Psychedelic roots of Christianity (2023)

We are in the midst of a psychedelic renaissance.

Mainstream Books as Michael Pollanhow to change your mind(2018) and a wave of promising researchThe therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugsThere has been a lot of interest in a class of drugs once considered taboo.

But the new bookkey to immortality, opens up an interesting discussion about the historical role of psychedelics in the Western world, dating back to ancient Greece. The best way I can describe it is that it's an old-fashioned detective story likeThe Da Vinci Code, except it doesn't suck, tells the little-known story of psychedelics and the rise of Christianity in the Greek world 2000 years ago.

Author, lawyer, and classicist Brian Muraresku spent some 12 years exploring how the ritualized use of psychedelics in Greece influenced early Christianity. While Muraresku did not argue that Christianity was based on psychedelics, he did suggest that they played a role, a role that was hitherto unknown. The nature of this role is difficult to pin down because the evidence is so scant that we are only just beginning to piece it together, but there are good reasons to think that hallucinogens were a central feature of early Christian sacraments.

I wanted to talk to Muraresku, not just about the impact of psychedelics on Christianity, but about how different religion would be today if some mystical sect using psychedelics became a defining voice in the church. That's a good question, Muraresku says, because if psychedelics played such an important role in the religious life of early Christians and Greeks, it's possible they could be part of something like a religious renaissance today.

You can listen to all of our talk in this week's episode. Vox ConversationBelow is a transcript edited for length and clarity.

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Sean Ealing

Is Christianity based on psychedelic sacraments?

Brian Muralescu

This is the million dollar question that I have spent 12 years trying to find the answer to. There is very convincing evidence of the use of ritual hallucinogens in ancient times. I mean, I've been trying to unravel hard scientific data on the use of the sacraments over the years. I think what we have right now are some very compelling leads.

Sean Ealing

Well, let's take a step back and examine early Christianity. Tell me about the temples at Eleusis and the use of psychedelic drugs in ancient Greece, the culture from which Christianity arose.

Brian Muralescu

I call the Temple of Eleusis the spiritual capital of the ancient world. It existed from around 1500 BC to the 4th century AD. It has attracted the best and brightest from Athens and Rome for nearly 2,000 years. Sometimes I say that it is like the true religion of the ancient Greeks.

They had a temple dedicated to the goddess and her daughters Demeter and Persephone. They made the long pilgrimage from Athens, 13 miles northwest, to Eleusis, where they drank the magic potion called Kykeon. Few testimonies have survived, as they are all secret, recounting visions of enlightenment, bliss that these initiates witnessed in this altered state, which somehow made them immortal. So you go there as a human being and you walk away believing in your own immortality.

(Video) The Connection Psychedelics Have to Early Christianity, Christmas

The omnipresent testimony speaks of a vision. So the question arises, what kind of vision is this? Is this some kind of show, some kind of theatrical performance? or what's in that magic potionkitchensDid he produce this vision or some combination of all of the above?

So, in 1978, this relatively controversial theory claimed that the magic potion was an original beer with ergot added to it. Ergot is a naturally occurring fungus from which Albert Hoffman himself was able to synthesize LSD in the 1930s.

Ergot grows on grain, and if our association with grain, barley, wheat, and rye, goes back at least 12,000 to 13,000 years, some of the naturally infected grain may have been a very intentional concoction, creating these visions. But for decades, there was no hard scientific data that could really prove it one way or the other.

Sean Ealing

How important was Eleusis for Greek culture?

Brian Muralescu

Everything found at Eleusis is believed to be the key, the glue that held ancient Greece together. Not just Greek civilization, but human civilization in general.

Therefore, everything found is believed to be an antidote to humans, keeping the species in check and keeping us in balance with nature. I know this all sounds crazy, and I don't think we can say that democracy or the arts and sciences were born at Eleusis, but it's clearly a code of irrationality, and the Greeks held it in high regard. Whether through these visionary adorations or through these contemplative exercises, one feels that life is much more mysterious than it appears at first sight.

Sean Ealing

How all of this seeps into the origins of Christianity is fascinating. What is the most compelling evidence you have found for the use of hallucinogens in these early Christian sacraments?

Brian Muralescu

The first half of my book focuses on a discovery that seemed spectacular to me, but was largely ignored for 20 years. I've been looking for evidence to support the controversial 1978 theory that the Greeks drank something akin to LSD, for lack of a better phrase. So I searched these archaeobotanical journals for definitive evidence and finally found it.

It turns out that there was this Greek colony in what we now call Spain, and it was a remote sanctuary where these mystical ceremonies were performed. In the temple they found many mysterious remains, such as terracotta heads that seemed to belong to Demeter or Persephone, and highly Hellenistic altars from mainland Greece. But they also found these little ceremonial vessels, these little chalices that look like holy grails.

