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4.0 out of 5 stars Mushrooms, myth and magic,
This review is from: Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy (Paperback)This beautifully illustrated investigation into the entheogenic use of psychoactive mushrooms, more specifically the fly agaric or Amanita Muscaria, draws parallels between religious literature and the psychedelic experience. The author looks at ancient cultures and certain symbols in the Hindu scriptures, Judaism, Christianity and Alchemy. He believes this Amanita mushroom was the soma of the ancient Vedic people according to his interpretation of certain passages from the Rig Veda. He discusses the work of entheogenic pioneer R Gordon Wasson and then discusses the following prophets of Israel in detail: Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah and Ezekiel. With the exception of Ezekiel's visions, I did not find his ideas convincing in this regard. He seems to find mushroom references everywhere! That includes the Song Of Songs, a book he claims is a song "in praise of the divine mushroom." Hmmm, I don't know. He also deals with the story of Jesus, the last supper, crucifixion etc. and here too, I think the author is stretching it a bit. The chapter on Gnosticism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi scriptures, especially books like the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, the Apocalypse of Adam and the Apocryphon of James is very engaging, thorough and quite insightful. He also covers the Grail Legend and claim the philosopher's stone was none other than the fly agaric mushroom. The author then describes his ingestion of the sacred mushroom over a period of 31 days, when he finally had a brilliant and transformational numinous experience on the last day, as an example of heaven. He also describes a bad trip when he became nauseous and had a deeply unpleasant experience. He concludes with the observation that the proper use of entheogens requires maturity, education, instruction and guidance plus a safe and protected setting. He is convinced that the informed use of these substances challenges any system of dogma or brainwashing and claims that the expanded consciousness is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle. The final message of the book is that heaven is worth the trip. This book was great reading and although I think the author tries too hard to see a mushroom under every myth, he writes with style and offers many valuable insights. Plenty of figures, black and white illustrations and full colour photographs enliven the text and the book concludes with an index.
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic Mushrooms - Almost there, but not quite.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy (Paperback)Clark Heinrich is probably one of the world's foremost authorities on the history of entheogens and Hinduism. This book gives one of the best reasoned arguments of microcosmic mushroom use in the Hindu religion with a near 100% accuracy. Unfortunately Mr. Heinrich either doesn't know, or avoids the macrocosm completely, not only in Hinduism, but for Christianity and Alchemy as well. Those who've read the works of theologists such as Acharya S., Jordan Maxwell, Manly P. Hall, Kersey Graves, Ernest Busenbark, David Fideler, G.A. Wells etc. will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Mr. Heinrich's avoidance of the obvious anthropomorphisms of the Christ figure and Moses is rather odd, especially after seeing him whip thru the anthropomorphisms of the Rig Vedas with such accuracy. He brings up dozens of references that make it clear that Christ "himself" as well as Moses on the microcosm is indeed the mushroom, as John M. Allegro pointed out over 3 decades ago. His accuracy for Christianity is rather weak because of this, which he says "Isn't crucial to me if the name Jesus means "mushroom" in some long-lost tongue, although I will consider it to be quite significant if it happens to be true". After which Mr. Heinrich continues to write nearly 100 pages showing us that it is true.
When one understands the macrocosm, and knows that Jesus too is the mushroom on the microcosm, the entire Bible unfolds. Mr. Heinrich's weak attempt at showing Jesus as a shaman in his 'John Pilch' sort of way is rather unpersuasive. If he had spent that same energy showing Jesus is the mushroom, instead of implying it (which he does probably 50 times), he would have been far better off.
For the Song of Solomon Mr. Heinrich is 40% accurate at best, as he completely omits (or misses) the references to Cubensis mushrooms, and completely misses the fact that the book is a mycology guide not only for Amanita Muscaria, but for Stropharia Cubensis as well. There is even more to this wonderful story than that, but I don't want to give it all away.
His references of Jonah, though true to a point are still missing about 90% of what this book is about... The ups and downs of the Amanita experience. For the book of revelations, Clark correctly identifies the Amanita, but here too misses the many references to Cubensis. I could go on and on, but this is not a book, so I will reserve this for those "in the know".
