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Mushrooms, Myth and Mithras: The Drug Cult That Civilized Europe Paperback – 1 Mar 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Books (1 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872864707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872864702
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for "Persephone's Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion" by Carl Ruck et al "[This book] is the pious meditation of an inspired devotee, a religious book in the deepest sense, the credo of a passionate initiate. A delightful book to read." -- Wendy Doniger, "Times Literary Supplement"

""Mushrooms, Myth & Mithras" is an extremely well-constructed academic argument proving that it is impossible to deny the connection between the use of entheogenic substances and religious practice for generations across countries and cultures. The evidence is extremely well documented in art, literature (myths and oral storytelling), and architecture. Over time, all these forms of evidence become blended into cross-cultural metaphors and ideas that show the same information coming from multiple cultures."" -- Ian Jones, "Verbicide"

"This book is all about the evolution of European culture, from ancient times right up through the advent and dominance of Christianity--and how it all started with and depended on shrooms. . . . I feel like I took a class on the subject." -- Rio Connelly, "Slug Magazine"

About the Author

Carl Ruck is best known for his work in mythology and religion on the sacred role of entheogens as used in religious or shamanistic rituals. His focus has been on the use of entheogens in classical western culture, as well as their historical influence on modern western religions. He currently teaches at Boston University. Mark Alwin Hoffman, with degrees in Religious Studies and Philosophy from San Diego State University and based in Taos, New Mexico, is editor of Entheos: The Journal of Psychedelic Spirituality. He has written on shamanism, ancient religions, early Christianity, and the role of visionary sacraments in western mystery tradition. Jose Alfredo Gonzalez Celdran is a professor of ancient Greek based in Murcia, Spain, and is the author of Las Puertas de Moeris, an historical novel, and Homres, Dioses, y Hongos (Men, Gods, and Mushrooms) on the role of psychoactive mushrooms in myth and religion, as well as essays in collaboration with an archaeologist on entheogens.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very important and thought provoking work, like his book on Eleusis. Gives a totally new perspective on Mithraism. Is well argued and convincing.

Unlike his equally important book on Eleusis, where I found his written style sometimes to be a real pain, here this is much less evident. I think his co-authors have exerted a good influence on him and the result is a much easier read!
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Very pleased
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all ok
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x95fd7618) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95d5caa4) out of 5 stars Good but needs more photos 9 Aug. 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This isn't the easiest book to read in that the author spends an incredible amount of time describing various Mithra artifacts, paintings, reliefs, carvings, coin motifs and other surviving artifacts. The descriptions tend to be so plentiful and varried that at times it is hard to picture them seperate especially when 2 or 3 are talked about per page at times. There are photos and drawings for some of these to give the reader the idea as well as the cover has an excellent example. My problem was that I kept getting somewhat lost trying to picture what the author is describing in rapid fire succession. Granted the author does provide references to the artifacts he talks about but there are so many that keeping them straight as a reader is fairly difficult. The symbology of the artifacts is what this book is mainly about. The fact that there survives as many artifacts as there does is amazing given that the early Christians destroyed all they could get their filthy hands on. Seems they were pissed off that Mithra had the managed to steal the tennents, rites, sacrement and legends as Christianity claimed only thing is Mithra was way way before Christ. The more than coincidence similarities between Mithra and Christ not something the early Christian church liked very much, thats why they destroyed everything they could and stole the rest. Look you want to know GOD? Eat a mushroom. You want the answers to the Mysteries? Eat a mushroom. You want to be one with GOD? Eat a mushroom. You want a spiritual experience that transcends this infernal realm? Eat a Mushroom, a Magic Mushroom. Why? Because that is what man has been doing for ever. Sorry but going to church on Sunday isn't a mystical spiritual experience. If you want a real deal mystical experience do what the Shamman, Holy Men, Witch Doctors, Pagans, Roman Soldiers and Emporers, Berserkers, Vedic Indians, Prophets of the Old and New Testement, and even the early Christians did. Eat a Mushroom.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96785c3c) out of 5 stars Interesting, enlightening but sometimes far fetched 30 Aug. 2012
By Seeker23 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
First of all it's a great book and interesting read. It goes on to explain the beliefs of cult of Mithras which existed prior to Christianity. And explains how these beleifs were borrowed/stolen and integrated into the new religion. How the symbolism of Mithras represents not only the trinity but also the act of sacrifice when the mushroom is harvested. And how these symobologies and hidden meanings were integrated into the Christian beleif system, the Eucharist being symbolic of eating the divine flesh of god which is the sacrifice of the mushroom. It goes on further to explain that the Mithras ceremony equivalent to Christian/Catholic eucharist was done in an underground chamber called a Mithraeum. And how the initiate would partake of the sacrement and while in this holy state he would stay in the underground chamber and only rise out at the end when he was enlightened.

