Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The End of the Road.
Allegro, John M. (1971).
London: MacGibbon & Kee.
Description: Hardcover, second printing, 184 pages.
Contents: Preface, 12 chapters.
Excerpt(s): In the New Testament, similarly, we have at the beginning of the strange work called 'The Revelation to John' a clear portrayal of the red-capped Amanita muscaria seen under the macroscopic influence of its drugs:
. . . in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow, his eyes were like a flame of fire . . . his face was like the sun shining in full strength (Rev I, 13-16).
The reader will be well aware of the shape most recognized as characteristic of the mushroom or toadstool, to give it one of its very many folk-names. Above ground is the stem bearing on its top the umbrella-shaped canopy, or cap. Amanita muscaria's most distinctive feature is the red canopy flecked with white spots or 'warts', and this fungus is the one most pictured in nursery storybooks as the home of elves and goblins. The 'warts' are in fact the broken fragments of the 'volva' or outer skin of the 'egg' from which it develops. Before its expansion, which can be extremely rapid, the fungus looks like a pigeon's egg half-buried in the soil, and indeed one of the oldest Semitic names given to the sacred mushroom was 'egg.' . . .
Since it appeared often after storms, they thought that the heavenly deity must have fertilized the virgin by his word in thunder. The resultant baby mushroom, which grew into the shape of its divine father as a small erect penis, was thus in a special way a 'Son of God', and was called 'Son of Thunder'. The expression of these old fancies in the Virgin Mary and Immaculate Conception myth of the New Testament will be easily recognizable. The name 'Son of Thunder' appears as a nickname given to two of Jesus's disciples, James and John, the so-called Boanerges brothers (Mark 3, 17). In the text, 'Sons of Thunder' appears as a translation of the strange and hitherto inexplicable 'Boanerges'. (pages 32-34)
The essential truth of the Christian and Essene claims that they were the inheritors of the religion of ancient Israel may now be affirmed. The old Israelitish cult and mythology, the Yahweh-worship, the patriarchal legends, the sojourn in Egypt, and so on, are rooted in the religion of the sacred fungus, developed from the underlying fertility philosophy of the ancient Near East. Later Judaism purged itself of the old cult, then religiously unfashionable and politically dangerous, abandoned its secrets to small bodies of the faithful prepared to face persecution by the authorities, accepted the mythology as history, reoriented their theology around these 'acts of God' and came to terms with the secular powers. The same pattern was repeated with the Christians. The mushroom cult was driven even further underground, its adherents facing hideous tortures in the pursuit of their religious ideas, and there emerged an organization which accepted the historicity of their own myth, founded their Faith upon its hero as if he had really existed, and saw in his life, death and resurrection a crucial act of God in the history of mankind. This 'new Christianity' became not only socially acceptable, but part of the secular authority, and in due course its armies ruled a large part of the civilized world. (pages 38-39)
The New Testament is, as now we can realize, the cryptically written aide-memorie of the mushroom worshippers. The 'Jesus', like the 'Dionysus' of the related Bacchic religion, is but a personification of sacred fungus, the 'smeared' or anointed, the 'christ', the phallic representative of the ancient fertility god Yahweh/Zeus. His story recounted so vividly in the Gospels was never meant to be read as history by the communities to whom the writings were sent. But embedded in the tale and in the reported words of the legendary teacher were those secret, all-powerful names whose recitation was of such importance for the continuation of the sect's influence, and the freeing or 'salvation' of the souls of the initiates. (page 42)
What happens, then, if the supreme act of God's self-revelation, the Incarnation, turns out to be a hoax? Can Christianity exist without Christ? Is the moral teaching of the New Testament really so authoritative if its author was only a word-juggling cryptographer mainly intent on conveying the secrets of a mushroom cult? The Church has constantly to remind its faithful that the Creed was not founded upon the Sermon on the Mount but on the Incarnation. (page 46)
The Church's theologians have always appreciated that the unique contribution of the Faith has been in its adoration of the god-man Jesus, not his teachings. If the 'Son of God' turns out to have been originally a mushroom, bearer of the 'Word of God', considered to be the semen of the divine penis, does it really matter what the Church later preached as the Gospel, if they had been so mistaken about the historical basis of their faith? Does it matter if the supreme symbol of God's passion for mankind, the Cross, was originally but a representation of the mushroom and, like the fungus, signified the copulation of penis and vulva as the central sacrament of an age-old fertility cult? Can traditional church worship and ceremonial ever be the same if the processional of priests and servers, headed by a cross, down the nave to the alter is now to be recognized as symbolical of the passage of the male organ through the vagina? Can the mystic rite of the eucharist, when the body and blood of the Christ is chewed and imbibed by the celebrant, ever again achieve the same spiritual potency when it is know to be a pale substitute for the partaking of the sacred fungus, whose drug could raise the perceptive levels of the subject to heights beyond normal comprehension? Can a tasteless wafer and watery wine match the ambrosia and nectar of Amanita muscaria? In short, can the towering pinnacle of ecclesiastical dogma and authority rest securely on a complete misapprehension of their origins? (page 47).
The fact is that we have reached a crisis in the affairs of western civilization on two fronts. Just at a time when scientific progress threatens us with over-population and a deepening of the rift between rich and poor, the religious sanctions which might have held the situation long enough for the devising of a long-term solution to the economic and social problems are in danger of breaking down completely in mass disillusionment. On the speed of our reaction to this state of affairs depends the future of mankind. . . . If we can resist the initial impulse to waste time bemoaning the passing of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, we might discover that the common sense that inspired the more practical of their precepts could still serve to produce useful answers to some of our more pressing social and personal problems. We have, in short, reached the end of a road: what lies beyond, chaos or social harmony rests very largely in our own hands. (pages 48-49)
We may probably seek the origin of part at least of the very real fear of the angels of darkness in the extreme dangers into which drug-taking led the initiates of the mystery cults. The aim of the exercise was, as we have said, the release of the soul from the body so that it could fly away to heaven and experience hallucinations beyond the realm of normal perception. But as we are only too well aware these days, this drug-taking is a dangerous and extremely foolish practice. Worshippers of the sacred fungus chewed a mushroom which, although fairly harmless in small quantities, can be fatal in large doses. We are told by modern observers that the Siberian devotees of the mushroom cult dried the tops of the Amanita muscaria in the sun or over a hearth, and were than able to take between three and ten at one time without deadly effect. But three fresh fungi was said to be sufficient to kill a man. (page 61)
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