Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Exegesis: The True Eye

Truer words...

I've been neck-deep in the Mystery religions, which are pretty well-documented by ancient sources. What's crystal-clear to me is that the Mysteries of Isis-Demeter, Cybele, Osiris-Dionysus, Horus-Mithras and the rest* were Entheogen cults, who for many centuries were deeply threatening to the political and religious authorities of their time.

Maybe in ways we don't yet understand: almost as soon as they finally became widely acceptable, Rome suddenly- and inexplicably- changed its state religion° and wiped the Mysteries out (calling William Bramley, white courtesy telephone).

What's also crystal clear to me is that the Mysteries began in Egypt a long time ago, when its climate was moist enough for mushooms to grow wild. I also stumbled upon an important paper in which a writer argues (persuasively in my opinion) that the Egyptians later cultivated these mushrooms for use in rituals.†

Hence the high position given to the lowly dung beetle (Scarab)- mushrooms often grew on cow manure. This also explains why Osiris-Dionysus was identified with the bull. The Road to Eleusis argues that the Mysteries of Isis-Demeter were probably based around psychedelic compounds derived from ergot, a parasitic fungus which grows on cereal grains.

The True Grail

These are incredibly exciting times for anyone interested in ancient religion or mythology, because I'm convinced that the "mystery" behind these wild, ecstatic cults has been lost for 17 centuries, which led to all of the weird corruptions and distortions (including some pretty stupid ones) that have been used to kill and dominate people. It may take at least another century for it all to sink in, but I've sensed a grudging acceptance to the entheogenic paradigm of ancient religion amongst academics. Maybe because most of those in charge of the Ivory Tower themselves had experience with these compounds in their youth.

The paper I mentioned is "The entheomycological origin of Egyptian crowns and the esoteric underpinnings of Egyptian religion" by Stephen R. Berlant. Here's the synopsis:
In this paper, I theorize that the Egyptian White and Triple Crowns were originally primordia of the entheogenic Psilocybe (Stropharia) cubensis, which an Egyptian tale known as Cheops and the Magicians allegorically explained grew on barley, and that Osiris was the God of spiritual rebirth because he personified this and other entheogenic mushrooms. I go on to theorize that the plant known commonly as the Eye of Horus, which the Egyptians included in cakes and ales designed to spiritually rebirth the living and the dead, was an entheogenic mushroom cap entirely analogous, if not identical, to Soma. Finally, I explain why so many scholars failed to discern these identities and relationships for so long.
Here's a quoted passage from the Ambrosia Society website:
But the Eye of Horus was heretofore unexplainably also a plant from which the Egyptians made an elixir and cakes they believed could confer immortality on people, about which E.W. Budge wrote: "The gods nourished themselves with celestial food which was supplied to them by the Eye of Horus, that is to say, they supported their existence on the rays of light which fell from the sun which lit up heaven, and they became beings whose bodies were wholly of light. According to one myth the gods themselves lived upon a ‘wood or plant of life,’ which seems to have grown near the great lake in Sekhet-hetep, round which they were wont to sit . . .. In other places we read of ‘bread of eternity’ and ‘beer of eternity.’" (Budge, 1969a,b, vol. I, p. 164)

...In addition, eyes, like suns, are very appropriate symbols of entheogenic mushroom caps, because ingesting such caps induces the luminous phenomena that solar and lunar symbols so aptly describe metaphorically. Hence, such caps were reputed to give people the ability to see into other realms of reality.
Now, what's fascinating about these ancient cults is that they were by no means a bunch of stoners. Like the Mesoamerican shamans, they took their practices seriously. The Greater Mysteries of Eleusis (Greek for "Advent") were only experienced once in a lifetime, though there were lesser mysteries open for repeat visitors. But partaking in these sacraments required discipline, study and the strictest morality.

Anyone else think this formula was originally a recipe?

But as I said, they were wiped out in a pretty brutal fashion by the Church (the old "eliminate the competition" routine). And that led to 17 centuries of people trying to figure out just what the hell the Mysteries were about. Out of that came some strange corruptions, like some of the secret societies of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, which in turn inspired the garbled slanders against the Mysteries you still see out mouldering in the conspirasphere, all of which ultimately spring from the hysterical hausfrau mentality of Fundamentalism.

When I'm done with the book I'll return to the Alien Dreaming and the Widening Gyre series, which I recommend to anyone who has stumbled across this blog. Also watch (or re-watch) The Pharmacratic Inquisition- I can't possibly recommend that film highly enough.

Finally, let me just reiterate that I approach this material as a student of mythology, not as a communicant, so I have no ulterior motive in disseminating this information. I'm not proselytizing- this is about historical truth.

PS: Also read Michael Tsarion's appendix on his Irish Origins of Civilization website for more mycological symbolism.

