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Moses was tripping at Mount Sinai
March 7, 2008 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Biblical Entheogens: a Speculative Hypothesis. Psychology Professor Benny Shannon speculates that Moses may have been tripping when he saw God on Mount Sinai. [Via Mind Hacks.]
posted by homunculus (69 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
YHWHs not here, man.
posted by yhbc at 7:54 PM on March 7, 2008 [16 favorites]


"But not everyone who uses a plant like this brings the Torah," Shanon concedes. "For that, you have to be Moses." This is true, I tend to bring interesting new dances.
posted by MNDZ at 7:54 PM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


well, wouldn't you have to be? the demonization of mind altering substances only came well after the major religions were institutionalized, regardless of what part they might have paid in it's creation..
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 7:57 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I was definitely tripping when I saw Jerry Garcia in Indianapolis. And you know, Jerry is God, as far as some folks are concerned.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 PM on March 7, 2008


And Jesus was a mushroom, and Mohammed will probably turn out to have been a good many cups of strong coffee drunk in close sucession.

Guess you can get about anything past peer review these days.
posted by Creosote at 8:05 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Right, because what study of the bible really needs is more reductive, speculative hypotheses.
posted by felix betachat at 8:05 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


When Israel was in Egypt land
Give my people weed
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:09 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Nothing particularly new, I've heard the theory that hallucinogens were involved in the creation of most of the world's major religions before, and there may be some truth to it. More "primitive" cultures use hallucinogens in their rituals even today, and those cultures are in many ways a snapshot of the practices of ancient man. Terrence McKenna, of course, put forth the theory that hallucinogens, specifically psilocybin mushrooms, were instrumental in the development of abstract thinking and led to the genesis of the idea of religion itself.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:10 PM on March 7, 2008


Felix, dude, I thought _god_ was a reductive, speculative hypothesis.
posted by binturong at 8:15 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Far out, man... the screen is so blue and the letters are sliding around the page.
posted by not_on_display at 8:20 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


AZ, slight lyrical adjustment: "Get my people stooooooooooooned" works better, me thinks.
posted by emelenjr at 8:22 PM on March 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


Okay, so now we know what kind of bush was burning up on the mountain, so what? Who do you think hooked Moses up in the first place? That's right: The G-Man. The 10 commandments weren't the only things he got stoned up there. Kind of explains all those years wandering around in the desert, too.
posted by False Dichotomy at 8:25 PM on March 7, 2008


> I've heard the theory that hallucinogens were involved in the creation of most of the world's major religions before

There's a book by Graham Hancock called Supernatural where he talks about this stuff. The website makes it look dodgy, but I found it quite interesting.
posted by dhruva at 8:29 PM on March 7, 2008


Pretty shaky hypothesis.

Hallucinogens cause hallucinations, also the result of mental illness, stress, fever, etc. But a speculative hypothesis that Moses had the flu wouldn't be quite as exciting...
posted by iamck at 8:35 PM on March 7, 2008


If he was tripping how'd he carve out the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments?

This is bullshit, man.
posted by Camofrog at 8:39 PM on March 7, 2008


Laura Roslin was on chamalla extract. Does that mean Earth doesn't exist? Huh? Huh?
posted by brownpau at 8:39 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hallucinogens cause hallucinations, also the result of mental illness, stress, fever, etc.

You obviously haven't used them before. They cause mild to moderate visual distortions along with a drastic change in how you perceive stimuli, your surroundings, and the world in general. The structure of DNA was discovered as the result of an LSD trip, for example.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:40 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


More interesting: was Shannon tripping when he came up with this? It's hardly a new idea. I bet he'll be tripping hard next time he comes up for tenure review.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:44 PM on March 7, 2008


If he was tripping how'd he carve out the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments?

Yeah, man. Cos if you move your head like this, you can totally see letters in the stone! Far out!
posted by Brockles at 8:55 PM on March 7, 2008


well after the major religions were institutionalized

When did that happen? Where I live, they're still allowed to roam free; no restraints or anything.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:01 PM on March 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


I guess there were only ten commandments cos that's all the fingers and thumbs he had. Whoa, enough already.
posted by binturong at 9:02 PM on March 7, 2008


This is a man who claimed that he had actual interactive conversations with an all-powerful being, and that that all-powerful being mooned him.

