and the Drug Propaganda: Balsam
As the pharmakos himself said, he was the pharmakon:
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in
him, the same bringeth forth much fruitů" The epiphany of the Prophetis
growing out of the Vine was a standard shamanic device of Cretan and
Greek potters for millennia. This was the widely understood pharmaco-shamanic
code, relating to the 'Plants of Truth' spoken of by Jesus' sect, the
Essenes, who were the most Hellenized, the most sacramental, of Israel's
"The Gospel of Truth is Joy," wrote Valentinus (c.140 CE), "for those
whom the Father has given the Word from the pleroma, providing the grace
and the power of the Father of Truth, the Saviour who dwells in the
mind of the Father. When he was nailed to the Tree of Life he became
a fruit of the gnosis of the Father. When that fruit was eaten, those
who consumed it became ecstatic, having discovered the Saviour in themselves
and themselves in the Saviour. But first they passed through the terrifying
empty space, stripped naked to the soul, contacting their pure emotions.
This is the wisdom of the living book of the ages, composed of letters
each of which expresses a whole thought, a complete book, known only
to the speaker. Each letter expresses the Unity of the Logos of the
Father, the fruit of His heart of His will. Each automatic thought purifying
the soul, bringing it back into the Father, into the Mother, Jesus of
the infinite sweetness."
Here we have a shaman's sacramental letters, not pistis, 'faith,'
but a very active participation mystique, a "psychedelic experience,"
and the consequent originality and matristic ideology that was anathema
to the Bishops of Lyon and Rome. Valentinus understood Iasius,
as he called him, as the "fruit of the knowledge of the father" - an
hermaphroditic combination of Adam, Eve, the serpent and the fruit -
offering an original gift, not an original sin.
The fruit, the sacrament, the pharmakon, was the major point
of Gnostic disagreement with the Orthodox church, since the Gnostic
apotheosis consisted not of the ordinary symbolic communion, but of
a second pharmacological sacrament of apolytrosis (deliverance,
liberation, redemption). That is, the Gnostic Iasius or Iason
was the Greek hero, whom the Romans called Jason. Jason's apolytrosis,
after an apparently exhausting trip, is pictured above on a fifth century
BC ceremonial vase. The pharmacological serpent, with vine and golden
fleece, ushers Iaion (Ia-ion - see p.129 for ion) into the presence
of 'the Mother.' Athena holds the prophetic owl she inherited from Lilith
the Transformer and wears the Gorgoneion, symbol of the terrifying mysteries
through which the naked soul must pass before it is admitted "into the
Father, into the Mother, Jesus of the infinite sweetness."
Aldous Huxley used the ancient Sanskrit equivalent of apolytrosis,
moksha, to describe the central sacrament - entheogenic mushroom juice
- of his utopian Island. That, of course, is an historically accurate
reference to the Rg Veda. Bishop Irenaeus, in a fit of empiricism, seems
to have helped Huxley write his novel. He described the Gnostic rites
fairly accurately: "And he [Valentinus] says that the Holy Spirit was
produced by the Truth to inspect and fructify the Aeons, entering them
invisibly, through whom the Aeons produced the plants of truth....For
some of them prepare a nuptial couch and perform a sacred
rite for those who are 'perfected'....'O Saviour of Truth.' This
is what those who initiate invoke, while he who is initiated replies,
'I am strengthened and redeemed, and I redeem my soul from this age,
and from all things connected with it in the name of Iao who redeemed
his soul to full redemption in the living Christ."
"Then they anoint the initiate with balsam, for they say that
this ointment is a type of the sweet fragrance which is above all things....There
are others who keep on 'redeeming'the dying up to the moment of death,
pouring oil and water on their heads, or the ointment mentioned above
mixed with water, and with the invocations mentioned above, that they
may not be grasped or seen by the principalities and powers, and that
their inner man may ascend even above the invisible things....And they
claim that he who says this will avoid and escape the powers...'I am
a precious vessel, more than the female being who made you. Though your
mother does not know her origin, I know myself, and I know whence I
am, and I call on the incorrupt Wisdom, who is in the Father, who is
the Mother of your mother, and has no Father nor any male consort; for
a female, made of a female, made you, not knowing her own Mother, and
thinking that she was alone; but I call upon her Mother.'"
The Mycenaean stirrup jar, holding what the ancients called 'unguent'
or 'ointment,' was Mycenae's most popular export. Archeologists judge
the commercial reach of Mycenae by the appearance of its unguent jars
in the finds, from the Hazor sacked by Joshua to Akhenaten's Tell el-Amarna
to Hittite Khattusha. The 'stirrups' were handles for pouring out of
the circular spout, which was small enough to be easily stoppered.
One of the early full sentences Ventris was able to decipher in Linear
B was "How Alxoitas gave Thyestes the unguent-boiler spices for him
to boil in the unguent." On investigation, it was discovered that nothing
inedible was ever used in the aromatic 'unguent,' and that some ingredients,
such as wine and honey, were utterly inappropriate as a skin salve.
That is, the 'unguent' was for ingestion. Kyphi, Egyptian incense,
was also used as an aromatic and an interior medicine.
The ingredients listed included coriander, cyperus, henna, ginger-grass,
mint, iris root, wine, honey, olive oil and 'MA.' The Mycenaeans made
a point of importing herbal infusions from Crete, in stirrup jars with
Cretan place names, marked with the sacred Double-Axe sign. Since they
needed neither jars nor olive oil nor herbs for their large-scale unguent
manufacturing process, and, since opium had always been a major Cretan
crop, as the temple-palace records show, it is likely that 'MA,' the
ingredient called 'The Mother,' is mekonion, opium. The 'ointment,'
furthermore, was distributed to all classes, including the army and
the slaves, by the priests of the temples, as in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
The workers building the Theban necropolis actually went on strike because
"we have no ointment." The infusion was frequently used for ritual purposes,
and was also a warm gift of kings, palace to palace.
Demeter, "the Mother of your mother, who has no Father nor any
male consort" is often used as a synonym for 'poppy fields' in
the palace records and she is often represented as either holding or
wearing bulging poppy capsules. The Opium Mother on p.107 is from Gazi
on Mycenaean Crete, c.1350 BC. Inscribed Mycenaean stirrip jars dating
to the same time have been found in the earliest levels at Eleusis,
where opium was a sacred symbol. Opium continued to be a symbol of fecundity
well into Roman times. Opium's contrived modern image intentionally
confuses abuse of its refined alkaloids with the traditional uses of
the whole sap. Whole opium sap is actually a safe, relaxing stimulant,
which, given in the right dosage, would indeed be helpful in birthing.
Not helpful, however, in helping Irenaeus convincve the Gnostics that
Iasius was not Iasion.