Ayahuasca, Moses, and the Ten Commandments – Plant Spirit Shamanism of the Bible

Ayahuasca and Moses - Plant Spirit Shamanism of the Bible

“Moses was high on drugs: Israeli researcher”

The world wide media interest in Benny Shanon’s paper about Moses and entheogens, is encouraging us to take a good and hard look at the roots of religions and the notion that they were based on fertility cults, and shamanic practices such as Entheogens (or hallucinogenic) plants as a source of spiritual communion with the universal consciousness, or the mind of God.

John Allegro, in his book “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East”, postulated through the etymology of words and relates how the development of language indicated that the roots of the religions emanating from the Middle East were based on fertility cults, and shamanic practices such as Entheogens (or hallucinogenic) plants as a source of spiritual communion with the universal consciousness, or the mind of God..

Back in the 1970’s the reaction against these ideas was so strong that it destroyed Allegro’s career, the book was not published in the UK as it was regarded as blasphemous, and blasphemy was still a crime. It’s good to think that we have made some progress in recent years.

Allegro’s theory was visionary and ground-breaking. He was the first to propose in some detail that two major religions Christianity and by extension Judaism were entheogen-oriented and that the entheogen was Amanita Muscaria. His book was published at a time when there was little or no awareness about the use of entheogens, and was indeed a courageous act to publish this book.

Another great explorer and pathfinder in human consciousness was Terence Mckenna, in his book “Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution”, proposed that hallucinogenic plants, in this case Psilocybin mushrooms, were the cause of the astounding and unexplained rapid evolution and development of the human brain within the evolutionary time scale (just 500,000 years from the hominids). In other words how we developed from our ape relatives . His theory also encompasses the development of linguistics , and human civilisation itself.
JERUSALEM (AFP) – High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

“As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don’t believe, or a legend, which I don’t believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics,” Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the “burning bush,” suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a clasic phenomenon,” he said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to “see music.”

Israeli researcher He mentioned his own experience when he used ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant, during a religious ceremony in Brazil‘s Amazon forest in 1991. “I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations,” Shanon said.

He said the psychedelic effects of ayahuasca were comparable to those produced by concoctions based on bark of the acacia tree, that is frequently mentioned in the Bible.

source: Yahoo News.

Paper originally published in:

Time and Mind:
The Journal of Archaeology Consciousness and Culture
Volume I—Issue I, March 2008

TiTLE: Biblical Entheogens: Speculative Hypothesis

pp. 51–74

Benny Shanon is Professor of psychology at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem (Israel). His main foci of research are the phenomenology of human consciousness and the philosophy of psychology. His publications include The representational and the Presentational (1993) and The Antipodes of the Mind (2002). At present, he is working on book devoted to a general psychological theory of human consciousness.

View original article by Benny Shanon

Click for info on our Ayahuasca and Yoga Retreats in the Amazon

About Howard G Charing

Since the late 90's I have organised journeys with Peter Cloudsley to the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes to work with the shamans and the sacred 'jungle doctors' (healing and visionary plants) of this area. I have written numerous articles about the Amazonian plant medicines, and have worked with some of the most respected shamans in the region. I was baptised into their tribe by the Shipibo Indians in the Amazon, and was initiated into the lineage of the maestros of the Rio Napo in the Upper Amazon. Co-authored the book Plant Spirit Shamanism, published by Destiny Books (USA) with a foreword by the great visionary artist Pablo Amaringo. Co-authored the book 'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo', published by Inner Traditions (USA) April, 2011, presents a collection of never-before-published paintings by Amaringo. The book illustrated the evolution of Amaringo’s intricate art with 48 full-color reproductions, including detailed explorations of the rich Amazonian mythology underlying each painting. Now available - Fine art giclee prints and reproductions of Pablo Amaringo's beautiful work featured in the new book 'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo'. http//ayahuasca_visions.imagekind.com


  1. Sadly friend you are mistaken:
    We cannot prove nor disprove Moses’ contact with God, so there is no point in commenting about that. However, I can prove the bible is correct because of its prophecies.
    #1: Israel would be destroyed. (Deuteronomy 28:63-64; Luke 19:43-44)
    #2: After considerable time, the Jews would return to Israel. (Ezekiel 39:23-25)
    #3: That every people, tribe, language and nation will witness an event lasting only three and a half days (Revelation 11:9) (Television needed)
    #4: Those who are to attack Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet… (Zechariah 14:12) (Nukes)
    These are just some of the many that have been predicted in the bible. It even predicts the destruction and unity of Germany (Revelation 13:3 – Germany is the head that received the fatal wound but then healed, and the whole world was astonished)
    The Dead Sea Scrolls and Carbon-14 dating (A strategy well accepted by evolutionist- Ironic, I know) prove these prophecies were predicted over 2,000 years ago! What stronger argument could there be then predicting the rebirth over a nation after 1878 years of being separated?

    • Michael

      These prophecies do not prove the bible is correct, or incorrect. Lets go one by one down your list.
      #1: Israel would be destroyed (Deuteronomy 28:63)
      If I were to tell you that one day America would not be the #1 power in the world…and then 50 years later (even though that change is already happening now) we experience some disaster or war that ruins the US, would I be regarded as a prophet, or just someone smart enough to understand how nothing last forever, whether it is the Egyptian, Roman, Mongolian or British empires.

      #2: “After considerable time, the Jews would return to Israel”. This is another example of predicting over an open ended period of time. These ‘prophecies’ are so open ended, that the predictor can NEVER be wrong. If the Jews did not return to Israel, the current generation would just say “it will happen after us” and when it does happen, that generation will say “see, the prophecy was right!” Just like how Jesus will ONE DAY come back to Earth…maybe not in your generation, but someday he will, trust us.

      #3: What has every tribe, language and nation witness that lasted 3.5 days? Which event are you trying to relate this to?

      #4: “Those who are to attack Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet”. Nukes do not rot, they incinerate…maybe if it said “their flesh will burst into flames whilst they stand”. Plus, none of Israel’s enemies have ever been nuked…unless they did something to piss off the Japanese.

  2. How do you explain Moses’ ability to see events thousands of years before they happened? The Dead Sea Scrolls prove the writers of scriptures foresaw events before they occurred. Something supernatural happened. If you want to attribute a miracle of God to drug abuse, prepare yourself.

  3. Great post, I will bookmark this in my StumbleUpon account. Have a good day.

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