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The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization Hardcover – Bargain Price, July 22, 2008
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“The role of psychoactive drugs has been airbrushed out of the conventional picture of Western civilization. The academics who have created this drug-free Greco-Roman world have found their nemesis in Dr. Hillman’s The Chemical Muse. With clarity and directness the author gives us back a lost chapter of our Classical heritage and by doing so restores our understanding of this past.” ---Richard Rudgley, author of Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age
“In addition to demonstrating the importance of medicinal botanicals and chemicals in alleviating the sufferings of humanity in the ancient Greco-Roman world, Dr. Hillman unveils the role that many of them played as recreational drugs, not for the lunatic fringes of society, but as sources of knowledge and religious sacraments by the leading artists, thinkers, and politicians, central to the very formation of what we admire and enshrine as the Classical tradition. The Chemical Muse inspired democracy itself and the greatest minds of antiquity.”---Carl A. P. Ruck, author of Sacred Mushrooms: The Secrets of Eleusis
"David Hillman has given us a penetrating insight into our permanent romance with altered consciousness. This important work is a myth-buster."---Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy and The China Syndrome
About the Author
D. C. A. Hillman earned an M.S. in bacteriology and an M.A. and Ph.D in classics from the University of Wisconsin. His research has been published in the academic journal Pharmacy in History. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife and children.
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It seems to be a huge secret that there was recreational drug use by the ancients. The cradle of democracy was full of druggies! I had some classical studies and none of this was EVER mentioned. But, the use of herbals and botanicals for medicinal purposes was known. The use of psychotropic substances for recreation and inspiration was decidedly not taught.
For a very fascinating look at a still taboo subject, I suggest reading ths book. It is an easy read, despite the scholarly origin for the author. I would have liked more scholarly references but probably wouldn't have understood them since I have no background in ancient Greek. I was particularly interested in the way the author tied the frequent wars to use of botanicals for medicine and relief. Life was difficult back then and
it probably did help to numb the fear and pain of a very hostile world to have potent drugs sold in the marketplace along with the kitchen produce.
Very readable and informative and a little naughty. I had no idea that the founders of Western democracy were bisexual druggies until I read this book!
Religion and the Mystery Cults were very important, not just for the average person,but the rich & poor alike. In these Mysteries, they moved into the World of the SuperNatural, with a little help of mind-altering herbs. This use of herbs to enhance the senses & open up the mind are still used in some religious pratices around the World.
Also, due to their lives being affected by diseases, stress, & hard living conditions then,the use of herbs let people of that time,(like now also) relax and be open to joy and letting their spirits be free.
This book is a treasure, read it, and understand that we are no different in dealing with stress and hard-living. Native Americans used & hopefully still use their special plants to be in the World of the Spirits, to shed their human skin, and touch the Divine.
Read, learn & enjoy,
Cannabis in Alchemical Literature: Green Lion, Philosopher's Stone
Three things suffice for the work: a white smoke, which is water; a green Lion, which is the ore of Hermes, and a fetid water... The stone, known from the chapters of books, is white smoke and water.
Of this self-same body, which is the matter of the Stone, three things are chiefly said; that it is a green Lion, a stinking Gum, and a white Fume... Having twelve pounds of Green Lion thus brought into gum, thou mayst believe...
St. Dunstan (pseudo)
A green Gum called our green Lyon, which Gum dry well, yet beware thou not burn his Flowers nor destroy his greenness.
Sir George Ripley
The Bosome-Book of Sir George Ripley
You will see marvelous signs of this Green Lion, such as could be bought by no treasures of the Roman Leo. Happy he who has found it and learned to use it as a treasure!
The Treasure of Treasures
Beware therefore of many, and hold thee to one thing. This one thing is naught else but the lyon greene...
Perfect bodies we naturally calcine with the first, without adding any impure body but one commonly called by philosophers the green lion, and this is the medium for perfectly combining the tinctures of the Sun and Moon.
The Golden Tract
And now it is known in Metallic Mysteries, that at the very Entrance, we meet the enigma of the Lion of Green growth, which we call the Green Lion; which, I pray thee, do not think is so-called, from any other Cause but its Colour.
This substance the philosophers called immature or unripe gold, or the "Green" Lion... Having said this, because he had proved it, he called the first substance "green lion" and "unripe gold," for so it is.
Then the sowing of the field can take place, and you obtain the Mineral Stone, and the Green Lion that imbibes so much of its own spirit.
