru art, not text:



Michael Hoffman wrote:

>>The 60s researchers made a pretty major mistake in emphasizing these materials as a modern innovation, and also in promoting the false assumption that Christianity is truly opposed to entheogen use.

Spiritual Plants in Religious History

Andy wrote:

> my hobby is studying spiritual plants in religious history... Christianity mostly.

I like characterizing leading-edge research in the ultimate profundity as a mere "hobby".  My fundamentalist Protestant grandparents are involved in church services three times a week -- it is their hobby.


>The whole Christian trip really fascinates me, not just the "Eucharist Conspiracy" but how the story of the sun is hidden in the story of the son, yet it's right in your face all the time; or Moses and his entheogen - Manna.

Dan Merkur's new book is due out soon, on Judeo-Christian entheogen use - a "companion book" for Mystery of Manna.  I pre-ordered it through bn.com, not Amazon, because Amazon has consistently been unable to follow through on forthcoming or out of print books.  b-n has roots in brick-and-mortar stores, so may be better at working with distributors and used-book networks. 

Amazon warned me that Arthur Drews' book Legend of Saint Peter (Mithraic foundation of Vatican) will be delayed at least 4-6 weeks in addition to the 2 weeks I've been waiting.  b-n claims to be able to get the book to me much faster.

Scientific American: Intoxication at Delphi


Scientific American  August 2003

Questioning the Delphic Oracle: Overview / An Intoxicating Tale

John Hale, Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, Jeffrey Chanton and Henry Spiller

>>For the past century, scholars have discounted as myth the traditional explanation that vapors rising out of the earth intoxicated, and inspired, the prophesying priestesses at Delphi. Recent scientific findings show that this description was, in fact, extraordinarily accurate.

>>In particular, the authors have identified two geologic faults that intersect precisely under the site of the oracle. Furthermore, the petrochemical-rich layers in the limestone formations of the region most likely produced ethylene, a gas that induces a trancelike state and that could have risen through fissures created by the faults.

It would be a gross mistake to think that this use of chemical inebriation was an odd, isolated case in Hellenistic religion.  Hellenism (premodern religion-philosophy in general, in fact) was *normally* and *predominantly* a matter of visionary inebriation, from *many* sources of altering brain chemical states.  We should accept instances of religious chemical inebriation not into a framework of the *minimal* entheogen theory of religion; but rather, within a framework of the *maximal* entheogen theory of religion. 

We must not fall into the trap of using instances of entheogenic religion as evidence establishing the *minimal* entheogen theory of religion; use instances of entheogenic religion as evidence to establish the *maximal* entheogen theory of religion.

News article: Bronze Age Drugs

-----Original Message-----

From: TRoberts

Sent: Thursday, August 08, 2002

To: maps-forum

Subject: Bronze Age Drugs

Scientists Study Bronze Age Drugs


.c The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) - A thriving Bronze Age drug trade supplied narcotics to ancient cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean as balm for the pain of childbirth and disease, proving a sophisticated knowledge of medicines dating back thousands of years, researchers say.

Ancient ceramic pots, most of them nearly identical in shape and about five inches long, have been found in tombs and settlements throughout the Middle East, dating as far back as 1,400 B.C., said Joe Zias, an anthropologist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

The drugs were probably used as medicine and the finds are helping researchers better understand how ancient people treated illness and disease.

``It's a window to the past that many people are unaware of,'' Zias told a recent conference in Israel on DNA and archaeology. ``Here's something used in prehistoric times and it's used until today.''

When turned upside down, the thin-necked vessels with round bases resemble opium poppies pods. If there was any doubt about what was inside, the round bases have white markings, designs that symbolized knife cuts made on poppies bulbs so the white opium base can ooze and be harvested, Zias said.

The Mycenaean ceramics were analyzed with a procedure called gas chromatography that turned up traces of opium.

Hundreds of the pots have been found and they commonly show up in the hands of antiquities dealers in places like Jerusalem's Old City. ``Give me an hour there and I could find you 10 of them,'' Zias said.

