“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.”
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
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.