Podcast Transcript: Drugs In The Bible – Danny Nemu
Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Danny Nemu.
Danny Nemu is a historian and author. He talks to us about the use of substances in the Bible. It’s surprising how many natural substances mentioned in the bible are psychoactive, and were almost certainly used for their mind-altering properties.
In this episode, we talk about:
- Drugs in the bible – and how priests used them to induce divine visions
- How drug stigma has changed since biblical times, and what it means for the future of psychedelics
- Examples of potential mass hallucination in the Bible
0:00:29 Paul Austin: Hey, fellow psychonauts, and welcome back to the The Third Wave Podcast. On today’s episode, we have a super interesting guest. His name is Danny Nemu, also called Reverend Nemu, I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly. And Reverend Nemu, he’s a character, he’s an interesting guy. I had a lot of fun speaking with him about drugs in the Bible. Yes, drugs in the Bible. So what drugs were in the Bible, how were those used, how do those affect consciousness? We get a little bit into politics and hierarchy, but we mostly focus the conversation on drugs in the Bible, and also some of Danny’s personal explorations with psychedelic substances.
0:01:10 PA: I’m gonna read a brief bio about Danny, but before I do that, I just wanna say two things. First, if you are enjoying this podcast, you think it’s cool, if you like it, please leave a review on iTunes for us, or Google or Stitcher, however you’re accessing this, please leave a review. It means a lot to us and it helps us to spread our message even further. It takes two minutes, maybe three minutes. Yeah, just go ahead and pause the podcast right now and leave a review. We would really, really appreciate it.
0:01:39 PA: The second thing is we’ve launched our forum at The Third Wave, forum.thethirdwave.co. Right now, it focuses on micro-dosing, but we are probably going to expand that to include all of psychedelic culture. And so just go on over there, take a second and register. It’s not really up and going yet, at least as of this date, February 25, 2017, but it’s gonna get going in the next month or so. So I encourage you to go over to forum.thethirdwave.co and check that out. I would love to just interact with you guys over there on the forum.
0:02:13 PA: Let’s get into a brief bio about Danny and then we’ll start the podcast. Danny’s background is in the history and philosophy of medicine from the University of Manchester. He first encountered ayahuasca when living in Japan. After six years drinking there with a Santo Daime group, he followed the trail back to its source in the Brazilian Amazon, where he was bitten by a sand fly, leading a leishmaniasis infection. This highly aggressive bacterial parasite quickly colonized a few inches of his skin with designs and much more and proved to be a great teacher, providing ample opportunity to study first-hand the intricacies and potencies of ayahuasca as used as a medicine within the Daime world view.
0:02:50 PA: The process took eight months involving diets and barks, many rituals, and daily consumption of the visionary brew. By the end of it, he had lost 10 kilos and gained a deep respect for the complexity and intelligence of the natural world. He speaks often, loudly, and with received pronunciation, about the history of science, the science of ayahuasca, and plenty of other things including drugs and consciousness in the Bible. So guys, enjoy this podcast. I can’t wait for you to hear it.
0:03:19 PA: So Danny, thanks so much for being on the show with us. I think because we are talking about drugs and consciousness in the Bible, the first question that I have is, was Moses tripping on psychedelics when he saw the burning bush? I think that is the most pressing question that I can ask for you to begin with.
0:03:41 Reverend Danny Nemu: Wow, that’s a big question to begin with.
0:03:43 RN: So, that burning bush is seneh in Hebrew, and it seems to be one of the acacias, which is quite interesting in itself, acacia being the highest concentration of DMT in the region. And whether he was tripping when he saw that is kind of up for debate really because Moses heard voices and was filled with compulsions all over the place. What is quite interesting is, when everyone else saw the vision on the mountain, which is where the bush… His vision of the bush, it kind of got him to go and get the… To rescue the Israelites and take them on a journey which ended up in the mountain.
0:04:24 RN: It’s the one part in the Bible where everybody sees something together. Normally, prophets see things on their own, and in fact, we know that people who are not on psychedelics hear voices and see things. We might pathologize them and say they’re hallucinating, which is another question, but there’s no other place in the Bible, in fact, there’s almost no other place in world religion where a whole bunch of people see something at the same time and that is at the foot of the mountain. And they not only see something, but…
0:04:52 RN: I’m gonna read the line to you, it says, “And all the people are seeing the voices and the flames and the sound of the trumpet.” We don’t normally see voices and we don’t normally see the sound of a trumpet unless we’re having a synesthetic experience, which is something which happens on acid and on the psychedelics, as I’m sure you’re aware. The other interesting thing about that particular point is that this is the only time, well, this vision happened when everybody is eating manna together, and it looks like manna is a psychoactive.