I certainly hope he was tripping.
posted by Flunkie at 9:10 PM on March 7, 2008


Yeah, but what was God on ?

I mean, dude, look at the way of the world--He must have dropped the brown acid.
posted by y2karl at 9:10 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Back when I was studying Biblical Hebrew as part of my degree I remember not being able to find a single book from the prophetic literature where it didn't seem clear from the text that what we were looking at was the description of someone's trip. What actually caused the trip was sadly never mentioned directly and could have just as easily been the results of asceticism as herbally induced; being a student at the time I was perhaps inclined towards the latter possiblity more than evidence permits. Even so, the fun part here is 'in Southern Israel there grow two plants containing the same psychoactive molecules found in the plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic brew Ayahuasca is prepared'. So, finally, candidates. Thanks, Benny. And thanks for this post.
posted by motty at 9:14 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


I thought it might have been Oxycontin, because we read of him breaking two tablets...
posted by Tube at 9:17 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hope you can see this, because I'm rolling my eyes as hard as I can.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:21 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, really, what Marx really said was "opiate of the _Moses_"
posted by binturong at 9:26 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm with Pope Guilty and some of the others above -- the religion-due-to-tripping thing kind of strikes me as old hat. The suggestion that Moses, et al. might have ingested ayahuasca or a related chemical always sounds wildly speculative to me.

However. An interesting twist on this story that I haven't seen mentioned yet (and which I find intriguing) is the theory that bizarre experiences of this sort might be caused by an overactive pineal gland producing excess DMT. The reason this is a neat idea is that it doesn't necessarily require you to impute the existence of a psychedelic substance that's really nowhere in the historical record. (There was an interesting study on this fairly recently that now I can't find for the life of me. I'll explain in case this rings a bell with anyone:)

DMT, of course, is a highly dissociative hallucinogen that happens to be produced naturally by the human pineal gland in small amounts. But interestingly, some of the research on DMT trips shows a very high incidence (around 50%, IIRC) of reports of feelings of being visited by an alien presence. DMT is also a full dissociative, unlike LSD -- it tends to create the perception of an entirely different reality, not distorted reality (i.e., DMT hallucinations often can't be recognized as hallucinations, if that makes sense). Furthermore, DMT trips tend to be fairly brief (only 10-15 minutes generally, with effects fully fading within an hour, as opposed to multiple hours for psilocybin or LSD). (DMT is also the active ingredient in ayahuasca brew, mentioned in the linked article -- its religious links, particularly in South American shaman culture, are quite well known.)

Without taking a position on whether these "visitations" are real or not, some of the researchers conducting the study pointed out that this hints at a potentially elegant and very consistent explanation for reports of, e.g., UFO abduction -- the pineal gland tends to be most active late at night, around 3-4 AM, which is (apparently) when many alien abductions are reported. Also, a potential explanation for why some people tend to report multiple encounters could be that those individuals happen to have exceptionally active pineal glands, or even some sort of disorder that causes their bodies to over-produce DMT.

Of course, the explanation also seems to match up very well with many other "paranormal" experiences, particularly religious visions. And part of the reason the theory is so compelling is that it doesn't require you to posit the ingestion of a psychedelic substance -- it could merely be a rare or even transient pineal disorder that causes the spontaneous dissociative experience, possibly in combination with an MAOI, which is somewhat more plausible and which could be fairly innocuous on its own. And even more interestingly, dimethyltryptamine is a monoamine that's usually broken down very quickly by the body -- so if DMT was the cause of these experiences, it would leave little physical trace after the fact. This would also explain the lack of other side effects, foreign chemicals, etc.