The researchers took the shot glasses, tested them under a light microscope, and found evidence of an ancient beer laced with ergot. I mean, it fits right in with this crazy 1978 theory. The only reason no one has heard of it is because the find was published in Catalan, the language the archaeologist has been at the site in since 1990, and still got it today

I tried my best to find something similar for Christianity, and lo and behold, also 20 years ago, on the outskirts of Pompeii, this ancient pharmacy was unearthed. Among the jars that were found was a very unique magical wine, a mixture of what appeared to be opium, cannabis, and henna, a highly hallucinogenic plant in the nightshade family. It also contained lizard bones.

So, in Pompeii there is a potion that comes directly from Macbeth, dating to AD 79. C., when the first generation of Christians appeared in the south of Rome to celebrate the first version of the Mass. It doesn't specifically connect this psychedelic tradition to Christianity, but I think it's proof of concept that the more we test and investigate, the more we can find connecting these traditions to organic evidence linked to early Christianity.

(Video) Psychedelics in Christian Art

Sean Ealing

There is evidence that the Church is aware of these hidden sects and is actively suppressing them. What are they afraid of?

Brian Muralescu

I think this is the same reason that Gnosticism itself disappeared.GnosticismA heretical version of Christianity that disappeared around the same time as the 4th century AD, when the Temple of Eleusis was destroyed. There are basically two ways to look at it.

One is that the church fears that people may mediate or heal their experience with God in a way that excludes church structures. If you can find God in a glass of wine, why else do you need priests and bishops?

The other thing is that none of this is actually scripted. We are talking about consciously curated oral traditions that are doomed to disappear unless they are backed by strong structures or bureaucracies.

Sean Ealing

How different would Christianity be today if mystics had become the defining voice of the faith?

Brian Muralescu

It will look different, and I'm not sure it will survive the way it did. I'm not sure that a mystical, female-dominated Christianity would spark the imagination of this planet and colonize as many parts of the world as patriarchal churches - patriarchal churches to evangelize the Americas, Africa and Asia, often at the expense of trapped indigenous peoples. in the crossfire

If you think about it, a mystical Christian church is very different. If you're drawn to psychedelics, literature, and esoteric lore, you probably won't find yourself attending Sunday Eucharist every week. You may be drawn to a contemplative version of another faith, one I learned from the Jesuits. But I still think the history of this belief is worth revisiting, because even today this kind of contemplative mysticism still has a place.

Sean Ealing

One of the reasons I was raised Catholic, but never stayed that way, is that the church seems to place a lot of emphasis on power. It is a human institution and, like all human institutions, it is primarily about its own preservation. So I don't see God there, I can only see humans using God. But the Christianity that I read about in your book is very different, and I wonder if you believe that God, in some sense, needs to be saved from the church, and could LSD be a tool in that project?

Brian Muralescu

Oh! This is a big problem. There are many people who have found God in the church. I want to be clear, I think there are a lot of people who find comfort in the masses. Whether it's Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical Christian, Mormon, I mean, there are a lot of different threads that could play out here. For many people, it works just fine. There is a strong sense of community and comfort.

But it's also true that whatever happens during the highlight of the crowd just doesn't resonate like it did in the past. Like you, there are many people who are interested in a more direct experience, which could have been a very important part of the success of the early church. We're not 100% sure what happened in those restaurants and the catacombs of early occult Christianity, but it was something so intense and significant that people were willing to die for it, willing to risk being thrown to a lion. Express your faith in Jesus.

I believe that under the right conditions, the use of psychedelics in a responsible environment seems to evoke mystical experiences that are truly divine. Are psychedelics an end in themselves? I don't believe it. But as the beginning of a life of focused introspection, a path of loving yourself and others, yes, I see a lot of evidence.

Sean Ealing

How has this book on psychedelics changed your mind? Do you think that they are not just a drug, but a psychic technique?

(Video) Psychedelics in Ancient Greece and Christianity | Brian C. Muraresku

Brian Muralescu

I'm still a psychedelic virgin, in part because a lot of this stuff is still illegal.Oregon is the first jurisdictionThey legalized all drugs in the country and began regulating psilocybin for therapeutic purposes. I don't think this is the last state. So it's very strange that some of these historical threads come to light when we rethink our relationship with these drugs. After all this research, my landing point was basically to go back to the way we talked about psychedelics before the war on drugs.

When I read Aldous Huxley in the 1950s, I was blown away. When I read about other early scholars like Houston Smith, who was probably one of the most influential religion scholars in the 20th century, he was actually one of the people involved.Harvard Psilocybin ProjectIn the 1960s, I was blown away. Smith described his psychedelic experience as a powerful cosmic return and later described his experience using mescaline as if he were plugging a toaster into a power cord. So, before the War on Drugs, these academics were writing publicly about this topic and trying to figure out how it fit into society. In a really weird way, I think we're back in those waters again.

We're trying to figure out what this means for the future of medicine, what it means for the future of religion, philosophy, and society in general. I believe the next 10 years will prove to be truly transformative, not just for the US, but for the rest of the world as well.

