The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity

The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity by Jerry B. Brown ...

There is an old saying: If you want to hide something, put it in plain sight. To our surprise, we learned that this saying is especially true for Christianity, where medieval works of art were created to illustrate the teachings of the Bible for the largely illiterate population. A close look at these religious artworks reveals the presence of psychedelic mushrooms–hidden in plain sight for centuries.

Based on stunning visual evidence of entheogens (plants that generate the divine within) found in cathedrals and churches throughout Europe and the Middle East, we propose the theory of the “Psychedelic Gospels.” By examining the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels through the lens of the Psychedelic Gospels, we reveal the role played by visionary plants in the origins of Christianity.

Astrophysicist Carl Sagan argues that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The remarkable photographs of entheogenic Amanita muscaria and Psilocybe mushroom images in Christian art, found in frescos, illuminated manuscripts, mosaics and stained-glass windows, provide this “extraordinary evidence.” Here are three examples from our book.

Entheogens in Christian Art

First, this fresco in the Church of Saint Martin de Vicq shows five large psilocybin mushroom caps spread out over the heads of the joyous youth greeting Christ as he enters Jerusalem (upper right-hand corner).

Photo: Julie M. Brown
Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, Church of Saint Martin de Vicq, France
Fresco on south choir wall, early 12th century

Christ is moving towards the Towers of Jerusalem, depicted in an adjoining fresco which shows a youth using a long knife to cut through the stem of a giant psilocybin mushroom growing on top of the tower. A companion fresco depicts the famous Last Supper with a similar knife on the table along with what appear to be mushroom caps. Note that the artist has cleverly hidden a symmetrical row of mushrooms in the hems of the disciples!

Second, the twelve feet tall bronze Christ Column cast in 1015 by Bishop Bernard depicts the Transfiguration of Jesus, showing the disciples under a tri-fold psilocybin mushroom tree. This mushroom-tree is so realistically rendered in bas-relief that it has been identified as one of the most common European psilocybin mushrooms, Psilocybe semilanceata.

In the Transfiguration, the apostles Peter, James and John, go with Jesus to Mt. Tabor, where the Old Testament prophets Moses and Elias appear. There Jesus transforms before their eyes so that “his face did shine as the sun.” According to Matthew (17:5), “While he [Peter] yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Bernward’s portrayal of the sacred mushroom-tree in the Transfiguration of Jesus is of particular significance. Unlike other miracles, which were performed by Jesus, this one happens to Jesus, reaffirming, as did the baptism by John, his divinely chosen role as the “Son of God.” The Transfiguration is the pivotal moment of the New Testament where humanity first intersects with God. As Bernward implies artistically, access to the divine is mediated through the sacred sacrament of psychoactive mushrooms.

It is worth noting that in most cases we do not know who placed these mushroom images in Christian art: the artist, the church fathers who commissioned the artist, or the church patrons who funded the frescoes? Or all three collaborating? However, in the case of the Christ Column, we know it was cast by the eminent Bishop Bernward, who was named a saint of the Catholic Church in 1193, some 150 years after his death.

God Creates Psychedelic Mushrooms

Third, the cover image of our book comes from the Great Canterbury Psalter, an illuminated prayer book that originated in the scriptorium of Canterbury Cathedral in England around 1180. The Psalter begins with eight stunning folios, each containing twelve lavishly colored, gold-embellished miniature paintings. These opening folios depict the history of the world according to Scripture, from Genesis to the life of Jesus. While the biblical narrative is traditional, offering psalms, songs and prayers, the illustrations are remarkable.

Numerous red, blue, orange, and tan stylized mushrooms dot the first 100 pages, including this image showing God as the Creator of Plants; or, more specifically, as Creator of Sacred Plants. The red mushroom on the right with white speckles is Amanita muscaria. The next to appear is blue, attesting to Psilocybe mushrooms. While several authors have identified the following plant as a Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala) pod, careful inspection reveals that it bears no resemblance. Rather the color, shape, and fringes of the eight tiny mushroom images embedded in the cap suggest Panaeolus, a psilocybin-containing mushroom found in England and northern Europe. While others have described the plant on the far left as “an Opium Poppy in the shape of a mushroom,” again, there is little resemblance either to the flower or the pod of the opium plant. Instead, this appears to be another mushroom of the genus Psilocybe.

The presence of psychedelic mushroom images in the high holy places of England (Canterbury Cathedral), France (Chartres Cathedral) and Germany (St. Michael’s Church) suggest that the use of entheogens was widespread among the Catholic religious elite during the Middle Ages. This dispels the claim, made by author Brian Muraresku in The Immortality Key, that psychedelics had been systematically suppressed by religious authorities from the fourth century on, stamped out “beneath the jackboots of the Roman Catholic Church.” This argument is presented in Jerry B. Brown’s Review of The Immortality Key, found here.



4 thoughts on “The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity

  1. Although I haven’t tried them myself, Trace, I believe hallucinogens are in a class by themselves. I believe they are truly mind expanding. Studies show they are the only effective treatment I know for alcoholism, heroin addiction and PTSD.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The people who “believe” and are religious without questioning what they believe, they are the ones I am concerned about, Dr. B. Heck yes, hallucinogens are useful with a shaman present. Tribes use peyote all the time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.