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From the Bodies of the Gods: Psychoactive Plants and the Cults of the Dead Paperback – May 16, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Park Street Press (May 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594774587
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594774584
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“After this learned exploration of how necrophilia, hallucinogens, body fluids, human sacrifice, and ancestor worship powerfully influenced the major religions like Judaism and Christianity, it will be hard to view those venerable faiths and institutions in the standard, conventional way. During his stunning intellectual romp, Lee also provides fascinating, even ‘heretical,’ insights into such personages, places, and practices as the Roman catacombs, Last Supper, Eucharist; Neolithic, Hebrew, Greek, and Egyptian burial rites; Horus, the Virgin Mary, Moses, Jesus, the Knights Templar, veneration of saintly relics and the Holy Grail, Minoan mead-making, Dominicans, corpse-painting, psychedelic mushroom-growing, anointing, witch-hunting, Prometheus, and goddess worship.” (Sanford Berman, award-winning librarian and author of Prejudices and Antipathies)

“...the book is a trove to delve into and it’ll be interesting to see what further scholarship it gives rise too.” (Psychedelic Press UK, July 2012)

“From time to time, a book comes along that stops you in your tracks and stuns your mind. From the Bodies of the Gods is such a book. It will—and should—provoke intense discussion about some of the most fundamental underpinnings of Western religions.” (Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Words, Reinventing Medicine, and The Power of Premonitions)

“An insightful analysis on early funeral rites and ethnomycology . . . deepens our body of learning about the origins of the Christian faith and humanity’s entheogenic history.” (Rob Dickins, editor of the Psychedelic Press UK)

“These were ideas intensely debated by seminarians after the disclosures of the Dead Sea Scrolls. . . . As this book demonstrates, many passages in the Holy Scriptures are incomprehensible as anything but blatant descriptions of the Christian cult of the dead traceable back to the earliest religious rites of prehistory and prevalent throughout antiquity and medieval Catholicism.” (Carl A. P. Ruck, professor of Classical Studies, Boston University, and author of Mushrooms, Myths,)

From the Back Cover

RELIGION / CULTURAL STUDIES

“From time to time, a book comes along that stops you in your tracks and stuns your mind. From the Bodies of the Gods is such a book. It will--and should--provoke intense discussion about some of the most fundamental underpinnings of Western religions.”
--Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Words, Reinventing Medicine, and The Power of Premonitions

“An insightful analysis on early funeral rites and ethnomycology . . . deepens our body of learning about the origins of the Christian faith and humanity’s entheogenic history.”
--Rob Dickins, editor of the Psychedelic Press UK

Long before the beginnings of civilization, humans have been sacrificed and their flesh used to produce sacred foods and oils for use in religious rites. Originating with the sacred harvest of hallucinogenic mushrooms from the corpses of shamans and other holy men, these acts of ritual cannibalism and visionary intoxication are part of the history of all cultures, including Judeo-Christian ones, and provided a way to commune with the dead. These practices continued openly into the Dark Ages, when they were suppressed and adapted into the worship of saintly bones--or continued in secret by a few “heretical” sects, such as the Cathars and the Knights Templar. While little known today, these rites remain deeply embedded in the symbolism, theology, and sacraments of modern religion and bring a much more literal meaning to the church’s “Holy Communion” or symbolic consumption of the body and blood of Christ.

Documenting the sacrificial, cannibalistic, and psychoactive sacramental practices associated with the Cult of the Dead from the prehistoric Minoans on Crete to the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews and onward to early and medieval Christian sects, Earl Lee shows how these religious rites influenced the development of Western religion. In particular, he reveals how Christianity originated with Jesus’s effort to restore the sacred rites of Moses, including the Marzeah, or Feast for the Dead. Examining the connections between these rites and the mysterious funeral of Father Saunière in Rennes-le-Château, the author explains why the prehistoric Cult of the Dead has held such power over Western civilization, so much so that its echoes are still heard today in our literature, film, and arts.

EARL LEE is a professor at Pittsburg State University and the author of several books, including Raptured, Drakulya, and Libraries in the Age of Mediocrity. He lives in Pittsburg, Kansas.

More About the Author

Earl Lee was a co-author/consultant on the SciFi novel: The Hour of Lead.

He has been interested in Intellectual Freedom issues for many years. He wrote the foreword to The Jungle: The Uncensored Original Edition (See Sharp Press) and his essay on textbook censorship can be found in the bestselling anthology: You Are Still Being Lied To.