° To realize how shocking Constantine's "conversion" was, just imagine if Tony Blair converted to Islam. No more than 1 in 10 Roman subjects were Christians at the time and most of these were in the lower classes.

† Read up on theories on the Manna from Heaven from Exodus.

* Not a news flash, but Demeter and Dionysus are simply Greek adaptations of Isis and Osiris. By late antiquity, they were widely known as Isis-Demeter and Osiris-Dionysus. Apollo and Horus were understood to be the same, but Harpocrates- or Horus the Child- was recognized separately in the Roman Isis cult and symbolized the Mysteries themselves.
I'd argue that Mithras and Horus are probably drawn from the same Mesopotamian source, somewhere in modern-day Iran.
Horus is also associated with the Tauroctony in the Book of the Dead.


  1. did I just magically will this post into being? I've got 2 essays to write this weekend. This subject was going to be one. thanks for all the sources.

    pharmacratic inquisition is good, i feel like it tries to answer too much, without digging in enough, no? but i suppose that would be a much longer movie. I haven't read the book, does it go deeper?

    anyways, thanks for the post, and this whole damn blog for that matter, since reading "our gods..." I've gone head first down this rabbit hole and your blog has helped keep me a little anchored.

  2. Hello

    I watched the Pharmacratic Inquisition after your first referral - it was a great doco - thanks for the lead.

    It's a pity we live in a society really stripped of shamans and mentors that could otherwise help us and lead us to understand these things so much better.
    There seems to be so much disinformation out there concerning 'drugs' that even a profoundly personal insight while 'stoned' on something can carry with it the seeds of doubt about what you experienced.
    Was it real or are you just going crazy (like we are educated to believe)?
    I think we carry a lot of collective baggage in this field and it's unhealthy because there is so much knowledge there waiting to be tapped!


  3. right, to our society, shamans have become nothing more than the crazy town drunkard, whose suffering from a myriad of psychosis that must be treated.

  4. Cheers, guys- let me just suggest this. Being drunk or stoned is no threat in this society- look at all the beer and drug commercials on TV. Having an intimate experience/relationship with the source of all being is.

  5. I believe this article is going to cause some serious rabbles. But its funny that slowly but surely a new religion is creeping out.
    the best like of this article is this one "The first sentence should now read "in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth" ". God is a not the creator anymore but only a scientist.

    anyways, this phrase isn't bad either "Prof Van Wolde, who once worked with the Italian academic and novelist Umberto Eco", here in Italy it is well known that Umberto Ecco is a Rosecrutian(nothing wrong with that if you know what their beliefs are).

  6. Love this topic. Wouldn't be surprised if the Greeks had an LSD type brew, given their high civilization. Psilocybin mushrooms would seem to be the most likely candidate for use by ancient civilizations, and even earlier ape-man folks,(due to strength of drug high and proliferation) if you are partial to evolution, Terence Mckenna books are awesome on this topic and others. India's " holy cow" tradition is speculated to be possibly due to mushrooms growing on cow dung.
    For anyone interested in a w-holy experience, I strongly recommend the Peyote Way church in Arizona, fly direct to Phoenix

  7. Hi Chris,

    Speaking of "historical truth" as you mention...I will never forget an episode on History Channel, I believe, a couple years back or so about the daily life of ancient Egyptians.

    The episode re-created daily life with actors and demonstrated the way the Egyptians ate, bathed worshiped and most amazing to me...what they drank ALL the time. They NEVER drank water.

    The narrator said that because the waters of the Nile or desert sand wells were never fresh and clean enough for drinking, the Egyptians drank a fermented beer instead! It was even given to children.

    One would think, from an electrolyte point of view, their thirst would never be satiated. And constantly drinking the sugars in a fermented beer would also induce insulin problems which could lead to hallucinations. Sort of like the diabetes a long term alcoholic develops.

    I remembered thinking at the time that those people had to have been in a perpetual state of intoxication. This constant intoxication would also explain the Egyptian mythology. This was a way of life for these people...a sort of constant religious intoxication as well.

    So your post definitely rang true for me and I look forward to more from you on this fascinating subject.

    Thanks, Chris!

  8. Sorry, Chris, but while entheogens did likely play a part, I believe that Crowley and co. knew exactly what they were doing with the XIº OTO ritual. And that will maybe make the significance of the Scarab, which deposits its seed in a ball of dung, immediately recognizable in all its naked glory. How else would you explain Set and Horus' homoerotic trysts?

    Sex, drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll: the true Holy Trinity. As Ziggy Stardust proclaimed, "the church of man-love is such a holy place to be."

  9. Does anyone know if the Amanita Muscarias that are sold on the internet any good?

  10. This article sits pretty well "on the square" with my own current understanding. The experience of "ego-death" was the "climax" of the Mysteries.