0:05:27 PA: Could it be that that manna is like a mushroom? Would that be a viable explanation?
0:05:35 RN: I don’t think manna’s a mushroom. Personally I think it’s ergot. And so I do think it’s a fungus, but there’s quite a lot of description in Exodus about what it looks like. For example, it forms pellets the size of coriander seed, and they’re white, and it also forms a kind of… It’s described as a a hoar frost, so it forms a very thin frost on the ground, and that sounds very much like a secretion, a plant secretion. You can imagine a plant secretion hardening on the plant and forming little pellets, and dripping onto the ground and forming this very thin carpet.
0:06:09 RN: And a lot of the other things in Exodus also point to ergot, like, for example, it’s described as having the taste of honey and wafers, and the first stage of infection, ergot does produce a honeydew which has the taste of honey. And then it quickly rots and Moses says to the people, and he says, “Tomorrow is Sabbath, so today, gather all you need to gather and don’t keep anything for tomorrow, and if you do, it’s gonna stink.” Well, the people who did, they found that it was full of worms and it stunk. Which is, it seems to be quite accurate if you’re talking about ergot, because ergot very rapidly decays. And the other thing about ergot is that it needs to be prepared.
0:06:46 RN: If you wanna make a viable psychedelic out of it, first, you’ve gotta grind it up, and then you’ve gotta boil it up, and then you’ve gotta separate the soluble part, which is trippy, but not poison. And that’s exactly what they’re told to do. In fact, they’re told to grind it up and then they’re told to boil it. So the preparation given in Exodus about manna is, it looks like it could well be ergot, but I guess one thing you need to bear in mind here is that, clearly I’m speculating about what that thing is. There are plenty of drugs in the Bible which don’t require any speculation at all. They are identified and they’re known to science as being powerful and safe psychedelics.
0:07:24 PA: And I wanna get into those drugs in a little bit, those drugs that are hidden in plain sight, so to say. But before we get into that, how did you ever become interested in this topic? Because I find it to be fascinating myself. I come from a fairly church-oriented upbringing and I’m quite familiar with the Bible and all of its, not all of its intricacies, but many of its intricacies. And I had discussions in the past with friends about Moses and the burning bush and manna and these other substances, but the depth at which you’ve gone into these things, I find to be astounding. It really is… Yeah, I think astounding is the best word. There’s so much that we don’t know, actually, that we haven’t really been taught or that hasn’t been brought to our attention about drugs in the Bible. So what’s your path? Did you drink ayahuasca and you got into psychedelics, and then you got into the Bible? Or what was that path like for you in getting into this?
0:08:21 RN: Yeah, everyone’s gotta have a hobby, and I really like psychedelics. I find them fascinating. So yeah, I was tripping before I was interested in the Bible. I guess, I’m interested in poetry as well and I read the Bible primarily as poetry, and I think it’s some of the most extraordinary poetry ever written, generally poorly translated, but if you have a bit of a handle on Hebrew, then you can get a whole lot out of it. My interest in the Bible started because… Well, it started like this. I was visited by the Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was at university and I needed to come up with a dissertation. In fact, I was sitting in my house, I had been smoking ganja and they arrived at my door and I just found them fascinating, the Jehovah’s Witnesses; an apocalyptic cult.
0:09:04 RN: And my academic background is the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. And I was interested, primarily, or initially, in their take on medicine because, as you know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they refuse to have blood transfusions and so on and so forth. And anyway, that kind of went on and on, my study into them and apocalyptic cults in general deepened. But I started getting interested in certain bits of the Bible. One bit which really caught my imagination was a line from Matthew, where it says, “At the end of the world… ” Basically, at the end of the world, everything will go wrong and there’ll be wailing and so on and so forth.
0:09:38 RN: Now, having a look at that translation, it doesn’t actually say at the end of the world, it says at the end of the eon, which is something very much different. The end of the epoch. And when the Bible was translated, the King James version Bible was translated, King James himself really didn’t want people running around talking about the end of the eon, the end of the epoch, because it was a very tense time in English history, and we’re in a pretty tense time at the moment as well. But you had the Puritans and they were kicking off revolutionary philosophies.
