POT TV – Professor Carl Ruck, an expert in psychoactive plant use and the man who coined the term “entheogen”, speaks at Cannabis Roots: The Hidden History of Marijuana in Vancouver.
Carl A.P. Ruck is Professor of Classics at Boston University, an authority on the ecstatic rituals of the god Dionysus. With the ethno-mycologist R. Gordon Wasson and the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, he identified the secret psychoactive ingredient in the visionary potion that was drunk by the initiates at the Eleusinian Mystery. In Persephone’s Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion, he proclaimed the centrality of psychoactive sacraments at the very beginnings of religion, employing the neologism “entheogen” to free the topic from the pejorative connotations for words like drug or hallucinogen.
He has tracked the role of entheogens as visionary agents for mystical religious revelation from the earliest emergence of human consciousness as documented in rock paintings of the Paleolithic Period, through the religions of ancient Persia and Mesopotamia, the Egyptian pharaohs, early Judaism, the Greco-Roman cults of Dionysus-Bacchus, Early Christianity, the Roman cults of Isis and Mithras, heretical Christian sects and the pre-Christian cults of pagan Europe. His exposé of the hidden message encoded in such medieval and Renaissance masterpieces as the painted ceiling of the Hildesheim Michaeliskirche, the Grünewald Isenheim Altarpiece, the van Eyck Ghent Altarpiece, and Titian’s Bacchanal of the Andrians has demonstrated that an entheogenic Eucharist was reserved as a secret rite for the most elite of the ecclesiastical and political hierarchy, and practiced, moreover, as an alchemical sacrament in the most select of knightly brotherhoods and secret societies, such as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Golden Fleece, and Freemasonry. As theosophy, it was imported to the New World and embraced in such American religions as the Ephrata Cloister, the Shakers and Quakers, New England transcendentalism, the Mormonism of its founder Joseph Smith, and Scientology, all of which today strenuously condemn and deny the ecstatic nature of their earlier religious ceremonies.
He testified as an expert witness in 2010 at the Toronto trial in support of the Constitutional Challenge brought by the Church of the Universe against the prohibition denying them access to their cannabis Eucharist.
His work on the Eleusinian Mystery, as a well-ordered religious rite with positive social benefit, was also cited in defense of the right of the New Mexican branch of the Brazilian church União do Vegetal to have access to their psychoactive Eucharist (ayahuaca) under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA, US Congress, 1993), which was decided in their favor by the United States Supreme Court in 2006.
Read a summary of Professor Ruck’s lecture at the Cannabis Roots conference.