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The tree of knowledge


The prohibition of hallucinogenic mushrooms dates back centuries

Since the 1st of December 2008 the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms has been forbidden in the Netherlands. The reason for this prohibition was a 24-year old French woman, who committed suicide while under the influence of mushrooms.

It goes without saying that every suicide is something to be taken serious, however, if this incident is put into perspective and the risks of mushrooms are compared to those caused by alcohol, the risks of mushrooms remain fairly low. The workgroup smartshops, the CAM (Coordination Centre for the Assessment and Monitoring of New Drugs) and Heffter Research Centre therefore state that the risk of psilocybin is too low to impose a general prohibition.

Furthermore, scientific research has proven that many people can benefit from a mushroom ceremony. An example is the 'Marsh Chapel Experiment', which was conducted at Harvard University in 1962. One group of students was given psilocybin; another group was given a placebo. The placebo contained the substance niacin and clearly brought about an altered state of consciousness, but without any psychedelic effects.

Both groups were followed during the rest of their lives. It turned out that the psilocybin users generally considered their trip as the most intense mystical experience they had ever had. Moreover, they claimed that this experience had positively changed them. The group that was given the placebo did not report any mystical experiences and considered the event to be of little importance. In short, according to this research psilocybin contributed to an expanded consciousness and therefore greater well-being.

Despite the fact that mushrooms entail little risk and could contribute to a greater well-being, they are still forbidden. This situation has caused many to wonder whether the reason for the prohibition truly is ‘safety for human health’, or whether there might be other interests behind it.

The prohibition of consciousness expansion is of all times; the Bible already tells us that God said to Adam and Eve: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” When taking a closer look at this threat, one does wonder why knowledge of good and evil could be harmful.

Aside from the fact that it is quite strange that man is not allowed to know the difference between good and evil, one has to understand that only in the 17th century it was decided that the forbidden fruit would be an apple. Before that time the forbidden fruit was something entirely different. When we look at an illustration of Adam and Eve from the 13th century, we see a very familiar image. Undeniably, the tree of knowledge is pictured as a mushroom here. Thus, already for centuries it has been forbidden to eat mushrooms since.

When studying the Bible, the frequency of threats herein is remarkable, for example: “You shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”

Imagine though, if man could decide for himself what is good or evil, wouldn't it be logical that humanity would en masse conclude that it is evil to stone someone, solely because he has a different belief and wishes to converse about it?

Therefore we should continue to ask ourselves what the real intention behind the prohibition of mushrooms is. It might be an idea to try and eat some mushrooms once; after all, it will show the difference between good and evil... ;)

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