on fact, or a fungoid fable? by Dom SYLVESTER HOUEDARD, O.S.B.
The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by John M. Allegro (Hodder & Stoughton 63s.) IF was great when Mgr. Knox broke its code and was able to prove that Tennyson had loaned his name to Queen Victora's poem In Memoriam. Some years ago. however, checking the seven anagrams that form the acrostic AH. SATAN, I realised that Ronnie had cheated, hoobed, or planted a trap. Of these seven vital lines, the third turned ow to be short by two letters (0 and T) and the fourth by one letter (S).
Having kept silent for so long about this terrible discovery, 1 feel its disclosure now might serve as a warning to over confident cypher solvers like Mr. Allegro.
From the view, held as very probable by a number of scholars, that many Hebrew and Greek words have common roots in Sumerian (the language spoken where "civilisation begins" about 4000 p.c.) he draws a conclusion that some will hold as rather less probable. To quote the last sentence of this book, the gospels "were promulgated 2,000 years ago by worshippers of the amanita muscaria" or Fly Agaric. This is the mushroom containing muscarine (enabling the eater to perform heroic feats of muscular exertion), atropine (producing hallucinations), and bufotenin (causing hypersensitivity to touch, light and sound).
To give the flavour of this "study of the nature and origins of Christianity within the fertility cults of the ancient near cast", I want to select Allegro's treatment of the epithet "Roan
erges" because of the emphasis that he himself places on the fact that he has made both the pseudo-Hebrew epithet and its pseudo-translation into Greek "Sons of Thunder") refer directly to the Christian mushroom cult.
As a result ". . . the validity of the whole NT story is immediately undermined. For the pseudo-translation demonstrates an intention of deceit. and since mushrooms appear nowhere in the 'surface' tale of Jesus, it follows that the secret reference to the cult must be the relevance of the whole" (193).
Earlier he says (102) "What appears on the surface (of the NT) is unreal and never expected to be taken seriously by those within the cult. There is no escape from this dilemma: if our understanding of 'Boanerges' is correct, the historicity and validity of the NT story is in ruins."
Since "Boanerges" can not mew; "Sons of Thunder," Allegro derives it from the Sumerian *GE,ShPU-AN-UR ("strongman(holding')-up-sky") which in a jumbled form becomes *PU-ANUR-GES or "bo-an-er-ges" and refers to the cosmic tree seen as the stem of a redtop Fly Agaric holding up the sky-vault (URAN or ouranos). Of the two sons of thunder identified now as two parts of the cosmic mushroom, James or Jacob is named from *IA A GUB ("pillar," i.e., of "the church," really of the sky), so he is the stem, and John, the counterpart of the red roughskinned OT Esau, is the canopy.
The name Esau is from *EShU-A ("raised canopy") and the name John or Yo-Khanan is a pun between "Yahweh has been gracious (khanan)" and "khanun" meaning the protective red cap painted in cochineal on the heads of ewes in pasture and named from the surnerian GANNU ("red dye").
The apostles James and John are not only the Hebrew Jacob and Esau but also the Greek Pollux and Castor. The Sumerian term *GEShPU-AN-UR in the form *LU-GEShPU-DU ("man-strongone-opponent") jumbled as *PULU-GESh gives the Greek phufax ("strong gaoler"), Poludeukes ("gate-watcher," an epithet of Hermes) and Pollux ("strong-guardian") the male mushroom-stem holding up his brother Castor who is the pod uterus or stomach-shaped sky, and whose name is cognate with "gastric," "castor-oil," the Latin for beaver (castor), and the oath for Latin ladies "Ecastor mecastor."
It comes ("probably," he says) from the Sumerian *MASh-TUR ("p r o g e n y-container." "seedbag"). The other name for the heavenly twins "dioskouri" is not, however, applied in the NT to James and John: it comes from "di-us-ku-roi out of *ad-gush-gar; which is a jumbled form of USh-GU-R1-UD ("storm-ereetion"—i.e., the mushroom as growing in rain after a thunderstorm) and which in the NT is made into a separate apostle IS-CA-R1-0T. Allegro fails to pair him with Thomas the other "twin."
With James and John goes Peter. This name is from "Pitra" (mushroom) while Cephas is from GAR-BA (knob glans pommel, related to cepa "onion" and French "ceps"). Bar-Jonah is *BAR-IA-U-NA ("capsule of fecundity") from which also come : Paian the epithet of Apollo, paan the hymn sung to help grow and pick the mushroom, and paeony originally the name of the mushroom. There is no mention of Pan or panic here.
are *E-LA-UIA. E-LA-UIA, LIMASh BA(LA)G ANTA transcribed as Eloi, Elul, lama sabaehthuni: the first part is identical with the Bacchantes roan "eleleu, eleleu" sung to the mushroom, and also with the biblical "allelu(Yah)" sung to the mushroom deity; the second part is the sacred name of the mushroom as divine mentula. Ya or Yahweh is itself from *1A-U ("juice-(of)fertility") which in dialect is *ZA-U from which comes Zeus.
