The Egyptian, Chinese, and Tibetan Galleries were, for the most part, culturally specific and aligned on the body to show similarities between these traditions suggesting cross-cultural interaction over a very long time span. Early shamanism, in my opinion, can be seen as the floor plan upon which all magical-religious traditions were built, past and present. Probably originating in Africa with Homo erectus, shamanism eventually spread with their original migration (1.8 Million Years Ago) into the Levant, southern Europe, and eventually China by over 1 MYA. Sacred rites and rituals designed to influence nature or the gods are very conservative maintaining continuity over long, long periods of time, for to change the ritual would represent a loss of power. The more modern diffusion of symbols and ideologies begins between 8000 and 4000BCE; slow at first as weather patterns changed and populations increased. The diffusion routes, often referred to as the “Silk Road,” can be seen as a conduit for the reworking of ideas and images connected to these magical practices. These very old trade routes extend from the Mediterranean in the west and eventually to Xian, China (and beyond) in the east. The most recent religious/mythic mixtures with us today began between 600 and 500BCE. This gallery is more specifically dedicated to world myth and more particularly astronomy and origin myths.
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Most people are under the impression that we, as a species, are living longer thanks to modern medicine This is more illusion than fact. According to Dr. Jonathan Miller, “. . .in the past 50 years modern medicine has made such an insignificant contribution to human health and longevity that the enormous expense incurred for developing and administrating treatments was hardly worth it” (cited in James, W. 1995. Immunization: The Reality Behind the Myth. Westport, Conn.: Bergan & Garvey, pg. 33). As Clark Larson points out ( “Biological Changes in Human Populations with Agriculture.” In, Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 24,1995:185-213), beginning about 10,000 years ago, “[t]he shift from foraging to farming led to a reduction in health status and well-being, an increase in physiological stress, a decline in nutrition, an increase in birthrate and population growth, and an alteration of activity type and work load. Taken as a whole, then, the popular scholarly perception that quality of life improved with the acquisition of agriculture is incorrect.”
If you ever had questions about evolution, this is the book to read. Using research from the fields of statistics, cell biology, zoology, and genomics over the past 50 years shows random mutations and natural selection inadequate to explain the origins of species let along the origin of self-replicating life forms. New data coming from studies in epigenetics, symbiosis, hybridization, quantum biology, topobiology, and the Sugar Code hold promise for revealing the scientific process of speciation if not the origins of life. The Neo-Darwinian model of random mutations plus natural selection leading to new species is an idea, a hypothesis that has never been tested using materialistic science (math, chemistry, physics). In fact, it is impossible to test this hypothesis because any test constructed would be through human design eliminating any sense of randomness. Neo-Darwinism incorrectly claims that you, all your experiences, and the physical world came about randomly, without a purpose, to remove any notion of intelligence beyond that of the human animal. Darwin’s ideas led to social Darwinism, a political statement that sprung from a belief that there is a superior group of people – the elites, the intellectuals, who should rule everyone else and that all the rest were inferior. This progressed to eugenics, socialism, Nazism, and communism and misery and death for millions of people. Darwin and his followers were racists – in the extreme. Furthermore, given that there is no scientific basis for their claim, Neo-Darwinism is a misrepresentation of science. If you are looking for a light to shine on this corner of science, you’ve got the right book!
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Mind-Altering Substances and Decision Making John A. Rush
Altered Consciousness and Drugs in Human Evolution Michael Winkelman
Cannabis and the Hebrew BibleChris Bennett and Neil McQueen
Hildegard of Bingen: Unveiling the Secrets of a Medieval High Priestess and VisionaryGerrit Keizer
The Milk of the Goat Heiðrun: An Investigation into the Sacramental Use of Psychoactive Milk and Meat Alan Piper
The significance of pharmacological and biological indicators in identifying historical uses of Amanita muscaria Kevin Feeney
Enter the JaguarMike Jay
Ravens’ Bread, and Other Manifestations of Fly Agaric in Classical and Biblical LiteratureEdzard Klapp
Democracy and the Dionysian Agenda Carl Ruck
Virgil’s Edible TablesCarl A.P. Ruck and Robert Larner
The Genesis of A Mushroom/Venus Religion In MesoamericaCarl de Borhegyi and Suzanne de Borhegyi
Sacred mushrooms and man: Diversity and traditions in the world, with special reference to PsilocybeGaston Guzman
The Soma Function in Jung’s Analytical Psychology Dan Merkur
Gordon Wasson: The Man, the Legend, the MythJan Irvin
Author: John A. Rush
The godliest feature of humanity is our ability to use logic and reason to solve problems and explain the world and universe around us. According to “Intelligent Design,” understanding the world around us is not necessary because it was designed by an all powerful entity and this is all one need know. The Intelligent Design community would have us throw away our logic and reason and replace it with simplicity, faith, and ignorance.