Based on ancient Egyptian medical writings from the 3rd millennium B.C., researchers believe opium and hashish - a smokable drug that comes from the concentrated resin from the flowers of hemp plants - were used during surgery and to treat aches and pains and other ailments. Hashish was also used to ease menstrual cramps and was even offered to women during childbirth.

Based on Egyptian writings, archaeologists believe the opium was eaten rather than smoked.

The drugs are part of a medical record that shows the ancients were far more advanced than most people realize, Zias said, noting evidence that European people did cranial surgery as long as 10,000 years ago, while the Romans left records of 120 surgical procedures.

Mark Spigelman, a Zias colleague at Hebrew University, found one of the poppy-shaped ceramic pots from the middle Bronze Age in Siqqura, a Giza cemetery near the pyramids outside of Cairo during a dig four years ago. The pot, found in an 18th Egyptian Dynasty grave, was identical to other pots found throughout ancient Israel and the Middle East.

``These guys were selling opium all over the Middle East,'' Spigelman said. ``This is the original Medellin cartel, 3,500 years ago,'' he said in a joking reference to the violent Colombian cocaine cartel.

It seems more likely, however, that the ancient trade was run by respected healers rather than violent drug lords.

``We know for sure these things were used for medical purposes,'' Zias said. ``The question is whether they were used for recreational purposes.''

In an archaeologically rich area of central Israel, Zias found another clue. While excavating a tomb from the late Roman period in the town of Beit Shemesh 10 years ago, he found the skeleton of a 14-year-old girl who died in childbirth around 390 A.D. On her stomach was a fleck of a burnt brownish, black substance.

``I thought it was incense,'' Zias said. But when he had it analyzed by police and chemists at Hebrew University, it turned out to be a seven gram mixture of hashish, dried seeds, fruit and common reeds.

Seven glass vessels containing traces of the drug were found near the skeleton. She probably used them to inhale the smoky cocktail to aid her delivery. Medical researchers have found that other than relaxing the user, hashish increases the force and frequency of contractions in women giving birth; and it was used in deliveries until the 19th century, after which new drugs were developed.

But it didn't help this girl, who was only 4 feet 6 inches tall. She bled to death.

The drug was an extremely rare find. Organic compounds quickly decay, but because this one had been burned it was carbonized and preserved.

``It's the first time it's ever been found in terms of direct evidence in an archaeological dig,'' Zias said. ``You rarely find direct evidence of drugs in antiquity.''

08/07/02 13:52 EDT

Entheogen references in the Book Christ Conspiracy

The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Acharya S


Sep. 1999

Page - theme

114 - Osiris as plant of truth eaten in communion

186 - venom inebriation to induce prophetic and hallucinatory trances

203 - datura, opium, 'wine' with spices - in sacred king tradition

270 - eating sweet scrolls followed by visions in Ezekiel & Revelation, "it has been suggested that these scrolls represented hallucinogenic drugs, which were commonly used in mystery schools and secret societies."

275-276 - introduction to the sex and drugs section. 'God-given' sacramental drugs as avenue to the divine, paths to "God" or Cosmic Consciousness, gifts from "God", to create union with the divine, use of drugs as part of the esoteric religious or "mysteries", these "sacraments" constituted a significant part of the mysteries, many schools and cults used drugs in their initiation rites, there have been a number of pro-drug rituals, esoteric Judaism and Christianity used these rites and rituals; need to utilize these powerful devices wisely, the "instruction manual" of initiation, entheogens as generating God. 

Puts down "the potent extracted chemicals causing such turmoil today" (I strongly object to that view which Dan Russell holds as well.  For example, LSD may very well exist in nature, and natural-potency Mescaline and Psilocybin can be as strong as extracted chemicals.  I believe Jonathan Ott has a more neutral view, which I consider enlightened.)

293-295 - main section on drugs.  Strong defense of ancient widespread tradition of visionary plants ("opium, cannabis, hashish, sacred plants, herbs, amanita, fungi") in religious practice.  Plants as teaching-gods, for initiation, spiritual physicians, Therapeuts, medicinal herbs.  Alcohol is "truly drugging and stupefying, whereas entheogens, including the "magic mushroom, " have the ability to increase awareness and acuity".  "Much of the world's sacred literature incorporated the mushroom in an esoteric manner"... "manna from heaven" as psychedelic. 

