>The Eucharist is a ritual, but not really a "mystery".
"The" Eucharist? Some gnostics held that there was a regular Eucharist and a secret Eucharist: the sacrament of apolytrosis. More scholars should try to form hypotheses about the latter. Were the Mysteries multi-leveled, or not? Were they only figuratively multi-leveled? The Literalist authorities claimed the Christian mysteries had one level only, the revealed level revealed in plain sight in Literal Christ for all the world -- to claim there was also a higher Christian mystery, a higher Eucharist, was pronounced anathema at some point.
We need more investigation of the debate over whether there was a hidden mystery in the Christian mystery-religion, or if it was a mystery religion that had no hidden mystery -- or, we need to find how the early Christians thought about the "mystery" aspect of the Christian "mystery religion". Not simply whether Christianity was or wasn't a mystery religion, but rather, how to properly conceive of the "mystery" aspect of the early Christian religion -- or should we say, religions?
The latter construction, "the early Christian religions", emphasizes the important fact of original diversity, against the simplistic Literalist writing of the origin of Christianity with Jesus as single point of origin, with Literalism being "normal" and Gnostic rites being a deviation. A study of competing paradigms is in order.
One camp says there is only one Eucharist and the mystery has been openly revealed and Literalism is normal and traditional; the other camp says there is a lower and higher Eucharist, and the mystery is hidden, and Gnosticism (esotericism) is normal and traditional. The mainstream presses printed histories of Christianity suited to the Literalist paradigm; the "Buried Scroll Press" provides histories of Christianity that are suited to the Gnostic/esoteric paradigm.
Was early Christianity a mystery religion that had no hidden mystery, but was fully revealed in the Historical Jesus, the godman literally incarnate?
Or, was early Christianity, as the suppressed Gnostics claimed, truly a mystery religion with a lower and higher level? The proposition that there was no HJ fits naturally with the proposition that early Christianity was truly a mystery religion with a lower and higher level, and concomitantly, with more than a single level of Eucharist.
The official Church doctrine of the Eucharist makes the biggest possible *claims* for their Eucharist, but do these claims effectively describe the reality of the Eucharist the Church provides? I would call them hollow claims, borrowed language, forced assertions. Such a Eucharist is used in a superficially styled mystery ritual -- but there are genuine rituals and empty rituals; hallowed rituals and hollowed rituals.
Imagine building a giant cathedral on a foundation, and then eliminating that foundation. Imagine a Hellenistic mystery ritual that was continued but without its most important part. The result would be a dry run, a mock ritual, a simulation, a cargo-cult imitation of mystery ritual. The surface use of mystery ritual is empty ritual, empty claims, a mystery-ritual shell -- a mystery-religion *styled* exoteric ritual.
The exoteric can emphatically clothe itself in esotericism, but that doesn't make it esotericism. You end up with a commercialized, neutered product rather than the authentic thing. It's fake mystery ritual, not genuine mystery ritual. The exoteric, Literalist religion has always tried to steal esoteric authenticity from the esoterics and discredit the esoterics: for example, one Christian Literalist called today's experiential mystic Christians "literalist" who rejected the "esoteric spirituality" -- by which he means the brain-twisting orthodox abstract theology.
The Literalists remove primary religious experiencing, then try to "rationally explain" Christianity, resulting in abstract theology, then dub that abstract theology "spirituality" and "true esotericism". The Eastern Orthodox church doesn't make that move, so much; their theology is more integrated with input from first-hand mystic experiencing, with more room for primary religious experiencing -- instead of the ultimate, desperate Catholic/Protestant move of portraying the *abstractness* of theology as itself the substance of esoteric religion. Portraying theological abstractness as the true and correct kind of religious experiencing is a propellerhead theologian travesty of esotericism.
How are we to think of Jesus? First of all, we must know something about religious experiencing, before we can even understand what it means to propose that Jesus was originally considered a Hellenistic godman who was encountered in religious experiencing. The Literalist church designed by Eusebius made strong claims that the Eucharist is the literal flesh of Jesus.
In studying whether Jesus existed in the flesh, incarnate, it is relevant to study the meaning of the Eucharist (the Eucharist provided through the Church), which was emphasized as the incarnate flesh of the savior -- and to ask whether the early Christians agreed with the insistence of the official church, that there was only a single Eucharist rather than a higher sacrament as well.
Why does the church put such stress on its Eucharist's saving power, and its identity with the flesh of Jesus? Does the church protest too much, making too big of a theological scene out of what it has to offer in its Eucharist? Big advertising claims often push a product that doesn't deserve such fanfare. What compelling alternative mystery rituals were the Literalist official, government-driven church competing against, in their propaganda assault, ad campaign, and loud claims for their product?
The book The Gnostic Paul, by Elaine Pagels, covers the one- versus two-eucharist contention.
Was there a single, distinctive man who instituted the Eucharist? Was there a man who, prior to crucifixion as a rebel king against Caesar, told his followers "This wine is my blood, drink it in commemoration of me?" Recall that his blood was caught in this same cup from his pierced side, while he was on the cross, according to popular legend.
The Eucharist, which we should key to the idea of "mixed wine", has always been considered the most central, important element of Christian liturgy and rites. But the cross is central. In this conversation we must consider whether we should expand "the cross" to "the king on the cross after drinking mixed wine." What is the Cross in Western culture?
There are two mistakes regarding Christianity as religion: under- or over-stating it as religion. Those who discover the political resistance motive in the formation of early Christianity omit the truly religious, religious-experiencing aspect. Of course Christianity had that -- it *had* to, to compete against the other religions and the Ruler Cult and the soldiers' Mithraism. And it was so easy, there was no reason not to.
