BlogDrugs & Magic in Classical Greece
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Drugs & Magic in Classical Greece


Classical literature abounds with sorcerers, magicians, and witches. Translators rarely reveal that their power stemmed from their great expertise in drugs. Sorcerers were classical drug dealers and the effects of drugs were seen as magical in those times. Drugs and magic were one.

Dr. David Hillman writes in his book, The Chemical Muse (2008): "The Greeks and Romans used opium, anticholinergics (from the Nightshade family), and numerous botanical toxins to induce states of mental euphoria, create hallucinations, and alter their own consciousness; this is an indisputable fact."

Hillman shows how translators mistranslate polypharmakon and pharmaka as a person skilled in the "magical arts" and a possessor of "charms." Sorcerers were honored and respected members of society. They had to know how to extract desired chemicals from plants and animals. This was an exact science for the wrong amount or the wrong extraction could kill.

The Greeks and Romans favorite method of drug administration was to mix them with wine. This has allowed history teachers to present ancient revelers as merely drinkers – not "illegal drug" users.

As the scholar, Dr. Carl A.P. Ruck has written in Sacred Mushrooms of the Goddess: "Ancient wine, like the wine of most early peoples, did not contain alcohol as its sole inebrient but was ordinarily a variable infusion of herbal toxins in a vinous liquid. Unguents, spices, and herbs, all with recognized psychotropic properties, could be added to the wine."

This gives an entirely different view of the Greek symposia. At these "riotous drinking parties" great minds like Socrates and Plato debated and developed their theories on the great philosophical questions.

Another clue tells even more. Altered states of consciousness were viewed as divinely provided madness. Plato wrote: "But he who without divine madness comes to the doors of the Muses, confident that he will be a good poet by art, meets with no success, and the poetry of the sane man vanishes into nothingness before that of the inspired madmen."

Read more here: Classical Drug Use: Greek and Roman Drug Freedom

Also see: Dave Pendell - Pharmako Gnosis

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