For that last reason, of course, this theory is also very difficult to verify, but it's an extraordinarily consistent and fascinating hypothesis. And the "spontaneous synthesis" theory seems to me to be at least as plausible as, or even more plausible than, the "accidentally brewing a 5-DMT / monoamine oxidase inhibitor" explanation you often see, e.g. in the linked article.
posted by spiderwire at 10:03 PM on March 7, 2008 [11 favorites]


Ah, yes, it was Rick Strassman's book, The Spirit Molecule. (Interesting interview here.) He's a bit out there, but he seems like a fairly rational guy as well. Very interesting stuff :)
posted by spiderwire at 10:09 PM on March 7, 2008


Ah ha! Previously on MeFi. I knew I'd seen it here before. (Thanks, btw, zardoz. Obviously the thread stuck with me since I was able to recall the subject off the top of my head...)
posted by spiderwire at 10:11 PM on March 7, 2008


You can hallucinate from fasting and sleep dep, too, with dissociative symptoms that can be interpreted as numinous experiences of the divine. It's one of the reasons people would fast and stay up for days on a mountaintop to induce this "meditative" state.

Moses, Ezekiel, Daniel, John...they all exhibit classic symptoms of hallucination brought about by mental illness, stress or drugs.

If any modern day person were to recount similar experiences, even most evangelical Christians generally wouldn't be looking for a divine cause, but suggesting a mental or pharmaceutical cause.
posted by darkstar at 10:35 PM on March 7, 2008


Laura Roslin was on chamalla extract. Does that mean Earth doesn't exist? Huh? Huh?

Now with a month to go until the season premiere, it is likely every discussion area on the internet will be eaten alive by Battlestar Galactica references - i just didn't think it would start here. Metafilter: patient zero?

(not complaining, half my analogies at work seem to involve Starbuck)
posted by thedaniel at 10:39 PM on March 7, 2008


I don't know. When I took DMT I met an endlessly replicating fractal being made of some kind of glazed pottery, not a glowing bearded dude with a list of rules about what and what not to eat. Sounds like Moses visited one of the duller machine elf dimensions.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 10:40 PM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's my hypothesis: Uh, it never happened in the first place and is just a made up story? This is like the morons who try to figure out how many centuries each day in Genesis 1 is equal to.
posted by papakwanz at 10:49 PM on March 7, 2008


> Uh, it never happened in the first place and is just a made up story?
Yeah but these 'made up' stories occur with surprising regularity all over the world. I like this hypothesis because it's a rational explanation of mystical experiences.
posted by dhruva at 10:55 PM on March 7, 2008


frequency =! probability
posted by papakwanz at 10:59 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The real question here is: Did Moses crave Doritos and/or M&Ms afterwards?
posted by amyms at 11:06 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


"You obviously haven't used them before. They cause mild to moderate visual distortions along with a drastic change in how you perceive stimuli, your surroundings, and the world in general. The structure of DNA was discovered as the result of an LSD trip, for example."

Oh, knock that shit off. I've done my alphabet soup of psychotropics, and have also had sober transcendental moments. That entheogens are the best or most likely explanation for the religious experience of Moses is wishful thinking from highons who believe everything is, like, drugs, man.

And I say this as someone who likes drugs.
posted by klangklangston at 11:07 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Tube wrote,

I thought it might have been Oxycontin, because we read of him breaking two tablets...

No, you're thinking of Rush Limbaugh's 30,000 tablets. That's why he has so many commandments.
posted by lukemeister at 11:27 PM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


There is no reliable evidence for the existence of Moses.

A reviewer's quote:
After examining the development under several kings, the authors come to the reign of Josiah. Josiah institutes religious reforms, based on a 'found' book in the Temple. This 'found' volume is most likely much of the book of Deuteronomy as we have it today. Many scholars believe that this 'found' volume was actually written at the request of Josiah or his advisors, to provide a standard model for history and worship that would serve as a more firm foundation for his rule. Likewise, and important from the standpoint of Finkelstein and Silberman's argument for the seventh-century origins of the biblical text, archaeological evidence shows a widespread and sudden increase in literacy throughout Judah, with extensive use of writing, signet rings, seals, and other literary pieces that speak to the ability of the people to produce an extensive literary text like various books of the Bible.
posted by Brian B. at 11:34 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oy, With the rocks and stones and the steep hills and schlepping the tablets around up there and those sandels - Have you seen those sandels? That is not adequate footware for climbing around in mountains - It's no wonder he tripped. He was tripping all the way down Mt. Sinai, the klutz. That's probably the real reason why the first set of tablets broke.
posted by chillmost at 2:10 AM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


-- the religion-due-to-tripping thing kind of strikes me as old hat. The suggestion that Moses, et al. might have ingested ayahuasca or a related chemical always sounds wildly speculative to me.

