When Jesus ate the magic mushrooms


People who had mystic experiences while taking the mushrooms were more likely to show increases in a personality trait dubbed “openness”… The change was still in place a year later, suggesting a long-term effect. –Bloomberg

Just look at us, would you? Are we not the most adorable creatures ever? The most perplexed and beautiful and lost?

Look at us, with our mountains and lifetimes of obvious empirical evidence proving this or that glorious fact of numinous human consciousness — meditation! MDMA! Orgasm! Love! Dreams! — and yet somehow it takes us 5,000 years and about five million dollars to get around to officially confirming that all that evidence and all those years might be onto something after all.

And I’m looking at you, Johns Hopkins University, for once again coming out with a timid little study reinforcing what everyone already knew and what you yourself already suggested about five years ago (I know because I wrote about it, mostly sober), which is the same as others discovered 20 years ago, and also 50, and 500, and throughout the entire continuum of lustful cosmic spacetime. Let us sigh.

Shall we recap? Once again, we find that magic mushrooms (AKA psilocybin), really are rather astonishing wonderfungi that, when used in moderation and with all due respect, can induce a potent, lasting sense of “openness,” creativity and artistic curiosity in the otherwise stressed, compressed, far-too-depressed animal you see right there in the mirror. No! Really? Go figure.

Is it not a wonder? I personally love the muted tone of such findings, the staid language, the flatly studious textures. “Why yes,” JHU seems to say, “many of the subjects did seem to rather enjoy themselves while warmly hallucinating on a couch while blindfolded listening to nice music for multiple uninterrupted hours.

“Our careful scientific measurements show that many appear to have, technically speaking, lightened the hell up, as their neural pathways were groped by God and licked by Mother Nature and gently whipped by the divine riding crop of their own deeper consciousness.

“Perhaps this is worth noting in our scientific journals. Perhaps even more studies are in order. Perhaps we should note that the effects were amplified tenfold when said subject was dancing uproariously next to a gaggle of dusty, semi naked females by a giant flame-throwing steampunk octopus deep in the Nevada desert. (see Fig. 3.8)”

Should we be celebrating? Should we be awaiting the next big announcement that psilocybin will soon be available to the masses in convenient pill form? After all, with such good news, it can’t be long now until mainstream culture gets hold of such remarkable findings and American entrepreneurialism kicks in and you soon see premium ‘shroom chocolates in the wine aisle at Whole Foods. Right?

As if. The CDC still ranks psilocybin a schedule I illegal, which means they believe it has no therapeutic value and has too much potential for abuse (unlike, say, alcohol or tobacco or the Tea Party or guns or television or hate or junk food or Rush Limbaugh or religion or oil or money or Facebook) which is just another way of reiterating the great American truism: Money trumps all.

It’s true. If there’s no serious corporate profit to be made from a given life enhancer (psilocybin, like pot or MDMA, can’t exactly be trademarked) it therefore cannot be allowed to legally exist. It must be banned. Outlawed. After all, we can’t have everyone running around feeling all “open” and fearless and defining god on their own delirious terms completely gratis, can we?

What a strange and wobbly time in which to live. We refuse to believe something until it’s “proven” via scientific method, but once it’s proven half the nation immediately discredits it because science is for elitist liberals and only creationist Jesus and a sad gang of very dead, enormously repressed Bible-writing priests from 1,500 years ago actually know anything about “truth.”

Meanwhile, the best and most illuminating of nature’s medicines remain underground, sidelined and fringe while the costly synthetics rage on full force, addicting millions, numbing out the soul of world, most no better (and often far, far worse) than placebos.

Did Jesus take magic mushrooms? Can we deliberate for a moment? How about Buddha? Allah? Eve? Was the gleaming apple from the tree of knowledge not laced with ayahuasca and wormwood and dark rum? Can we safely assume? Oh, we absolutely can.

This much we know: mushrooms inspire a numinous state, and Jesus was nothing if not a card-carrying mystic. A seer. An anti-establishment, proto-hippie, street-screamin’ visionary who hung out with prostitutes and freaks and loved everyone equally, saw everyone as full incarnation of pure divinity right here on earth. And he was what, sober? Sure.

What street mystic worth his or her cosmic epiphany wouldn’t eagerly sample from the garden of earthly delights to better jack into the holy mainframe? What, you think Jesus was eating bologna straight from the package and sucking Bud Light and watching NASCAR and “Jersey Shore” like a dupe?

Let us not be too flip. Of course drugs are not the answer. Of course psilocybin can be risky and potent and isn’t for everyone (though the standard argument that those who need it most — Tea Party, conservatives, war hawks, homophobes, et al — sadly remain the least likely to experience it). Abuse really is all too possible in our unhinged, anti self-control culture, and results vary wildly. Caveat emptor, excitable seeker.

What’s more, this is where we as a species often get confused and lost, substituting the tool for the solution, the “high” for the deeper awareness. This way addiction and ignorance lie. All such entheogens, it’s worth remembering, are merely instruments of insight and wisdom, one of a thousand paths to gnosis, to understanding that God isn’t out there, that you are not the slightest bit separate from the thing you seek, and consciousness is available in a blink of a slap of a yes.

In other words, you are God, silly. The mushrooms just kinda sorta show you how.

So what can we do? We sigh at science’s adorable audacity, nod gratefully at all the swell, relatively impact-free studies that prove something everyone already knew, that actually make very little dent in the greater continuum of timeless spiritual wisdom, and go on sampling from all the funky, chthonic, fungi-riddled gardens we can find. The journey continues. It’s what Jesus would have wanted.


This article is clearly the result of imbibing too many drugs. Total nonsense.

    Hello Ron. I sympathize with your revulsion at the wild and woolly language, but you snarled too hastily, and rejected out of hand Morford’s expressed “reality”, his admittedly subjective understanding and highly charged metaphoric energy. After all, – and I take a risk with the inclusive pronoun – all experiences of “yod” in whatever modality are mystical, intangible, and not easily referenced. An experience can’t be challenged with your rubric “nonsense”. Rather, that single word telegraphs your extreme irritation, which in turn signals that you may fear, or feel excluded, from your ecstatic potential. Sheer speculation on my part, of course.

As they used to say in the old days, “For those who have had the experience, no explanation is necessary. For those who have not, none is possible”. And that’s kind of too bad. The Status Quo really needs a new perspective on things.

It is a sad commentary on our culture when people cannot conceive of real transcendence and true wisdom outside the context of taking a drug.

    The original article, with its commentary and speculation, was not, as I read it, a dictum promoting mushroom consumption. So, what was there about my response to your categorical judgment, or the original article, that triggered your generalizing remonstrance, that “people” (me? Morford? Possibly izzy?) “cannot conceive of real transcendence and true wisdom outside the context of taking a drug”?

    Certainly the Confucian community dominating the so-called “Buddhist” 10,000 Buddhas enterprise, and the conventional communities supporting the tripartite Abrahamic establishment (Christian, Jewish and Muslim) seem to me to be uninspired aggregations of people. “Heaven forbids” that they take a fungal sacrament!

    Meanswhile, Sufis, Christian mystics, some Hassidim, tiny minorities in themselves, seem to possess authentic inner core wisdom without much more than some practices unique to each tradition. And so? What does any of this have to do with Morford’s slightly tongue in cheek challenge to imagine the archaic possibilities in face of the banal popular culture of our time?

    In the end, as izzy suggests, perhaps we should try a nibble of the fungus – that would include me, of course. Perhaps I’d be less cantankerous, more kindly and forgiving 🙂