This is symbolic of how the fly agaric would rise from the darkness (the ground) and into the light (above ground). So would the initiate start off in darkness or state of not knowing and as he would become enlightened from the revelations at the end of the trip he would rise into the light. We can see how the allegorical story of Jesus in Christianity can represent this experience of man becoming enlightened by the divine. Much as Jesus after he made the sacrifice of his life was reserrected (enlightened) three days later. Just like after the sacrifice of self by taking the mushroom one temporarily sacrifced their sanity but was enlightened or born again after it.

The book does a excellent job in explaining the parallels of the fundamental beliefs between the faiths and one begins to see how other religions also are symbolic representations of the same divine knowledge. The down side of the book though is that the author seems to see mushrooms everywhere. No-one wants to think mushrooms of the basis of everything more than me but some of his explanations seem like he's stretching it a bit. Also he tends to describe and explain many artefacts of which there are no pictures making it difficult to understand what he's talking about. In conclusion overall it's top read, enlightening and highly recommended but in parts unbeleivable and confusing. Don't read if you're fundamentalist or if you have closed mind as it might offend you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x960f0f0c) out of 5 stars Celestial Trip 4 July 2013
By Scribe X.Y.Z. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An interesting approach to the mysteries of Mithras. Since as with most of the authentic mysteries nobody is alive who could or would divulge the actual secrets this book is as good as it gets in theorizing what was really behind the Mithras cult from the outside evidence. Previously I had studied with David Ulansey at CIIS in San Francisco and his book, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World which seemed controversial up to now since it concentrates on the cosmological and astronomical aspects of Mithrasism.

I had only considered this cult from an astronomical perspective but there was something missing in this approach.The authors here supply the missing links and make Ulansey's thesis more complete. The authors are more convincing that the entheogenic aspect is much more logical as to why Mithrasism would appeal to the legionnaires rather than some abstract theory on the precession of the equinoxes.

The iconography is fascinating although the authors drop so many little known details from so many myths that it's hard to keep up.

The best part of the book is in the explanation of Mithrasism and its ancient appeal as illustrated through the iconography . I was less impressed with later connections to freemasonry and post-renaissance histories which I believe were added to pad the text.

The surprise came in the appendix with an account of possible survival of the cult into Kurdish communities.
They could have deleted the masonic speculation and concentrated more on this phenomena.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9764b834) out of 5 stars Amazing book 7 Jun. 2014
By Mark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is small in your hand but large in your head. It isn't derivative of other books until it has to be (let's face it, you can't write about the mushroom-sacrament without giving a shout out to Wasson, Allegro et alia), but instead presents independent research from three scholars, at least two of which are excellent. There are so many salient facts packed into its pages that it seems the authors found a way of condensing a 500 page book into half those pages. Enough of the superlatives, because you want facts, right?

Mithraism was a reboot of an older religion we might call Zurvanism, which existed between 4000 BC and 2000 BC. After this, the religion was reborn under the guidance of a series of prophets called Zoroaster or Zarathustra. There was a reboot around 1400 BC, and at least two between 1000 and 0 BC, which brings us to the time of Jesus, who definitely utilized Mithraic ecclesiology if not dogma.

What the authors present is basically a two-fold religion: Mithraism is Christianity for the nobles and Christianity is Mithraism for the poor, which is to say, the guilds, because you can't have organized religion without money. A series of Magi visit Rome and initiate a series of Roman Caesars into Mithraism. One very interesting story was the initiation of Nero, during which the fire of Rome occurred and after which he blamed Christians, and crucified hundreds and perhaps thousands of them in his garden. We read about this story from Acts and various histories, but this book tells the real story: to become enlightened, Nero is convinced that he needs human sacrifice. This seems to have been a mis-interpretation of the ancient religion as passed down by the Magi themselves.

The original metaphor of sacrifice involved the ritualistic killing of the Amanita mushroom, which euphemistically was said to be the body of the god, of the priest and of the initiate. The Soma wine that was pressed from the Amanita and various other sundry drugs added to the mix was the "blood" of the god. Somehow, and we can imagine the madness of the Maenads and the berserking of the Berserkers here, the idea of actually killing people took root, and it seems that this occurred several times over the course of the history of Mithraic reboots.

The authors present many quotes of historians about medicinal herbs which Wasson, Allegro, Irvin, Ott, Hoffman (Albert), Rush, McKenna et alia have missed. I wish all of them could write a book together amalgamating their respective research. Let's remember that the overarching figure among these authors is Carl A. Ruck, who has become famous for his non-dramatic treatments of entheogenic pharmacology and what I call "Myco-Mythology".

Buy this book just because Ruck was one of the authors. You will never regret it.
HASH(0x95f73e58) out of 5 stars Very interesting 25 Jun. 2014
By Val - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There is a lot of anthropological history that is clarifying and I really liked the way the information was presented.
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