0:10:05 RN: So I got into the… So I started looking at mistranslation in the Bible, actually, looking at how the Bible has been used as a tool of political control, if you like. So that was my interest in the Bible, but that quickly developed into an interest in the poetry of it. It’s a fascinating document and it goes very deeply into psychology of people. Now, the thing about drugs in the Bible itself, I’m not actually sure, I was trying to think about what the first one I found. I think I might have read somewhere, or heard somewhere, that frankincense is a tranquilizer. And I looked into that. In fact, I ate some, which is always the best thing to do with drugs.
0:10:44 PA: First-hand experience there, right?
0:10:46 RN: Yeah, but you need to be careful with your dose. Probably around the size of a pea is a good dose of frankincense, and it’s lovely, it’s really, really nice. You’d wanna chew it up, and eventually, you might spit out or you can swallow it. It goes like a kind of chewing gum in your mouth. So, having established that frankincense was psychoactive, was a tranquilizer which works on the GABA system, I then started going through all the drugs in the Bible. So, yeah, we can get on to all that kind of stuff, but there’s just loads of them, and they are in the most exalted places in the Bible. They’re often described as having high value.
0:11:18 RN: So for example, there’s this line, there’s this bit, where Jesus has his feet washed and Judas complains about the fact that they’re wasting money on spikenard, which they’re using to wash his feet. Now spikenard is a dopamine booster and a serotonin booster and a GABA booster, and it’s described as a neurotrophic, which means it assists in the formation of memories. So I found it really interesting because, as you say, mainstream Christian thought doesn’t really acknowledge them, it doesn’t really notice them, and wouldn’t really imagine there are any drugs in the Bible, perhaps. But in Jewish thought, there’s no drugs which, or there’s no plants which are not kosher.
0:11:54 RN: There’s loads of things which aren’t kosher, which you’re not allowed to have, but plants aren’t among them, which is quite an interesting place to start. Whenever plants are mentioned in the Bible, they’re good things. In Psalms, it says that they are for the service of man, for example. It says that the plants are for cattle to eat and they’re for the service of man. So the service of man, that’s quite a broad, quite a broad topic. It could be for construction, it could be for medicine, and of course, it could be for drugs.
0:12:18 PA: And I think those can be one and two in the same thing, like drugs and medicine are often closely related. Now, I wanna go back into a point that you had made, which was getting into this original translation and how some of the original translations of the Bible, they were maybe affected by a heavy bias in terms of, when you had people in the 18th century or 17th century or 16th century or even the Council of Nicaea in 300 AD, when they got together and decided what would be in the Bible, what wouldn’t be in there. Can you expand a little bit on that in terms of the way that the Bible was translated and how it was translated in a way that made it easier to control groups of people?
0:13:00 RN: Yeah, the Council of Nicaea, that’s when they… Well, you’ve got the book being put together by a chap by the name of Irenaeus, Irenaeus of Lyon. That happened a little bit before, and a whole lot of what’s now called The Gnostic Gospels were pushed out of the Bible and we got left with, certainly in the New Testament, we got some stories which don’t go into the immaterial very far. So to give you an example, there’s stories where Jesus walks and doesn’t leave any footprints. And there’s the gospel of Mary, for example, where Jesus appears in a vision and says something along the lines of, “Don’t accept any law from the law givers.” So all that stuff was pushed out. The translation, the Hebrew, they weren’t really interested…
0:13:44 RN: Who was it? Geronimo, St. Geronimo, he said, he described the prophets as rude and repellent. He wasn’t particularly interested in the Old Testament, what the Old Testament prophets had to say, I guess, on some level. So then you go in to Paul… They constructed the Bible, the Bible was constructed in a certain way as to become quite an authoritarian document, I guess, is fair to say. The translation… It went through a whole series of translations. The translation that we tend to have now is the King James version. And as I say, written in a very difficult period of English history and the translation didn’t actually do any good in the end. There still was that puritan revolution and they kind of lost control of that one. But we ended up with the same chamomile, I shouldn’t call it chamomile, it’s a very beautiful… It’s got some beautiful poetry in it, even in the English translation, but, yeah, that’s where that goes.
0:14:33 RN: But having said that, the drugs are not hidden. Well, there may be one that’s, I guess, hidden or perhaps mistranslated, and that’s kaneh-bosm. Kaneh-bosm, you’ll notice it sounds very much like cannabis. In fact, in the singular is, it’s kaneh-bos. Now that’s translated as calamus in the King James Version. Calamus is a reed, but we know it can’t be a reed. For one thing, kaneh means cane, and cane isn’t reed. And also, we know that it was used on these shirts that the Jews used to bury their dead in, and of course, a shirt made out of reeds would decompose in a matter of days. Whereas a shirt made out of cannabis, or cane, wouldn’t decompose so quickly. I think that was basically a mistake, that particular translation, rather than a piece of political entreat.
