Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Difficult Questions, Easy Answers.
Graves, Robert. (1973).
Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co.
Description: First American
edition, x + 213 pages.
Contents: Foreword, 25
Excerpt(s): Another variety
of the amanita muscaria grows south of the fortieth parallel,
with the pine as its host-tree, and is equally hallucinogenic.
That it was ritually used in Biblical times is suggested by an
unwritten Hebrew taboo on mushrooms, broken only by the non-orthodox.
(Arabs, by the way, are mycophagous, which perhaps
accounts for the mushroom eating in those parts of Southern Europe
occupied by the Saracens during the early Middle Ages.) I have
elsewhere suggested that the golden `ermrods' laid up in the Ark
together with a pot of hallucinogenic manna really represented
sacred mushrooms. A concealed reference to their use appears in
the Book of Judges: the unlikely story of how Samson collected
three hundred foxes and sent them into the
Philistine's cornfields [grainfields] with torches tied to their
tails. The Palestinian fox is not gregarious and
the task of capturing three hundred of them, at the rate of one
or two a day, and feeding them all until he had collected the
full number would have been a senselessly exhausting one. Besides,
how could he make sure that the foxes would run into the cornfields
and keep the torches alight? The truth seems to be that Samson
organized a battalion of raiders-three hundred was the conventional
Hebrew battalion strength, as appears in the story of Gideon-and
sent them out with torches to burn the Philistine's corn. Indeed,
in the 1948 Jewish War of Liberation,
a raiding battalion was named `Samson's Foxes.' But why foxes?
Because the juice of the amanita muscaria mushrooms (which
still grow under the pines of Mount Tabor) could be laced with
ivy juice or wine to make the raiders completely fearless, and
because this variety, when dried, is fox-colored. So are other
mushrooms, such as the popular chanterelle which the Russians
call lisichka, `little fox'; but to clarify its meaning
the Bible specifies `little foxes with fire on their tails'. In
the Song of Solomon the Shunemite bride, about to take
part in a sacred marriage, urges her lover to fetch her `the little
foxes that spoil the vines, for my vines have tender grapes'.
She means Solomon must fortify his manhood with mushroom-juice
laced with wine, the better to enjoy her young beauty.
Why mycophobes called mushrooms
`toad's bread' or `toad stools' can readily be
explained. When the toad is attacked or scared the warts on its
back exude bufogenin, the poison secreted in the white
hallucinogenic warts of the amanita muscaria. In ancient
Greece the toad was the emblem of Argos, the leading state of
the Peloponese, the emblems of the other two states being also
connected with the mushroom: namely fox and serpent. The division
into states had been made by a legendary king named Phoroneus,
which seems a form of Phryneus, meaning `Toad-man'. The capital
city was Mycenae (`Mushroom City') said to have
been built by Phoroneus' successor Perseus (`the
destroyer') who, according to Pausanicus, had
found a mushroom growing on the site beside a spring of water.
The toad was also the emblem of Tlaloc, the Mexican God of Inspiration,
and appears surrounded by mushrooms in an Aztec mural painting
of Tlalocan, his Paradise. (Chapter 8, Mushrooms
and Religion, pages 101-102)
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