Gallery C

Getting High On God
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Psychoactive Plants in the Bible

By James Donahue

Believe it or not, psychedelic compounds from plants were freely used in Biblical times and they may have had a lot to do with the strange stories reported in the scriptures.

An examination of the plants, trees and oils used by characters in the Bible stories . . . even Jesus, shows that psychedelics played an important role in spiritual and religious-oriented events, even as they continue to do today among many world tribes that work free of government laws prohibiting the production, possession and use of these materials.

Some of the effects of common plants and spices, known to the ancients, may surprise you.
We are all familiar with the Christmas story where the wise men came to the baby Jesus bearing gifts of frankincense and myrrh. Both were highly prized substances from plants that cause drug reactions.

Frankincense is in incense that contains a chemical called incensole acetate. When used it has a calming effect and it interacts with Galbanum, a resin from tree roots that is used for flavoring, healing and cosmetics.
Myrrh is a resin that contains chemicals that behave like morphine and other drugs produced from opioids. Inhaling or merely absorbing myrrh incense can make a person high. It was a nice gift for the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph too.

Among the many healing spices recorded in the Old Testament was calamus, a rhizome that was used as a plant medicine. The plant contains a cannabinoid and other psychoactive phytochemicals that can act as a hallucinogen, sedative and intoxicant, sometimes with bodily contact. Some have suggested that Calamus was another word for cannabis, or marijuana.

In the Book of Exodus we read where God told Moses to create a "holy anointing oil" from pure myrrh, sweet cinnamon, sweet calamus, cassia and olive oil.
Sweet cinnamon contains substances called linalool and Methyl Chavicol, and has been shown to alter the behavior of rats in laboratory tests. It acts like a hallucinogen.

Cassia also contains a high level of cinnamic aldehyde plus a compound called coumarin which lowers appetite.

Even the olive oil has a part in the composition of God's amazing psychedelic cocktail. The fatty acid content of the oil acts as a perfect trans-dermal carrier, speeding the narcotics through the body.

In the research for this story we found longer and longer lists of plants that offer healing and spiritual benefits. Rather than go on and on we conclude this report with a question.

If the use of hallucinogens is so terrible that people caught with them in the United States go to prison, why did God choose a number of them in his directions to Moses for making a "holy anointing oil?"

If all of these plants are so bad for us, why were they placed on Earth to begin with?