Friday, 24 July 2009

Part 2, Psychedelic, Mythology and Madness: The Patriarchal Expropriation of the Sacred Fruit of the Goddess

The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge

The Tree of Life was one of the primary images of the goddess herself, in whose immanent presence all pairs of opposites are reconciled. Growing on the surface of the earth, with roots below and branches above, the tree was the great pillar that united earth with heaven and the underworld’ through which the energies of the cosmos poured continuously into earthly creation. The animating spirit that moved within it was the serpent, guardian also of the fruit or treasure of the tree, which was the epiphany of the goddess, that is, the experience of unity.”

I contacted Anne Baring, co-author of the book, The Myth of the Goddess; Evolution of an Image, asking her thoughts about this issue I was wondering about:

In my looking for research over a long period, I have been very surprised the rarity of feminists--or any women--focussing on psychedelics in relation with mythology, psychology etc, and their expropriation by the patriarchy. I have wondered about this. Nearly all the authors and speakers I know of are males. I find it odd, because I understand that going way back, it was always women who were the closest to the plants etc, and were the Wise Women.

So I am entertaining a theory, and wonder if you may agree with me? That this 'silence' is due to the traumatic reverberations from really just a few centuries ago--the Burning Times-- where many women who would have been connected with sacred plants were dreadfully persecuted, tortured, and killed in their thousands. That even though it has been mainly feminists who have boldly de-constructed the patriarchy that this as yet still remains taboo area?

I would really welcome your ideas about this matter.” (I added hyperlink later)

To which Anne Baring replied:

The reason women have not addressed this subject is probably as you say, because of an unconscious fear of persecution and also ridicule and shaming, that is still latent. Also men are still immensely powerful and for a woman to get through the barrier set up by the male ethos that controls so much of our culture is almost impossible. I think you need to go to women in the indigenous cultures - there are some remarkable women in the Indian tribes that still survive in America. There is one in the Lakota tribe whose name I have unfortunately forgotten - I think it is Apela whom I met at a conference a couple of years ago. Also, women, as you say, knew about the use of herbs for medicine but every attempt to bring through this different approach is blocked and attacked by very powerful groups in the medical profession, as well as by new rules about Alternative Medicines coming out of the European Union. So I think women have just given up.”

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When the Sacred Fruit of the Goddess, psychedelic inspiration, is thought to be separated from nature, and is believed to inspire the celebrant to transcend nature, in the regard that nature and the body are believed to be negative, and/or in a more modern sense, when the potential deep psychedelic experiences that interconnect the celebrant with nature, on ever deeper levels of meaning, are dismissed in a reductionist and materialistic way, this is indicitive of a familiar patriarchal ongoing mindset needing to be exposed. Research into how the male-supremacist warriors and patriarchs understood and currently understand sacred vegetation, and experience, and how their mindset differs from earth-respecting indigenous, and Goddess ways, is vital to explore.

How the patriarchs thought of women – in their mythology and religion – and treated them in real life, would also project similar attitudes onto the whole aesthetic and meaning of their sacrament, the sacred mushroom!

The patriarchal minded ancients believed ‘God’s’ “semen", in the form of rain, came powerfully in thunder and lightening storms, spitting mightily from the ‘lips’ of God’s “penis” supernaturally generating forth sacred/psychedelic mushrooms , and the ‘active spiritual principle’ of the sacred mushroom was ‘his’ powerful spermatozoa.

The rain which collected underground was also the semen, and the earth was merely a ‘container’ for ‘God’s’ seed. The storm was the actual “Word of God”, and seeing that no microscopic technology existed to know about mushroom spores, these mushrooms were understood to be "virgin born", the 'Word of God' “made flesh”, the “Son of God”, the ‘Christos’! And eating the mushroom would bring the initiate into contact with 'God' (J.Allegro)

The 'Word of God' would mean the actual sound of the the storm, and the mushrooms, but also 'God's Word' speaking forth through the mouth of their prophets who after ingesting the psychedelic sacrament were believed to be 'channeling' God's 'Word' directly.

This is a familiar belief to the far more ancient shamanistic possession, where the curandero, shaman, etc., will 'speak as the mushroom' (or it could be a different psychedelic plant, or substance):

"I am he who speaks.

I am who speaks with the mountains.

I am he who speaks with the corners.

I am the doctor. I am the man of medicine.

I am. I am he who cures.

I am he who speaks with the Lord of the World.

I am happy. I speak with the Mountains.

I am he who speaks with the mountains of peaks.

I am he who speaks with the Bald Mountain.

I am the remedy and the medicine man.

I am the mushroom.

I am the fresh mushroom.