Only for its last 4,000 years was literature available to record the ancient mushroom cult, and it is only the last quarter of this period that is coded into what we call the OT and the NT. As the Catholic Church was asstmilated into the Roman 'Empire after Pope Sylvester the key to the Great Cryptogram was lost and the "surface" coverstory of a real Jesus with historic apostles and a mushroomless eucharist took over in orthodox theology.
I can well foresee a large public for this book though it may not include many scholars, and if paperbacked it might exceed the 250.000 copies of the author's Dead Sea Scrolls. The Society of Mental Awareness (SOMA) may jib at assassins having mushroomtops reassigned to them instead of canvas-gum, and students of Islam at the houris being reidentified as lady-mushrooms.
But what, in fact, is the truth in all this?
Possibly quite a lot, at least round the edge of the theory; it is the centre that's rather thin. To know if Sumerian is the bridge between the Indo-European and the Semitic languages spade work has to be done by etymologists.
If the Sumerians or the Akkadians or even the Elamites or some previous settlers had come from the Shamanic north they might well be on the fringe of the mushroom-culture and cult that spreads from Mongolia to Soma in India and Tlaloc in South America, while Mesopota mian or related culture-pressures were felt in China, MohenjoDaro in India and all round the Mediterranean.
In their art, however, grapes and not the mushroom become evident and I would have thought a wine culture would have driven out the older intoxicant as it did in Greece about 1250 is.c.
Allegro makes it quite clear that the book is "primarily a study in words"; the sign * prefixed to Sumerian forms "indicates a verbal group whose constituent parts are known to have existed in Sumerian but whose grouping in that precise form does not actually appear in literature so far recovered." The Sumerian index contains, at a rough count, 875 entries of which 404 are provided with asterisks; to me this seems far too high a percentage to justify the confidence of a great many assertions; but a stronger argument is that the entire flavour of the OT just doesn't reflect what we might expect of a thousand year experiment with atrophinc. while the NT is so coherent and complex it would outweigh its message were it merely a coverstory. Also the puns in its Hebrew background, as recovered by pPre Carmignac, are of quite a different order and conflict with those Allegro finds in its Sumerian background.
The book itself is beautifully organised and will take a place beside three authors to whom it owes so much, Wasson (Mushrooms, Russia and History 1957; Soma: Divine Mushrooms of Immortally 1969); Robert Graves who, after revising The Greek Myths in 1958, had second thoughts thanks to the Wassons, about ambrosia (What Food the Centaurs Ate; Maenads Junkies and Others, both in Steps 1958), and concluded that whatever mead, wine. spruce-beer or ivyale was used as nectar it was only to wash down mouthfuls of, not the royal barley and water porridge (with oil, honey, fruit and cheese mixed in), but the thing
that the acrostic of these ingredients indicates, namely, the mushroom.
The third author is A. B. Cook Zeus 1914-1940. In 1940 Cook drew attention to the belief mentioned by Ovid and the scholiast on Plato that the Kouretes and the Mykenai and the Corinthians sprang from rain-begotten mushrooms: I have not noticed a reference to this in Allegro, or in Graves who did, however, mention to the Wassons an illustration in Cook's 1914 volume that shows an etruscan mirror (500 B.C.) in the British Museum decorated with Ixion and twomirror images of a vertically sliced mushroom.
Graves regretted that Cook dismissed it as two stopgap flowers of no special significance, but somehow from that regret seems to have sprung Graves's whole new theory of amanita hallucination in Greek culture (The White Goddess, The Crane Bag, etc.). From that the Wasson's regret 'There are no mushrooms at all in the Christian religion.' And front that, this.
The real problem is how Lewis Carroll guessed so much when her got the caterpillar (castor-pillar?), smoking his hookah (pot?), to tempt Alice take her classic double mushroom trip. Had he read in M. Cook's Plain and Easy Account of British Fungi 1862 about the sensations Siberian Korjaks enjoy after eating Flycap?
Or did he know what the guidebook calls the "quaint mural, 1291" at Plaincourault, 30 miles from Poitiers, showing Eve standing by the Mushroom of the Knowledge of Good and Evil with the serpent (caterpillar?) twined round it? Wasson says mycologists have mistakenly accepted this tree as a mushroom for "almost half a century" and though he quotes this, Allegro puts the agaricus muscarius of Plaincourault four times on the end-papers and again on the jacket.