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Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy (Anglais) Broché – 1 avril 1996


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Book by Heinrich Clark


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THIS BOOK DOES NOT, like Moses, beat around the bush. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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25 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Mushrooms, myth and magic 22 juin 2003
Par Pieter Uys - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This beautifully illustrated investigation into the entheogenic use of psychoactive mushrooms, more specifically the fly agaric or Amanita Muscaria, draws parallels between religious literature and the psychedelic experience. The author looks at ancient cultures and certain symbols in the Hindu scriptures, Judaism, Christianity and Alchemy. He believes this Amanita mushroom was the soma of the ancient Vedic people according to his interpretation of certain passages from the Rig Veda. He discusses the work of entheogenic pioneer R Gordon Wasson and then discusses the following prophets of Israel in detail: Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah and Ezekiel. With the exception of Ezekiel's visions, I did not find his ideas convincing in this regard. He seems to find mushroom references everywhere! That includes the Song Of Songs, a book he claims is a song "in praise of the divine mushroom." Hmmm, I don't know. He also deals with the story of Jesus, the last supper, crucifixion etc. and here too, I think the author is stretching it a bit. The chapter on Gnosticism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi scriptures, especially books like the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, the Apocalypse of Adam and the Apocryphon of James is very engaging, thorough and quite insightful. He also covers the Grail Legend and claim the philosopher's stone was none other than the fly agaric mushroom. The author then describes his ingestion of the sacred mushroom over a period of 31 days, when he finally had a brilliant and transformational numinous experience on the last day, as an example of heaven. He also describes a bad trip when he became nauseous and had a deeply unpleasant experience. He concludes with the observation that the proper use of entheogens requires maturity, education, instruction and guidance plus a safe and protected setting. He is convinced that the informed use of these substances challenges any system of dogma or brainwashing and claims that the expanded consciousness is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle. The final message of the book is that heaven is worth the trip. This book was great reading and although I think the author tries too hard to see a mushroom under every myth, he writes with style and offers many valuable insights. Plenty of figures, black and white illustrations and full colour photographs enliven the text and the book concludes with an index.
21 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Toward entheogen theory of all perennial philosophy forms 14 mai 2003
Par Michael Hoffman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
When I read about eating bittersweet scrolls followed by seeing visions, in Ezekiel and Revelation, it was clear that Christianity included an essential entheogen tradition. However, it was unclear which entheogens might be allegorized in those scriptures. Heinrich presents a fine and sufficient candidate.
He also presents a brilliant hypothesis that the story of the Exodus is based around ergot poisoning of the yeast supply.
To better reveal what an innovative coverage and approach the book provides, it would've benefitted from a detailed table of contents, more section subheads, and clearer chapter titles.
Chapters and their coverage of Amanita encoding:
A Brief Explanation of an Unusual Book -- defining speculative history approach and encoding of visionary plants in myth-religion
Beating around the Burning Bush -- drug use in religions ("& myth") (short)
The Soma Drinkers -- Vedic Aryans
The Fly Agaric -- effects of Amanita
Curious Evidence -- Soma, Allegro
The Dwarf Sun-God -- Vishnu, Krishna
The Red-Eyed Howler -- Rudra/Himalayas, Shiva, Hanuman, Tantra
The Secrets of Eden -- Story of Garden of Eden