He has also written several popular parodies, including "The Screwletter Tapes" and the novel Raptured: The Final Daze of the Late, Great Planet Earth (a parody of Tim LaHaye's evangelical End-of-the-World novel, Left Behind). His work includes fiction, drama and poetry. Samples can be found at Goodreads and on his blogg "Libraries in the Age of Mediocrity"

Earl Lee was born in Illinois (near Chicago) in 1954 and is currently a faculty member at Pittsburg State University. He was recently promoted to the honorary rank of University Professor.

Lee has attended Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas (B.A. in Literature); the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (M.A. in English); Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin (teaching certification); and the University of Wisconsin--Madison (M.A.L.I.S).


He has lived in Illinois (Rockford, New Milford, DeKalb); Arkansas (Little Rock, Jacksonville, Fayetteville, Strawberry, Calamine); Tennessee (Memphis); Michigan (Pontiac) ; Wisconsin (Appleton, Ashwaubenon, De Pere, Madison, Rice Lake); Oklahoma (Enid), and Kansas. He has also been spotted wandering in the vicinity of Eureka Springs, Ark., and Nashville.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Professor John Franklin on July 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a reader and writer of texts both fantastical and skeptical, Earl Lee is eminently situated to deconstruct recent trends whether religious or popular. In connecting our lives to pre-Christian rites of the dead, the author examines texts both sacred and profane, quoting with familiarity as he examines 21st-century sensibility grounded in the centuries pre-dating and then including Jesus and his influence.

Keenly aware that he can only scratch the surface of his topic, the author wants the book to "lay the foundation for understanding how the ancient cult of the dead...contributed to the beginnings of Christian religion" (5). Indeed, Lee would happily see others clear a broader pathway as he hopes to simply "lay a trail of crumbs for others to follow" (6).

Readers seeking revelation in contemporary Christianity will find an antidogmatic scholar keenly aware of the distance between fact and faith coupled with a spirit willing to decrease this distance, to bring subject and practice closer through the researches of an enlightened mind.

Above all, the book serves two purposes: to provide "a clear explanation, albeit an unusual one, for the complex burial rites of the Egyptians, Greeks, earliest Hebrews, and early Christians"(6); and, to create "essentially a prologue to many other lines of inquiry" (6).

The work succeeds on both counts, providing well-documented interesting information refined from chat piles abandoned by less inquisitive researchers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Barton on August 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The good news is that Earl Lee has gathered together a fair amount of obscure information here and has some genuinely-interesting insight. The bad news is that the book is poorly referenced and he makes too many sweeping conclusions without backing them up.

Mr. Lee - a piece of heartfelt device - if you're going to base your whole book on the idea that Psilocybin (and/or Amanita) can grow in decaying human bodies, then back up your premise with even one piece of evidence that these mushrooms can indeed grow in this media. As much as your premise fascinated me, reading your book was like trying to talk to a friend at tea with an elephant between you. It can be done but it's very distracting.

If you ever go to a second edition, re-write it - a lot! As I said, you've got some interesting ideas but they got lost in the unsubstantiated woo-woo. The whole topic of sealing up the dead bodies is fascinating but you need to delve into the reasons behind more carefully.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda in Santa Cruz on May 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
I'm giving this book 3 stars because it is super fun, super funny, and inspired me to cook up my own theories about psychoactives, religion, and death. As other reviewers have pointed out, the book is sort of a mess, and I wish that the author had had a sympathetic but firm editor. I also wish that he had identified a red and psychoactive mushroom that grows on rotting bodies, because then the entire thesis of the book would have had a foundation in the physical world. That would have been super cool. Alas. But many wonderful books are just a few degrees askew from the physical world and we love them anyway.

The author and I have read many of the same books, and if the bibliography doesn't look familiar to you, this book is a great place to get started on early 21st-Century explorations in religeo-psychonaut-studies. The author brings together evidence from ancient texts that indicates that early Christian Agape Feasts were the kind of group psychedelic ritual that people today still long for. And he makes a good case--again using ancient texts--that The Sacrament was administered with holy oils, or "chrism," in the Greek. That's a good message to get into common knowledge, especially as popular Christian historians become completely unhinged from their own history. But the additional thesis, that these oils contained a mushroom that grew on human corpses and that the corpses were... well, the preparation methods the author proposes are not only too gross for me to describe, they are simply unnecessary. You can read the same ancient texts as he did, and come up with a sacrament that has the same effect, but without the ingredients from the local necropolis.

That said, I do recommend reading the book, and purchasing it if you can.
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