What is “Intelligent Design?” Is this any different than what has been said in the past? Is this any different than saying that there is a deity who created all we see and experience, a deity to whom we should submit and worship? No, this is simply a new method of packaging Christianity. So, what is behind all the recent law suits to bring religion into the classroom, disclaimers for evolution in text books, and attempts by some government officials to combine religion with the politic?
Science is not truth; it is a process of discovery. What is there to discover? Laws of the natural world. In order to do this several principles must be applied.
First, there has to be a separation of natural from supernatural phenomena. In order to do this the scientist has to identify the laws and regularity of nature, which includes observable or measurable cause and effect both physical and mechanical.
Second is the development of the tools of logical argument and of mathematics, and their systematic use. Along with this there has to be rational criticism and debate, and a general climate that tolerates skepticism.
Third, there has to be demonstration and proof by empirical observation and research in order to extend the empirical base of knowledge.
Fourth, and evolving out of the above principles, science has to be self-correcting. When errors are detected or conclusions are faulty they demand reconsideration and perhaps old models need to go and replaced with better, more appropriate stories. This, however, is next to impossible unless there is freedom of speech and freedom of debate. Any discipline or field of study that does not allow lively debate and free expression, or censors other traditions and their beliefs and behaviors of others, is a closed system. Closed systems cannot compete in a modern, democratic, free enterprise system. Monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are closed systems; closed religious systems either hide from or persecute those of other traditions. In the social sciences, if our view of history is altered by new information or insights then our anthropology and history books alter to better fit the new information. Alterations in our view of the tangible world help us build the better mouse trap. What science does is help us understand the world so that we can better cope with the adversities that present themselves. If we have dominion over the land and sea then we better understand these laws so that we can take better care of that which supports us.
Religion has been defined in a multitude of manners and dimensions, but no matter what definition we use it does not incorporate the scientific method outlined above. Belief in God only requires faith; there is no proof that God as conceptualized in the Bible and the Qur’an exists. There is no proof that prayers, donations, human/animal/vegetable sacrifices, or self-flagellation can attract the attention of this deity; there is no evidence that this energy can be bribed, cajoled, coerced or other wise convinced to do your bidding. People speak of miracles and of statues weeping blood (the statue of the Virgin Mary, Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church, Sacramento is the latest example of the type of deception). Miracles happen with equal frequency as disasters. The baby pulled alive from the rubble of a apartment complex leveled by an earthquake six days earlier is considered a miracle, while the real miracle was the earthquake, for without it, no miracle could follow. And certainly the ancient Egyptians and Greeks had mechanical statutes that spoke, moved arms, and dispensed liquids. Shadows on church walls or windows are Gestalted by the mind in such a way as to resemble the Virgin Mary or Jesus. When the phenomenon is revealed to be from natural causes there will still be a certain number of true believers who hang on and imagine the emperor is wearing new clothes, even though the truth removes the shroud from our ignorance. I have yet to read or hear of any serious scientist saying that these imaginings (weeping statues and shadows on walls) are real phenomena attributable to a deity.