The Prophets of Ancient Israel -- Abraham, Moses, ergot exodus, Elijah, Elisha, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jonah
Living Water and the Bread of Life: The Story of Jesus -- Jesus, Paul, Revelation
The Knowers of God -- Gnostics
The Mysterious Grail -- Holy Grail
Elixir: The Secret Stone of Alchemy -- Alchemy
An Artistic Conspiracy? -- Renaissance art (short)
Heaven and Hell -- author trip reports
Last Word -- summary of reasonableness of entheogen encoding in religions/groups discussed
Legend of Miskwedo -- American Indian
I commend how Clark Heinrich's book is structured to trace the presence of entheogens, particularly Amanita, through history, with Alchemy serving to represent the Renaissance period and Western Esotericism.
This is an improved second edition of the excellent book "Strange Fruit". The original title was Strange Fruit: Alchemy and Religion: The Hidden Truth: Alchemy, Religion and Magical Foods: A Speculative History.
"A speculative history" is important: Heinrich is tracing the Amanita through Western history of myth-religion, and approach that is needed more, as we fill in the presence of visionary plants in all eras/areas/groups/religions/systems of gnosis & forms of the perennial philosophy.
The pair of separate terms "religion and alchemy" obscures what his "speculative history" approach implies: there isn't in fact "religions" over here and "alchemy" over there as something set apart; neither is the "myth vs. religion" distinction helpful. The book actually contains a more full-fledged history, rather than just "religion" and "alchemy" -- Western Esotericism is covered not only by Alchemy, but also by the Holy Grail.
Some say Heinrich makes the error of seeing Amanita everywhere. On the contrary, entheogen scholarship only errs in failing to see visionary plants everywhere, wherever the perennial philosophy is present, whether called "philosophy", "gnosis", "religion", "myth", "magic", or "Western Esotericism".
Further research is needed, such as in Entheos journal, to fill in the remaining areas left after Heinrich's book, so that we at last recognize and come to see visionary plants everywhere -- in all these traditions or currents.
The book's "speculative history" approach implies coverage of finding visionary plants everywhere and finding that this "everywhere" is really just one single "place": manifestations of the perennial philosophy, or gnosis, which is universal.
The book tends to write in a voice which assumes the existence of a single individual who was the kernal for the Jesus figure, but Heinrich also points out that we have no evidence justifying a conclusion that such an individual existed. He portrays Jesus both as hierophant administering Amanita and Jesus as Amanita. He provides a fair commentary on John Allegro's contributions to recognizing Amanita in Christianity.
The book tends, like most entheogen scholarship, to treat the visionary plants themselves as the entirety of what is revealed, when in fact the gnosis itself, the principles of the perennial philosophy, are certainly the other half and perhaps ultimately the main half of what is revealed -- though in practice, revealing the visionary plants is tantamount to revealing the perennial philosophy.
Heinrich is innovative but not alone; this kind of entheogen scholarship has become a burgeoning approach and school of thought -- an increasingly standardized and established, productive research paradigm. Chris Bennett's book Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible makes a case for cannabis and other visionary plants in the Bible. Dan Merkur's book Mystery of Manna contributes additional arguments to the case for ergot in the Old Testament.
This is a model of a fine book. The prose is clear, artistic, and masterful. The photos are stunning and perfectly support his case, showing the shape-shifting Amanita in its various lifecycle stages, explaining how each stage is allegorized in Hindu, Christian, and alchemical traditions. A must-have for entheogen scholars.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An excellent book 16 octobre 2005
Par J. Jones - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Clark Heinrich's book is excellent. Clark provides practical information on the Amanita muscaria mushroom, its natural history and practical uses as a psychoactive, and he provides a "speculative history" of the role of the mushroom in human history through analysis of works of art and literary narratives.