However. An interesting twist on this story that I haven't seen mentioned yet (and which I find intriguing) is the theory that bizarre experiences of this sort might be caused by an overactive pineal gland producing excess DMT.


I find it difficult to believe that you would find an ingestion of hallucinogens to be "wildly speculative," and yet you put forth an alternate theory of a pineal gland disorder? Really? I think "wildly speculative" doesn't mean what you think it means.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:57 AM on March 8, 2008


Brain is the new god. Altered state of consciousness isn't necessary to explain why a person rants wildly. Being an individual , seeing the world through one's eyes is the root of altered states of consciousness. What about masochistic or hysterical tendencies among the ones who wrote the diffrent parts of the Bible and nurtured the Church along its growth (St Paul, Constantine I). The texts are available.
posted by nicolin at 3:17 AM on March 8, 2008


What Klang said.

Hey Klang,

highons?

Did you just coin that?
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:22 AM on March 8, 2008


We were somewhere around Mt Sinai on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive..." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge archangels, all swooping and screeching and diving around the chariot, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Horeb. And a voice was screaming: "Holy God! What are these goddamn animals?"
posted by Ritchie at 4:26 AM on March 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


No need for drugs. Moses could easily have just been lying. People do that a lot, and big problems call for big lies. Moses, a climber and a political leader, a guy who once beat a man to death and buried the body in a secret grave, would not have been above making up some outrageous shit to manipulate ignorant followers.
posted by pracowity at 5:08 AM on March 8, 2008


Nothing particularly new

Yeah, I read it twenty years ago in Ronald K. Siegal's book, Fire in the Brain.

Yeah, but what was God on ?

Well, given the way the world resembles a crackhead's apartment, my guess is that God was on a mission with Scotty.
"Adam! Eve! Where my stones at? Who been at my rocks? Bee-yotch! Did I not tell you that you could do whatever the hell you liked, but the one thing you must not do is smoke from the pipe of forbidden knowledge? OK, that's it. You a crackhead now, and I don't trust you around my stash, so I'm putting yo' ass out on the street. But I am gonna have some mercy on you. If you want more of this shit, I'll give you the name of my dealer. The guy hooks me up because he owes me, but for you, money hasn't been invented yet. If you wanna score, you're gonna have to pay him the way crackheads will through time immemorial. You gonna have to suck the dealer's cock."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:01 AM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nah, people said high-on in the 90s when I was a teenager. Pronounced like hard-on, only different. (I had thought it was a Michigan thing, though. This is the first time I've heard it since leaving the state.)

And I've gotta say, I agree with the substance of Klang's post. There's a certain kind of drug enthusiast who thinks all human creativity comes from drugs. (Tagline: "Man, that guy must have been so stoned when he wrote that...") I think it's what happens when you stay high too long, and forget that you can have new ideas and experiences while sober too.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:33 AM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


>>Guess you can get about anything past peer review these days.

Including faiths that manipulate their followers to have more kids, fear those not like them, and believe everything they're told. Gee, I wonder why the world's in such great shape?

Peer review is evidently just for those new ideas that don't have blind belief yet.
posted by SaintCynr at 7:20 AM on March 8, 2008


I don't think fundamental Christianity is subject to the same kind of peer review as academic writing.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:35 AM on March 8, 2008


Oh, knock that shit off. I've done my alphabet soup of psychotropics, and have also had sober transcendental moments. That entheogens are the best or most likely explanation for the religious experience of Moses is wishful thinking from highons who believe everything is, like, drugs, man.

I don't necessarily agree with the article, but it's an interesting idea. However, the guy I was replying to was saying hallucinogenic drug experiences are no different than having a high fever or extreme sleep deprivation. That is obviously someone who has not used them.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:36 AM on March 8, 2008


Magic Manna?
posted by orange swan at 8:45 AM on March 8, 2008


From another perspective, Exodus is filled with miracles and signs of God, such as plagues, pillars of fire, the splitting of the Red Sea, and water bursting forth from a boulder, etc...etc. Were Moses' revelation on top of Sinai the only incident of divine interaction, then a hallucinatory explanation might hold greater ground from a religious view point. However, in Exodus, its just one part of a whole of God assisting and leading the Hebrews from Egypt to their new home. Thus, trying to point to a hallucinogen as the direct source of one miraculous event among many to explain the foundation of the Jewish and later Christian religion seems rather weak.
posted by Atreides at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2008


"highons?

