Many religious anomalies have occurred throughout human history and have been cited in religious texts as being pivotal moments of paramount importance, that are often essential to the construction of core beliefs of a particular religion. However, thousands of years later, research, science and curiosity have offered different takes on these phenomenons. While these theories do not necessarily or definitively prove or disprove these anomalies, they do offer quite plausible explanations to allegedly supernatural events, that can add both truth and falsity to these hallowed occurrences that have undoubtedly influenced humans and world history to a great extent.
The Bible story of Moses encountering the burning bush where God reveals himself to him and then invites him to see that the bush is not actually burnt is a pivotal moment for Hebrew and Christian religions, proving God’s existence on earth, symbolizing the power of his judgment but also his mercy. As one of the most renowned moments in biblical history, this story and many others like it are cornerstones and instigators of the rapid growth and prominence of mainstream religion throughout the ages. However, according to Professor Benny Shanon at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, it’s likely that Moses’ encounter, as written in the Bible, with the burning bush and his conversation with an all powerful being happened while he was under the influence of DMT, a naturally occurring substance that known to induce intensely spiritual and otherworldly states and sensations.
DMT is found in many plants, including the acacia tree which has an extremely high concentration of it and is native to the Negev and Sinai regions where these biblical tales took place. Shanon argues that the acacia tree and the peganum harmala bush, both native to the area of the Israelites at the time, could potentially have been used in a brew that the Israelites during religious ceremony. There is also frequent mention of acacia throughout the bible and it was wood from the acacia that was used to construct the Ark of the Covenant. Since then we have discovered that native acacia trees are particularly high in DMT content and the peganum harmala is rich with MAOI, a DMT inhibitor which allows the DMT compound to be activated orally. This ceremonial brew the Israelites consumed likely produced experiences very similar to that of ayahuasca, another mind altering naturally occurring substance that has had its place in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Im sure you can see where this is going, but try and keep an open mind, which I realize is hard to do if many of your long held beliefs and convictions are based from faith and belief in biblical stories.
However, this is not intended to undermine sacred doctrine but rather to offer other, more logical, explanations which in a way adds more credibility and sense to some of these instances. DMT, as well as many other naturally occurring intoxicants have since been outlawed as dangerous and illicit substances (monetary agendas are involved of course – other substances (pharmaceutical, alcohol, tobacco) making too much money and not wanting competitors (Marijuana, LSD, DMT), the powers that be intent on keep the masses scared and in the dark about mind altering substances that offer unorthodox experiences, understanding and ways of thought) – I’ll try not to get derailed. But in a time where these natural substances were not understood, or illegal how else could their intense, psychedelic and spiritual effects be construed. If a renowned and respected holy man preached with his full belief, convinced that he had contact with God, people would be influenced undoubtedly. If someone was in the wilderness of a barren desert these days and they were convinced they saw a talking bush on fire that was not burnt afterwards, one of the first questions that would be asked these days is, ‘What were you on?’.
Similarly, an article I read recently spoke about the high possibility of cannabis having a significant role to play in early Judaic religions. A study suggests that the anointing oil Jesus and his disciples used on their followers was made from an ingredient called kaneh-bosem which has since been identified as cannabis extract. Out there again, I know, but it does offer some logical explanations to the healing and mind altering oil that was said to make you feel ‘closer to God’. Of course this discovery will go unnoticed as many brush off the possibility of this containing even a shred of truth. And why shouldn’t they? If this is true, that means that some of their life long and firmly held convictions may have been a sham- a tough thing to swallow no matter who you are. If Jesus’ followers’ ‘holy’ and ‘spiritual’ experiences following their anointment was really induced by cannabis, then maybe Jesus wasn’t as magical as they thought. It also means that cannabis probably isn’t an evil substance and the ‘devils lettuce’ as it’s so often made out to be. It could even mean that the controversial herb holds the key to various forms of healing and human beings search for deeper spirituality. None of this is conclusive, but if looked at with an open mind, one may find themselves one step closer to understanding the truth.
Although this may seem pretty farfetched, with many dismissing it entirely before actually considering it. However, it does give some possible explanations, to phenomenon that have been hailed as supernatural for many hundreds of years, in a way adding proof and credibility to the happenings while altering some important details, inviting us to think rationally and perhaps to re evaluate our perceptions of certain naturally occurring substances that have been denounced and condemned by society since before we can remember.
-Robin the Hood
Shanon, Benny. “Biblical Entheogens: A Speculative Hypothesis.” Volume I—Issue I March 2008 Pp. 51–74. Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology Consciousness and Culture, n.d. Web