The Immortality Key tracks my 12-year investigation into what the most influential religious scholar of the 20th century, Huston Smith, once referred to as the "best-kept secret" in history. Did the Ancient Greeks use psychedelics to find God? And did the first Christians inherit the same, secret tradition?

For more about my book, here's links to my appearances on Joe Rogan Experience and CNN.


Comments: 517 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

Raey42358 karma

Have you ever done DMT though?

Brian_Muraresku431 karma

My psychedelic virginity remains intact.

tripleblue85106 karma

I just started reading your book after your appearance on JRE and I must know: are you going to take Graham Hancock's offer to take you on a South American ayahuasca journey? I'm three chapters in and am greatly enjoying it so far!

Brian_Muraresku168 karma

Ha! Graham and Joe are great guys. We had fun in Austin. One of my favorite YouTube comments from the show (yes ... I read them!) was something like: "When Graham Hancock offers to take you down to the Amazon to do ayahuasca ... you GO!" Only time will tell.

octopusraygun90 karma

Have there been any pertinent archaeological finds, or other information that interested you, since the book came out?

Brian_Muraresku164 karma

Yes. A few months before publication, there was the Tel Arad analysis. From charred organic remains on a limestone altar at Tel Arad, Israel -- "a scaled down version of the Biblical description of King Solomon’s Temple" -- the very first archaeochemical data for the ritual use of psychoactive drugs in the Judahite tradition: In measured tones, the authors conclude: "It seems feasible to suggest that the use of cannabis on the Arad altar had a deliberate psychoactive role ... to stimulate ecstasy as part of cultic ceremonies."

And then, just last week, another fascinating discovery in the Holy Land. Where paganism and paleo-Christianity literally overlap in the centuries after Jesus: The site is ripe for excavation and archaeochemical analysis of ancient containers that may surface.

checkoutthatlady63 karma

What got you interested in psychedelics in relation to religion?

Brian_Muraresku154 karma

As I write about in the Introduction, it was a chance read of an article entitled "The God Pill" in the Economist, way back in 2007. The article was published in 2006, but didn't hit my radar until 2007. It's right here, as a matter of fact: After reading that statistic about roughly 2/3 of the psilocybin volunteers describing their one and only dose as either the single most meaningful experience of their entire lives, or among the top five, I was hooked. I immediately started thinking about the once-in-a-lifetime event mysteriously recorded at Eleusis by the best and brightest of Athens and Rome. If the mystical experience was happening today, when not then?

bostonthinka54 karma

Has your research revealed that psychedelics replicate religious thoughts or epiphanies or do psychedelics activate a region of the brain that simulates religious epiphanies or thoughts?

Brian_Muraresku90 karma

That's a great question. I'm fascinated by both the neuroscientific and more ontological approaches to the question, as you point out. But I don't think it's an either / or proposition. On the former, I've always enjoyed this article: "Finding the self by losing the self: Neural correlates of ego-dissolution under psilocybin" ( On the latter, the "epiphany" or deep mystical experience that seems to underlie many of the psilocybin experiments at Hopkins and NYU point to an altogether more complicated phenomenon that seems to transcend a simplified neurochemical answer. After psilocybin is metabolized, it's the memory of the experience that endures. And the memory of something profound that results in changes of attitude and behavior. That's difficult to explain. It doesn't really work like any other psychiatric medication we know.

kidnamedkrisch38 karma

Hey Brian, do you believe Western cultures can or will embrace the psychedelic/religious mysticism of the past? It seems that, at least in Western cultures, the rising growth and acceptance of psychedelics is linked to the scientific exploration of their benefits and/or recreational properties. Do you think that this is further removing religion and spirituality from the equation, or opening the door for a modern version of the "Religion with No Name" as you call it.

Brian_Muraresku75 karma

What attracted me to the modern-day experimentation with psychedelics was the mystical experience that seems to keep welling up in the volunteers. The therapeutic value cannot be overlooked. Critical interventions for anxiety, depression, PTSD or end-of-life distress are on the horizon. But I always come back to the mystical experience at the core of these transformative events that transpire over 6 hours with psilocybin. It is impossible to predict how this will play out in the coming years. But in my case, at least, I would love to envision a time when I myself might be able to avail myself of psilocybin in a deeply spiritual setting. One that is 100% legal, of course. And equipped no only with trained medical personnel. But psychedelic chaplains who might be able to guide me through something that resonates with my own unique religiosity: Catholic, neo-Platonic, Orthodox and everywhere in between.