But there is a larger issue: religious traditions once tied to sacred script are no longer self-correcting. Because these sacred writings are the revealed word of God or Allah, one cannot simply remove certain verses and alter others to fit the prevailing social/scientific view of the universe. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are victims of their own success. The printing press allowed the production and mass distribution of the revealed word of God—the Bible and the Qur’an. Prior to mass printing, there would only be a small number of laboriously hand copied books available to priests and/or scribes. Pages in these books would wear out with use, for even though the masses could not read, the book had to be displayed. It is the symbol or the charter, a set of instructions, “It comes from God and therefore must be obeyed. It says so right here.” Displaying and fondling eventually destroys the papyrus pages and they have to be recopied. We see this with the Qur’an, in the Yemeni parchments (fragments from 1000 warn out pages, recopied, and then discarded) in what is called a “paper grave” discovered while workers were repairing the Great Mosque at Sana’a, Yemen. Lester (2002:108, in, What the Koran Really Says, ed. I. Warraq) comments:
Some of the parchment pages in the Yemeni hoard seemed to date back to the seventh and eighth centuries c.c., or Islam’s first two centuries—they were fragments, in other words, of perhaps the oldest Korans in existence. What’s more, some of these fragments reveal small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God.
So what is the “intelligent Design” position really about? Quite simply, because they can’t alter the divine word, they cannot keep up, and they will be abandoned in time. Understand what is at stake here—money and political power. Both the Intelligent Design Christians and the Fundamental Islamites are expressing a last gasp to force their traditions onto the world, with the Intelligent Design people attempting to accomplish this with legal tactics, while Islam, a conquest religion, is using extreme violence. Why the difference? Islam in the Middle East is intimately tied to the politic (government) and Islamic/God dictated laws, while governments in the West revolve within secular or man-constructed laws. In Fundamental Islam intimidation, threat, assignations, torture, war, and other forms of physical and emotional abuse became legitimized in the name of Allah. In the West intimidation, threat, assignations, torture and other forms of physical and emotional abuse (although they occur) are not institutionalized. Although legitimized in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, these are not part of the Constitution or secular laws in the United States today.
If the Bible and Qur’an are not the revealed word what are they? They are constructed stories to justify the beliefs and behaviors of religious clerics and rulers. Their design was to create an identity for a people (Nations of Israel and Islam), control behavior, instill fear of God, and enslave people for their own ends; “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” The Bible and Qur’an, if read as history lessons, are not books of liberation, critical thinking, and the glory of human kind. Intelligent Design, in a similar fashion, is not a model of liberation and critical thinking but a last gasp to hang onto something that never was.
In 1970 John Allegro (The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross) informed that Judaism and Christianity coalesced around the use of the sacred mushroom, Amanita muscaria. Out of political correctness the academic community ruined his career. Since that time many books have appeared giving indirect support to Allegro’s position. Finally Dr. Rush reveals startling evidence, proof positive, that Jesus is the mushroom, the portal to the spiritual life. Rush goes on to question scholarly interpretations of the “life and times of Jesus,” and he sees the Old Testament, New Testament, and Qur’an as mythical charters representing political—not religious—traditions. This is a must read for all interested in religion and the development of Western Civilization. This work is bound to cause debate.
In The Twelve Gates, clinical anthropologist John Rush embarks on a spellbinding journey through death rituals in various cultures, centering on the ancient Egyptian philosophy of death and resurrection. The first part of the book provides an overview of different rituals, encouraging readers to confront their feelings about death and to reevaluate their lives. The author details his own experiences preparing for death, including a painful tattooing process inspired by the ancient Egyptian Books of the Netherworld. He then guides readers through the Twelve Gates of the Underworld, symbolic ritual stages during which they can figuratively experience death and rebirth. A set of full-color tarot cards, designed by the author, is included as an aid in passing through each of the Gates. These ancient rituals, performed by pharaohs and priests for thousands of years, help ease the way toward a peaceful, conscious death.
Say “body modifications” and most people think of tattoos and piercings. They associate these mainly with the urban primitives of the 1980s to today and with primitive tribes. In fact, as this fascinating book shows, body mods have been on the scene since ancient times, traceable to as far back as 1.5 million years, and they also encompass scarification, branding, and implants. Professor John Rush outlines the processes and procedures of these radical physical alterations, showing their function as rites of passage, group identifiers, and mechanisms of social control. He explores the use of pain for spiritual purposes, such as purging sin and guilt, and examines the phenomenon of accidental cuts and punctures as individual events with sometimes-profound implications for group survival. Spiritual Tattoo finds a remarkable consistency in body modifications from prehistory to the present, suggesting the importance of the body as a sacred geography from both social and psychological points of view.