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Table of Contents
                            TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART ONE Entheogens and the Origins of Religion
	Chapter 1 Persephone’s Quest
		Our discoveries:
			1. Soma and the Vedic Culture
			2. The Mystery of Eleusis
			3. Our first Velada
			4. The Grecas
			5. The New World and the Thunderbolt
			6. The Meaning of Kakuljá Huracan
			7. A Glimpse of the Domestic Use of Soma
			8. The Chinese and the Nivkhi
			9. Greece and Soma
			10. Soma among the Mediaeval ‘Monsters’
			11. The Chukotka
			12. The Fool’s Mushroom
			13. ‘Happiness Mushroom’
			14. The British and the ‘Nameless Mushroom’
			15. The Vikings and Soma
			16. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
		Epilogue: the Age of the Entheogens
		Unfinished Business
	Chapter 2 Lightningbolt and Mushrooms
	Chapter 3 The Mahavira Vessel and the Plant Putika
		The Secret of the cut-off Heads
		The Elixir of Life: Soma and Putika
		Putka and the Santal of Eastern Bihar
		The Mahavira Vessel
		The later and separate Lives of Mahavira and Putika
	Chapter  4 The Last Meal of the Buddha
		What was Sukara-Maddava?
		The Santal and the Putka
		The Buddha’s Last Meal
		The Indus Valley and Kashmir
		Memorandum by Walpola Rahula on the early Sources for the Meaning of Sukaramaddava
	Chapter 5 Carved ‘Disembodied Eyes’ of Teotihuacan
PART TWO Poets, Philosophers, Priests: Entheogens in the Formation of the Classical Tradition
	Chapter 6 Mushrooms and Philosophers
		The Scene of Necromancy
		Peisander and the Affair of the Profanations
		The Swamp of Dionysus
		Tongue-in-Bellies and Revealers
		Socrates as Profaner of the Mysteries
		Aja Ekapad
		Prometheus as Shade-foot and the Theft of Fire
	Chapter 7 The Wild and the Cultivated: Wine in Euripides’ Bacchae
		The Discovery of Wine
		The Reconciliation with Primitivism
		The Making of Wine
		The mad Ring and the God
		Double Birth and the God’s Surrogate
		The first Birth
		The second Birth
		The Paradigm of Actaeon
		The Regression of Cadmean Thebes
		From Pollution to Fertility
		Toward an Understanding of Tragedy
	Chapter 8 The Offerings from the Hyperboreans
		The Route for the Offerings
		The Garden of Apollo
		The Secret Offering
Notes on the Essays in this Book
Document Text Contents
Page 128


large intestine being chronically inflamed with dysentery, his diarrhoea was a
natural sequence. 'Dysentery' is a translation of the Pali lohita-pakkhandika,
which means 'bloody flux' in old-fashioned English.

The account in the Digha Nikdya is as though written to order for this ex-
planation. Two quatrains, apparently independent of each other, are inserted
in the text of the Digha Nikaya (020 , p 139) at this point. Buddhaghosa adds a
note: 'It should be understood that these are the verses by the Theras [Elders]
who held the Council' - the Council that took place at Rsjagrha, at which some
months later the initial plans were laid for mobilizing detailed recollections
of the Buddha's teachings and for organizing the Buddhist religion. The first
quatrain shows how those present murmured against Cunda, and, according to
the second, there was also murmuring about the mushrooms. Here are the
quatrains in the Rhys Davids translation:

When he had eaten Cunda's food,
The copper-smith's - thus have I heard -
He bore with fortitude the pain,
The sharp pain even unto death.

When he had eaten, from the mushrooms [= siikara-maddava] in the food
There fell upon the Teacher sickness dire,
Then after nature was relieved the Exalted One announced and said:
I now am going on to KusinZrS.

After the episode the Exalted One went out of his way to exonerate Cunda of
blame, thus making even more tenable my explanation of his illness. For if
Cunda had been guilty of negligence in choosing the mushrooms, why should
the Omniscient One have exonerated him?