Obvious_Zone_234735 karma

There's a lot of questions I'd be curious to ask. Would you be willing to offer a "nutshell" analysis of your findings?

Brian_Muraresku101 karma

The Ancient Greek world was full of secret rituals called Mysteries, where a sacrament of one kind or another was consumed. I question whether some version of the pagan beer sacrament at Eleusis (the spiritual capital of the Ancient Greek world) and/or the pagan wine sacrament of Dionysus (the Greek god of ecstasy and mystical rapture) was somehow passed along to the earliest, Greek-speaking Christians. I spent years and years looking through the archaeobotanical and archaeochemical journals trying to tease out the hard scientific evidence to support the proposition. And eventually found two key targets: ergotized beer in Iberia (2nd century BC) and 'psychedelic' wine outside Pompeii (1st century AD). The latter seemingly spiked with opium, cannabis, henbane and black nightshade.

Abdhal28 karma

Hey man, loved your input on the JRE episode. Do you have any Romanian roots by any chance?

Brian_Muraresku36 karma

Yes, the ancestors on my father's side, going back quite a few generations, were originally from Romania. At some point, somebody inexplicably changed the spelling from "Murarescu" (the correct spelling) to "Muraresku".

RusslieWhiskers22 karma

I really enjoyed listening to your book. Do you think that the Vatican will allow you back into their secret archives now that your book has been published? I was impressed with your ability to gain that level of access. I would have thought that level of access would have been a hard no, especially with their apparent suppression of such ritual practices for such a long time.

Brian_Muraresku88 karma

The Vatican has been professional and accommodating. And I hope I'm being equally courteous with my language in these interviews over recent weeks. I am looking into the history of the Catholic Church in an effort of truth and reconciliation. Not to cast aspersions. Not to embarrass. Just to report the relationship between the Church and drugs. Which deserves a re-examination. At the end of the day, I see an enormous opportunity for the Church to engage this discussion. And to at least consider how psychedelic technology might be leveraged for the faithful in the most cautious, responsible, safe, effective ... and sacred way.

unacabron22 karma

What's your opinion on the stoned ape theory?

Brian_Muraresku37 karma

In principle, I love it. I find it fascinating. But I want to see the evidence. I had a wonderful conversation with Lee Berger a few weeks about leveraging the archaeochemical and dental calculus anaylsis toolkits (amongst others) to test the theory once and for all. I'll be sure to keep you updated.

Brian_Muraresku20 karma

Please keep the questions coming! I have to go pick up my daughters and attend to some family duties, but I will be checking into this thread all weekend. And properly addressing any unanswered questions I may have missed below. Thank you so much for joining me. And if you don't have a copy of The Immortality Key, please go here:

Just yesterday, the audio landed at #10 on the New York Times Best Sellers list:

mtnicks17 karma

The entheogen theory of Religion is truly fascinating. During your 12-year investigation, what was the most interesting/shocking discovery you made?

Brian_Muraresku34 karma

I can't point to one. But clearly the archaeobotanical evidence of ergotized beer in Spain and 'psychedelic' wine outside Pompeii were game changers for me. Proof of concept that these spiked beers and wines really did exist in antiquity. And not just in the imaginations of ancient authors. As Andrew Koh of MIT is quick to point out, our ancient ancestors had a very sophisticated understanding of the botanical landscape. When they spiked their wine, we can't really say for what purpose. But clearly, they were doing it to balance the preservation, palatability and psychoactivity of a beverage that could run the spectrum from purely recreational to medicinal to deeply sacred use. Or maybe, mixed use.

parikuma15 karma

Three questions:

  • What do you know about Eastern religions in relationship with what you're writing of the Western ones?
  • By "Western" civilization, do you give consideration to the American continent before Europeans went there in your book?
  • What's your take on meditation?

There seems to be discussion around how meditative states can bring a person to something that resonates with the lexical fields used when talking about psychedelics.
Whether there is any link of causality (from one to the other or vice-versa) or parallel roads to the same destination, or even parallel roads to separate destinations, is all unclear to me. I do like the theory of neural annealing (perhaps you've heard of it?) but it's only a theory of course.