We misgauge primary religious experiencing: it's essential, but it's not a scarce or mysterious feature at all; rather, it was as common as dirt -- it was a given starting point for all religions. As Freke and Gandy explain, the ancients had a different physiology, so that their mixed wine affected them much more intensely than wine affects us moderns.
All the religions had direct, intense religious experiencing on tap -- this is a mundane given and could not be a differentiator of the religions of the era. Christianity did *not* provide some higher religious experiencing than the other sacramental religions. Then why was it popular? What differentiated it? The central emphasis on the *political* allegory domain.
The Eucharistic mixed wine was the center of Christianity *as religious experience* but the political allegory domain was the center of Christianity as a popular movement -- the other allegory domains were needed only to bolster the main, political allegory domain that was the unique source of popularity.
It's a mistake to omit primary religious experiencing from early Christianity, but also a mistake to assume that Xy provided any more intense religious experiencing than any other religion of the era, and a mistake to think of that intense religious experiencing as being something rare and hard to come by; it was rather, as common as dirt, and not much use for differentiating Christianity.
Christianity wasn't popular because of its ability to deliver intense primary religious experiencing -- every religion of the day was able to provide that. The socio-political aspect of Christianity and the political allegory-domain was more central for the popularity of Christianity than the mystic-experiencing allegory domain.
The Jewish religion had something the popular underclass wanted (resistance to the Empire) and something they didn't want (rules, regulations, and requirements). The popular underclass took what they wanted from it and harnessed and utilized and distorted the earlier Jewish religion; they co-opted the Jewish religion as a socio-political weapon against the system of Caesar.
When the system of Caesar counter-co-opted Christianity later, the Jewish religion was further utilized, distorted, abused, and demonized.
The socio-political part of Christianity *utilized* the other parts, including the "primary religious experiencing" part. Rodney Stark, Burton Mack, and Michael Conley are correct in seeing the socio-political part of Christianity, rather than primary religious experiencing, as the main driving factor behind the popularity of Christianity relative to other religions of the day.
However, the socio-political part heavily utilized allegory that intertwined mystic experiencing and political allegory. Christianity probably wouldn't have been popularly respectable without providing the same intensity of primary religious experiencing all the other religions of the day did, but this was more like one of the prerequisites than the winning distinctive factor.
What did Christianity deliver that the other religions didn't? Not religious experiencing, but instead, socio-political relevance for the popular underclass. Christianity didn't win because of its greater religious experience, or because of supernatural wonders or belief in them.
It won because it, and only it, was built up as a reaction to the build-up of the Ruler Cult; many religions allegorized the mystic state as affixing a godman to the physical realm, but only Christianity picked a physical object that was a potent sign determinedly set against the system of Caesar.
The distinctive essense of early popular Christianity was that it was the religion of anti-Caesar, anti-Empire -- and the Jewish religion was much more popular than admitted, because it too was obstinately and tangibly anti-Caesar. Christianity was not first of all about the supernatural, nor about superior religious experiencing, but rather, socio-political resistance to the system of Caesar, honor and shame, and inflation of Ruler Cult.
>The sacred mushroom and the cross; a study of the nature and origins of Christianity within the fertility cults of the ancient Near East
>by John Marco Allegro
>13 copies, from $22
>Book list: The entheogen theory of religion
I don't want to give the impression that I am recommending the above book - read my Amazon review. You might be happier with a few other books such as the above list, or this that I should've mentioned together with it:
Book list: Mythic-only Christ theory
He has another relevant book:
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth
by John Marco Allegro
I'm reading that but haven't managed to form a clear picture of its gist. Amazon has reviews, but too many reviews are by people who haven't read other books on the subject. What we need to know is what Allegro's exact position is regarding the mythical nature of Jesus and Christianity, *compared to* the other books on the subject.
Too many reviews are newbie "gee whiz, Christianity originally wasn't literalistic!" expressions of what readers such as I have already come to take for granted. All I need to know is what light this book shines on that thesis or given framework or area. Of course literalist Christianity is totally false and Christianity was originally mythic-only -- the question for assessing this book is, what does this book contribute to that historical revision?
After filtering out the "gee whiz" newbie noise, the reviews communicate that the book is about the following:
Parallels between the Qumran cult's "Teacher of Righteousness"
A kind of Davidian enhancement to the Jesus legend
Jewish patriarchal typecasting is like the Jesus figure
Strains of the messianic spirituality nurtured at Qumran made their way into the early Church
The Teacher of Light may or may not be Jesus
There was an air of expectancy around the time of Jesus
The religious background of the Essenians and other Near-East cults
The New Testament episodes were evoked by mushrooms' consumption and not by real events
Provides an analysis of gnostic beliefs; describes the rituals and beliefs of gnostic movements
The tales of Christ were symbolic lessons told by a group of former Essenians
Doesn't talk about many similarities between Christian beliefs and the cults of Dyonisus and Mithras
An ancient parchment of the Gospel of Marcos was found in Qumran
Many of the beliefs of the Essenians resemble early Christianity
The Teacher of Righteousness life reminds us of the Jesus' tale
Explores the rituals and life in Qumran
The Christian tales appeared after the fall of Qumran, when the group dispersed itself
Some people adopted the Christian beliefs without understanding the mystic order of these tales, thought them to be literally true
Allegro is a recognized scholar, whose knowledge of ancient languages remains one of the best among archaelogists
He bases his thesis on evidence, doesn't create absurd historical events (like Kersten [_The Christ Conspiracy_, w/ recuperative escape from the cross?])