Statement of Ethics.","community_name":"Vox","community_url":"","community_logo":"\r\n","cross_community":false,"groups":[{"base_type":"EntryGroup","id":55857,"timestamp":1683115204,"title":"El área gris","type":"SiteGroup ","url":"","slug":"el-area-gris","community_logo":"\r\n","community_name":"Vox","community_url":"","cross_community":false,"entry_count":261,"always_show":false,"description":" Resist certainty, embrace ambiguity. The Gray Area is a philosophical view of culture, politics and everything in between with the hostSean Illing. We do not claim to have the answers, but we do offer a space for real dialogue. Get some great shots of a very hot world. New episodes appear every Monday and Thursday.\r\n\r\nTranscripts of the show are\r\n\r\n

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(Video) Psychedelics in Early Christianity



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(Video) Psychedelic Christianity (Secret History of Religion) w/ Brian Muraresku | Your Mate Tom Podcast #31


What are the true roots of Christianity? ›

Origins. Early Christianity arose as a movement within Second Temple Judaism and Hellenistic Judaism, following the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. With a missionary commitment to both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), Christianity rapidly spread into the greater Roman empire and beyond.

Did Romans do psychedelics? ›

The ancient Greeks—and later the ancient Romans and agrarian societies in the near east and Minoan Crete—held the Eleusinian Mysteries, seasonal religious rites that included ritual ingestion of a psychoactive drink called kykeon, which evidence has shown may have included ergot fungi containing LSD-like psychedelic ...

What did Christianity grow from? ›

Origins. Christianity "emerged as a sect of Judaism in Roman Palestine" in the syncretistic Hellenistic world of the first century AD, which was dominated by Roman law and Greek culture. It started with the ministry of Jesus, who proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God.

What is the extreme form of Christianity? ›

Christian fundamentalism, also known as fundamental Christianity or fundamentalist Christianity, is a religious movement emphasizing biblical literalism.

What religion was Christianity based off of? ›

Christianity developed out of the monotheistic tradition of Judaism; Jesus, its founder, was a member of the Jewish community in Roman Palestine.

What is the oldest religion in the world? ›

The word Hindu is an exonym, and while Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, many practitioners refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma (Sanskrit: सनातन धर्म, lit.

What drug did Romans smoke? ›

Opium was known and frequently used in Roman society.

Did Nietzsche take psychedelics? ›

It is also speculated that the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had psychedelic experiences brought on by the drugs he used to help with his various illnesses.

What drugs did they use in ancient Egypt? ›

opium, nymphea, coca and tobacco.

Why did people convert to Christianity? ›

Christianity was appealing to many members of the lower classes in the Roman empire not only because of its promised liberation from any afflictions encountered in this world but also because of the established community that was totally equal, regardless of social class or gender, through baptismal promise, as ...

What was the religion of the Romans before Christianity? ›

The Roman Empire was primarily a polytheistic civilization, which meant that people recognized and worshiped multiple gods and goddess. The main god and goddesses in Roman culture were Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.

Who is the founder of Christianity? ›

The founder of Christianity was Jesus Christ who lived about 2,000 years ago. The Bible, the holy book of the Christians, narrates the life and teachings of Jesus.

What are the four types of Christians? ›

Most Christians (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Protestant alike) accept the use of creeds, and subscribe to at least one of the creeds mentioned above.

What are the 6 types of Christians? ›

Christianity is divided between Eastern and Western theology. In these two divisions there are six branches: Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Assyrians. Restorationism is sometimes considered the seventh branch.

What is the oldest form of Christianity? ›

Jewish Christianity. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity first emerged as a sect of Judaism as practiced in the Roman province of Judea. The first Christians were all Jews, who constituted a Second Temple Jewish sect with an apocalyptic eschatology.

What are the 5 basic beliefs of Christianity? ›

The 5 are: 1) Uniqueness of Jesus (Virgin Birth) --Oct 7; 2) One God (The Trinity) Oct 14; 3) Necessity of the Cross (Salvation) and 4) Resurrection and Second Coming are combinded on Oct 21; 5) Inspiration of Scripture Oct 28.

What was the original name of Christianity? ›

The original Greek word for Christian is “Christianos” which comes from the two Greek words “Christ and tian.” The word Christ means “anointed” and tian means “little.” So the word “Christian” literally means “little anointed ones.” During his life Jesus was called the “messiah” which meant “the anointed one” and we ...


1. Jesus and psychedelics in ancient times | Brian Muraresku and Lex Fridman
(Lex Clips)
2. Hidden In Plain Sight: The Psychedelic Roots Of Christianity w/ Jerry Brown
(Last Born in the Wilderness Podcast)
3. A Christian Took Psychedelics: What He Saw Will SHOCK You | Joshua Zatkoff
(Michael Knowles)
4. I Took Psychedelics as a Christian and the unthinkable happened...(Testimony)
(Jonathan & Jilliana)
5. Psychedelic Origins of Gnostic Christianity
6. I Took Psychedelics as a Christian, What I Saw Shocked Me… 😳 (Testimony)
(Delafé Testimonies)


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