I'm curious about your book and might look into it. And I agree with what was said early on the Joe Rogan interview about your legitimacy being less questioned by "academics" or "reputable people" since you haven't had psychedelics, and I hope that when (not if) you try the experiences you find ways to do some comparative study of your perspectives pre and post-experience(s).

Thanks for the AMA and I wish you success, it's always a lot of work to write a book!

Brian_Muraresku21 karma

Thank you for the kind words.

  1. Others have studied the intersection of Eastern religions and psychedelics. I would recommend: As well as:
  2. Yes, I discuss the presence of psychedelic sacraments in the pre-colonial Americas in the very last chapter of the book. One of my favorites!
  3. I think meditation is a vague term. Most people probably think of "Eastern" forms of meditation when the word appears: sitting in quiet and stillness. I prefer walking meditations. And the kind of eyes-open meditation discussed by Peter Kingsley in his epic book, Reality:

ANewMythos12 karma

Given that many mystical traditions have devised ways to achieve states of consciousness similar to psychedelics, why do you believe psychedelics are central to this “religion with no name”? Are psychedelics necessary to explain mystical states of consciousness?

Brian_Muraresku22 karma

EXCELLENT question! I've seen a few misinterpretations and misreadings of my book out there, so I want to be very clear. I see psychedelics as one -- and only one -- tool in the greater spiritual toolkit for achieving altered states of consciousness and potentially having a life-transforming, mystical experience. Psychedelics are decidedly NOT for everybody. And they are NOT toys. I haven't done them myself for that reason. But I do see the spiritual potential from the modern-day clinical trials and other experiments at Hopkins, NYU, Yale, UCLA, Imperial College London, etc. And if more hard scientific evidence does, in fact, emerge from antiquity ... then it means this technology has been around a long time. And has solid historical foundations.

Garrettnolin10 karma

Hey Brian !

Have you discovered any evidence for use of particular psychedelics that no longer exist or are used in today's world. ?

Brian_Muraresku17 karma

There's the million-dollar question. I've spent the past couple days chatting with colleagues at Harvard and MIT about exactly that question. The short answer is that I personally have not. But there are serious archaeochemists and chemical biologists who are convinced that new discoveries are just around the corner. And that we've barely scratched the surface on forgotten species that might contain incredible nutraceutical and/or pharmaceutical value.

fuzzyshorts9 karma

The mycelium network... If I were to spread psilocybin spores across the darker, moister regions of the country, the lowlands under trees from Vermont down through the south of miami... would it have an effect on the collective American mind?

Brian_Muraresku14 karma

I need to defer to Paul Stamets on that one. But I will surely ask him.

Human_Cigarette8 karma

Do you put much faith in rituals that claimed to have metaphysical or supernatural effects? Or do you believe this is rather an intentional creation of seemingly supernatural phenomena by expert masters of ceremony using set, setting, and chemistry?

Brian_Muraresku43 karma

I don't put faith in anything. I look at evidence, and try to make an assessment. From the literature on the psychedelic experience, it's clear that set and setting are just as important as the underlying substance (the pharmacological integrity, purity, dose, etc.). In other words, the preparation is key. The environment is key. And I'll even say ... the intention is key. When approached with reverence, the substance itself seems to find fertile soil in those who have done their homework. What does that say about the mind's ability to impact the experience? Or the mind / brain conundrum? Or the nature of reality itself? Big questions.

MarineroDelMar7 karma

Terrence McKenna's "Stoned Ape" Theory suggests that the first progressions from Homo Sapiens into modern humans occured due to psychedelic experiences available at that time. Does religion among other advancements in society reflect some aspects of this theory?

Brian_Muraresku10 karma

That's essentially the question I pursue in the book, with a particular focus on Western civilization (the Ancient Greeks and paleo-Christians). Looking for the hard scientific evidence, and letting the archaeochemistry lead the way, is the best course of action.

shineyashoesguvna7 karma

Hi Brian, I am about half way through the book and am totally fascinated.

I was curious about your personal views on the history of civilization, and how closely do your beliefs align with Graham Hancock’s? I ask because it feels like a broader implication of your findings might be that these rituals had been passed along by some unified technological civilization that has been wiped from history but for megalithic architecture and some rituals or beliefs as you have been uncovering.