See the Ancient World through the eyes and words of John Allegro; gives us an interesting perspective; shows another way of looking at the Christian problem
There are at least 3 realms to study in finding how Jesus came in the flesh: he comes in the divine plants (entheogen theory); he comes as an alternative to divine rulers (Rule Cult/emperor worship, sacred kings); he descends and incarnates into people (essentially Platonism). The entire issue of Jesus' historicity can be encapsulated as a docetism debate: was Jesus only spiritual, or bodily as well? (But then, isn't Dionysus present in the flesh of divine plants, too?)
All three senses of being "present in the flesh" -- like a divine plant that causes mystic ascension, like a divine ruler (Caesar, son of god, savior/rescuer/redeemer of humanity from enemies and chaos, ~prince of peace), and like a Platonic principle in us -- are arguably of central relevance to the debate about the historical Jesus. The later, hierarchical, anti-gnostic Church had clear reasons to distort these senses of "Jesus in the flesh" into a literal historical person.
>[Allegro] bases his thesis on evidence, doesn't create absurd historical events (like Kersten)
That reviewer means the theory of the recuperative escape from the cross, nicely detailed and advocated by Holger Kersten in _The Jesus Conspiracy_, also known as the "swoon theory". My position is that the gospels are entirely and essentially mythic, and are no more based on a single historical Jesus than any work of fiction is "based on" and dependent on a single actual person. I'm currently ready to accept the shroud as that of Jacques de Molay.
The gospels *are* written to support the swoon theory, which was a standard plot device in Hellenistic literature. The gospels are fiction that deliberately supports a swoon reading -- but we can't say that there was a historical Jesus who actually swooned and that was misinterpreted as a miracle by his foolish followers.
The Jesus Conspiracy: The Turin Shroud and the Truth About the Resurrection
Holger Kersten, Elmar R. Gruber
Book list: The Swoon/Shroud/India theory of Jesus' death
Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition
Richard Smoley writes:
p. 156: "... there is a rich heritage of spiritual techniques and practices in Christianity, though it has often been buried or hidden. During a visit to the Greek peninsula of Mount Athos, the center of Orthodox monasticism, Jacob Needleman had a monk say to him, "I could tell you of things a thousand times better than your yoga." But, Needleman adds, "he never said more, not even when pressed by the stunned interpreter."(2) While we will never know what the monk had in mind, some of the inner practices of Christianity have begun to come to the surface again."
2 - Lost Christianity, p. 36
Lost Christianity: A Journey of Rediscovery to the Center of Christian Experience
Lost? Needleman and Smoley are the ones lost. The Holy Grail containing Christ's redeeming blood, and being his redeeming flesh, is where it has always been, fastened to the tree in the forest. Why not start here:
Gnosis magazine, issue #26 (Winter '93): Psychedelics & The Path
Richard Smoley, editor
And here, the final issue:
Gnosis magazine, issue #51 (Spring '99): The Grail
The question is not "Are entheogens present in Christian tradition," but rather, "How commonly are entheogens present in Christian tradition."
"The Highest Art", the story of a monk who uses LSD
The Highest Art: The Art of Combining Traditional Consciousness Techniques with Advancing Consciousness Technologies in Sacred Psychedelic Practice
By Brother Andrew H.
"The last twenty years of the last millennium I've lived largely in Catholic monasteries secretly using the sacred psychedelic, LSD-25, as part of my private spiritual practice. One could also say that as part of my sacred psychedelic practice, I used the monastic spiritual traditions. Either way, the fact is, the combination brings to light the best in both, and in truth, that best is the same in each one.""
The ultimate and best and only really legit form of Eucharist is the entheogenic form. Eucharistic doctrine is strongly formed and constrained and shaped by the entheogenic nature of the Eucharist. If there is an entheogen-shaped hole at the center of religion, this is truest of Eucharistic writings. Where does Christian doctrine come closest to the entheogenic truth? In the Eucharistic writings.
For example, the debate over the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is effortlessly solved by removing historical Jesus and replacing him by the entheogen as the true "logos/word made flesh". In *general*, it's very clear that true Christianity (and ancient and Judeo-Hellenistic religion in general) was and is centered around the entheogen -- that puzzle is solved, but a minor puzzle remains: why is there no *explicit* discussion of entheogens in the Christian writings?
Writings on Eucharist are clearly talking about the entheogen, but it's not clear why they always talk implicitly rather than explicitly. Suppressing the open discussion of the entheogenic nature of Eucharist and of Jesus "the drug of immortality", a financially profitable monopolistic franchise was established. Entheogens evidently were widely known and widely influential in Christian doctrine, but effectively suppressed.
Eucharist (Catholic authors)
Eucharist (Catholic authors II)
Lord's Supper (Prot., E. Orth, Ecum.)
The active eucharist that reveals the kingdom of God
I brainstormed about blowing all the doors wide open and taking entheogen theory of religion to the extreme. Now the question is, given that 100% extreme that all religion is all about using all the visionary plants in all eras in all regions, we're now able to fairly ask, what should we expect if we were able to plot out every incident of using visionary plants, by era and region and religious affiliation?
Given that entheogens -- or plants that can be used for visions -- have certainly been "very central and influential" in religion, the problem now is to specify in what way and to what extent they have been "central and influential". Essentially, we now know for a fact that entheogens are "very central and influential in religion", but the specifics are very spotty.
It's very early, for us in this era of scholarly research. We see shadows flitting this way and that, of entheogen use all throughout religious history, but it's hard to pin down exactly what percentage of the early Christian agape meals used entheogens, and though we can assume that many people read the lily of Mary's annunciation as Datura, it's still anybody's guess as to exactly what percentage of Catholics in the middle ages had experience with entheogens.