    Once I realized that, and actually accepted it, it was like the symbols and ritual fell into place. Kinda like Jodie Foster in Contact, when the cosmic "instructions" for the Contact Device are put into their proper 3D perspective - the "aha" moment.

    Going back to my mushroom cloud,


  11. And while I'm posting, Eleleth joins in with the homoerotic slant. Perfect.

  12. Hey Anoy at 10:02, the amanita mushroom can be found at all the state parks along the OREGON COAST DURING THE WINTER, Be very careful how much you consume. It is an intoxicant not a psyche a dellic. More of a soma. You can skin them and bake the skins at 350 in the oven for 20 minutes. The active compounds are Muscarin and iotonic acids. Fly agaric is what is sold in magazines and internet? I consider magic mushrooms much more interesting, like liberty caps ( which can be found on the Oregon coast in grass fields that have milk cows that are wet from rain.)A very colorful experience indeed. I do consider magic mushrooms as an intelligent lifeform. They can clear many cobwebs from our psyche.The right setting is key. Interesting essay CK. Dennis

  13. "Maybe in ways we don't yet understand: almost as soon as they finally became widely acceptable, Rome suddenly- and inexplicably- changed its state religion° and wiped the Mysteries out"

    Wellllllllll it could be argued that the Council of Nicea was when the Church took on the trappings of various religions and sects, kitting out Jesus in the raiment of the Sun God - in particular Mithras (with the dying/resurrection and his birthday on December 25th - Dies Natalis Solis Invicti - itself built on Saturnalia, the origin of Xmas present, so we should all be grateful ;) ). This would mean they were eliminating the competition.

    The problem was it seems to have been the adopting of surface features and a loss of the inner truths, so a lot of the history of the esoteric/occult in Europe has been an attempt to rediscover this.

    Of course, the work of John Allegro might have some bearing on this too. The question on entheogen use within the Church is still up in the air.

  14. Well, Chris already touched a bit upon the homoerotic aspect with his series on the movie "Hancock". It was, after all, John Allegro who wrote in The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that the real translation of “Jesus Christ on the Cross” was “erect phallus anointed with sperm.”

    Crowley identified the Eye of Horus with the anus, and in the academic book Seth: God of Confusion, pages 49-50, we read:

    "Osiris NN, take for thee the finger of Seth, that causes the clear eye of Horus to see. Osiris NN, take for thee the clear eye of Horus, that is lighted by the tip of Seth's finger.'' . . .

    We surmise that it can be said that the finger of Seth lights up the eye of Horus, because it is the phallus of Seth that is thought of.

    I hope this isn't overstepping any boundaries. As Chris says, "I'm not proselytizing- this is about historical truth."

  15. Anonymous Amanita- I tried some dried ones a few years back, cannot recommend. Advice from Dennis Igou was very good. Psilocybin mushrooms aka liberty caps, magic mushrooms are the real deal. These can be grown at home in a fish tank purchasing spores off the net. I don't have a recommended site, but the psilocybe fanatacus method became a very popular grow method. Good Luck

  16. Eleleth - you may or may not already know that my blog is essentially a personal syncretic examination of my experience as a religious gay man. So I don't discount the interpretation of the Mysteries to include an homoerotic element. Indeed, Dionysus' guide to the underworld was a gay man, so go figure. But it also involved entheogenic plants. Funny how "bud" means both smoking a bowl and f*ck buddy.

    Word veri: Doomisc. Dr. Doom, at your service!

  17. Think about it- do you really think the primary icon in ancient Egypt was the anus? And that the gods made bread and beer out of it? Come on.

    Horus' eyes are plucked out in the battles, right? I think that's a bit more likely. And don't forget- Ancient Egypt existed for a long time- they had plenty of misinterpretations and corruptions of their own. Which is not to say there isn't a ton of homoeroticism to be found in the Ancient Mysteries (or ahem, the modern one), and certainly androgyny is everywhere. Which I'm certain has a lot to do with the fact that mushrooms have the phallus and the breast/womb. And also because they didn't have the same hangups about sex that we do today. The point of the Horus-Set story is that adult males could penetrate anything they liked (Horus was still a youth, don't forget), but it was taboo to be penetrated. Prison rules, as the War Nerd should pithily put it.

    But of course, rules are always made to be broken, which I have no doubt they were. The more you read all of this literature the more you realize nothing at all has changed.

    But Soapie's point about the beer and bread is fascinating- the Egyptians were filled with yeast. Which probably helped metabolize the mushrooms.

  18. On re-reading that tract- the finger of Set could be the stem and the Eye the cap. Especially in context of the sacred sight with Osiris and the rest. Just like the fractions thing with the eye was one half water, one quarter mushroom, one eighth this, one sixteenth that....