I understand that you would likely prefer to maintain your focus on this one topic of potential psychedelic use in the Mysteries and other secret rituals, but assuming Graham is correct in the loosest sense about a lost global civilization, I’d be interested to know where you’d like to follow the compass next. Rediscovering lost answers of our past is just so mind blowing , and I would be inclined to believe that your incredible knowledge of ancient languages might make you uniquely qualified to uncover more than just information on this topic.

Thanks for doing this AMA!

Brian_Muraresku11 karma

Thanks for that! Graham's research is largely distinct from mine. Where we intersect is his wonderful book Supernatural. Unfortunately, my languages don't come in very handy the deeper we go into pre-history. But as in all things, I like to keep an open mind over aspects of history for which we have very little evidence. The dearth or absence of evidence for high technology is not necessary the evidence of absence. But as in my work with ancient intoxicants, I prefer to see the hard data before opining.

beastROCK97574 karma

What is a common link among all religion?

Brian_Muraresku21 karma

According to Brother David Steindl-Rast ... mystical experience.

“There is no other way to start a religion,” says the Benedictine monk. “Every religion has its mystical core. The challenge is to find access to it and to live in its power.” In what he calls the centuries-long “tension between the mystical and the religious establishment,” there seems to be a conflict between the direct experience of the Divine and the basic human architecture needed to keep it alive. According to Brother David, “time has an influence on the system: the pipes tend to get rusty and start to leak, or they get clogged up. The flow from the source slows down to a trickle.” But it doesn't mean that direct experience and basic organizing principles like doctrine and dogma can't live side by side. The way I see it, the Mysteries can't live in secrecy. They won't survive. On the other hand, organized religion can't survive without the power of its mystical core -- the ecstatic experience that may have birthed said religion into being. There is a balance. And I hear many young people craving that balance.

immobilemotion4 karma

Has there been a particular portion of your research that has piqued your interest in occultism or Western Esotericism? Your work seems very relevant to the new and growing field of Western Esotericism.

Brian_Muraresku8 karma

Yes, I'm very interested in the scholarship of Wouter Hanegraaff. His knowledge of the history of esotericism in the Western canon is without parallel. But I must say, when it comes to the Ancient Greeks, I owe full credit to the man whose writing completely changed my life: Peter Kingsley. I would start with In the Dark Places of Wisdom ( and move into Reality (, first published in 2004, and just released in a new and updated edition last month. Peter Kingsley is a living legend. And a prophet in every sense of the word.

claymaker4 karma

Hello, I found your work through an interview on CNN, good stuff. I love the ideas you're presenting. It'll be the common consensus in the future, but it's a bit different. I'd need to read more of your stuff to be sure.

Here's the setup for my question:

Some people who hear about spiritual experiences on psychedelics are dismissive, especially if they've never tried them personally. However, there's a growing body of research showing that people commonly report a "mystical, sacred, positive, transcendent, and ineffable" experience with earth medicines like dmt, lsd, and psylocibin (75% in one study). That sounds like a description of a pretty valid spiritual experience. In another, 2/3 of atheists reported rejecting their atheism after an experience with those same medicines.

So here's my question.... The scientific method says if we apply a substance and produce a reliable response, there is a causative link between the two. So if we can give people a medicine and they reliably have a religious/spiritual experience, why is this not considered the science of religion? Does that idea mesh with your thesis or would you disagree?

I'm also curious to hear if, in your research, you found evidence of priesthoods and/or fraternal groups that are using these medicines in the modern era?

Brian_Muraresku3 karma

One of the big questions raised by my book is whether these experiences under the influence of psilocybin are truly "mystical". A study to be released next year has looked into the effect clergy and religious leaders. Stay tuned for that.

For the modern use among fraternal orders, definitely check out the fascinating book by my friend P.D. Newman: Buy it now!

PunkShocker4 karma

Hi, Brian. You're probably done, but I just finished your book and loved it. How has the Vatican's response been? It sounds like they were really cooperative— more so than one would think anyway. Has that changed?

Brian_Muraresku6 karma

I consider many people inside the Vatican friends. And I hope it stays that way.

