The Entheogenic use of plant based potions by humans isn't something new and there is enough evidence indicating that this was common practice for our ancestors who knew the psychoactive properties of these brews and the powers they hold within to awaken us to the true spiritual nature of our reality.

For nearly 2000 years, as many as three thousand Greeks shared similar visionary experiences in the town of Eleusis while celebrating the great Eleusinian Mysteries.

In this inaugural video of "Ancient Greece Revisited" we explore the possible use of psychedelics in the Greek world. We follow a thread connecting the most sacred of rituals, the "Great Mysteries of Eleusis," to the discovery of LSD by Albert Hofmann in the midst of WW2, and from there, to a new, psychedelic view of the entirety of Greek culture.

( Click on the YouTube player window for sub-titles in Spanish, French and Greek. )

The Great Mystery was a six day festival observed at harvest time that symbolized the cycle of death and rebirth.

What began as a local festival, the Eleusinian Mysteries eventually became a defining piece of Athenian citizenship. The sixth day of festivities included ingestion of a portion known as the 'Kykeon'.

Upon ingestion, initiates described a gradual entrance into ecstasy accompanied by physical symptoms including vertigo, nausea, cold sweats, fear, and trembling.

These physical symptoms were met with mystical visions, or epopteia – an aura of brilliant light that appeared within the Hall.

The festival of the mysteries took place twice a year, in spring and in autumn, but the former was not so great and important as the latter. The mysteries, whose origins date to the prehellenic era, became particularly popular when Eleusis came under sovereignty of Athens. In the 5th century B.C. the telesterion—the great hall of mysteries was built there.

In this building the most important part of the ritual is supposed to have occurred: the ingestion of the kykeon, the mysterious sacrament that caused in participants intensive psychic changes, which cleared their souls, and made them accept death not so much as harm as a blessing, as one of the ancient diarists reported. In the late Roman period the mysteries no longer took place every year, and the cult was finally destroyed in 395 A.D. or the year after it when the troops of Alaric demolished the temple at Eleusis.

Ergot, a parasite that grows on barley, emits ergometrine and d-lysergic acid amide, a chemical precursor to LSD that exhibits similar psychedelic effects and a DEA schedule III drug in the United States. After ingesting the kykeon, the participant enters the final portion of the journey, wherein the most secret aspects of the mystery are revealed, with many experiencing visions pertaining to the possibility of eternal life. The influence of mind altering drugs is believed to bolster the individual's reaction to the final step and help the Eleusinian Mysteries survive for nearly two thousand years against a plethora of other mystery cults and the rise of Christianity in Rome.

In the first recorded literary source of the Mysteries at Eleusis, the kykeon brew was described as consisting of barley, water, and mint.

The barley found in fields near Eleusis was often infested with a fungal growth known as ergot, the compound commonly believed to be the psychoactive agent in the kykeon. In 1938, Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD from ergotamine, a chemical derived from ergot.

After this discovery, Hoffman pursued the notion that the entheogenic experience induced by the kykeon portion at Eleusis resulted from the same chemical makeup as that found in another entheogen: LSD. The term Entheogen comes from the Greek root, entheos (God within) and gen- (becoming), or “becoming a god within.”

The writings left behind describing the experiences at Eleusis are strikingly similar to those of other ancient psychedelic experiences induced by entheogens, such as Ayahuasca in the Amazon, the Blue Water Lily in Egypt, and the Soma in India.

Ancient entheogen users often cited a connection to a divine realm or entity, mystical and indescribable visions, the dissolution of the ego or self, and subsequent acceptance of death – all common themes in today’s well-known psychedelics including DMT (dimethyltryptamine), mescaline, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), and sacred mushrooms (psilocybin).

Throughout recorded history in both ancient and modern times, many entheogen users in widely varying cultures and geographic areas depict comparable encounters.

If these same rites of passage and mystical experiences can be found throughout history and in so many divergent cultures, could these sacred and transformative entheogenic experiences be the true foundation of religion and man’s relationship with the divine?

So, it does seem like Hofmann's Elixir, LSD, is the new Eleusis !

Ancient Greece Revisited

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