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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books,U.S.; 30th edition (28 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556437528
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556437526
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Arthur Dewhirst on 10 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very readable series of academic essays on the role of entheogenic fungi in the ancient world. This work is now over thirty years old and still relevant today to those pondering the history and meaning of the entheogenic experience. Some useful footnotes from the authors bring things up to date.

The hymn to Demeter is perhaps hard to follow but would have been widely known in its day.

It seems she might not have been the goddess of wheat but of the fungus that grew on it and the experience it engendered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harry on 15 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a brilliant book, this kind of information should be taught at schools to educate our children about true history, this book is very well written and I am sure I will be reading again. What a treasure for a cheap price :)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Scott Claxton on 19 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Obviously they were not called "The Mystery's" for nothing, and much of what went on at Eleusis remains just that. But, this book presents a great theory into what may be The central theme or inspiration to the initiate. As well as the theory there's some great background on the mythology that was central to the Eleusinian Mystery's. I would highly recommend this to a broad spectrum of readers from those who are interested in the history of pre Hellenistic era Greece, Philosophy, Theology, Esotericism, Ontology, Epistemology, and Entheogenic Substances.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 20 reviews
57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Important argument, beautifully produced book 6 Nov. 2000
By "adam_della_mirandola" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The authors of `Road to Eleusis' - they include Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, and Gordon Wasson, the white man who in 1957 revealed the continued existence of the pre-Columbian sacred-mushroom rite to the non-Mexican Indian world - argue that a water-soluble alkaloid contained in ergot, a tiny fungus which attacks grains and grasses, was the principal psychoactive ingredient of the `kykeon', the sacred potion drunk before the celebration of the Mysteries of Eleusis by those awaiting initiation. The philological and psycho-pharmacological argument of `Road to Eleusis' is compelling but to get the most from the book, read it in combination with `Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter' by Karl Kerenyi, a disciple of Carl Jung, which provides an introduction to the history of Eleusis and contains a psychological study of the Mysteries.
In pre-Classical times, it is likely that almost the entire population of Athens walked the fifteen-mile distance to Eleusis at harvest time every year in order to drink the `kykeon' and experience the sense of the mythic reunion of Persephone, the Daughter, with Demeter, the Mother who taught men how to plant seeds and reap the fruit. The Christ, the draw in the psychological game of chess between the Hellenised Middle East and Israel, speaks distantly but clearly of Eleusis in John 12: 20-24 and Cicero, the Roman philosopher, author and statesman who coined the phrase `bread and circuses' to damn the spectacular politics of his time, was an initiate.
Iktinos, architect of the Parthenon, also designed the Telesterion, the classical-period temple of the Mysteries of which only broken columns survive. However, scattered throughout `Eleusis' by Kerenyi are bits and pieces of the psychological vocabulary of the Mysteries which with the help of ancient Greek and Indo-European comparative etymological dictionaries allow a reconstruction of the mind of the initiate. For example, `tele', from `telos', the full circle, the crown - today, we hear it many times every day in connection with technology; however, at Eleusis `tele' had a sacral meaning.
Eleusis was to religion in Athens what democracy was to Athenian politics: essential.
`Road to Eleusis' and `Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter' - read both; and when in Greece, don't miss Eleusis, 20 miles south of Athens on the mainland across the water from the island of Salamis, open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. except Monday when the site is closed.
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
A powerful document on attaining Greek wisdom 23 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If other books are dynamite, this is nuclear. It documents how the Mystai at Eleusis became Epoptes, a standard rite of passage for all the famous Greek minds we seek to understand. Full understanding is not possible without initiation such as is outlined in this volume. Eleusis is at the end of a line of mystical experience that goes back to 5000 BCE. Is is not so much that the Mystery of Eleusis is revealed, as that it points the sacred way how to unravel the mystery of our own existence. The Greeks knew, and if you do as they did, you can. Wasson tells us what the Greeks did.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Important argument, beautifully produced book 6 Nov. 2000
By "adam_della_mirandola" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The authors of `Road to Eleusis' - they include Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, and Gordon Wasson, the white man who in 1957 revealed the continued existence of the pre-Columbian sacred-mushroom rite to the non-Mexican Indian world - argue that a water-soluble alkaloid contained in ergot, a tiny fungus which attacks grains and grasses, was the principal psychoactive ingredient of the `kykeon', the sacred potion drunk before the celebration of the Mysteries of Eleusis by those awaiting initiation. The philological and psycho-pharmacological argument of `Road to Eleusis' is compelling but to get the most from the book, read it in combination with `Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter' by Karl Kerenyi, a disciple of Carl Jung, which provides an introduction to the history of Eleusis and contains a psychological study of the Mysteries.
In pre-Classical times, it is likely that almost the entire population of Athens walked the fifteen-mile distance to Eleusis at harvest time every year in order to drink the `kykeon' and experience the sense of the mythic reunion of Persephone, the Daughter, with Demeter, the Mother who taught men how to plant seeds and reap the fruit. The Christ, the draw in the psychological game of chess between the Hellenised Middle East and Israel, speaks distantly but clearly of Eleusis in John 12: 20-24 and Cicero, the Roman philosopher, author and statesman who coined the phrase `bread and circuses' to damn the spectacular politics of his time, was an initiate.
Iktinos, architect of the Parthenon, also designed the Telesterion, the classical-period temple of the Mysteries of which only broken columns survive. However, scattered throughout `Eleusis' by Kerenyi are bits and pieces of the psychological vocabulary of the Mysteries which with the help of ancient Greek and Indo-European comparative etymological dictionaries allow a reconstruction of the mind of the initiate. For example, `tele', from `telos', the full circle, the crown - today, we hear it many times every day in connection with technology; however, at Eleusis `tele' had a sacral meaning.
Eleusis was to religion in Athens what democracy was to Athenian politics: essential.
`Road to Eleusis' and `Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter' - read both; and when in Greece, don't miss Eleusis, 20 miles south of Athens on the mainland across the water from the island of Salamis, open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. except Monday when the site is closed.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Evidencing shamanic themes in ancient Greece, the Eleusinian mysteries, supports religious freedoms today. 15 Feb. 2009
By Whomever - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Road to Eleusis, Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries.
Thirtieth Anniversary Edition
by R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck, 1978/2008