Loved19934 karma

What do you think about the idea of “God” simply being one giant field of infinitely intelligent consciousness? Meaning that you and I and everything that exists ARE God (I haven’t finished the book, so I apologize if you already answered this)

Brian_Muraresku6 karma

I think we get caught up in definitions of God. I'll paraphrase the great Joseph Campbell. God is a thought. God is an idea. But its reference ... is to something that is beyond thinking. Beyond the very categories of being and non-being. Both is and isn't. Neither is nor is not. It's a mind bender. But the more paradoxical, the more non-sensical, the more irrational ... the closer to a working definition of God. Which finds its greatest expression, I surmise, in experience. The actual lived experience of love.

Nitz933 karma

Unless the pope is secretly tripping there must have been some reason why they stopped taking. And of course when.

Any info on that?

Brian_Muraresku10 karma

There are no easy answers here. I'm not saying definitively that any psychedelic sacrament was in use among the paleo-Christians from the archaeobotanical / archaeochemical vantage. From the literature, there certainly appears to be drugged wine among the Gnostics (according to Hippolytus). How that falls into desuetude is complicated. Papal politics? The Mysteries dying under the weight of their own secrecy? The Inquisition stamping out traditional herbal knowledge? Hernando Ruiz de Alarcon's campaign against "heathen" sacraments in the Americas? Natural loss of generational knowledge? All of the above?

MagoModerno3 karma

Is there or could you produce a website or list of links for all the artwork and things or that nature you talk about I your book? I’ve really been enjoying the book. I think I only have about three hours left of listening. Such a great exploration of an amazing subject.

Brian_Muraresku5 karma

Absolutely. I've received the request from quite a few folks. I'm discussing with the publisher how best (given copyrights) to make all the images accessible (either as an adjunct to the Audiobook, or via my website). I am negotiating with the license holders (putting good legal skills to use).

Mercury_Equinox3 karma

Hi Brian,

Is there anyone that you know of that is currently researching the ancient brewing techniques with these compounds? Have they had any success recreating these ancient beer and wine cocktails?

Brian_Muraresku8 karma

Yes indeed. Together with the Dogfish Head Brewery, Pat McGovern recreated the Phrygian potion discovered in the bronze vessels from the tomb of the purported King Midas. Available today at your local shop: There are many others doing similar work with ancient wine in Israel.

415raechill3 karma

Hey, GREAT work!!! Any update yet on a conclusive link between early Christianity and psychedelic use?

Or are you keeping a lid on it for book 2?

Brian_Muraresku8 karma

When I have information to report, it will likely be reported in Book 2.

NippinRoger3 karma

Hello Brian!

Are you working on another project now such as a follow up or second book?

I think your talents and expertise are invaluable to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of this subject, so I’d love to know what you plans you have for the future.

Also, do you think you would ever take up professorship at a university or college? Have your own course, etc. enabling the next generation to learn from you and conduct further research.

Brian_Muraresku8 karma

Wow. Thank you so much. Without getting into details, I am already working on a new book. A docuseries continues in development. And I'm very excited about some conversations with universities that have the potential to concretize this conversation and lend the resources that the multidisciplinary approach merits.

BravoNZ3 karma

Romanian ancestry?

Brian_Muraresku3 karma

Yes indeed. Please see below.

chilossal2 karma

I am about halfway through the book. First - super impressed with your commitment to finding answers so congratulations!

My question - what is the most important thing you think the religion with no name can teach people today?

Brian_Muraresku5 karma

The "key" to immortality has little to do with psychedelics, per se. Psychedelics are one, and only one, tool for entering into that near-death mystical state from which people (ancient and modern) appear to emerge completely transformed. More loving, more compassionate, more centered. At least, the modern-day volunteers with whom I've spoken. The "key" is dying before dying as practiced by the Ancient Greeks (see all of Peter Kingsley's work) and retained by the Greek Orthodox Church, amongst many other religious traditions.

"If you die before you die, you won't die when you die."

αν πεθάνεις πριν πεθάνεις,

δεν θα πεθάνεις όταν πεθάνεις

Felipe_AP2 karma

What's the most interesting author/source you can personally recommend someone?

Brian_Muraresku3 karma

Peter Kingsley.

and692 karma

Do you have romanian relatives?

