I noted last week the controversial news story doing the rounds about Benny Shanon’s theory that Moses was high on psychedelics. When posting it, I said “I haven’t heard of any hard evidence for usage [of ayahuasca analogues] in the Middle East. Probably worth getting a hold of the Time and Mind paper mentioned in the article to see what Shanon has to say about it all…” Welp, you can actually read the full text of the article online (along with the other papers in Issue 1 of Time and Mind, see further below for details): “Biblical Entheogens: A Speculative Hypothesis” (PDF download). The title immediately shows that Benny Shanon isn’t claiming this *is* what happened, he’s just speculating on the possibility:
…I am a Jew who, though not observant, finds the Jewish textual heritage to be personally very meaningful. Following my experiences with Ayahuasca, I came to regard various aspects of the Jewish heritage from a new perspective. Propelled by ideas on the role of entheogens in human history such as those reviewed above, I am here proposing still another entheogenic, admittedly speculative, hypothesis. The hypothesis originated in the finding of parallels between psychological effects induced by Ayahuasca and patterns described in the Bible in conjunction with special experiences and events in the life of the founder of the Israelite religion and its greatest prophet, Moses. The hypothesis is further corroborated by botanical and ethno-botanical information that I have collected, by linguistic considerations, by the exegesis of Talmudic and mystical Jewish texts, by anthropological information pertaining to Jewish and Mideastern traditional lore,as well as by psychedelic data pertaining to a concoction analogous to Ayahuasca.
Shanon sugggests that this Mideastern ayahuasca analogue may have been concocted from Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala) – which he found in abundance near the Dead Sea settlement of Qumran – and various DMT-containing Acacias. It’s a great article – detective work, fascinating insights, speculation…well worth checking out!
The article is in a new journal called Time and Mind, which is the brainchild of Neil Mortimer (formerly the editor of Third Stone magazine), and author-researcher Paul Devereux (Earthlights, The Long Trip, etc). To announce the arrival of the journal, the first issue is available online in its entirety as separate PDF files. Apart from Shanon’s paper, there are other interesting essays such as “The Devil on Dartmoor” and “ Ancient Architectural Acoustic Resonance Patterns and Regional Brain Activity“. Remember if you like the content, support this great new undertaking by subscribing to the journal. (h/t Strange Attractor)
If you enjoy this topic, keep an eye out here on TDG – I should be announcing a ‘new’ release from Daily Grail Publishing very soon which is a great resource on psychedelic usage in ancient times.