of the Gods ?
Are mushrooms the real
food of the gods? Does it contain a hallucinogenic substance that was
known and used by ancient cultures and its priests to gain access to
the World of the Gods?
Muscaria, the “red with white dots” mushroom is not only
the central setting of many children’s stories; for the American
author James Arthur it is the “mushroom that created Mankind”.
It comes close to identifying the mushroom with god, but such a literal
identification is out of place. What Arthur is suggesting, is that what
typifies Mankind, can be found in the hallucinogenic properties of the
The Amanita Muscaria is not only famous for its appearances in fairy
tales; its colours are also linked with Santa Claus, racing through
the skies with his reindeer. Is it a coincidence that reindeer eat this
mushroom, and that it grows under the trees we seem to largely grow
for Christmas tree purposes?
of the first researchers to draw attention to the hallucinogenic purposes
of the mushroom was Andrija Puharich. Puharich worked for the American
government and is specifically famous for his involvement with the psychic
Uri Geller, who he brought to the United States for testing. Puharich
learned about the hallucinogenic mushroom through his mediums, specifically
the Dutch Harry Stone, who spoke and wrote ancient Egyptian while he
was in a spontaneous trance. He identified himself as Ra Ho Tep, an
Egyptian priest from the times of the pyramids. He described a ritual
that centred on mushroom worship. He claimed that the mushroom was worshipped
in ancient Egyptian times for its hallucinogenic power, allowing entrance
into another dimension, the dimension of the Gods.
The Egyptian Underworld was named Amenta; the mushroom was named Amanita.
Coincidence? Perhaps. What is clear, is that the Egyptian Book of the
Dead makes numerous references to food of the soul, which allowed Mankind
the opportunity to meet with the Gods. Stone told Puharich that the
Egyptians labelled this substance “the plant of life”: ankh
khut. The ankh-sign is the predecessor of the Christian cross. It is
the symbol of life. The symbol also resembles the shape of a mushroom.
Are mushrooms “stargates”? Arthur believes he has identified
symbolism in the Mithras cult that depicts such “stargates”
and which form a link between mushrooms and religion. Like many mystery
traditions, the cult of Mithras involved an initiation, as well as sacred
meals. Were mushrooms eaten during such meals?
asked Stone what exactly an initiation into the mushroom cult involved.
Stone replied that this involved “opening the door. Enter it.
Disappear through it. But it is only for those who know”. Stone
spoke of a blinding light, a thundering sound and an amazing speed which
propelled him to various places, at each of which he received specific
information – knowledge – mostly about the future.
The presence of a stargate was the central premise of an early 1990s
movie, Stargate – later reworked into a television series. The
use of the stargate in the movie is largely identical to the description
given by Stone. But Stone’s stargate is not a physical structure
– it is a mental structure, a mental landscape, created by the
A key section of Stone’s description is his ability to enter that
dimension and receive information. Is this the mechanism that might
have allowed the ancient Egyptians to successfully build their impressive
monuments? Did they delve into a pool of knowledge? Perhaps. Without
being able to positively say “yes”, it should be clear that
the concept of the pyramid and the first building of one, was an idea
of Imhotep, who was a priest. And though we should not take Stone’s
claims at face value, he does suggest that there was a mushroom cult
in ancient Egypt at the time of the pyramids.
and Puharich are not the only ones who have asked these questions. Terence
McKenna believed that the use of hallucinogenic substances was the best
method to access other dimensions. Those who had used, had witnessed
God. “Direct knowledge” in Greek means “gnosis”
and here we are back to our link with the many mystery schools, who
largely promoted this concept of “direct knowledge” of the
Gordon Wasson was another researcher who was deeply intrigued into this
type of mushroom. He stated that Amanita Muscaria was the true Soma,
the divine beverage of the Vedic and Hindu tradition. He underlined
both his own work and that of Puharich when he identified a tribe in
Mexico that was still worshipping the mushroom when he made contact
with them. This was an important breakthrough, as many of his colleagues
had labelled his theories as “improbable”. The same was
concluded about the existence of mushroom-worshipping tribes.
oldest depictions of hallucinogenic mushrooms are 7000 to 9000 years
old. They are rock engravings in the Sahara, in the Tassilli. Here is
a sequence of people that are dancing. Each dancer holds a mushroom-shaped
object in his right hand. Two parallel lines radiate from this object,
towards the central area of the dancer. Later, people would be depicted
with two horns there. It was furthermore this image that inspired the
Swiss author Erich von Däniken to label these people “Martians”.
Whereas they do not show aliens, the rocks do show an ancient mushroom
cult. It also shows that the mushroom cult was present in a region which
has been identified as a key location in the rise of civilisation. It
is also important to note that rock markings as a whole are considered
by archaeologists as aspects of initiation rituals, and thus part of
a religious doctrine. It seems that the evidence argues for just one
conclusion: from our earliest known history, there is a clear parallel
between the presence of a mushroom and religious ceremonies… to
the Gods – via the mushroom?
Greek civilisation knew the Temple of Demeter, the Goddess of the Earth,
at Eleusis. Philosophers such as Aristoteles, Plato and Sophocles partook
in its rituals. These were the participants in the “Elysian Mysteries”,
the contents of which have never been written down, even they continued
to exist until well into the Christian era.
They were amongst the thousands of pilgrims who made the 20 km long
voyage between Athens and Eleusis, in which huge amounts of money were
paid for the privilege to partake in the yearly ceremonies. From a hidden,
central room in the temple, a substance derived from mushrooms was given
to the participant. They remained in the temple for the duration of
one night, but left in the morning, “forever changed”.
the mushroom the centre of the Egyptian civilisation? Puharich states
that the Egyptian language does not have a word for mushroom. Does this
imply the Egyptians did not know of them? It seems unlikely. Though
the mushrooms needs humidity and trees to grow and Egypt might not seem
an ideal candidate to offer either, Egypt’s current climate is
different from that of 4000 years ago.
An alternative suggestion is that they did know, and that it was indeed
the “food of the gods”, which they often do refer to as
“what is it?” – a food that allowed direct communication
with the gods.
It is known that the priests made sure that the secret of how to contact
the gods was kept hidden from the general public. Perhaps it was merely
a secret because of the scarcity of the mushroom and that it was felt
that its use should be the sole privilege of the priesthood. So, the
absence of evidence, might in this case be the best evidence of presence…
for the “food of the god” was one of the best – if
not the best – secrets of ancient Egypt.
article originally appeared in Frontier Magazine 8.2 (March/April