NOW SERVING Psychedelic Culture

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Uncovering the role that hallucinogenic plants played in the development of Judaism and Christianity begins with understanding pre-Christian fertility rituals, says author and independent researcher Jan Irvin. “When survival depended on the fertility of the earth, and fertility was a gift of the gods, people sought to promote fertility by appealing to divine power. The swiftest and surest way to know the mind of god was through the use of herbal drugs.”

In his most recent book, The Holy Mushroom: Evidence of Mushrooms in Judeo-Christianity, Irvin revisits the groundbreaking 1970 work of John Allegro, titled The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, in which Allegro argued that Christianity was intentionally devised to disguise the activities of a secret mushroom cult, whose teachings were eventually forgotten.

Irvin builds on evidence suggesting that elements of ancient religion, including the ritual use of Amanita muscaria, the sacred mushroom, survived into Medieval times. Allegro’s primary example of this is the basis for Irvin’s new research the presence of a thirteenth-century fresco in Plaincourault, France that illustrates Amanita muscaria as the Tree of Life.

The concept that human contact with hallucinogenic plants has played a major role in shaping history is rapidly gaining traction and Irvin’s work helps to advance this area of study.

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