The Glory of the World
Green Lion, Bird of Hermes, Goose of Hermogenes, two-edged sword in the hand of the Cherub the Tree of Life, etc.; it is our true, secret vessel, and the Garden of the Sages in which our Sun rises and sets.
The Three Treatises of Philalethes
You have then nourished and dissolved the true lion with the blood of the green lion.
The Golden Tripod
Leo Viridis- is the Ore of Hermes... The green is that which is perfect upon the stone, and can easily be made into gold. All growing things are green, as also our stone. It is called a plant. The stone cannot be prepared without green... Gold, according to some opinions.
Lexicon of Alchemy
I have seen the Green Catholic Lion, and the Blood of the Lion, i.e., the Gold of the Sages, with my own eyes, have touched it with my hands, tasted it with my tongue, smelled it with my nose.
I know well this Lyon Greene...
Hunting of the Greene Lyon
Upon the delicate leaves thereof it retaineth for our use that sweet heavenly honey which is called the manna, and, although it be of a gummy, oily, fat, and greasy substance, it is, notwithstanding, unconsumable by any fire.
Gargantua and Pantagruel
This is called the blessed stone; this earth is white and foliated, wherein the Philosophers do sow their gold... The fourth color is Ruddy and Sanguine, which is extracted from the white fire only.
The Hermetic Arcanum
O how many are the seekers after this gum, and how few there are who find it! Know ye that our gum is stronger than gold, and all those who know it do hold it more honorable than gold... Our gum, therefore, is for Philosophers more precious and more sublime than pearls...
Our Gold is not vulgar Gold, which is sold by goldsmiths, or anything like it, but it is a certain other substance more precious than Gold itself, whose green and golden Colour doth sufficiently demonstrate its original and Excellence. This Green Gold in its first root is clothed with a foul Garment, which must be separated by dissolving it by help of Mercury of Gold, first extracted out of Gold, and abounding with a bright golden Sulphur; which alone is capable of performing this Solution; because it dissolves nothing but the golden nature of Gold, which is of its own Nature...
But this Golden Mercury is wonderfully intricate to be searched out, and though it be found everywhere, yet it is most difficult to be found, by those who know it not, thought easy to those who know it, and know its Nature exactly. For it is a white and serene, ponderous, Acid and pontic Liquor, of an ethereal Substance, which is sublimed with a most gentle fire, and converted into Air...
This is that Liquor permanent and Triumphing over all Metals and Stone, the blood of the Green Lion, the Secret Fire...
Therefore I affirm that the Universal Medicine for bodies is the philosophic gold, after it has been separated and drawn to the highest state of perfection. Our common gold has absolutely nothing in common with the philosophic gold we use to begin our task. In that respect common gold is dead and clearly useless.
Philip a Gabella
By gold I mean our green gold- not the adored lump, which is dead and ineffectual.
Take the fire, or quicklime, of which the philosophers speak, which grows on trees, for in that God himself burns with divine love.
It appears then that this Stone is a Vegetable, as it were, the sweet Spirit that proceeds from the Bud of the Vine...
Count Bernard Trevisan
Trust my word, seek the grass that is trefiol. Thou knowest the name, and art wise and cunning if thou findest it.
The Sophic Hydrolith
You ought to know concerning the Quintessence, that it is a matter little and small, lodged and harbored in some Tree, Herb, Stone, or the like...
The Tomb of Semiramis
It contains the fire of Nature, or the Universal Spirit; with Air as its vehicle it contains Water, which must be separated in the beginning of the work, and also earth which remains behind in the form of caput mortuum, where the fire has left it, and is the true Red Earth wherein the fire dwelt for a while. The subject, duly collected, should not be less than eight nor more than sixteen ounces: place it in a china or glazed basin and cover it loosely to keep the dust out.
Rosicrucian Aphorisms and Process
Long have I had in my nostrils the scent of the herb moly which became so celebrated thanks to the poets of old... this herb is entirely chemical. It is said that Odysseus used it to protect himself against the poisons of Circe and the perilous singing of the Sirens. It is also related that Mercury himself found it and that it is an effective antidote to all poisons. It grows plentifully on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia...
The peace god of Cyllene had given him a white flower,
Moly the gods name it, and black is the root that holds it.
Depart from me, thou murky cave of Circe, for I am ashamed,
Belonging as I do to heaven, to eat acorns like a beast.
Rather do I pray to receive from God the soul-healing flower Moly,
The good physic against evil thoughts.