Did you just coin that?"

Nah. Like Nebulawindphone, I've been sayin' it since the '90s, and am from Michigan. It's a great word though.

"However, the guy I was replying to was saying hallucinogenic drug experiences are no different than having a high fever or extreme sleep deprivation. That is obviously someone who has not used them."

Having taken datura, I can say that it is exactly like a high fever. And salvia, for me, was extremely similar to severe sleep deprivation in terms of the hallucinations. So, like I said, knock that shit off.
posted by klangklangston at 9:07 AM on March 8, 2008


Triple.
posted by not_on_display at 9:40 AM on March 8, 2008


I've been sayin' it since the '90s, and am from Michigan.

Ha! I so totally just missed having called it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2008


Forget all this trivial 'vision' crap.

Aren't these tablets arguably the first appearance of Hebrew written language (beginning literally with the words of God) within the narrative frame of the Torah? That's what I would have been excited about when Moses came back down if I'dve been sitting around killing time with that stupid Golden Calf.

I don't understand why more wasn't made of that-- or isn't made of that, actually.
posted by jamjam at 11:19 AM on March 8, 2008


Having taken datura, I can say that it is exactly like a high fever.

Datura and other anticholinergics are deleriants, not hallucinogens.

And salvia, for me, was extremely similar to severe sleep deprivation in terms of the hallucinations.

Okay.

So, like I said, knock that shit off.

Why are you attacking me over this, guy? Do you disagree that hallucinogens alter your perception of stimuli rather than just making you see shit that isn't there? I never saw shit that wasn't there on acid or mushrooms. DMT, yeah, but that's a whole other level of hallucinogen.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:17 PM on March 8, 2008


Dr. Rick Strassman has founded a research foundation that will further explore the role endogenous tryptamines might play in naturally occuring states
of tripping balls.
From their mission statement:

Development of new technology capable of measuring previously undetectable levels of the compounds: N,N-dimethyltryptamine, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine, bufotenine, and metabolites,
[in order to]
clarify the role these compounds, found in our own bodies, play in dreams, mystical and near-death states, creativity, and mental illness.


In his book mentioned above he speculates that the DMT found in human blood and spinal fluid might be produced by the pineal gland, but this has not been proved so far and is often misquoted.

Another good read on the subject of this thread was written by William James in 1902, who was no stranger to divine encounters himself.
posted by morizky at 12:30 PM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


morisky, that's correct, but it's also the case that he's not entirely making it up, so we should take care to be clear here. DMT is produced by the body in small amounts, probably in the brain, and Strassman's hypothesis is, as I understand it, based on the fact that the necessary precursors are all found in the pineal gland. He didn't just pull it out of his hat -- there is some reason for it.

After all, if we could monitor the process more closely without slicing up someone's living brain, this would be a less difficult question... However, I'm not a biologist, so YMMV, of course.

I find it difficult to believe that you would find an ingestion of hallucinogens to be "wildly speculative," and yet you put forth an alternate theory of a pineal gland disorder? Really? I think "wildly speculative" doesn't mean what you think it means.

Again, let's be clear here -- the post ex facto explanation of visions-as-hallucinations is already speculative. This is just an Occam's Razor issue -- self-synthesis provides a convenient explanation for the notable lack of evidence in most of these cases that any foreign substance was ingested (which you'd expect to see some records of -- it would also be a reproducible phenomena).

If we decide to stipulate that these are hallucinations, the major problem is establishing causality, which is what the self-synthesis hypothesis provides. All of this is still highly conjectural. But that's not the issue.
posted by spiderwire at 1:22 PM on March 8, 2008


DMT is produced by the body in small amounts, probably in the brain, and Strassman's hypothesis is, as I understand it, based on the fact that the necessary precursors are all found in the pineal gland. He didn't just pull it out of his hat -- there is some reason for it.