"In fact, Allegro's suggestion that "Jesus" was a mushroom god is not implausible, considering how widespread was the pre-Christian Jesus/Salvation cult and how other cultures depict their particular entheogens as "teachers" and "gods."  However, this mushroom identification would represent merely one aspect of the Jesus myth and Christ conspiracy, which, as we have seen, incorporated virtually everything at hand, including sex and drugs, widely perceived in pre-Yahwist, pre-Christian cultures as being "godly."" - p. 294

Acharya's views on entheogens are also online:


It's interesting how little this view is integrated into the bulk of Christ Con, which portrays astrotheology as based in the ordinary state of consciousness, even if it's "esoteric knowledge" and a matter of "initiation".  The entheogen topic is practically cordoned off as though in an appendix. 

It's also surprising how isolated her portrayal of the astrology approach is from related topics (eg gematria), topics covered by Fideler.  A mono-dimensional emphasis results -- not a balanced coverage that reflects the diversity of views that were integrated in the ancient way of thinking.

Jesus Christ, Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism

David Fideler


>The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold

>Acharya S


>Sep. 1999

Picture her portrayal of how astrotheology was taught, but now assume a framework of 7 entheogenic initiation sessions running through the astrology lessons.  *That* is the key difference and now we understand what it was really about.

>Acharya's views on entheogens are also online:


>It's interesting how little this view is integrated into the bulk of Christ Con, which portrays astrotheology as based in the ordinary state of consciousness, even if it's "esoteric knowledge" and a matter of "initiation". The entheogen topic is practically cordoned off as though in an appendix.

>>The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold

>>Acharya S


>>Sep. 1999

Timothy Leary.  Need Full History of Entheogen Use

The biggest, most serious error in studies of drug prohibition in the 20th century is that they have an incomplete, isolated historical perspective.  Even recent writings by one of Leary's Harvard cohorts imply that entheogens, or "psychedelics", are a 20th century novelty.  It's crucial that we look at the *entire* history of psychoactives to discover that using them is historically normal, and treating their use as deviant is actually an odd, deviant view that has not been dominant in most places in most eras.

Any future studies of the 60s psychedelic movement must cover the entire history of psychoactive use as well.  Without doing so, we end up with the half-baked attitude on the part of their supposed defenders that entheogens can on occasion be an adequate artificial simulation of the mystic state. 

That mentality has everything completely upside-down; drug-free mysticism rather is the occasionally adequate artificial simulation of the normal, sure, and traditional way of accessing the mystic state.  See the books (available at Mind Books; http://www.promind.com ):

Brief History of Drugs

Dan Russell: Shamanism and Drug Propaganda

James Arthur: Mushrooms and Mankind

Clark Heinrich: Strange Fruit

Jonathan Ott: The Age of Entheogens

Dan Merkur: Mystery of Manna

Dan Merkur: The Psychedelic Sacrament: Manna, Meditation, and Mystical Experience -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/089281862X

http://www.egodeath.com/entheogenbooks.htm - (I think I wrote a better email list of such books, to update this page)

>Please send as far and wide as possible.


>Robert Sterling

>Editor, The Konformist


>Note: This may be a bit late, but that it has been released is because, after nearly two years, The Konformist is finally hitting the right direction financially.



>Konformist of the Century

>Timothy Leary

Robust permutations of entheogen theories, new chronologies

The existence of the years 600-900 or Charlemagne may or may not interfere with the entheogen hypothesis.  There are two versions of the entheogen hypothesis, one aligned with the conventional chronology, and one aligned with the new chronology.  The field of new chronology is brand new, so new that it doesn't really exist in English.  And my study of the field is brand new. 

There is now a question of *whether* the new chronology offers stronger support for the entheogen theory of religion.  The new chronology clearly offers a *chance* of increasing the support for the entheogen theory of religion.

There are various reasons for entheogen scholars to consider the new chronology.  The greater the number of radical theories we know, the larger our conceptual vocabulary, enabling picking and choosing the choicest elements from each perspective, resulting in a highly stable and viable interpretive framework.

I am currently not so interested in the simple proposal of adjusting our calendars to close a 300-year gap.