This book is a far better read than Dan Merkur's weak explanations of everything in the Bible being ergot, never even questioning if Jesus was a man or not. At least Mr. Heinrich has experience with the substances he's talking about, where as Merkur doesn't have the slightest clue and calls everything a cult. How Mr. Merkur ever even thought to consider that the Bible was about entheogens is a question in and of its self to ponder.
Mr. Heinrich gets 5 stars for his work on the microcosm in Hinduism. He gets 3 stars for his work on the Bible for obvious avoidance of anthropomorphisms, and lack of knowledge on the macrocosm. He gets 4 stars for his incredible accuracy on the microcosmic representations of alchemy (Or rather anti-alchemy), where only a knowledge of the macrocosm would have scored him another 5 star. So, I give this book an average score of 4 stars.
Thank you Clark for your wonderful work and inspiration.
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, drugs, and Godhead!,
This review is from: Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy (Paperback)Clark Heinrich is an exceedingly clever, authoritative writer, who keeps readers in thrall with his subject by colorful propositions and turns of phrase that tease and engage the intellect. In this speculative history, he demonstrates an astonishing erudition for religion, myth, art, and the cultural history and botanical details of the Amanita muscaria mushroom. In making his case, speculative as it is, he provides innumerable references to genitalia, sex acts, and various bodily processes and their by-products, which has a way of anchoring his often far-fetched-seeming ideas in the corporeal realm. He also piques interest when his tone turns irreverent, specifically in his treatment of the Judeo-Christian belief system he was born into, where he rightfully, if self-consciously blasphemously, points out that there is little if any reason for sentient beings to believe that the so-called miracles cited in the Bible were the work of supernatural forces. He offers a more concrete and perhaps more likely explanation for seminal religious phenomena: the ingestion of Amanita muscaria and the subsequent encryption of its inspirations in the literature, rituals, and symbols of religion and alchemy. I was blown away by the amount of thoughtful research that went into this insightful and entertaining work. To arrive at his conclusionns, controversial and speculative as they are, he would have had to spend many hours poring over and interpreting esoteric texts in varying translation, and then on the trial and error of attempting to fit the Amanita key to unlock their mysteries. While I came away fairly convinced that the Amanita mushroom likely played a role in the development of at least some religious creeds, I found some of the author's "proof" to be of the "you had to be there to really appreciate it" sort. The "evidence" is sometimes so visual or semantic and so multilayered, that it dosen't hit home with imeediacy. Several questions emerge. Does the Amanita have any role in the Islamic faith (a almost entirely overlooked in this volume)? If so, why wasn't it documented? If not, how and why would it have eluded the third of the three Abrahamic creeds? Why is it that in all the instances of Amanita cult around the world, the identification of the mushroom in question is disguised and not outrightly revealed? Why if even mainstream religions are allegedly built on visionary experiences prompted by the "plants of the Gods" is the identity of these plants not more plainly revealed, at least from some likely sources or at certain logical historical junctures? It's hard for me to believe entheogenically derived inspiration would be so rigorously relegated and obscured as "forbidden knowledge" over the milennia. The ambiguity of encryption leads to speculation that is bound to turn nutty and implausible even in the most capable hands. Still, by incisive analysis as well as persuasive insinuation, Heinrich's highly readable and scholarly work makes a strong case for the entheogenic underpinnings of religion. The narrative of his own personal experience with Amanita ingestion is hilarious, compelling, and numinously stirring -- so much so that I included an excerpt of it in my own book Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures published in the interim between the release of the original, British edition of Heinrich's book, Strange Fruit, and the expanded, American, edition, the one I'm reviewing here. This is a fun and brilliantly illustrated book. Enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars shroomified,
This review is from: Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy (Paperback)a well-researched (but fun-loving) exploration of the psychedelic underpinnings of religion. Vibrantly illustrated and effectively carrying the torch from greats such as R. Gordon Wasson, this one's a keeper.
5.0 out of 5 stars Toward entheogen theory of all perennial philosophy forms,
This review is from: Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy (Paperback)When I read about eating bittersweet scrolls followed by seeing visions, in Ezekiel and Revelation, it was clear that Christianity included an essential entheogen tradition. However, it was unclear which entheogens might be allegorized in those scriptures. Heinrich presents a fine and sufficient candidate.
He also presents a brilliant hypothesis that the story of the Exodus is based around ergot poisoning of the yeast supply.