42. And the Exalted One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: -'Now it
may happen, Ananda, that some one should stir up remorse in Cunda the smith,
by saying: - "This is evil to thee, Cunda, and loss to thee in that when the Tatha-
gata had eaten his last meal from thy provision, then he died." Any such remorse,
Ananda, in Cunda the smith should be checked by saying: -"This is good to thee,
Cunda, and gain to thee, in that when the Tathsgata had eaten his last meal
from thy provision, then he died." From the very mouth of the Exalted One,
Cunda, have I heard, from his own mouth have I received this saying: -"These
two offerings of food are of equal fruit, and of equal profit and of much greater
fruit and much greater profit than any other - and which are the two? The of-
fering of food which, when a Tathzgata has eaten, he attains to supreme and
perfect insight; and the offering of food which, when a Tathiigata has eaten, he
passes away by that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains be-

Page 129


hind - these two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of equal profit, and of
much greater fruit and much greater profit than any others. There has been
laid up by Cunda the smith a karma redounding to length of life, redounding
to good birth, redounding to good fortune, redounding to good fame, redound-
ing to the inheritance of heaven, and of sovereign power." In this way, Ananda,
should be checked any remorse in Cunda the smith.' (p 147-8)

Bareau concedes that Cunda and Pava may be original elements but, if so,
thinks that they are the sole original elements in the narrative of the Buddha's
stay in Pava:

Deux sikcles aprks le ParinirvZ~a, ces deux noms, ici Pava et Cunda, etaient les
deux seuls elements anciens, peut-Etre meme historiques, de l'episode du
dernier repas du Buddha. Aucun souvenir n'avait done kt6 conserve ni des in-
cidents qui avaient pu s'y produire ni de la nature precise des aliments qui
avaient kt6 servis alors au Bienheureux. [Tome I, p 258 in his Recherches sur la
biographie du Buddha, Ecole Franqaise dJExtreme Orient]

Perhaps in the light of our discoveries Bareau may grant more to the history
of the Buddha's Last Meal in Pava as told in the Digha Nikdya. Too many had
witnessed the episode with the mushrooms to permit the Theras to suppress
it: his sudden illness had provoked too much talk.

Here is the account of the Buddha's death according to the Digha Nikdya,
Chap V:

I . Now the Exalted One addressed the venerable Ananda, and said: -'Come,
Ananda, let us go on to the Siila Grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of KusinZrii,
on the further side of the river Hiranyavati.'

'Even so, lord!' said the venerable Ananda, in assent, to the Exalted One.
And the Exalted One proceeded with a great company of brethren to the

SZla Grove of the Mallas, the Upavattana of KusinZrZ, on the further side of
the river Hiranyavati: and when he had come there he addressed the venerable
Ananda, and said:

'Spread over for me, I pray you, Ananda, the couch with its head to the
north, between the twin SZla trees. 1 am weary, Ananda, and would lie down.'

'Even so, lord!' said the venerable Ananda, in assent, to the Exalted One.
And he spread a covering over the couch with its head to the north, between
the twin Sala trees. And the Exalted One laid himself down on his right side,
with one leg resting on the other; and he was mindful and self-possessed.

In a note on this passage the Sinhala commentator added an explanation:

Tradition says that there was a row of SZla trees at the head of that couch, and
another at its foot, one young Sala tree being close to its head, and another close

Page 255


mals do eat the mushroon~s.~ In the Mediterranean lands, where Amanita cannot
be expected to be found, cattle do, however, become profoundly inebriated
upon the ergot of Paspalum distichum, the plant that Kronos sowed in the Islands
of the Blessed and fed to the horses of the Sun.

