When Jesus Ate the Magic Mushrooms

10/11/2011 03:40 pm ET | Updated Dec 11, 2011
  • Mark Morford Columnist, SFGate/San Francisco Chronicle; Author, 'The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism', ERYT yoga instructor

People who had mystic experiences while taking the mushrooms were more likely to show increases in a personality trait dubbed "openness" ... The change was still in place a year later, suggesting a long-term effect. (Bloomberg)

Just look at us, would you? Are we not the most adorable creatures ever? The most perplexed and beautiful and lost?

Look at us, with our mountains and lifetimes of obvious empirical evidence proving this or that glorious fact of numinous human consciousness -- Meditation! MDMA! Orgasm! Love! Dreams! -- and yet somehow it takes us 5,000 years and about $5 million to get around to officially confirming that all that evidence and all those years might be onto something after all.

And I'm looking at you, Johns Hopkins University, for once again coming out with a timid little study reinforcing what everyone already knew and what you yourself already suggested about five years ago (I know because I wrote about it, mostly sober), which is the same as others discovered 20 years ago, and also 50, and 500, and throughout the entire continuum of lustful cosmic spacetime. Let us sigh.

Shall we recap? Once again, we find that magic mushrooms (a.k.a. psilocybin) really are rather astonishing wonderfungi that, when used in moderation and with all due respect, can induce a potent, lasting sense of "openness," creativity and artistic curiosity in the otherwise stressed, compressed, far-too-depressed animal you see right there in the mirror. No! Really? Go figure.

Is it not a wonder? I personally love the muted tone of such findings, the staid language, the flatly studious textures. "Why, yes," JHU seems to say, "many of the subjects did seem to rather enjoy themselves while warmly hallucinating on a couch while blindfolded listening to nice music for multiple uninterrupted hours.

"Our careful scientific measurements show that many appear to have, technically speaking, lightened the hell up, as their neural pathways were groped by God and licked by Mother Nature and gently whipped by the divine riding crop of their own deeper consciousness (see Fig. 3.7).

"Perhaps this is worth noting in our scientific journals. Perhaps even more studies are in order. Perhaps we should note that the effects were amplified tenfold when said subject was dancing uproariously next to a gaggle of dusty, semi-naked females by a giant, flame-throwing, steampunk octopus deep in the Nevada desert (see Fig. 3.8)."

Should we be celebrating? Should we be awaiting the next big announcement that psilocybin will soon be available to the masses in convenient pill form? After all, with such good news, it can't be long now until mainstream culture gets hold of such remarkable findings and American entrepreneurialism kicks in and you soon see premium 'shroom chocolates in the wine aisle at Whole Foods. Right?

As if. The CDC still ranks psilocybin a schedule I illegal, which means they believe it has no therapeutic value and has too much potential for abuse (unlike, say, alcohol or tobacco or the Tea Party or guns or television or hate or junk food or Rush Limbaugh or religion or oil or money or Facebook), which is just another way of reiterating the great American truism: Money trumps all.

It's true. If there's no serious corporate profit to be made from a given life enhancer (psilocybin, like pot or MDMA, can't exactly be trademarked), it therefore cannot be allowed to legally exist. It must be banned. Outlawed. After all, we can't have everyone running around feeling all "open" and fearless and defining god on their own delirious terms completely gratis, can we?

What a strange and wobbly time in which to live. We refuse to believe something until it's "proven" via scientific method, but once it's proven, half the nation immediately discredits it because science is for elitist liberals and only creationist Jesus and a sad gang of very dead, enormously repressed, Bible-writing priests from 1,500 years ago actually know anything about "truth."

Meanwhile, the best and most illuminating of nature's medicines remain underground, sidelined and fringe while the costly synthetics rage on full force, addicting millions, numbing out the soul of world, most no better (and often far, far worse) than placebos.

Did Jesus take magic mushrooms? Can we deliberate for a moment?...

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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. He recently wondered who in your life you find perfectly toxic, cheered that the gay agenda will see you now, and that you seem to enjoy always walking in circles. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...