Like the current collapse of historical Jesus theories into futile empty conjecture and a meaningless, embarrassing overabundance of possible scenarios, we are so reduced to conjecturing: the work at hand is to struggle to even come up with a possible scenario for the use of entheogens throughout religious history. Most Buddhists are unable to even imagine any use of entheogens in Buddhism in any era.
Similarly, Christians find it literally unthinkable, the use of entheogens in a Christian religious framework in any era, whether 30-150 CE, 1000-1450 CE, or 1700-1875 CE. However, we do have concrete examples as a starting point, including the clearly entheogenic interaction of central America's indigenous religion with Catholicism. It feels like we're groping in the dark to lock onto any specifics, beyond the general certainty that Christianity has an entheogenic soul.
But we do have some bits of evidence and the potential to find more, enough to start forming a research framework that has some potential. History is often just this sort of pathetic guesswork of reconstruction -- and we've done really fairly well, thanks largely to discovering ancient scrolls and texts. On the other hand, conservative Christian scholarship continues to distort the historical research of the Christian and Gnostic past.
How does it help and hurt that I try to make an easy, giant, wholesale paradigm shift rather than separate small baby steps? Like Allegro combining no-historical-Jesus with entheogenic foundation of Christianity and a fertility-rite theory of Christian origins, I think it's easier, from the point of view of constructing a viable theory, to simultaneously abandon the historical Jesus assumption and adopt an entheogenic explanation of early Christianity -- and I have found this easiest when also thinking of Christian symbolism as allegories for no-free-will.
Most entheogenists think that the secret of Christian symbols is that "it's really all about entheogens". Actually, Christian myth is all about entheogens and the insights they bring about time, self, will, and control -- mystical theology where "mysticism" is defined as being essentially the entheogenic intense altered state and its insights and cognitive dynamics.
Holding onto devotional literalism when reading scriptures prevents the reader from getting the joke, from experiencing the transformation. Literalism prevents salvation, sending the reader onto a hazy search that only entrenches confused thinking which is the epitome of false followers of the religion.
Burton Mack's book Who Wrote the New Testament is a fascinating book that confirms many other skeptical revisionist findings, but the author, like Stark -- the sociology school of Christian origins -- thinks that "myth and ritual" explain the character of earliest Christianity; he similarly pictures the mystery religions as being based on a largely alien social psychology for which myth and ritual is effective, and thinks that talk of intense transformation is just inflated talk that describes ritual emotionalism.
Because Mack doesn't assume that Hellenistic religion had an entheogenic experiential basis, he misreads all of it down into the mundane realm of the social and the emotional. His theory is as good as it can be, given that he adheres for no apparent reason to the Historical Jesus assumption and is oblivious to the entheogenic basis of the religions of that era.
The Christian myth came together from so many different directions - Hellenistic hero, Jewish military messiah, Hellenistic godman, wisdom teacher, healer, miracle-worker -- with different books highlighting only a fraction of these themes. Given that evident thematic and mythic multiplicity, how is it possible to make any generalization about "the entheogenic metaphysical meaning of the Christ figure"?
That figure is an entire dynamic system that slips easily from one mode to another. To explain it, an equally dynamic system of explanation is needed.
>>the inherent drug found in Christianity is produced by Saccharomyces species and is known as wine...
In the Hellenistic era, "wine" denotes any psychoactive mixture in an alcohol-preserved solution.
>>I have not studied the use of psychoactive substances in religious practices of the ancients.
This book list covers the psychoactive origin of the major religions; see the bibliographies in these for more leads:
Book list: The entheogen theory of religion
I don't have a list of Web pages ready, covering specifically Jewish or Christian allusions to visionary plants. As far as I know, most research is available in books.
>>I don't recall reading any clear references in the OT or NT to [the use of psychoactive substances in religious practices of the ancients]. I would have thought that if drug use during religious celebrations were common that we would have more biblical references to them. Consider how many embarrassing episodes we do find there. Who would have edited out the drug references?
For those who want to find them, there are many Biblical references to drug use followed by religious visions. The Bible talks of eating scrolls followed by a visionary voyage, and of eating manna followed by seeing god, and of drinking 'wine' or eating bread given by Jesus followed by one's eyes being opened to recognize and perceive Jesus. It also talks about a king losing his kingdom after drinking 'wine' from a sacred cup captured from the Temple. It also talks about 'incense'.
See the above book list for additional notes. I have reviewed several at Amazon.
Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible
Chris Bennett, Neil McQueen
Especially points out the likely cannabis references in the Bible
Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy
Especially points out likely Amanita references in the Bible. Proposes ergot interpretations of the scriptures.
The Mystery of Manna: The Psychedelic Sacrament of the Bible
Contributes additional ergot interpretations of the scriptures.
The Psychedelic Sacrament: Manna, Meditation, and Mystical Experience
Proposes use of psychoactives by leading Jewish and Christian mystic-philosophers.
Marihuana: The Burning Bush of Moses
Studies entheogenic mysticism and the Bible.
The sacred mushroom and the cross; a study of the nature and origins of Christianity within the fertility cults of the ancient Near East
Covers possible Amanita references in the Bible.
Less scripture-focused books that are relevant to entheogens in Christianity:
The Age of Entheogens & The Angel's Dictionary
The first book in this volume (The Age of Entheogens, The Pharmacratic Inquisition, and The Entheogenic Reformation) covers the suppression of entheogens in official Christendom.
Mushrooms and Mankind: The Impact of Mushrooms on Human Consciousness and Religion
The Apples of Apollo: Pagan and Christian Mysteries of the Eucharist
Carl Ruck, Clark Heinrich, Blaise Staples
Covers entheogen references in Greco-Roman myth-religion
Possibly the most important periodical for research of the entheogenic origins of major religions.