A current question is, all the Renaissance Western Esotericists (alchemy, magic, astrology, Hermeticism) -- did they possess the New Testament, or were the Pauline epistles, the gospels, and the "early" Church Fathers all written and backdated in an effort around 1500 to forcibly corral all the quasi-Gnostics -- including dualistic Cathars -- of the Renaissance era?

To investigate how strong of an entheogen theory is possible with the conventional chronology versus with the new chronology, we must define the two proposed systems side by side, clarifying them both.  We can define multiple variants of the entheogen theory of religion, multiple chronology theories, and multiple theories about dating the supposed "early" Christian writings and about the historicity of New Testament figures and other figures. 

We must study all of the following subjects:

o  Comparative chronology theories.

o  Quasi-historical literature and forgery.

o  Evaluating historicity.

o  Various entheogen theories of religion.

o  Different theories of metaphysical determinism.

o  Different theories of Western esotericism.

o  Different theories of the mystery religions and banquet traditions.

There are myriad odd aspects of today's history of esotericism.  There was supposedly a whole world of activity, then a long, complete darkness, and then suddenly, the exact same whole world of esoteric traditions springs back to life.  Esotericism in general has timeless similarities, but some similarities are odd and too perfect, such as the Catholic priests and the Jewish priests, both blocking the way to mystic experience. 

I've been fully satisfied with following my gut feeling of plausibility on these matters -- it's the only way to break out from one paradigm into another.  After reading a handful of books on Christian history, I looked back at felt a mysterious missing period: the blank ages, the crayon scribbling book period, not convincingly drawn.

The entheogen theory rests on thin ground, and solid ground.  There never seems to be enough evidence of it, and the thesis depends on claiming that visionary plants were always kept hidden by those who liked them. 

One reason I am attracted to discussing Rush rather than other groups as an acid rock band, is that there is no dispute regarding Led Zeppelin's use of drugs; there is no surprise, no paradigm shifting, no news there.  But fans today think that Rush was somehow different, the lone exception of the drug-soaked post-60s, 1970s.  The drug topic is more interestingly hidden in Rush than in the obviously drug-cultured bands.

Telling a drastically different story about chronology enables telling some drastically different stories about the entheogen theories of religion.  Per Edwin Johnson, attended to now by Uwe Topper, the Roman Empire was not (2000-500=) 1500 years ago, but instead was only 800 years ago.  (The years 700-1400 didn't exist, so subtracted a 700-year phantom interval.) 

Christianity is a very recent invention of around 1500 (500 years ago, not 2000 years ago) that projected a literary illusion of the Roman Empire being a long time ago and projecting Church history way back onto that time.  The Roman Empire leaps 700 years nearer to our time.  The origin of the Church, the pseudo-"early" Church Father writings, and the epistles and gospels, leaps from happening 1900 or 1600 years ago, to happening just 500 years ago. 

"Ancient" Rome with its mystery-religions leaps nearer to our time, and Church origins leap even nearer.  Much more or tighter continuity is suggested by a time period too brief for much variation, explaining why the Western esotericism just prior to the 1500s was so strangely similar to the forms of esotericism on the other side of the supposed period called the Dark Ages.

So far, I don't see the entheogen theory or theories as being dependent on other variants of other theories, such as whether we reasonably conclude there was a single historical individual warranting the label of "the historical Jesus" or "the historical Paul".  Even if Jesus pops into existence, the fact remains that entheogens run circles around other methods of inducing the mystic state, in terms of ergonomics and efficiency, and that the surest candidate for the main wellspring of religion is entheogens, not meditation or contemplation.

The entheogen argument can and should be won against all paradigmatic backdrops or frameworks of interpretation.  The environment is what you care about?  Then you should advocate legalization of all drugs.  Literalist religion is what you care about?  Jesus administered the sacrament as hierophant.  Mystic experiencing?  See entheogens.  Gnosticism?  Drink a cup of mind.  Health is your concern?  Medical cannabis is the best cause.

The entheogen argument should not be founded on the cornerstone of the historical Jesus, or on the cornerstone of conventional chronology.  The entheogen theory of religion must be developed and strengthened against the backdrop of myriad frameworks and paradigms.


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