The most renowned of herbs, on Homer’s testimony, discovered by Mercury as a remedy against all kinds of poisons….
All-heal grows in abundance and best in the rocky ground Psophis, Moly about Pheneos and on Mt. Kyllene… it is used against spells and magic arts.
In Thrace near the Hebrus there grows a plant which resembles the origanum (wild marjoram); the inhabitants of that country throw the leaves on a brazier and inhale the smoke, which intoxicates them.
I wasn't born on wandering Delos nor out of the waves of the sea nor 'in hollow caves', but on the very Islands of the Fortunate, where everything grows 'unsown, untilled'. Toil, old age and sickness are unknown there. There's no asphodel, mallow, onions, vetch and or any other such worthless stuff to be seen in the fields, but everywhere there's moly, panacea, nepenthe, marjoram, ambrosia, and lotus, roses and violets and hyacinths, and gardens of Adonis to refresh the eye and nose. Born as I was amidst these delights I didn't start life crying, but smiled sweetly at my mother straight away.
Praise of Folly
Our secret fire, that is, our fiery and sulfurous water, which is called Balneum Mariae... This water is a white vapor.
The Secret Book of Artephius
Know the secret fire of the wise, which is the one and sole agent efficient for the opening, subliming, purifying, and disposing of the material.
Letter to the True Disciples of Hermes
Study, then, this fire, for had I myself found it at the first, I should not have erred two hundred times upon the veritable material.
The Secret Fire
No philosopher has ever openly Revealed this secret fire, and this powerful Agent, which works all the Wonders of the Art.
The Hermetic Triumph
Mercury, i.e. the white flower, can be used and applied to the tinctures of all planets.
The Little Peasant
If you ask whether the substance of our stone be dear, I tell you that the poor possess it as well as the rich.
The Book of Alze
Mark well that which follows: The substance of the Stone of the Philosophers is common: one finds it everywhere...
Compound of Compounds
Whoever wishes to know the method of compounding the medicine ought to begin by seeding and planting it in his own garden...
This kind of precious thing will be found in every house. Nevertheless, ignorant people are not able to recognize it.
It is manifest to all men, the poor have more of it (materia prima) than the rich. The good part of it people discard, and the bad part they retain.
Men have it before their eyes, handle it with their hands, yet know it not, though they constantly tread it under their feet.
The work is easy and the medicine is not far away. If the secret is disclosed, it will be so simple that every one may get a good laugh.
Indeed, if we were to tell the vulgar herd the ordinary name of our substance, they would look upon our assertion as a daring falsehood. But if they were acquainted with its virtue and efficacy, they would not despise that which is, in reality, the most precious thing in the world.
One ounce thereof is better than fifty pound.
There is an Hearbe in India, of pleasaunt smell, but who so commeth to it, feeleth pleasant smart, for there breede in it, a number of small Serpents.
Euphues and His England
The fourth method of awakening [i.e. enlightenment] is through the use of specific herbs. In Sanskrit it is called aushadhi… knowledge of the herbs is a closely guarded secret…
By means of drugs and incantations one may change bronze into gold. By skilful use of chemical substances, silver may be transformed into gold and gold into silver.
Prafulla Chandra Ray
This stone is of delicate touch, and there is more mildness in its touch than in its substance. Of sweet taste, and its proper nature is aerial.
Khalid said: Tell me of its odor, before and after its confection.
Morienus answered: Before confectioning, its odor is very heavy and foul. I know of no other stone like it nor having its powers. While the four elements are contained in this stone, it being thus like the world in composition, yet no other stone like it in power or nature is to be found in the world, nor has any of the authorities ever performed the operation other than by means of it. And the compositions attempted by those using anything else in this composition will fail utterly and come to nothing. The thing in which the entire accomplishment of this operation consists of the red vapor, the yellow vapor, the white vapor, the green lion, ocher, the impurities of the dead and of the stones, blood, eudica, and foul earth.
Begin in the Creators name, and with his vapor take the whiteness from the white vapor. The whole key to accomplishment of this operation is in the fire, with which the minerals are prepared and the bad spirits held back, and with which the spirit and body are joined.
In answer to you question about the white vapor, or virgins milk, you may know that it is a tincture and spirit of those bodies already dissolved and dead, from which the spirits have been withdrawn. It is the white vapor that flows in the body and removes its darkness, or earthiness, and impurity, uniting the bodies into one and augmenting their waters.