The entheogen of Amanita also exerts a strong attraction for flies, hence the
mushroom's common name of 'fly-agaric.' Flies are attracted by the mushroom's
juice and rendered senseless and immobile, so that in European lore, the plant
has been sometimes considered an effective means of controlling the insect. This
characteristic of the plant may have determined the belief that the sacrificed
victim at the Leucadian Rock was supposed to rid the populace of flies. Like
the agaric, Apollo too was a 'flycatcher,' for he bore the epithet of Muiagros
(Aelianus, De Natura Animalium 11.8).~

The color of the sacred plant in Greek traditions, moreover, appears to have
fallen within the yellow-orange crimson-purple' part of the spectrum (Pindar,
Olympia 6.55), a range represented botanically by the tawny juice of Amanita and
the purple of Claviceps purpurea or ergot.

If it was an Amanita that actually arrived from the supposed Hyperboreans
as their secret offering of first fruits, we can only speculate as to what would
have been done with it on Delos. It may have simply been placed upon the Hy-
perborean grave as a commemoration of the transmuted identity of the god,
something, no doubt, that would have been known by very few. It is, however,
also possible that the plant figured in the functioning of the oracle on Delos,
for there was one, although little is known of it and it never achieved the no-
toriety and esteem of the Delphic Pythoness (Homeric hymn 3.81), perhaps
because on Delos, that archaic aspect of the god was so overshadowed by his
Olympian presence. It would be all the more important, therefore, to have
maintained some honored role for the deposed persona. It is in that context that
we must understand the tradition of the secret offering.

I. Wasson, Soma 74-75. Metaphors of cattle
are also attributes of Soma, which can be
described as an 'udder' that yields the enthe-
ogenic milk and as a 'bellowing bull,' the latter
being apparently also a characteristic of the
mushroom that Perseus picked at Mycenae.
The bull is the commonest metaphor for Soma,
and this manifestation of the sacred plant may
underlie the tradition that Zeus, in estab-
lishing European civilization, abducted the Ana-
tolian Europa by appearing to her in the form

of a bull that breathed upon her the inspiration
of the flower he had grazed upon.

2. Farnell, 4, reference 275b, suggests that
the epithet may indicate Apollo. Muiagros is
also attested for an otherwise unknown Elean
god (Pliny, Natural History 10.75) and a 'hero'
in Arcadia (Pausanias 8.26.7). It is not certain
that it is, in fact, an epithet of Apollo, himself,
but that is only to be expected if it indicates
one of the most secret aspects of his displaced
primitive persona.

Page 256



Citations of ancient authors mentioned in the text and notes refer to the works in
the original languages. The numerical references indicate the traditional subdivisions
(such as book, chapter, paragraph, verse, etc) as established by the first printed edition.
I t is customary for all subsequent editions and translations to preserve the same num-
bering, and thus, except where otherwise indicated (as in the case of fragments of lost
works), any edition or translation should contain the citation. Editions of fragments
usually include a concordance for previous numberings.


Chapter I appears here for the first time. All the other essays have been

published elsewhere, as follows :

Chapter 2, also written by me, first appeared as 'Lightning-bolt and Mush-

rooms: an essay in early cultural exploration', a contribution to a volume en-

titled, 'For RomanJakobson: Essays on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday', published
ii October 1956, by Mouton, in The Hague. This was m y first publication in
ethnomycology. It now appears in revised form.

Chapter 3, by Professor Stella Kramrisch, 'The Mahdvira Vessel and the
Plant Piitika', was published in theJourna1 of the American Oriental Society, Vol.
95, Number 2, April-June 1975.

Chapter 4, 'The Last Meal of the Buddha', written by me, also appeared

in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 102, Number 4, October-
December 1982.

Chapter 5, by Jonathan Ott, appeared first in the Harvard Botanical Museum
Leaflets in the fall of 1983, Vol. 29, No. 4.

The three Chapters 6, 7, and 8, by Professor Carl A. P. Ruck, all appeared

first in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Lausanne, as follows:

Mushrooms and Philosophers, 4 (1981) pp 179-205

The Wild and the Cultivated: Wine in Euripides' Bacchae, 5 (1982) pp

The Offerings from the Hyperboreans, 8 (1983) pp 177-207
R. G. W.

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