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Mushrooms and Mankind: The Impact of Mushrooms on Human Consciousness and Religion Paperback – May 22, 2003
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When learning about "mushrooms and religion", I feel it's best to originate your viewpoint from a secular/unbiased platform. James Arthur does not take this approach. A semi-accurate way to describe the style of this literature would be that James Arthur takes what would sound like wild speculation or common coincidence and presents it as fact that is less open to interpretation. Of course, this book touches on some pretty "out there" concepts, (and he does a good job of not sounding too looney) but they are concepts that do not sound right when stated as facts. An example of such: As written in the Bible, we all know the Ark of The Covenant was used to carry the 10 Commandments, right? I have no problem with challenging/expanding upon this statement, but Arthur blatantly claims, "Manna (mushrooms) was carried in the Ark of The Covenant." He states this without providing any explanation or challenge to Biblical text. Basically, this guy's writing style is more or less telling you how it is, rather than telling how it could be. I'd prefer a read that is more objective. This, of course, is James Arthur's research/thoughts/experiences, but the diction used is almost ironic. An example of this irony(IMO), would be how Arthur describes religious authorities as "stumbling religious block throwers" or something similar to that nature. Ironic because if Arthur wants to be taken seriously, he should sound more mature and not use name calling to discount people with whom he disagrees. Anyone could easily (and immaturely) call out James Arthur due to his lack of credibility and his line of work, just as he calls out religious leaders/authorities for deceiving people with prescribed dogmas.
This book is a great starter read for anyone interested in ancient religions and their associations with psychedelic mushrooms. It's brief, but leaves you with good questions for further exploration. Towards the end I felt like we could be friends, but the disposition carried by James Arthur throughout the text left me slightly frustrated. Another disappointment would be the lack of information presented regarding the religions of Native South American Peoples. These groups are ancient and known for their use of psychedelics in their religious ceremonies.
Overall a good read, I'd recommend it but with caution that the disposition of the author may be annoying.
This subject is just getting started so there are few books and what few there are are speculative. The entheogen theory of the origin of religions *makes sense*, particularly when focusing on the specifically religious aspect of religion rather than other aspects such as political, ethical, or sociological aspects.
Scholars, including esoteric and Literalist Christian scholars, agree that entheogenic plants are basically reliable triggers for religious experiencing. Historians of religion are trying to use "psychology", "anthropology", and "sociology" to explain the origin of religions. These explanatory threads point to entheogens at the fountainhead of religion, religious experiencing, and religious myth.
This book provides some evidence but most of all provides the all-important *perspective* from which we can see how well it makes good sense to look to entheogens for the origin of mystic experiencing at the root of religion. There's really no reasonable argument against the entheogen theory of the origin of religion -- it enables a full-spectrum, integral-theory explanation of religion to finally come together.
Mr. Arthur's thesis is very convincing and it makes you wonder why his ideas are not more mainstream.