Yes, and as the pineal gland is known to synthesize melatonin (which is a tryptamine as well) from tryptophan it does indeed seem to be pretty capable and a very likely candidate.

I am thrilled to see more research done on this and find the whole idea very intriguing.
Maybe one day it will lead to certain compounds becoming rescheduled so we could all stop being guilty of carrying 'hard drugs' around in our bodies.
posted by morizky at 2:24 PM on March 8, 2008


I think more likely sleep deprivation or fever. One doesn't tend to hear voices while on hallucinogens.
posted by empath at 5:24 PM on March 8, 2008


Or, he just made it up.
posted by empath at 5:25 PM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


One doesn't tend to hear voices while on hallucinogens.

That's not at all true of DMT, which is the hallucinogen in question here, and in fact not true as a general matter -- it really depends on the chemical in question, among other things.

The conventional wisdom is that LSD tends to be almost entirely visual, and psilocybin mildly auditory, but that DMT causes significant auditory effects, from common reports of a mild buzzing noise to also-frequent reports of talking to alien intelligences. LSD and psilocybin are also not dissociatives (except perhaps at extremely high doses), but DMT is.

It's also worth noting that there's little reason to take reports of Moses "hearing" God dictate to him as literal, verbal communication.
posted by spiderwire at 6:15 PM on March 8, 2008


Ever wondered why there was so much "anointing" going on in the New Testament?

http://www.cannabisculture.com/backissues/cc11/christ.html
posted by SevenPercentSolution at 8:53 PM on March 8, 2008


As someone who has had at least a couple psychotic episodes, this sounds just like psychosis. It's not seen as "crazy" when you can convince people of what you come up with. And it doesn't mean that you're lying, either. That would mean that you knew what you were saying wasn't true. If it's true for you, and you can make it true for other people too, then... well, that's some serious power right there. And once you seed it successfully, these things tend to build upon themselves. Once people want to believe in order to belong, well, let's just say a lot of momentum can be gathered. Just look at cargo cults.

You'd be surprised what you can convince people of when you are in the grip of psychosis. At least I was. And I'm not a particularly convincing person, at all.
posted by marble at 11:46 PM on March 8, 2008


Datura and other anticholinergics are deleriants, not hallucinogens.

Deleriants are hallucinogens. Hallucinogen is defined by the effect, not by the drug classification. Deleriants are commonly distinguished from psychedelics and dissociatives.

Do you disagree that hallucinogens alter your perception of stimuli rather than just making you see shit that isn't there? I never saw shit that wasn't there on acid or mushrooms. DMT, yeah, but that's a whole other level of hallucinogen.

For me, LSD and mushrooms have only altered my perceptions of things. However, MDMA, mescaline and datura have all led to hallucinations that have been "seeing things that weren't there."

I've also had fever hallucinations and meditative hallucinations and lucid dreams. I'd say that my taking hallucinogens made me more able to get into that mindset without drugs (or fever, which doesn't really count).

And what annoyed me (I'm not really attacking you) was the "obviously," when it wasn't obvious—you were wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 AM on March 9, 2008


Western culture tends to display a modern bias towards the ancient worldview, projecting a form of objectivity and note taking that is both inconsistent with religion and prior to recorded history. That's how and why we can believe that actors in a popular sacred history are both real and recorded real events, although we are willing to suspend our belief about its supernatural importance. (Note that even without projecting a literal frame of mind, we tend to euhemerize from legend, and are willing to believe that storytelling preserves history as religion). Consider that an ancient priest bringing down heavy stone tablets inscribed with law from a sacred mountain has far more value as politics. If someone wanted to institute monotheism among a pagan populace, they would benefit from such a story if they could leapfrog history to suddenly create the impression that paganism was a degenerate state of sin, rather than monotheism being the derivative state. Interesting to me how this story features the origins of monotheism coming out of Egypt, where monotheism developed. Yet, modern research doubts the existence of the Exodus. That's the nature of religion. The powerful God and his original domain was adopted by grafting, with the history of the recipient culture yielding to the story, not unlike the way Europeans bought into the legend of the lost tribes.
posted by Brian B. at 11:55 AM on March 9, 2008




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