To the newcomer to this field, much is surprising. As one begins to explore the territory, some of what Clark asserts appears to be well-supported. Some of what he says may find more support as he and others pursue lines of inquiry he opens or extends. Some of it may just be wrong, and Heinrich admits he is fully aware of the risks of exploration.

We have today a few bits and pieces of solid information about people using Amanita muscaria as a psychoactive, often in a religious context, in scattered locations around the world. For example, we have reports from western observers of Amanita use by tribes in Siberia. In addition to describing how they used it, they also described some of the local lore of the mushroom, its "nicknames" and mythology. Scholars like Heinrich have found (or, some would say, have spun) a far-flung web of speculative associations between this mushroom lore known from a few localities and the mythologies of many cultures. While the analysis of the stories passed down the ages through oral and then written traditions has many perils, another thread in the web is the persistent reappearance of mushrooms, often disguised but sometimes obviously, in paintings and sculptures through the ages. These paintings often depict the events of stories where Heinrich and others find the symbolic connections between the known mushroom lore (Siberia, etc.) and the speculated upon lore within the warp and woof of the history of culture and civilization.

Here's an example of a series of connections, from mushroom natural history, to known lore, to speculation, to "seeing is believing": the mushroom first emerges as a white "egg" shape, then grows to maturity, the cap eventually inverting so that its margins are higher than its center. If one slices across the cap, the view explosed is like that of uplifted wings of a white bird. Birds and eggs are of course an association pair, and there are reports of users of the mushroom giving it bird nicknames. In addition to this appearance of wings, there is the association of the psychoactive mushroom with visionary flight. And so Heinrich and others suggest that where we see winged angels or descending doves in words or pictures in mythology, we may be seeing psychoactive mushroom referents.

It sounds like perhaps a stretch. But then we open another book co-authored by Heinrich, "The Apples of Apollo" and find photographs of ancient Greek vase paintings of the winged Gorgon Medusa (whose blood was medicinal), and of Hyakinthos riding to Paradise on the back of a swan, and quite clearly the depicted wings bear much more resemblance to sliced mushroom caps than to the pattern of feathers on bird wings, which the artists were fully capable of rendering, had that been their intention. It appears obvious that these vase painters were communicating to an initiated audience traditions into which they were themselves initiated. If the mapping of mushroom lore onto religious symbolism is simply a "confusion" created by drug-addled minds, it appears that this "confusion" has existed a long time and surfaces again and again where we have glimpses into esoteric traditions which may have been carried on continuously for thousands of years.

Heinrich is deeply indebted to R. Gordon Wasson, the father of ethnomycology, especially for Wasson's thesis that Amanita muscaria was the "Soma" of early Hindu religion. Heinrich contributes additional information to corroborate this thesis, and his chapters on the traditions the subcontinent are a strong part of the book. Here we also have mention of the Psilocybe species.

Speculation on the role of the mushroom in the semitic traditions that brought us Judaism and Christianity were introduced by John Allegro, a tenured professor who took "early retirement" in the wake of the controversy surrounding his "The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross", which contained much far-flung speculation and a certain amount of mean-spirtedness toward both modern christians and drug users past and present. Heinrich reports on Allegro's theories and offers his own speculations on Adam, Eve, the serpent, the fruit, Moses, the visionary prophets and the New Testament. He devotes a chapter to the Gnostics, and another to the Holy Grail, a Christianized ancient Celtic legend.

It appears that Heinrich is the first person in recent history to speculate that the Amanita muscaria mushroom occupies a central role in the alchemical traditions pertaining to the Philosopher's Stone. He offers a tantalizing set of parallels between the mushroom and the "stone", and includes some illustrations from alchemical texts which are strongly suggestive of these connections. Alchemical symbolism is deliberately obscure, as the alchemists were sworn to secrecy. It was their habit to publish works regarding the stone which deliberately teased the non-initiate while entertaining the initiated ones. Alchemical traditions continued to be passed from masters to apprentices from the classical world through the medieval, into the 18th century.

Indeed, it appears that the 18th and 19th centuries mark a point of transition, as the alchemical tradition disappears. If it did indeed include a full and conscious knowledge of a tradition of the mushroom as the "Philosopher's Stone" and of its use, this is the last time we see it written about by them "in the know". Today we can only speculate and attempt to re-construct and rediscover. Heinrich's tips on mushroom use may be useful to those who would seek to rediscover the secret of the stone. Indeed, the fact that most people do not find Amanita investigations especially fruitful is one reason that speculations that this mushroom once played a huge role in human history meet with resistance. Part of the mushroom mystique is the possibility that some people of the past were more adept in mastering its use, in bringing to fruition its hidden potential.

