Mushrooms and anchovies on top, please

Fri, 10 Feb 1995 02:30:31 +0000

>how do you know that shamanism began at 100 ka. what evidence is there that
>shamanism was not present before or that it did not come along until the
>first art appears? i'd like references please.
>Bonnie Blackwell,
>Dept of Geology, (718) 997-3332
>Queens College, City University of New York, fax: 997-3349
>Flushing, NY 11367-1597

I believe the 100,000 year old theory is attributable to Mircea Eliade, who
seems to argue that a reindeer-mushroom-eating-and-pissing so then the
hominids-go-and-drink-their-urine-with-hallucinogenic-alkaloids-in-it and
then go-on-shamanic-voyages-up-the-World-Tree complex existed in the Altaic
region that far back (I believe in, Shamanism, An Archaic Technique of
Ecstasy)... R. Gordon Wasson also weighed in on the antiquity of the use of
Amanita Muscaria, though I don't know if he pushed it that far back.

Basically, many authors have argued that the use of hallucinogenic
compounds does go *pretty far* back (perhaps prior to the agricultural
revolution and domestication), although many may not push it as far back as
the dawn of our particular hominid lineage. Wasson did try and argue pretty
vehemently that hallucinogenic plants and fungi provided the origins of
religion, if not language and 'intelligence.' He argued that the key to the
Mysteries of Eleusis was the mushroom. But then, John Allegro argued from
the basis of the Dead Sea Scrolls that Christianity grew out of mushroom
cult. So who knows?

McKenna is the only scholar I know of who argues that language and
creativity - and from those wellsprings, later, "intelligence" - arose from
the consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms by some proto-hominid. Here's
the ref, from _Food of the Gods_:

"Ample evidence suggests that Stropharia Cubensis is the Ur plant, our
umbilicus to the feminine mind of the planet.... At an archaeological dig
in Thailand at a place called Non Nak Tha, which has been dated to 15,000
BP, the bones of zebu cattle have been found coincident with human graves.
S. cubensis is common in the Non Nak Tha area today. The site suggests that
mushroom use was a human trait that emerged wherever human populations and
cattle came together." p. 39, in the chapter "The Original Tree of

BTW, he provides an interesting alternative hypothesis to the Sacred Cow
complex in India (an alternative to the hackneyed Harrisian CM one,
anyway)... suggesting that the cow may be sacred because of the rather
coincident relationships between cowshit and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

I don't offer this hypothesis as a wholly serious one. It may not hold up
as well as tool-making or the incest taboo. But I don't see it as totally
beyond the realm of plausibility that it may have been the ingestion of
hallucinogenic plants that set us on the road to 'intelligence'. The
compounds in hallucinogenic plants - esp. the tryptamines, etc. - are
strangely consonant with neurochemicals in our own brain, hinting at rumors
of coevolution.


Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
CyberAnthropologist, TechnoCulturalist, AnthroFuturist, Topothesian
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