Based on the reported effects, I have axiomatically concluded that in Greco-Roman culture, 'wine' refers to a visionary-plant mixture that has effects like psilocybin mushrooms. My future modelling or theorizing of Greco-Roman religion will be based on the axiomatic construct "psychoactive 'wine'". These books contain some clues to support this view:
Book list: Ancient wine as visionary plant beverage
I revised my review at Amazon.com.
The Sacred Mushroom & the Cross; A study of the nature and origins of Christianity within the fertility cults of the ancient Near East
John Marco Allegro
A correct landmark theory distorted by incomprehension
This book is worth having, although it is not the most persuasive and is corrupted by tabloid sensationalism and a scientific humanist attitude of condescending dismissal of all religious experiencing. Allegro acts as though portraying Christianity as mushroom- and fertility- based, he has demolished the credibility of Christianity altogether.
He disrespects his subject matter, like Aldous Huxley's smugly self-assured, ignorant, disgusted attitude toward entheogens before he experienced them. Not only was this book 30 years ahead of its time, the book was 30 years ahead of its author's ability to understand entheogens. Given that this sensationalist pulp book was written to shock a mass audience and discredit Christianity within that audience, it is unclear how ignorant or enlightened Allegro is about the efficacy of entheogens to cause intense religious experience and possibly valid mystic-state insight into the relation of self, control, time, and world.
Jesus is portrayed as none other than the Amanita, but that completely discredits Christianity for Allegro the scorched-earth, anti-religion humanist. The book is just as startling and confusing for entheogen-positive readers as those who are unfamiliar or dismissive of entheogens. Allegro made the mistake of alienating both orthodox Literalist Christians and esoteric mystics. The book is a real mixed bag, and the befuddling swarms of etymologies limit the readability as well.
Entheogenists may welcome his assertion that the inner circle of the early Christians used entheogens, specifically Amanita, but will be put off because he then turns around and holds a dismissive, pop-sensationalist attitude against entheogens. Entheogenists may also get more than they bargained for in this book when Allegro proposes that there was no man Jesus; Jesus was none other than the Amanita.
His theory is groundbreaking: he was the first to propose in some detail that Christianity was entheogen-oriented and that the entheogen was Amanita, and to additionally propose (in conjunction) that there was no historical Jesus.
The book, though flawed by sensationalism, is important, and required vision and daring. There was almost complete ignorance about entheogens when this book was published. I would recommend this book more for entheogen book collectors and scholars of the origins of Christianity than for general readers.
For related books, see my Amazon book lists: Ego death as deterministic self-control cancellation; Original, experiential, mystical Christianity; Christianity as political rebellion against "divine" Caesar; Mythic-only Christ theory; Entheogen theory of the origin of religions."
>Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2001 3:49 PM
>Subject: Re: Scholars who lack higher learning
>You are presenting some very valuable points here. I have known several pretty high profile scholars who know the mushroom symbolism purely from a viewpoint that utilizes the information to discredit religion. But most of these scholars have easily recognized the importance of the Entheogen connection when it is explained to them more fully. I think John Allegro would have been one of these.
>Although his book is harsh and sarcastic, biting and vindictive/spiteful I find it quite humorous, and in fact hilarious at times. I think much of this comes from knowing that Allegro spells it out with total disregard for the fact that what he was saying must be completely infuriating the reader who is a believer.
The Rabbinic Seder meal, Greek symposium, and Christian love feast were all essentially the same thing: an entheogenic get-together, with philosophical-religious discussion and exegesis of religious mythic allegory of mystic-state phenomena. Participants reclined, for safety and relaxation during the session.
The representative mythic allegory in each version of this gathering:
o Seder: exodus allegory. Experience ego death, but angel of bodily death or accursed mayhem (destructive encounter with cosmic determinism) passes by, satisfied by the lamb's blood, representing one's egoic childself mode of thinking.
o Symposium: Odysseus, true master of the house (psyche), returns, strings his bow, and kills with ego death the imposter suitors, who only expected to have fun at the banquet and didn't anticipate ego death. He reunites with the unfaithful lower, egoic mind -- that part of the psyche.
o Agape Love Feast/Last Supper: this is the last supper of the initiate in this world -- that is, the egoic mental worldmodel; one's next meal will be in the kingdom of Heaven (the enlightened state in which the underlying power of the Ground or God is recognized to trump all of ego's supposedly self-moved thoughts and actions, because the Ground (not the egoic homunculus) is the true ultimate hidden creator of each of one's thoughts).
Evidence for this theory, and a fully detailed theory, would pivotally help establish the entheogen theory of the origin of religion. I haven't seen anyone propose this theory, aside from the general idea that "sacred meals" were standard in "mystery religions". I'd be fairly interested in leads or evidence to confirm this connection which is a no-brainer that's inherent in the entheogenic-esoteric-allegorical paradigm of the origin of religion.
This proposes a stronger similarity to the symposium and mystery religions than usual, and proposes that the Seder in its ultimate form is an entheogenic gathering, and that the Seder, symposium, and love feast are all centered in the same era -- I place the center of gravity of late antiquity's religion around 200 CE, not 50 CE. With Ruck et al this proposes a mostly entheogen-centric theory of Greek myth as allegorized mystic-state primary religious experiencing.
*Everything* was happening and peaking around 135-200, including interest in the Stoic philosophy of cosmic determinism, and actually including the start of Christianity.
