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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.

ISBN: 0-385-04469-0

Description: First American edition, x + 213 pages.

Contents: Foreword, 25 essays.

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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