Without the white vapor, there could have been no pure gold nor any profit in it.
The Book of Morienus
All true philosophers agree that the First Matter of metals is a moist vapor...
On the Philosopher's Stone
The philosopher's mercury is an unctuous vapor
Our true and real Matter is only a vapor... This Green Dragon is the natural Gold of the Philosophers, exceedingly different from the vulgar, which is corporeal and dead... but ours is spiritual, and living... Our Gold is called Natural, because it is not to be made by Art, and since it is known to none, but the true Disciples of Hermes, who understand how to separate it from its original Lump, tis also called Philosophical; and if God had not been so gracious, as to create this first Chaos to our hand, all our Skill and Art in the Construction of the great Elixir would be in vain.
There are two vapors: the light and the heavy. They are the steam and the smoke. They are the dry and the moist. The smoke is the dry, the steam is the moist. The smoke is the soul, the steam is the spirit, and it is the moist.
Muhammed Ibn Umayl al-Tamini
Silvery Water, or The Chemical Tables of Senior Zadith
Many who found it were so intoxicated by its fumes that they remained in their place and could no longer raise themselves.
An Anonymous Treatise on the Philosopher's Stone
Another burned his eyes out, and was thus unable to supervise the calcination and the fixation: or bleared his sight with smoke to such an extent that before he cleared his eyes the nitrogen escaped. Some died of asphyxiation from the smoke. But for the greatest part they did not have enough coal in their bags and were obliged to run about to borrow it elsewhere, while in the meantime their concoction cooled off and was utterly ruined. This was of very frequent, in fact of almost constant, occurrence. Although they did not tolerate anyone among themselves save such as possessed full bags, yet these seemed to have a way of drying up very rapidly, and soon grew empty: they were obliged either to suspend their operations or to run away to borrow.
The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart
These blear'd eyes
Have wak'd to read your several colours, sir,
Of the pale citron, the green lion, the crow,
The peacock's tail, the plumed swan.
Thou has descry'd the flower, the sanguis agni?
They concur in stating that there is a despised and common substance, from which, with little trouble and expense, may be obtained not only the mercury, but also the sulphur and salt, identical with that in silver and gold. This substance is, of course, not named in their practical working, as a recipe; they do not say, “Take so and so.” They say: “Take antimony, or cinnabar, etc.”
The philosophers have called this maid and blessed water by many thousands of different names in their books. They call it heaven, a heavenly water, a heavenly rain, a heavenly thaw, a May thaw, water of Paradise, an aqua fortis and an aquam Regis, a corrosive aquafort, a sharp vinegar and liquor, also Quintam essentiam vini, a waxy green juice, waxy mercurium, green water and Leonem viridis, quicksilver, menstruum or blood. They also call it urine and horse piss, milk and virgin’s milk, water of arsenic, silver, Luna or Lunae water, woman, a female seed, a sulphuric steam and smoke, a fiery, burning spirit, a deathly all-penetrating poison, a dragon, a scorpion which eats its young, a hellish fire of horse dung, a sharp salt, sal armoniacum, a common salt, a lye, a viscous oil, the stomach of an ostrich which eats and digests all things, an eagle, a vulture and hermetic bird, a vessel and Sigillum Hermetis, a melting and calcinating oven, and innumerable other names of animals, birds, plants, waters, juices, milks and blood, etc. They have used all these names and written of it figuratively in their books. They have suggested that such a water is made of these things, with the result that all ignorant people who have searched for it in these things, have not found the desired water.
A Magnificent and Select Tract on the Philosophical Water
Let it be sublimed in an high body and head...
Search of Perfection
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Shewing their birth and where they did proceed?
William Shakespeare, sonnet 76
Infume my braine, make my soules powers subtile,
Give nimble cadence to my harsher stile:
Inspire me with thy flame, which doth excell
The purest streames of the Castalian well,
That I on thy ascensive wings may flie
By thine ethereall vapours borne on high,
And with thy feathers added to my quill
May pitch thy tents on the Parnassian hill,
Teach me what power thee on earth did place,
What God was bounteous to the humane race,
On what occasion, and by whom it stood,
That the blest world receiv'd so great a good.
Sir John Beaumont
The Metamorphosis of Tobacco
I have (though in a despised weed) procured the good of all men.
I have cast fire upon the earth, and see, I watch until it blazes.
Gospel of Thomas
Templar cannabis recipe in Villard Folio: [...]