In the context of the religion of late antiquity, "wine" means a mixture of psychoactives preserved and suspended in wine, mixed with water. It's not terribly important which psychoactives, except that the result be entheogenic. For example, Amsterdam Space Cakes -- eating hashish -- reportedly can cause panic attacks, implying that cannabis can be a full-blown intense entheogen. And cannabis has an intense augmenting effect with entheogens such as psilocybin. Wine figures prominently at the Seder, symposium, and love feast.
The accusation that some gatherings involved child sacrifice and eating the child is more of a strategic literalization of mythic allegory than a serious literal accusation or lie. One must sacrifice one's first-born child-self (egoic mental worldmodel), and dismembering and eating the divine child is a familiar mytheme in Greek myth and a metaphor for entheogen consumption.
Such accusations lead to the distinct but relevant topic of the politics of the mystery-religions and these private entheogen gatherings: democracy threatening the power hierarchy. More insight is needed into the politics of the mystery-religions and private entheogen gatherings -- but with a strong caution to all the socio-political theorists of religion (Rodney Stark, Burton Mack) not to attempt to reduce religion to the socio-political aspects of religion.
A quick search instantly provided confirmation of the equivalence of seder, symposium, and love feast/last supper. Note the drinking of multiple cups of mixed wine.
http://godsfriends.org/Vol10/No3/HolyFood.html -- "With so many Hebraic ideas underlying our meal, it may surprise readers to learn that our ritual comes from no Hebrew source, but is a Greek pagan form at least as old as Plato. Moreover, this is true of the Jewish Passover seder as well. Here lies the answer to a long-standing conflict. Scholars have debated whether the Christian Eucharist derived from Passover (St. Paul says, "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us") or instead from the rabbinical chaburah fellowship meals widely documented a short century later. (St. Gregory's worshippers know that word as "Feast of Friends.") But recent Jewish historians have shown that in fact both meals are the same banquet, only caught at different stages of development. This banquet is not Jewish at all: it is the Symposium, a feast known throughout the Hellenistic world as a dinner preceding formal discussion and drinking. New Testament stories of Jesus' Last Supper present us an early form of Symposium; the modern Passover seder, the final historical form; and the chaburah, a form in between before the discussion was moved into the mealtime itself and focussed on the symbolic foods served, as happens at a seder today. ... Knowing the Hellenistic pagan origin of both Jewish and Christian meal rituals, we can see our Sunday Eucharist in a universal light. That is how the early Christians saw it, as they celebrated the worldwide impact of Jesus' life and death..."
http://www.wheatonma.edu/Faculty/JonathanBrumbergKraus.html -- "I am completing a book, Memorable Meals: Symposia in Luke's Gospel, The Rabbinic Seder, and the Greco-Roman Literary Tradition, in which I compare early Christian table fellowship with the Jewish Passover seder."
http://www.bwconf.org/conferencenews/April18-01issue/howardsedermealltr4-18-01.html -- "The hard-boiled egg as "symbol of sacrifice of the Jews" originally symbolized eternal life. Seder means "order or arrangement"--the meal and liturgy which accompany it (called Haggadah) being very structured. It began as a rabbinic version of first-century, Greco-Roman ritualized meals called symposia. ... Four cups of wine consumed at the meal indicate God's saving presence four times in Jewish history. Dispute as to whether a fifth cup was obligatory--to symbolize deliverance at the end of time--led to custom of filling but not drinking still another cup, called "Elijah's cup," anticipating Elijah coming to announce Messiah. ... A prime meal item is matzah, Jewish unleavened bread (see Exodus 12). Christians, as Ms. Mellot noted, often use the same symbols but with altered meaning. Perfectly acceptable; first -- century rabbis altered meaning of some Seder symbols too, knowing that new Jewish-Christian believers would adapt such symbols from antiquity to their celebration of the Last Supper." -- Thomas F. Howard
http://www.shamash.org/listarchives/mail.liberal-judaism/digests/Volume5/v5n161.archive -- "I have been invited to teach about how we celebrate a seder so that the "christian seder" will be more authentic and will portray what a seder is about. The problem comes when a "seder" is used to celebrate anything other than our freedom from slavery.
When a seder becomes a christian celebration of the last supper and not a jewish celebration of passover, it has ceased to be a seder and evolved into something else. ... it is misleading ... and a perpetuation of the differences between us rather than a promotion of understanding and a realization of what we have in common. ... does not the form of the modern seder really date from after the destruction of the temple, which is definitely post-Jesus? Nor has Passover ever been considered a Christian holiday. To me the symbolism of evangelical Christians celebrating Passover is that THEY are the only rightful heirs of the "Old Testament" (indeed, they believe they are the "new Israel" and that God disinherited the Jews), so that it was really THEY who were led out of Egypt.
... as author of a forthcoming book on Jewish liturgy, I want to add some information about the origin of the seder. Scholars believe much of the seder actually predates the destruction of the Temple. The seder tracks the format of the meal at which the Paschal lamb was eaten. That meal took the form of the Greek "symposium," or "talk-feast," at which the meal was ancillary to a discussion on a predetermined theme. A great many customs of the seder can only be understood as derived from aspects of ancient meals. ... The issue of the early Christian attitude toward Passover is interesting. ... The Paschal lamb sacrifice was actually the most democratic ritual in Judaism at the time; it was the only occasion when laypersons and their families could ascend the 15 steps to the altar in the Temple and conduct their own sacrifice rather than relying on the Levites and the Cohanim to do it for them. ..."