I am the large mushroom.

I am the fragrant mushroom.

I am the mushroom of the spirit."

--Mazatec Indian shaman --The Mushrooms of Language

and Mazatec Curandero, Maria Sabina:
"It is sung in a shamanic trance in which, as she recounted, the "little children" [the sacred mushrooms] speak through her:

Because I can swim in the immense
Because I can swim in all forms
Because I am the launch woman
Because I am the sacred opposum
Because I am the Lord opposum I am the woman Book that is beneath the water, says
I am the woman of the populous town, says
I am the shepherdess who is beneath the water, says
I am the woman who shepherds the immense, says
I am a shepherdess and I come with my shepherd, says Because everything has its origin
And I come going from place to place from the origin..."

Unlike the indigenous vision inspired with sacred vegetation, however, where spirit is understood as immanent in nature, patriarchal myths tend to separate spirit from nature, and in their prescribed rituals of the sacred mushroom, they believed they were rather being “born again in the spirit”, for this ’spirit-seed’ they were ingesting was thought of as being of God’s ‘spirit’, and not ‘of the earth’, for they had ‘divided’ spirit from nature. The Christian myth claims nature as ‘Fallen’, and cursed, because of the sin of Eve and Adam. Woman, and her devalued womb, was now thought to be mere container for the 'superior' male seed, and the earth, for the 'super superior' sky-god’s seed:

'Original Sin' adhered intrinsically to
Orgasmic Experience.

Love to be made pious and useful, had to be sanctioned by the Lord, blessed by a male priest and then it was to be practiced only for the purpose of procreation. Soberly, not ecstatically. Men should use women for the Lord: to be fruit­ful and multiply His followers. El Shaddai, God of the early Hebrews, was a relentless punisher of 'sexual deviation' and 'deviation' was any sexual activity not directed toward making children. Non-reproductive sex was a capitulation to 'bestiality' [another error, since 'beasts' copulate only to reproduce] and he who wasted his semen was a murderer, to be punished accordingly. Onan was slain for spilling his seed on the ground to prevent conception. This command of the Hebrew tribal god against waste of male seed is the source of all Western laws against: abortion, contraception, masturbation, homosexuality, oral sex, etc. To 'waste' the semen was to waste the life-seed, or life-blood, of the Father, diminishing His essence. [It was also to 'use' women as something other than seed-ovens.] Hindu religion is also obsessed with semen, seeing it as 'Atman', the Cosmic Seed.

It has been claimed that the knowledge that males had a part to play in conception came relatively late ( I don't know if this is true) and may have fueled the rise of patriarchal dominance. And with this came the belief that the male semen-seed was the main active principle of conception (which is untrue), and from there arose the idea of gods giving birth to goddesses, and the monotheistic God allowing his creation Adam to give birth to his female companion, Eve.

And in Christianity is the belief in the 'Immaculate Conception', which is allegorically referring to the real meaning of the myth explained above. The 'Goddess' Mary--who is 'demoted' to a mortal woman (as is Eve in the Old testament) is now the passive receiver of 'God's 'semen' who gives birth to the 'Christ', 'his' son. Jesus returns to the 'Father' not the Mother as is so in the Goddess mythos, of life, death and regeneration within the spiral of sacred nature. The Christian myth sees death as unnatural, and nature as cursed, and therefore inevitably omits the regeneration part of the cycle.

The living reality is that it's the male who only has to 'shoot' his seed, and walk away if he chooses to another 'conquest', but it is the woman within whom the amazing event of birth all happens, and tis she who will carry the developing life inside her usually for nine months, and then going through the momentous event of birthing the baby, and nurturing it!

Before the patriarchs de~graded the womb of the woman, and mythologically expropriated the Womb of the Goddess, the Womb was held sacred because all life, not just in earth, but also the cosmos (for all life was connected, as symbolized in the image of the World Tree) was thought to be birthed from the Womb of the Goddess. We came from her Womb; when we ‘died’ in life via sacred ritual inspired from eating her Sacred Fruit we deepened to the understanding of this Mystery, the Underworld, and were ‘reborn’, and when we physically died we returned to her Womb whereupon we rested and then regenerated and born into new forms of life.

Agrarian people who knew the more ancient religion of the Goddess understood that the earth as her body was sacred, hence all fruits, vegetation, and all life in general were sacred, especially the fruit which allowed the celebrants access to her deeper Mysteries.

There is not a so-called split between nature and spirit!