0:15:18 PA: Interesting. And so, is that the only mistake then that was in the Bible? Or would you say there were obviously various other mistakes that maybe we don’t know about from a translation perspective?
0:15:30 RN: Well there’s loads. I mean, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” That’s quite an interesting one. That word “inherit” is almost never translated inherit; normally, it’s translated as seize. And that word “meek” doesn’t really mean meek, it means poor. So that would be translated more normally, if you look at how the word’s normally used, as, “The poor shall seize the land.” Not the earth, the land, so that kind of describes political occupations. For example, for one thing, there’s people who need land and they are taking it. “The meek shall inherit the earth,” is an entirely different vision of perhaps people waiting quietly until they are given what they want, which is of course, very useful to the powers that be and the powers of empire.
0:16:13 PA: Precisely, yeah. And I think this is an interesting topic in itself, in terms of the patriarchy that has come out about as a result of some of these values that started with Hebraic tribes and eventually made their way into Christianity and into the Bible. And the aggrandizement of power is obviously such an integral part of more mainstream dogmatic religion, that paying attention to these little things is a really good way of waking up to some of these things, especially if they haven’t been brought to our attention before.
0:16:43 PA: And obviously, another critical aspect of that sense of waking up or becoming aware is these drugs that were obviously talked about in the Bible and that were hidden in plain sight, so to say. So let’s move the conversation then in that direction, because I think that’s what I’m interested in, that’s what probably our listeners are interested in is, what are the drugs in the Bible? You mentioned cannabis, you had mentioned frankincense. What are some… You’d mentioned the acacia which has DMT in it. What are some of these other manna as well? What are some of these other drugs that are in the Bible and written about?
0:17:17 RN: Okay, so let’s begin by looking at the ones which are definitely there. Manna, I’ve got some ideas about. Kaneh-bosm, there’s a whole lot of research there, but that’s one which, like we say, it hasn’t been translated clearly or we’re not absolutely sure about the translation there. But here’s a line from the Song of Songs, “Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, camphire with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, cane and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and agarwood, with all the chief spices.” Right? So that’s a paradisaical garden described in the Song of Songs.
0:17:51 RN: Now we look at some of those plants there, camphire is one that isn’t psychoactive, or at least we don’t think it’s psychoactive, that’s henna. But all the other ones there that have been identified have psychoactive properties. So, frankincense, we already talked about, frankincense works on… It’s a GABA receptor agonist, and it also works on what’s the one, the TRPV3 ion channel, and that’s an ion channel which is distributed throughout the body. In the skin, it seems to be related to temperature, the sense of temperature, and it’s also distributed quite widely in the brain, and the brain, we’ve got no idea what it does. So, that’s an interesting one, that one.
0:18:29 RN: Like you say, that’s been burned for a long time. It was burned to Baal before it was burned to Yahweh, and he was the Canaanite god, and before, that it was burned to Ra as well, the Egyptian god, and that was transported for a massive distance. Actually, it was 1500 miles, it was a six-month trek by camel to get this stuff from Oman to Palestine. So they went to a great deal of trouble to get this stuff. And if you’re thinking about it just because it smells nice, would they really really bother to go to all that trouble? So that was frankincense. Myrrh is another one. Well, we see the three wise men, they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh.
0:19:07 RN: So myrrh works on the opioid system, it works… It’s a mu and delta opioid agonist. So both of these things are tranquilizers. The GABA system, by the way, GABA receptors are the most common receptors in the brain, and every neuron either has GABA receptors or is next door to a neuron which has GABA receptors. It’s where Valium works on the brain. Opioid receptors, obviously, is where opium and some other things like that work on. So yeah, so that’s myrrh. It was… It’s classed as a tranquilizer, it’s also anxiolytic. It works against anxiety, it works against depression. It’s offered to Christ on the cross in wine, but he refuses it, perhaps to keep his head clear. It’s not made clear why he decides to refuse it. So that’s the big ones, myrrh and frankincense, but there’s plenty more. That one, saffron, for example, that’s another GABA agonist, that’s the stigma of the Crocus sativus plant.