http://www.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/meals.html -- "Symposium. This meal was distinguished not so much for its banquet as for the extended colloquium and drinking which followed. Plutarch dedicates his Table Talk to Senecio with a plea that he not forget the great tradition of the symposium in antiquity: Since you ... consign to utter oblivion all that occurs at a drinking-party is not only opposed to what we call the friend-making character of the dining-table, but also has the most famous of the philosophers to bear witness against it ... who all considered the recording of conversations held at table a task worth some effort ... As regards the form of a symposium, it was a formal banquet which was highly structured both in terms of specific roles for the participants (a host, chief guest, other guests) and specific courses of foods (hors d'oeuvres, main course and dessert; post-prandial conversation and drinking). ... an organization of all-male groups, aristocratic and egalitarian at the same time, which affirm their identity through ceremonialized drinking. Prolonged drinking is separate from the meal proper; there is wine mixed in a krater for equal distribution; the participants, adorned with wreaths, lie on couches. The symposium has private, political, and cultural dimensions: it is the place of euphrosyne, of music, poetry and other forms of entertainment; ... it guarantees the social control of the polis by the aristocrats. It is a dominating social form in Greek civilization from Homer onward, and well beyond the Hellenistic period (Burkert 1991:7)."
Two recent books, both the results of symposia on the "symposium," contain highly informative studies of various aspects of the classical meal. Slater's volume (1991) contains articles on the betrothal symposium, foreigners at this meal, the age at which persons were allowed to recline, the Roman triclinium, and other studies dealing with Roman aspects of the symposium. The second collection by O. Murray (1991) is more systematic in its topics: space, furniture, social forms, entertainment, and discussion materials in relationship to the symposium. ... The symposium form, it has been argued, influenced the Lukan presentation of certain meals of Jesus ... It has, moreover, influenced the shape of the passover meal as well. ... the shape of seder depends as much upon the Hellenistic symposium as it does on the biblical traditions in Exodus. ... in regard to certain technical terms describing aspects of the ritual, foods eaten, reclining posture, but especially talk at the meal. ... examines the symposium form ... its history, its importance for philosophical groups, ... the disputes at the meal described in 1 Cor 11:17-34. ... there were prescribed courses of food as well as of talk. Thus the mouth was regulated as to what and when certain things were eaten and drunk as well as to what was said. The symposium communicated "order," not chaos ... so involved explicit and implicit rules of decorum.
Passover. This was most certainly an influential type of meal, which colored the way Judeans and Christians perceived and structured other eating and liturgical events. ... Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. ... whether Jesus' Last Supper was a passover meal and what was the shape of that meal in the first century. ... the formal shape of that famous ceremony and how various items in the gospel accounts of the Last Supper parallel the structure of the passover meal. "They [servants] mix for them the cup; each one says the benediction for himself. They [servants] bring them the appetizers; ... They [guests] go up [to the dining room] and they recline, for they [servants] give them [water] for their hands; ... They [servants] mix for them the cup; ... they say a benediction also over the second. They [servants] bring them the dessert; ... one says the benediction for all of them." ... the clear sense we gain of a fixed sequence of courses and events, a characteristic of most ancient meals. ... the mouth was regulated both as to what was eaten and what was said. ... at least three cups were drunk ..."
The Son of God is living on earth now. He has come in the form of sinful, phallic flesh. Truly he is the son of God. Eat his flesh and discover the hidden secret of Christ in you.
Why didn't the Teacher of Righteousness leave scriptural commentaries?
Photos of the Teacher of Righteousness:
Check out the very distinct white dots against red background on this Amanita halo edge in this iconographic painting on the cover of this book. I think the reddish Lion is Mark's symbol. This is the first time I've seen a lion with an Amanita halo.
Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the Christianisation of the Roman World
by Peter Brown
The sacraments are at the heart of Christianity and many mystic rites. The good news for entheogenists is that if we can establish that such sacraments are entheogenic, this affects our understanding of the most central aspect of Christianity. So the battle for the meaning of Christianity is winnable: determine the nature of the sacrament. Is it magic -- a symbol of eating the supernatural man Jesus and being rescued from eternal torture in hell after bodily death -- or entheogenic? These are the two options: either the Christian sacrament is supernaturally magical and the religious stories are literal, or the sacrament is entheogenic and the stories are allegorical.
>>the Pseudo-Sacraments were Wine and Bread.
Wine then was any alcohol-suspended psychoactive mixture.
Amanita extract is blood-colored, comparable to wine.
Bread could have ergot.
An Amanita cap is like bread.
Psychoactive mixtures were likely common. I agree with http://www.jamesarthur.net that a good bet for the identity of the sacramental plant (such as at the root of Christianity) is a combination of multiple plants.
Jesus is the Amanita personified.
Amanita represents all entheogens
The grape leaf represents psychoactive mixtures.
The snake represents psychoactive plants.
All entheogens represent each other.
Paul Smith wrote:
>Christianity was not a mystery-cult whose believers merely tripped-out on drugs in order to experience the resurrection of the psyche.
Christianity was a mystery-cult whose believers tripped-out on drugs, as with the other mystery-cults, to experience the death and resurrection of the psyche, particularly the death of the psyche as a false upstart pretender to the throne of self-government.
The kingly scepter is taken away from the ego during ego-death, or given away by the mind that sees a simple clear way in which the self and all its decisions can be considered to be a product of the Ground.
This is my discovery in modernity, my entheogenic decoding of the allegorical scheme of Christianity.
>Christianity was something completely different to that. It was a movement opposed to the High Priesthood at Jerusalem being in collaboration with the occupying Roman authorities.
All the canonical biblical scriptures are allegory of entheogen experience -- allegory told in terms of the rebellion of the Jews against the pagan rulership, including the Roman-installed High Priesthood loathed by the Jewish rebels. The stories are allegorical generalized characterizations based on many types of people. The stories bring together many disparate themes, hyper-syncretistically.