The Goddess is the sacred fruit, both nature and spirit, and so is her Son-Lover the Horned God of nature, symbolizing the fertilizing aspect of nature. And it is ‘he’ who is the seed who dies and is regenerated/born again:

So when the Celebrant eats the sacred fruit the god eat/sacrificed dies and is ‘born again’ as in possessing the Celebrant:

"Both Figures 1 and 2 show a female and a male figure, a central tree and a serpent, yet their meanings are completely different. In Figure 1 the seated female is the Bronze Age Sumerian Mother Goddess and the serpent who coils upright behind her is the image of her regenerative power. On the other side of the tree, in identical posture, sits her son-lover, called ‘Son of the Abyss: Lord of the Tree of Life’, whose role as fertilizing the source of life is given in the bull’s horns upon his head. Since the serpent and the bull, on opposite sides of the seal, are both images of the living and dying manifestation of the goddess, a true mirror-image is created of the unification of opposites in a single vision. Further, both goddess and son-lover gesture with outstretched hand towards the hanging fruits of the Tree of Life, offering the gifts of immortality and enlightenment together - she, immortality, and he, enlightenment. Here is the perennial story of the sacred marriage of zoe and bios, enacted under many guises - Inanna and Dumuzi, Ishtar and Tammuz, Isis and Osiris, Aphrodite and Adonis, Cybele and Attis - and all of them images of reconciliation and affirmation." Eve: The Mother of All Living

for the Celebrant’s previous sense of hirself has also ‘died’,

and has ‘become a god’ in the sense of experiencing the Garden of the Goddess,


S/he has become the very god/dess of nature, lover of the Goddess.

In this set&setting spirit is not divided from nature and so this experience is really a fuller, deeper, expanded

understanding and expression of this all-pervading spirit which regenerates one’s being in nature.

So…after such experience the ‘come down’ (a modern terminology referring to the coming down from psychedelic experience) isn’t a ‘return’ to ‘fallen nature’, or, in a modern sense, a return to a soulless mechanistic materialistic reality, but rather a continuum of sacred experience! For in this world of the Goddess, so-called ordinary life is not separated from sacred experience, but enriched by it. And as a result the community becomes enriched also, as does all of nature, it too is ‘born again’ as you are. Not in an idealistic way, but as your insight into the sacredness of nature deepens then you seek to care for nature, and encourage children and others to, and so on. It is a symbiosis, whereby our eating of sacred vegetation--when done with utmost respect and openess--allows you a deepening sensual spiritual interelationship with the natural world...

In the patriarchal monotheistic context, however, nature is cursed, fallen, ruled over by the 'Prince of Darkness', the ‘Devil’, and thus is a trap for the unwary soul. This life is thought to be a perilous slippery stepping stone to a 'future' spiritual pure state far from nature and earth (thus encapsulating the believer within the sense of linear time towards a goal), if one abides by the 'Faith'; and in the current mechanistic-materialist context, where ‘God is dead’, and the ‘Devil’ mere superstition from our Medieval past.

Nature it is now officially 'scientifically believed ‘ to be reduced to particles, chemicals, and genes, and is ‘dead’, having no deep meaningful mysterious sense. In this soulless ‘Wasteland’, instead of the dread of the ‘Devil’ we have the dread of ‘mental illness’ (Szasz/The Manufacture of Madness).

In this ‘brave new world’ there exists a great fear of visionary experiences, non-conformity, and not being accepted as ‘normal’ by this soul-lost culture, which is itself insane and intent on blindly and unfeelingly destroying the very Web of Life.

Similarly as with 'our' orthodox religious past with its Inquisitions against wild women, and men, with wild plants, modern ‘secular’ culture also forbids psychedelics and participation mystique with nature. Whereas in the past oppressive religious orthodoxy such experience and understanding would be demonized, now, with the 'evolution' of scientism, authentic spiritual experience is demeaned and/or pathologized—called "delusional", reduced to a mere meaningless chemical experience, or claimed to be pathological, especially if after psychedelic experiential 'come down' one confessed to experiencing reality in a wholly different way, and desired to have a lifestyle which refelected such insights, and seen to contradict and conflict with the mechanistic-materialistic-consumerist-meritocratic-pharmacratic worldview.

These are strange times, as surely modern physics has given a strong hint just how mysterious reality is, and yet this mechanistic view is still clung to by the predominant culture, but I do hear that consciousness is now being looked into!

There is the irony of the secret partaking of psychedelics, at the beginnings of the Judaic-Christian religion, amongst the initiates (which, strange as it may seem, may still continue: see Heretical Visionary Sacraments Amongst the Ecclesiastical Elite -) , the cryptic mention of psychedelic vegetation is secretly and cleverly hidden in their religious literary script, and yet allegorically condemned in the words, and in the imagery, as is shown in the Genesis creation myth, as all the symbols refer to the far more ancient Goddess religion and her Sacred Fruit which are condemned!