Sexual imagery plays a role in Heinrich's speculations, and in the history of religion. The themes of unity underlying apparent multiplicity and oppositions and of creation from couplings are ancient and recurring in the human quest for meaning and in the stories that seem to have written themselves within us. The mushroom, with its columnar stem and wheel-like cap, appears to be a perfect metaphor for the creative process in which from unity dualities emerge and then join to bring about new creation. The psychoactive mushroom appears as flesh, but it releases spirit with us. Given the power of the mushroom metaphor, and the power of the mushroom, it is not surprising that Heinrich sees it "everywhere", and perhaps it is everywhere, even if not every person in history who ever painted or sculpted a winged messenger from heaven consciously intended to depict the visionary shroom. Heinrich stimulates us to see the mushroom everywhere and also to wonder how many of those who went before us have seen it thus. Perhaps more than a few of them.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Sex, drugs, and Godhead! 16 juin 2004
Par Charles Hayes - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Clark Heinrich is an exceedingly clever, authoritative writer, who keeps readers in thrall with his subject by colorful propositions and turns of phrase that tease and engage the intellect. In this speculative history, he demonstrates an astonishing erudition for religion, myth, art, and the cultural history and botanical details of the Amanita muscaria mushroom. In making his case, speculative as it is, he provides innumerable references to genitalia, sex acts, and various bodily processes and their by-products, which has a way of anchoring his often far-fetched-seeming ideas in the corporeal realm. He also piques interest when his tone turns irreverent, specifically in his treatment of the Judeo-Christian belief system he was born into, where he rightfully, if self-consciously blasphemously, points out that there is little if any reason for sentient beings to believe that the so-called miracles cited in the Bible were the work of supernatural forces. He offers a more concrete and perhaps more likely explanation for seminal religious phenomena: the ingestion of Amanita muscaria and the subsequent encryption of its inspirations in the literature, rituals, and symbols of religion and alchemy. I was blown away by the amount of thoughtful research that went into this insightful and entertaining work. To arrive at his conclusionns, controversial and speculative as they are, he would have had to spend many hours poring over and interpreting esoteric texts in varying translation, and then on the trial and error of attempting to fit the Amanita key to unlock their mysteries. While I came away fairly convinced that the Amanita mushroom likely played a role in the development of at least some religious creeds, I found some of the author's "proof" to be of the "you had to be there to really appreciate it" sort. The "evidence" is sometimes so visual or semantic and so multilayered, that it dosen't hit home with imeediacy. Several questions emerge. Does the Amanita have any role in the Islamic faith (a almost entirely overlooked in this volume)? If so, why wasn't it documented? If not, how and why would it have eluded the third of the three Abrahamic creeds? Why is it that in all the instances of Amanita cult around the world, the identification of the mushroom in question is disguised and not outrightly revealed? Why if even mainstream religions are allegedly built on visionary experiences prompted by the "plants of the Gods" is the identity of these plants not more plainly revealed, at least from some likely sources or at certain logical historical junctures? It's hard for me to believe entheogenically derived inspiration would be so rigorously relegated and obscured as "forbidden knowledge" over the milennia. The ambiguity of encryption leads to speculation that is bound to turn nutty and implausible even in the most capable hands. Still, by incisive analysis as well as persuasive insinuation, Heinrich's highly readable and scholarly work makes a strong case for the entheogenic underpinnings of religion. The narrative of his own personal experience with Amanita ingestion is hilarious, compelling, and numinously stirring -- so much so that I included an excerpt of it in my own book Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures published in the interim between the release of the original, British edition of Heinrich's book, Strange Fruit, and the expanded, American, edition, the one I'm reviewing here. This is a fun and brilliantly illustrated book. Enjoy!
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
shroomified 4 mars 2004
Par Brian Wallace (Co-author of It's Not Your Hair) - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
a well-researched (but fun-loving) exploration of the psychedelic underpinnings of religion. Vibrantly illustrated and effectively carrying the torch from greats such as R. Gordon Wasson, this one's a keeper.
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