The distinctive thing about the Christian mystery-religion is that its myth is expressed in terms of historical allegory, which has often been literalized. The Jews are often credited with bringing historical thinking into the Pagan world. Pagan mystery-savior entheogenic mysticism was jammed together with Jewish historical-allegory entheogenic mysticism.
The Pagans contributed their mythic visionary savior gods who died and yet rose again (with and like the initiate). The Jews contributed their technique of creating pseudo-historical stories that expressed their form of entheogen tradition. Recent Jewish history included actual crucifixion of many rebels against Rome (I assume that is beyond dispute, that many Jews were crucified).
Pagan mythic visionary dying-and-rising savior gods meet Jewish historicized mythic allegories that freely weave together actual history and fiction including the general figure of the Jewish rebel against Rome and his fate on the cross.
This is my original set of ideas. Allegro could have made these connections, had he more experience. No one but me portrays the upstart king is a purely allegorical representation of the overthrow of the self-control illusion during the entheogenic peak. There are various theorists who support each a different three out of four of my ideas.
>These resisters were crucified - hence the symbolical nature of the Cross - which has nothing at all to do with drugs but with the Tree of Life as found in the book of Genesis.
The Tree of Life is the host of the Amanita. Golden-red growths under the tree appear as fallen apples. The venomous snake is guardian of psychoactive plants and toxins. The Tree of Life also has a fungus fastened to the trunk that is useful for igniting a fire, as well as the firey thorny red wool-covered Amanita, "tongue of fire", below the tree.
>We are dealing with the synthesis of psychedelic revelation aligned with the liberation of Judaea from Roman Occupation
>and the atonement
Entheogens enable perceiving fatedness and perceiving all our thoughts as pre-authored and pre-existing before we arrived on the scene announcing that I-ego is ready to take charge and author one's own future. This is atonement, when the ego sees fatedness and frozen time and its own impotence.
If the ego is unreal and metaphysically powerless, we cannot be agents who can be held metaphysically responsible. All our moral sins are seen to be logically cancelled, and the price of this cleansing is the life of the ego-delusion. The ego is crucified as an impossible pretender to the throne, a rebel against the power of the real kingdom.
Yet we live on after the experience, as virtual egos, and this can be considered a kind of transcendence. Also, because we experienced psychic death and continuation, so can we hope for continuation after bodily death -- spiritual death and resurrection can be interpreted as giving hope for bodily resurrection after bodily death.
> - the reconciliation of Man with God - and this latter element has everything to do with the reversal of the Fall of Adam: hence the importance of the Tree of Life, symbolically conveyed in the New Testament as the Crucified Christ (the "second Adam").
Man is reconciled to God or Ground through mystic perception of a certain nullity of self-control or personal kingship. Not I, but Ground is king, the prime mover, the original author of my thoughts. By far the most simple, straightforward, reliable, effective way of mystic perception is entheogens. Adam fell and rose in eating the Amanita fruit of the Tree of Life and what I would call the Tree of Knowledge about the Nature of Good and Evil.
Adam died as God warned that day, and did not die, as the snake assured him that day. Jesus the Entheogen died ego-death and gave up his scepter, and yet was too-quickly rescued from the swoon on the cross and continued to live on, just as we take the flesh of Christ, die psychically, give up our scepter of egoic self-control and self-government or self-authorship.
And yet we continue to live on, now in awareness of the presence of the Ground -- an awareness which has no logical room for metaphysical responsibility; so is the self as morally responsible control-agent reconciled with the Ground.
There is nothing wrong with expressing mystic experiencing in the form of historical allegorical fiction. It would miss the point to say that the Jews "lied" about their history or that the Christian mythmakers "lied" about their origin and founding figures.
Greek Attic Tragedy had stood apart from the Mystery-Religions even though the two expressed the same experiences and hidden aspects of our metaphysical nature as fate-ruled creatures who hope to accept or transcend our tragic metaphysical status as puppet-kings. There is no more crime in telling stories as allegory to express mystic concepts than it is a crime to put on a cathartic dramatic play.
Thank you very much for the book The Eucharist of the Early Christians. I read it almost cover to cover, and have been reading other books as well. After reading the book, I created more book lists about the Last Supper/Eucharist, and on Hellenistic banqueting and 'wine':
Entheogen Theory of Religion
Entheogen theory of the origin of religions
The active eucharist that reveals the kingdom of God
Eucharist (Catholic authors)
Eucharist (Catholic authors II)
Lord's Supper (Prot., E. Orth, Ecum.)
Ancient wine as visionary plant beverage
Ancient wine as visionary plant beverage (2)
Over the past year, I was ever uncertain about which of the books I had and read. I have now done a major reorganization setting up my library, and I just discovered that one of the first batch of Eucharist books I read was provided by you as a gift -- the latter is one reason why I was unsure which books I had, had ordered, and had read.
See my postings (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/egodeath) of the past 6 months for my views against the "Huston Smith" paradigm of "entheogens can be compared to traditional Christian mystic methods". Visionary plants were, against Smith, ubiquitous and completely standard in all the Hellenistic religions, including Jewish and Christian religions, philosophy schools, and other initiatory knowledge schools of the time centered on themes such as math or astrology. Entheogen scholars are weak and hazy on this point about standard ubiquity, not quite adopting the paradigm I'm clarifying.
We need far greater emphasis on intense primary religious *experiencing*. Mysticism and initiation was about knowledge but just as much about altered mystic state *experiencing* too -- the current studies in the field of "theory of myth and ritual" and "Hellenistic religion" are completely weak on that point, not emphasizing it, but just giving lip service to experiencing, conflating ritual and conceptual knowledge with first-hand intense altered-state experiencing. Knowledge and intense visionary-plant experiencing were integrated, in Hellenistic initiation-religion.