As Joseph Campbell has pointed out, a great discord exists between the images in the Genesis Garden of Eden myth, and the words, and story; a dissonance, and this is because of the primeval meaning of the images which the patriarchal elite then try and subvert from their original meaning and associations . For images have a far deeper meaning than words, but the Bible is based on the “Word”of God’ and God supposedly very against the image! 'Yahweh' is a very "jealous God".

His First Commandment is:

"I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

and the Second Commandment is:

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (Exodus 20:4)

Of course for the indigenous peoples this theocracy was imposed on them by force, as is evidenced in the Bible where we read how Goddess religion is attacked, and the slaughter of her people:

"Then ye shall drive out all of the inhabitants the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places." (Num. 35:52)

The victims of this monotheistic tyranny would have very well known about the subversion of their mythologies by the monotheists, and thus their despised Religion of the Earth would have had to go 'underground, which is a big reason for the later Inquisitions of the Christian church who would sadistically try, and once and for all, crush any competition which they saw as a threat to their powerful empire. And it also a ‘good’ way to make more money as the Church made sure it kept the possessions of the women, and others, they destroyed.

The biblical prophets had access to psychoactive substances, yet their messages conformed to the patriarchal demands.

Modern ‘prophets’ such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and James Hillman—all males as usual—have attempted to reveal the deeper meaning of religion, mythology, and the power of ‘archetypes’ and so on, and the whys and wherefores of our sense of desires, fears, struggles, and ‘psychopathologies’.

Freud who had no time for participation mystique with nature which he would pathologize as ‘oceanic consciousness’, a 'regression to mother’s womb'—quite ironical really--was friends with the younger Carl Jung, and there was a falling out between them regarding Jung’s theory of the Collective Unconscious, a theory much closer to the interrelated sense of the Goddess than is Freud's theory of the 'Unconscious' which he saw as mainly a dumping ground for repressed memories.

Jung however, had his own Feminist blindspots which are articulately explored by his daughter,

Carla J Emmatoni :

Anne: Tell me about the feminist critique of Jung's psychology.

Carla: Do you have a couple of weeks? (laughing) No, seriously... I'll try to summarize the main points for your readers, because it's vitally important that people learn to sort out Jung's useful ideas from those which reinforce stereotypes and ways of thinking that are actually damaging to women. This is crucial, because Jung's worldview is as much religion as psychology, and most western religious beliefs — with the exception of the re-emerging Goddess and pagan spiritualities — tend to reinforce the idea that women are inferior and should be subordinate to men.

Anne: Jungian psychology... a religion?

Carla: Oh, yes. In a letter to Freud written Feb. 11, 1910, Jung wrote: "Religion can only be replaced by religion. ... What sort of new myth does it [psychoanalysis] hand on for us to live by? ... 2000 years of Christianity can only be replaced by something equivalent..." 16 Freud wasn't interested in pursuing this line of thought, but Jung was very clear that he connected psychology and religion. He went on to write, in the same letter, that it would take time "to revivify among intellectuals a feeling for symbol and myth, ever so gently to transform Christ back into the soothsaying god of the vine, which he was, and in that way absorb those ecstatic instinctual forces of Christianity for the one purpose of making the cult and the sacred myth what they once were — a drunken feast of joy where man regained the ethos and holiness of an animal." 17

So, you see, Jung saw very clearly the religious nature of myths and symbols, which were the foundation of his analytic method. And the problem with this is that things which are seen as religious are also seen as natural — the way things are and ought to be. So if a religion's myths and symbols are interpreted in a way which reinforces gender stereotypes — which has been the case in western religious mythology ever since Genesis gave Eve and the serpent a bad rap — they tend to be extraordinarily hard to change. This is especially true since religious symbols and myths, which really represent beliefs, get internalized, and in the case of women, this means a great deal of internalized oppression." (PLEASE checkout her interpretation of Jung's famous 'Descent' into 'Hades'!)

In part 1 of this article, I wrote how I’d been trying to learn more about James Hillman who is known as post-Jungian. From what I had read from Hillman online, some things I clicked with, such as and his sense that we do not have Imagination, but live in Imagination, as do all other species, and nature, and some other ideas I didn’t, for example his promotion of patriarchal Greek Olympian polytheistic gods as main archetypes, etc. But I had been particularly interested in trying to find what he had written about psychedelics, and their relationship with mythology, (because like Jung, Hillman sets great stock in understanding the importance of mythic archetypes, and surely to go into that you must be aware of them being connected with psychedelic fungi, plants, etc) ,as well as his ideas about the new resurgence of psychedelic therapies, and so on.

