Title: Mushrooms, Myth and Mithras
Author: Carl A. P. Ruck, Mark A. Hoffman, Jose Alfredo Gonzalez Celdran
Publication Date: 2011
Publisher: City Lights Books
Length: 281 Pages
Review by dewdrop
If there was a sentence in this book to undergird its research, it could be this sentiment from the last handful of its pages, “Religions are always an adaptive assimilation of their displaced precedents, some more obviously than others.” This systematic study of the ritual use of a specific biological entity, the psychedelic mushroom (either the Fly Agaric or else the varieties containing psilocybin) is cross culturally complex and surfaces in sometimes otherwise contrastable faiths. The centerpiece of cultic fungal reverence, Mithraism, is examined as the child of earlier Zoroastrianism and the bewildering shadow of later Christianity. The latter was perplexed in its early days as to how something of a heathen, especially Roman, nature could have mimicked Christian ritual (ingesting the body of the deity) and even doctrine (a rising savior) so greatly while predating it. Some church fathers resorted to explanations of Satan setting up the cult in mockery of the Christ who was to come later. The book also contours a relationship of cultural currents coming in from the most ancient trends of Vedic culture with its well known and sacred soma. It sees Greek culture as never adopting Mithraism for a mainstay insofar as it already possessed a beacon of psychedelic, hierophantic insight via the mysteries of Eleusis. I nod respectfully toward this book for never oversimplifying connections and prefigurations from myth to myth. I found my head spinning more than once as the authors danced around diverse notions and subtleties of theologies, astronomies, and secret societies.
Some interesting factoids would be… All Roman emperors were likely adherents of Mithraism. Being that the god Mithra’s acolytes underwent these rights underground, literally and figuratively, details mostly appear through the happenstance of anecdotes. However, Diocletion dedicated a great altar to Mithras in the Danube, seeing his domain as a second Persian Empire (link to Zoroastrianism) protected by the ecstatic deity. Mithraic clergy in his court were suspected of instigating the persecution of Christians in 303 CE. In a strange twist of fate, only decades later, church fathers demolished Mithraic sanctuaries once Constantine made Christianity a state religion. Depictions of Mithra slaying the bull, known as the tauroctony, are actually secret visual representations of the classic red mushroom with white spots named Fly Agaric. The mythos follows an archetypal pattern of the hero-shaman acquiring attributes of the deity as well as of the catalyst that unites the three, namely, mushrooms.
Not only do such potentially shocking, to the traditional notions of organized religions, cosmologies actually have striking resemblance to familiar practices such as the Eucharist, there is even evidence unearthed within Judeo-Christian peoples of mushroom-generated revelations. One such example is Aaron’s magical display before Pharaoh in a window of Chartres Cathedral in what appears at first glance to be fruited flowers. Old Testament candidates exist too in the miracle rocks that spew forth water, possibly indicating the eggs stages of the Fly Agaric.
This work is a colorful collection of keys into the labyrinth of the age-old quest of humankind to refine, extend, expand, redirect, and elevate consciousness to vi