Brian_Muraresku2 karma

Yes indeed. Please see below.

fuzzyshorts2 karma

Do you believe the universe is conscious?

Brian_Muraresku4 karma

I'm not sure what I believe. But I'm aware of the many theories exploring the concept. Including Robert Lanza: And the always entertaining notion of panpsychism (a great Greek word):

Stoned_Stiles2 karma


I’ve yet to get your book, but heard you on joe’s podcast. I very much appreciate all the work you’ve put into this and your findings have been extremely interesting to hear. I do wonder though since releasing this book do you plan on continuing this research in the near future and if so, do you have your eyes set on any specific part of the world to conduct this research in?

Brian_Muraresku7 karma

As soon as COVID allows, I'm hopping the first flight back to the Mediterranean. I think that's my main area of focus in the near-term (Ancient Greece and paleo-Christianity). But I also have a few surprises up my sleeve.

Wolf_In_Human_Shape2 karma

Where can we get a signed copy of your book?

Brian_Muraresku5 karma

I'm working on with the publisher, and will report back.

duckmerunning2 karma

Are you getting pushback from the academic community?

Do you think it was maybe a mistake to align with Ghram Hancock due to reputation?

Bought your book the day it came out, wish you the best.

Brian_Muraresku4 karma

I have not received pushback from the academic community. In fact, I would say the opposite. You can see the reviews that have come in to date here: And I am particularly proud of the pieces that have been written by serious scholars and students of religion:

booksforlunch2 karma

Have you found any present day people who make spiked wines? Or make anything relatively similar? After listening to you on the podcast I couldn’t help but want to try them!

Brian_Muraresku3 karma

Depends what you're spiking the wine with. But yes: I believe cannabis wines are fairly easy to find in California:

bradsdankmemes2 karma

How have you not done any psychs yet are able to write this book? I’m not saying I disagree with your thesis, but I think your writing is probably missing a great aspect bc you have not experienced the experiences you are writing about, especially is they are the key to what drives your thesis

Brian_Muraresku2 karma

I've been weighing that question for about 12 years. In the end, I decided to pursue this investigation in as objective a way as possible. It was more about the data, and less about me or my experiences. But I will continue evaluating that in the years ahead.

TimeisaLie1 karma

What are your views towards Pineapple on Pizza?

Brian_Muraresku1 karma

To quote the movie Inside Out, which I've watched with my daughters several times: "Thanks for ruining pizza, San Francisco!"

cnzmur1 karma

What are you basing the connection to Christianity on? Early Christianity seems to have kind of a different setup to me, so I'm interested.

Also were there even available psychedelics? I know very little about them, but I thought they were mostly made in a lab, American, or, like magic mushrooms, unknown and unused until fairly recently, and all the drugs in ancient Europe were stuff like alcohol and opium, which don't do the same kind of thing.

Brian_Muraresku2 karma

The hypotheses I follow in the book look into ergot (a naturally occurring fungus) as one possible 'psychedelic' additive to ancient beer. I also found archaeobotanical evidence of wine spiked with opium, cannabis, henbane and black nightshade. From the literature, "ivy" (whatever species that was to the Greeks) seemed to have hallucinogenic / maddening properties. There are several others recorded by Dioscorides and Galen. No shortage of visionary organics.

nasty_napkin1 karma

Hi Brian, I really enjoyed listening to your book! What are your thoughts on the recent legalization of psilocybin in Oregon? The new law, passed on Tuesday, says Oregon will be able to open “psilocybin service centers” for supervised use by adults. I’m curious if you have an opinion on it!

Brian_Muraresku3 karma

Positive development. I think regulating all drugs is the most sensible way forward. Psilocybin does not belong in the criminal justice system. But I do think those regulations need to be extraordinarily well drafted and implemented. I am very interested in that aspect of public health, and did similar work when I was Executive Director of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation:

clapclapsnort1 karma

I suffer from treatments resistant depression and alcoholism. What is the best way for me to get in contact with Psychochemical researchers studying the effect of these drugs on actual people if I don’t live near a major city hub? Also thank you so much for shining a light on these possibly miraculous drugs.

Brian_Muraresku2 karma

I will speak with the clinical researchers and report back about on-going and future trials.

speakhyroglyphically1 karma

Everything needs a name!