Sincethen, I found a review of Hillman’s book, The Dream and the Underworld

Jung would not have known about psychedelics centrality in the formation of, and initiated ritual in, the Judaic-Christian religion as far as I'm aware.

It also seems strange the most notable post Jungian doesn't seem to either, nor see the significance of psychedelic experience!

..."Such dark rhetoric, like that of Norman O. Brown, often seems at odds with the rather cerebral and conservative personal style of Hillman himself. This tension in these radical thinkers whose teen years fell long before the eruptions of the 1960s I find fascinating. But it’s not just a case of tension between behavioural style and intellectual commitments; central to Hillman’s (and Brown’s) view is the fight against literalism. While their rejection of psychedelics and shamanic revelry is a little out of synch with contemporary culture, their stern reminders that literally, overtly wild behaviours can repress the subtleties of the unconscious as much as their prohibition, are interesting foils to common counter-culture wisdom.

Pagans will surely be as challenged as me in grappling with Hillman’s railing against the “materialism” of heathen symbolism. He rejects the use of nature-based metaphors for approaching the dream, insisting on the dream’s location in Hades: not the earthy, dark underground of fertility and regeneration, but the cold, airy, liminal underworld of insubstantial shadows."

Hillman seems to have a fixation with Classical Greece including its philosophers of which he thinks himself sharing this 'priveleged' lineage. On one hand he intellctualizes the importance of mythological archetypes--calling his post-Jungianism, 'Archetypal Psychology'--and chooses the patriarchal Classical Greek pantheon of Olympic gods as being the best archetypes for the 'western mindset', and will insist the 'Underworld' is the Classical Greek description of Hades. The same male god, Hades, who rapes Persephone (Goddess) -- "rape", of course, being a sure indicator the patriarchy is coopting and subverting the more ancient myth of the Goddess -- and abducts her to 'his' abode; the male god expropriating the Goddess' Womb, originally the source of connectiveness, and regeneration, (as he does her Fruit) but in his split-off soulless mindset conceives of it as 'cold', with 'insubstantial' shadows", just like his mindset. Cut off from his body and nature.

The Goddess was the 'Underworld', theWomb, and could come and go as she pleased, and would not be abused and abducted, and captured there!

Persephone and Demeter adore the Sacred Mushroom, from the temple wall at Eleusis, c. 450 BC

If one cares to research what the name, Persephone, means, you may find:

"Gender: Feminine

Usage: Greek Mythology

Other Scripts: Περσεφονη (Ancient Greek)

Pronounced: pər-SEF-ə-nee (English) [key]

Meaning unknown, perhaps related to Greek περθω (pertho) "to destroy" and φονη (phone) "murder". In Greek myth she was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. She was abducted to the underworld by Hades, but was eventually allowed to return to the surface for part of the year. The result of her comings and goings is the changing of the seasons."

Notice the negative-sounding speculations,. "destroy" and "murder"!

A far more plausible meaning of Persophone's name was discovered by a Philologist, John Allegro, in his book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross he reveals:

"The myth of the dying and rising god is variously treated within the mushroom cycle. One of the best-known stories is that of Persophone/Kore, her mother Demeter, and the wicked uncle Pluto. The beautiful virgin who is the heroine of the tale presents in her double name the equivalent of the effeminate male Hermaphodite. Her two names can now be seen as two aspects of the mushroom. Persophone being the volva (Sumerian *BAR-SIB-U-NI, "container of the penis of fecundity") and Kore the stem of "phallus" *GU-RI, as in the storm-god's name, *USh-GU-RI[ISKUR]).
Put in other fungus folk-lore term, Kore is the charmed and erect "serpent", thrusting open the egg of Persephone...." (Allegro ibid)

So Persophone/Kore is the actual sacred mushroom, as most of the goddess and gods in essence are!
The polytheist gods more closest to the Goddess, hence nature, are the ones that have animal and plant attributes, which mean they are inclusive of the whole of nature, interspecies, but the patriarchal polytheist gods of Classical Greece become 'superhuman' and distant and aloof on the pyramidial Mountain, and they assert only they are the 'immortals' and us 'peasants' below become the 'mortals', and the patriarchal writers behind this theocracy make it so there is a terrible 'sin' done when the mortal desires to cross the 'gulf' to immortality which is termed 'hubris'; with mono~theism we get the mono-god who warns of the same threat to Adam:

Genesis 3:22: And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.

But, knowing and hearing the deeper song, these Fruits bring the celebrant into contact with the gods, directly.

'You' are
possessed by the very god/dess of nature.

are nature!

loving its being in ecstasy~~~