Evidencing shamanic themes in ancient Greece, the Eleusinian mysteries, supports religious freedoms today.

A quarter century after Gordon Wasson first experienced the psilocybe mushroom with Maria Sabena in Oaxaca, Mexico, he, along with Dr. Albert Hoffman (the famed inventor of LSD), and Prof. Carl Ruck of Boston University, proposed that the sacred kykeon of the Eleusinian mysteries was the fungus Claviceps purpurea, or ergot, from which LSD was synthesized.

The importance of this book is that it proves, without a doubt, that strong inebriants were used throughout ancient Grecian history - especially surrounding the Eleusinian mysteries. The bulk of evidence presented in this book is provided by Prof. Ruck via his expertise in Greek classics, which is always fascinating, eloquent reading.

The question of this book's accuracy lies in proposals first made by Dr. Hofmann regarding ergotamine. Over the years his ideas of the method of preparation, and reports of amounts needed and effects, have been put under serious scrutiny (if not debunked entirely) thereby weakening the overall the work.

However, newer research presented in this 30th anniversary edition by Peter Webster brings new strength to the hypothesis by showing that ash, which was part of the descriptions of Persephone (the goddess of fire) at the mysteries, could be added to the kykeon causing the necessary chemical reactions to make Ergine and Isoergine, which he proposes, together, would be far more psychoactive than either alone, which are, in effect, inactive. His personal tests have shown psychoactivity with this method, and therefore the likelihood of this theory, which needs further laboratory testing; though in today's drug war climate, that is not something we may see anytime soon. But the mystery may be solved, thereby salvaging the rest of this book's proposals.

The forward in this edition by Robert Forte states (pgs. 5-6):

"Ten years ago I had a practical, legal intention for republishing the Twentieth Anniversary edition, one that remains an important function of the book in your hands. A 1975 court ruling against an American religious organization, The Church of the Awakening, forbade the church from using psychedelics or entheogens as sacraments, though they had been doing so for more than fifteen years. The court said that only Native Americans had a right to use `hallucinogens' as sacraments, because only they had a long history in their culture, and no such tradition existed for the white man."

Today the Native American and UDV churches have won legal right to use peyote and Ayahuasca (and decisions are currently pending for the Santo Daime). But entheogens like psilocybe mushrooms (and LSD/LSA) remain illegal for religious use, even though they were originally discovered as religious sacraments by Wasson in Mexico, used by the Mazatec (and other) Indian cultures.

Interestingly, as with Wasson who denied further evidence of entheogens in Judeo-Christianity beyond 1000 BCE, here too, Dr. Hofmann denies the possibility (pgs. 147-148):

"In conclusion, I wish once more to raise the fundamental question: why were such drugs probably used in Eleusis, and why are they still used by certain Indian tribes even today in the course of religious ceremonies? And why is such use scarcely conceivable in the Christian liturgy, as though it were not significant? The answer is that the Christian liturgy worships a godly power enthroned in heaven, that is a power outside of the individual. At Eleusis, on the contrary, an alteration in the innermost being of the individual was striven for, a visionary experience of the ground of being which converted the subjects into Mystai, Epotetai, Initiates."

But thankfully, here too, Hofmann erred. Recently new textual documentation from a Christian monastery in Greece has been found (The Holy Mushroom - Irvin, 2008) that discusses "the holy mushroom," thereby supporting John Allegro's original 1970 proposals in The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross. Furthermore, Prof. Ruck has also recently published substantial evidence refuting Wasson's position (and Hofmann's) regarding mushrooms and other entheogens in Judeo-Christianity and European folklore. So today, regardless of whether or not science disproves the proposals made in these early and subsequent investigations of Eleusis and ergot, we have definitive evidence of the religious use of entheogens throughout Europe, including Judeo-Christianity, and are able now to make a strong legal case.

The importance then is that this book is an original for daring to seek and explore European ancestry and the use of entheogens and attempt support the white man's religious right to use entheogens - which he himself has so banned.

5 stars! This book provides an essential history for understanding this field of study.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
an intellectual feast! 26 Sept. 2001
By Barbara R. Saunders - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an inspiring collaboration between a passionate amateur scholar and his professional scholar friends. How delightful to read something that isn't dumbed down. The analysis and induction is nicely supplemented by the "Hymn to Demeter." Much for the brain to chew on!
Wasson et al's revelations of the complexity of the myths that surrounded the Eleusian mysteries are fodder for hours upon hours of thought play about the foundations of our culture today.
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