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Mushrooms, Myth and Mithras: The Drug Cult that Civilized Europe Paperback – July 26, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Persephone's Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion by Carl Ruck et al "[This book] is the pious meditation of an inspired devotee, a religious book in the deepest sense, the credo of a passionate initiate. A delightful book to read." -- Wendy Doniger, Times Literary Supplement

"Mushrooms, Myth & Mithras is an extremely well-constructed academic argument proving that it is impossible to deny the connection between the use of entheogenic substances and religious practice for generations across countries and cultures. The evidence is extremely well documented in art, literature (myths and oral storytelling), and architecture. Over time, all these forms of evidence become blended into cross-cultural metaphors and ideas that show the same information coming from multiple cultures."" -- Ian Jones, Verbicide

"This book is all about the evolution of European culture, from ancient times right up through the advent and dominance of Christianity––and how it all started with and depended on shrooms. . . . I feel like I took a class on the subject." -- Rio Connelly, Slug Magazine

About the Author

Carl Ruck is best known for his work in mythology and religion on the sacred role of entheogens as used in religious or shamanistic rituals. His focus has been on the use of entheogens in classical western culture, as well as their historical influence on modern western religions. He currently teaches at Boston University. Mark Alwin Hoffman, with degrees in Religious Studies and Philosophy from San Diego State University and based in Taos, New Mexico, is editor of Entheos: The Journal of Psychedelic Spirituality. He has written on shamanism, ancient religions, early Christianity, and the role of visionary sacraments in western mystery tradition. Jose Alfredo González Celdrán is a professor of ancient Greek based in Murcia, Spain, and is the author of Las Puertas de Moeris, an historical novel, and Homres, Dioses, y Hongos (Men, Gods, and Mushrooms) on the role of psychoactive mushrooms in myth and religion, as well as essays in collaboration with an archaeologist on entheogens.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers; First Edition edition (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872864707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872864702
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,031,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This isn't the easiest book to read in that the author spends an incredible amount of time describing various Mithra artifacts, paintings, reliefs, carvings, coin motifs and other surviving artifacts. The descriptions tend to be so plentiful and varried that at times it is hard to picture them seperate especially when 2 or 3 are talked about per page at times. There are photos and drawings for some of these to give the reader the idea as well as the cover has an excellent example. My problem was that I kept getting somewhat lost trying to picture what the author is describing in rapid fire succession. Granted the author does provide references to the artifacts he talks about but there are so many that keeping them straight as a reader is fairly difficult. The symbology of the artifacts is what this book is mainly about. The fact that there survives as many artifacts as there does is amazing given that the early Christians destroyed all they could get their filthy hands on. Seems they were pissed off that Mithra had the managed to steal the tennents, rites, sacrement and legends as Christianity claimed only thing is Mithra was way way before Christ. The more than coincidence similarities between Mithra and Christ not something the early Christian church liked very much, thats why they destroyed everything they could and stole the rest. Look you want to know GOD? Eat a mushroom. You want the answers to the Mysteries? Eat a mushroom. You want to be one with GOD? Eat a mushroom. You want a spiritual experience that transcends this infernal realm? Eat a Mushroom, a Magic Mushroom. Why? Because that is what man has been doing for ever. Sorry but going to church on Sunday isn't a mystical spiritual experience. If you want a real deal mystical experience do what the Shamman, Holy Men, Witch Doctors, Pagans, Roman Soldiers and Emporers, Berserkers, Vedic Indians, Prophets of the Old and New Testement, and even the early Christians did. Eat a Mushroom.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Seeker23 on August 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
First of all it's a great book and interesting read. It goes on to explain the beliefs of cult of Mithras which existed prior to Christianity. And explains how these beleifs were borrowed/stolen and integrated into the new religion. How the symbolism of Mithras represents not only the trinity but also the act of sacrifice when the mushroom is harvested. And how these symobologies and hidden meanings were integrated into the Christian beleif system, the Eucharist being symbolic of eating the divine flesh of god which is the sacrifice of the mushroom. It goes on further to explain that the Mithras ceremony equivalent to Christian/Catholic eucharist was done in an underground chamber called a Mithraeum. And how the initiate would partake of the sacrement and while in this holy state he would stay in the underground chamber and only rise out at the end when he was enlightened.

This is symbolic of how the fly agaric would rise from the darkness (the ground) and into the light (above ground). So would the initiate start off in darkness or state of not knowing and as he would become enlightened from the revelations at the end of the trip he would rise into the light. We can see how the allegorical story of Jesus in Christianity can represent this experience of man becoming enlightened by the divine. Much as Jesus after he made the sacrifice of his life was reserrected (enlightened) three days later. Just like after the sacrifice of self by taking the mushroom one temporarily sacrifced their sanity but was enlightened or born again after it.

The book does a excellent job in explaining the parallels of the fundamental beliefs between the faiths and one begins to see how other religions also are symbolic representations of the same divine knowledge.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Scribe X.Y.Z. on July 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
An interesting approach to the mysteries of Mithras. Since as with most of the authentic mysteries nobody is alive who could or would divulge the actual secrets this book is as good as it gets in theorizing what was really behind the Mithras cult from the outside evidence. Previously I had studied with David Ulansey at CIIS in San Francisco and his book, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World which seemed controversial up to now since it concentrates on the cosmological and astronomical aspects of Mithrasism.

I had only considered this cult from an astronomical perspective but there was something missing in this approach.The authors here supply the missing links and make Ulansey's thesis more complete. The authors are more convincing that the entheogenic aspect is much more logical as to why Mithrasism would appeal to the legionnaires rather than some abstract theory on the precession of the equinoxes.

The iconography is fascinating although the authors drop so many little known details from so many myths that it's hard to keep up.

The best part of the book is in the explanation of Mithrasism and its ancient appeal as illustrated through the iconography . I was less impressed with later connections to freemasonry and post-renaissance histories which I believe were added to pad the text.

The surprise came in the appendix with an account of possible survival of the cult into Kurdish communities.
They could have deleted the masonic speculation and concentrated more on this phenomena.
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