With respect, since you didn't do it i'm just gonna go ahead and name it "Mothra".

Brian_Muraresku1 karma

Works for me.

TheAdlerian1 karma

Hey there!

I've been a psychotherapist for 31 years and have noted that every time "someone" is trying to make a drug legal, there's a lot of exaggerated claims made about it.

For instance, I recall reading a book in the 90s called The Cocaine Papers (I think) that made coke sound like a superhero drug and called for legalization. I lived in Denver Co when weed was about to be legalized and weed was promoted as curing EVERYTHING and being a huge miracle.

After it was legalized, people bought it for fun, like beer, and all the talk about cancer and so forth was over.

I have now seen several shows on Netflix, articles on the internet, youtube shows, all pushing that hallucinogens are a MIRACLE and improve EVERYTHING! So, it's the same sales pitch.

I am for drugs being legalized because I worked for the prison system, in rehabs, etc and the illegality creates more harm than the drugs, in my opinion.

However, I despise lying, liars, and propaganda to fool people even into doing even good things.

So, I have two questions:

  1. Are you promoting this as some kind of movement?
  2. If not, what is your opinion about Coke being promoted as a wonder drug, weed being promoted as a wonder drug, and now hallucinogens?

Brian_Muraresku2 karma

I am not promoting the use of any hallucinogens period. Whether as a miracle drug or anything else. I support empirical scientific initiatives that are gold standard, rigorous and exacting. Which is why I like the clinical research at Hopkins and NYU, the emerging neuroscientific research at MGH, Yale and Berkeley, and the sober (and quite skeptical) discussions at Harvard Divinity School on psychedelics and religion:

StreetFlan1 karma

Have you received any backlash from religious people about the book?

Brian_Muraresku3 karma

To be honest, not to any great extent. I must say, 90-95% of the feedback I'm seeing is positive, encouraging and gracious.

Nitz931 karma

Are there interesting cases of ergotized wheat? Back then some people must have had their harvest ruined by it.

Brian_Muraresku1 karma

There are many incidences in the literature. If not wheat, then other cereal grains. The 1951 mass poisoning is one interesting example:

Gotterdamerrung1 karma

Not having read any further into this yet, is your premise the idea that these religions found religion by getting high?! Because that's hilarious.

Brian_Muraresku4 karma

I wouldn't quite phrase it that way. There is a hypothesis worth testing that some communities among the Ancient Greeks and paleo-Christians, amongst others in antiquity, utilized psychoactive compounds to achieve altered states of consciousness. And therein, mystical experience that was interpreted as an encounter with the Divine.

Bannisa1 karma

Do you have any comments/ criticism on John Allegro’s theses put forward in his “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross?”

Brian_Muraresku6 karma

The linguistic arguments in The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970) are difficult to summarize for a general audience. Allegro relies on a very technical methodology to demonstrate the continuity from Sumerian to Semitic to the Indo-European Greek of the New Testament. Methodology that is not supported by the vast majority of philologists. And to the best of my knowledge, there are no archaeobotanical / archaeochemical data for the ritual use of amanita muscaria in Near Eastern or classical antiquity. I looked! I do cite much of Ruck's philological work on the Ancient Greek, because he relies on relatively straight-forward interpretations of the extant literature. But more importantly, his theories about the ergotized beer and spiked wine from The Road to Eleusis (1978) can now be corroborated by the archaeobotanical / archaeochemical data I present in Chapters 7, 10 and 15 of The Immortality Key.

beastROCK97570 karma

After what age should one experiment with psychedelics?

Brian_Muraresku3 karma

Great question. This is my opinion, and my opinion only. But I would caution people to refrain from any psychedelic use until the neuroplasticity of the maturing brain has had an opportunity to become fully wired up. Which typically doesn't happen until about the age of 25. Even then, I can envision many reasons for waiting until later in life for a heroic dose.

beastROCK97570 karma

Which are common psychedelics?

Brian_Muraresku2 karma

I think the term classical psychedelics now refers to things like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline and DMT. My book catalogued the presence in antiquity of other candidates: ergot (which contains or has the potential to produce other alkaloids aside from LSD), the visionary nightshade family of plants (mandrake, henbane, Atropa belladonna, jimsonweed).