  19. OMG - I just realized that your mushroom pic at the top of this post has a nibble taken out, almost exactly like the infamous "apple" in the story of Genesis. Or the Apple computer logo...

    And now my word veri is "entho", I sh*t you not. That's just hilarious. Your blog is a mushroom trip - a magical mystery tour.

  20. Secret Sun- servin' up syncs since 2007.

    One more thing- the association (or more accurately correspondence) with the Eye also probably comes from the fact mushrooms grew in manure. Also the Liberty Cap was worn by Mithras- I also believe that the blood from the bull was hallucinogenic wine used in their ceremonies.

    I'm liking that mushroom analogy with the example Eleleth gave us.

  21. There are two eyes—Set stole the left eye of Horus, which became the Moon. The right eye remained as the Sun. So, you see, the Egyptians, being very clever dicks indeed, were working on multiple levels of meaning: astrological, physiological, and ... pharmacological.

    You certainly can't make this stuff up. The origins of the Gnostic eucharist are another post in itself.

  22. "Drugs and f***ing- inspiring religions since 10,000 BC"®

  23. This next Word Verification has prompted me to comment again:

    yes indeed.

  24. Chris,

    If the mushroom or other Mystery "substance" is a doorway or gate to other realities or to even The Source; how do we know that this reality, we are experiencing right now, is not also one of those "substance" experiences?

    This reality is fixed and bound by physical laws as are supposedly any other existing universes or realities. If we could ever know for sure, each reality would seem to me to have its own physical limitations.

    So, I see our human fascination with the Mystery as perhaps subconscious recognition of how we got "here." Perhaps all the signposts: mythology, whether in art, sculpture; architecture, culture or imagination; are just guides that our subconscious was conditioned to observe in this reality as a sort of lifeline.

    In this light, I see Harpocrates with finger to mouth to hush the secret lest we lose our place in this reality. Learning the secret to the way out of this reality would necessarily in essence cause a psychotic break and possibly death (of existence in this reality).

    Thanks, Chris. I really enjoy exploring these possibilities with the information in your posts and with the great comments.

  25. Welllllll if we are going down this road:

    The sex magick of Jesus Christ, including the... dirty secret that Reuss discovered Crowley had stumbled across - felching.

  26. Of course, one of the concepts of PK Dick's otherwise pretty straightforward novel The Transmigration of Timothy Archer was that Jesus was actually part of a mushroom drug cult with the Last Supper as a reenactment of the ritual procedures for taking the mushroom and becoming immortal.

    Naturally, fungus has played an important role in our food from making bread to all alcoholic beverages.

  27. Something you wrote has rubbed me the wrong way for a while now, "they were by no means a bunch of stoners- like the Mesoamerican shamans, they took their practices seriously."

    I think this smacks of western cultural elitism. Different isn't better. Formal organization does not indicate something is culturally more significant.

    All these roads are leading to the same place. Even though A and B are opposites in our dualistic world and the western mind believes that only "one" answer is correct, they are both true.

    Your writing seeks A or B. I say yes. It is both, and none, all at the same time.

    The drugs are the importance and thus Jesus is a metaphor and the story is just a veil.

    The story is the importance and thus Jesus is just a metaphor for truth--the various X files are ways for us to experience the mystery.

    The aliens are a metaphor.
    The aliens are real.

    I dig your stuff. We don't inhabit the same world, but I'm pleased you are out there doing your work.

  28. I think you may have misinterpreted what I said, Ishmie- I meant that *like* the Indigenous shamans the Mystery cults were serious about their practice. I'll repunctuate.

  29. Sorry.
    I think your punctuation was fine.
    Bad reading on my part.
    Nice work.

  30. Out of all the gods, it is Dionysos I have been attracted to the most. Don't know why.....;)
    Being gay, and he being ambiguous;
    his obvious connection with entheogenic orgia, and the fascinating wild images.
    I am feeling possessed to do a blog about him---if anyone knows of any images where it could be said to seem like his connection with psilocybin mushrooms please let me know?
    I know Professor John Rush has done something about Jesus's connection with them--images, and we know that Jesus and Dionysos 's very names are almost if not exactly cognate (Allegro)

    I believe original DIonysian Mysteries are more eath-centred and it was the philosophical Orphism which expropriated the cult making it a transcendental mysticism
    I believe this was disastrous. Not that there isn't a transcendtal dynamic--of course there is, but not to split it off from Earth and sensuality

  31. i recently tripped on psylocybin. i kept seeing the capstone on the pyramyd in the dollar bill. like wallpaper inside o dome room. i wonder the connection since some involved in the inception of government were numerologists.

  32. The scarab also is a diagram of the 7 parts of the head/face, in Sufi teachings.