To better reveal what an innovative coverage and approach the book provides, it would've benefitted from a detailed table of contents, more section subheads, and clearer chapter titles.
Chapters and their coverage of Amanita encoding:
A Brief Explanation of an Unusual Book -- defining speculative history approach and encoding of visionary plants in myth-religion
The Dwarf Sun-God -- Vishnu, Krishna
I commend how Clark Heinrich's book is structured to trace the presence of entheogens, particularly Amanita, through history, with Alchemy serving to represent the Renaissance period and Western Esotericism.
This is an improved second edition of the excellent book "Strange Fruit". The original title was Strange Fruit: Alchemy and Religion: The Hidden Truth: Alchemy, Religion and Magical Foods: A Speculative History.
"A speculative history" is important: Heinrich is tracing the Amanita through Western history of myth-religion, and approach that is needed more, as we fill in the presence of visionary plants in all eras/areas/groups/religions/systems of gnosis & forms of the perennial philosophy.
The pair of separate terms "religion and alchemy" obscures what his "speculative history" approach implies: there isn't in fact "religions" over here and "alchemy" over there as something set apart; neither is the "myth vs. religion" distinction helpful. The book actually contains a more full-fledged history, rather than just "religion" and "alchemy" -- Western Esotericism is covered not only by Alchemy, but also by the Holy Grail.
Some say Heinrich makes the error of seeing Amanita everywhere. On the contrary, entheogen scholarship only errs in failing to see visionary plants everywhere, wherever the perennial philosophy is present, whether called "philosophy", "gnosis", "religion", "myth", "magic", or "Western Esotericism".
Further research is needed, such as in Entheos journal, to fill in the remaining areas left after Heinrich's book, so that we at last recognize and come to see visionary plants everywhere -- in all these traditions or currents.
The book's "speculative history" approach implies coverage of finding visionary plants everywhere and finding that this "everywhere" is really just one single "place": manifestations of the perennial philosophy, or gnosis, which is universal.
The book tends to write in a voice which assumes the existence of a single individual who was the kernal for the Jesus figure, but Heinrich also points out that we have no evidence justifying a conclusion that such an individual existed. He portrays Jesus both as hierophant administering Amanita and Jesus as Amanita. He provides a fair commentary on John Allegro's contributions to recognizing Amanita in Christianity.
The book tends, like most entheogen scholarship, to treat the visionary plants themselves as the entirety of what is revealed, when in fact the gnosis itself, the principles of the perennial philosophy, are certainly the other half and perhaps ultimately the main half of what is revealed -- though in practice, revealing the visionary plants is tantamount to revealing the perennial philosophy.
Heinrich is innovative but not alone; this kind of entheogen scholarship has become a burgeoning approach and school of thought -- an increasingly standardized and established, productive research paradigm. Chris Bennett's book Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible makes a case for cannabis and other visionary plants in the Bible. Dan Merkur's book Mystery of Manna contributes additional arguments to the case for ergot in the Old Testament.
This is a model of a fine book. The prose is clear, artistic, and masterful. The photos are stunning and perfectly support his case, showing the shape-shifting Amanita in its various lifecycle stages, explaining how each stage is allegorized in Hindu, Christian, and alchemical traditions. A must-have for entheogen scholars.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, Now the CIA Knows I Buy Books about Amanita Muscaria,
By A Customer
This review is from: Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy (Paperback)Notice I didn't say "Read Books". This is a well written account of the effects of Amanita Muscaria, and how it may have or did inform some magicians, fairy elves, and grown men in finding faith and a connection to something greater than themselves. The only thing that was weak, in my opinion, were the illustrations, especially the photos of artworks.( There's a mushroom WHERE??) And, personally, I think the Finns know as much about this 'shroom as the Siberians do, but I will need a grant to research THAT!
5.0 out of 5 stars Both the history of mushroom use and its purposes,
This review is from: Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy (Paperback)Heinrich's illustrated exploration of the use of psychoactive mushrooms in Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy, reveals their role in connecting with the spirit and god making for an involving survey of both the history of mushroom use and its purposes in Vedic and Puranic religions through modern Judaism and Christianity. The conclusion: in many religions these mushrooms have served as gateways to teach spiritual concepts.
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Magic Mushrooms In Religion And Alchemy by Clark Heinrich (Paperback - Sept. 30 2002)
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