0:20:02 RN: That’s an interesting one because that also comes into the Islamic tradition. In Islamic jurisprudence, saffron is called one of the drugs that cause joy. It was one of the ones that was allowed to be taken by Muslims. It’s described… I haven’t taken it myself, sadly, but it’s described as like opium, and Pliny said it was an aphrodisiac. In fact, he said it has a gentle effect on the head and whets the sex drive. What else have we got? The agarwood, that’s sedative and analgesic. Cinnamon is fascinating because that contains eugenol. It contains saffron as well, which is in saffron, but it also contains eugenol, and eugenol is what you make MDMA out of. And if you neck a whole load of cinnamon, you’re probably not gonna have an MDMA experience, but the way that these things are combined into preparation reveals a very advanced knowledge of psychopharmacology or herbalism.
0:20:56 RN: And one of those preparations is the massage oil. It’s the holy anointing oil, shemen ha-mishchah. And that’s where we get the word mashiach, which is the anointed one, and that’s also where we get the word Messiah from. So Messiah, back in the day, was a king who had been anointed with this stuff. And mashiach is also where we get the word massage from. So the anointing, you might imagine it as being poured on someone’s head, but it doesn’t seem to be that at all. It comes from the verb, which means to wipe or to paint. And it seems that the priests and the kings were massaged with this stuff, right? What did that contain? It contained myrrh, which we talked about, it contained cinnamon, which we talked about, and it contained kaneh-bosm. Kaneh Bosm, we talked about that briefly, it looks very much like it’s cannabis.
0:21:42 RN: If we would look into the research of Sula Benet, for example, or also Chris Bennett, he wrote a whole book about this kind of thing, the nearby tribes, they also used cannabis. The Scythians for example, they were visited by Herodotus in about 500 BC, and he describes how they pinned the flaps of their tents down, and then they throw cannabis on fire and immediately it smokes and gives out such a vapor as an old Grecian vapor bath can exceed. The Scyths delighted, shout for joy, that’s called cannabis. Now, all the tribes around that place had a word for cannabis, and it’s been found on Ramesses II’s mummy, for example, in Egypt. And to get to Egypt, you had to go through Palestine. Palestine was on the major trade route on the way. And in fact, kaneh-bosm is described as from a far place in the Bible.
0:22:26 RN: So back to the massage oil, we’ve got myrrh, we’ve got kaneh-bosm, we’ve got cinnamon, and then we’ve got cassia, which is called Chinese cinnamon, it’s used a lot in Chinese medicine. And that contains estragole, which is described as having electric LSD-like effects. Now as I said, these things won’t have any effect if you just eat them. Well, what you have to do is knock out your enzymes, a bit like the way that ayahuasca works. If you just eat a spoonful of DMT, you’re not really going to notice it, you have to inhibit your monoamine oxidase enzymes, and that’s what the harmaline and harmine do. Well, then they do do other things as well, but let’s not go into that story.
0:23:01 RN: So yeah, so the thing… So you’ve got this whole enzyme system, it’s called the P450 system, and that contains a whole series of enzymes. One of them is the CYP2A6 enzyme, another one is a CYP2E1 enzyme. Both of those are blocked by cinnamon, and others of these are blocked by other things that was in the shemen ha-mishchah, the shemen ha-mishchah, the massage oil, the anointing oil. Something which has a similar chemical profile to it, with these allylbenzenes, with these chemicals is nutmeg. And nutmeg is quite curious in that if you take a large dose of that, it will have quite a powerful effect if you have the right enzyme profile. But that’s because it contains both powerful psychoactives, but also the enzyme inhibitors.
0:23:44 RN: So it does both at the same time, but nutmeg grows or used to grow on a tiny little island out in the middle of nowhere. So the Israelites didn’t know about that, but they did, I think, they inherited this recipe from Egypt, in fact, because the mixture of myrrh and cinnamon and cassia was known to the pharaohs. It was what the Egyptian apothecaries used to mix up to massage into the pharaohs. So the priests and the kings were obliged to have this stuff massaged on to themselves. Here’s a line from the Bible, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, anointed him in the midst of his brethren, and the spirit of Yahweh came upon David from that day forward.”
0:24:20 PA: And so is that basically saying that he was seeing God after tripping out on acacia?
0:24:24 RN: Yeah, I would say that’s pretty much… Oh, well it’s not acacia, there’s no reference to acacia being taken in the Bible, although of course, there’s loads of stuff that wasn’t written down in the Bible. But no, it’s this mix of myrrh, cane, cinnamon and the cassia… Yeah, it looks like, if I didn’t know anything… There’s a bit of a caution there in that you might think that Yahweh is a product of allylbenzene, the chemistry. And I don’t really think that’s fair on Yahweh.
0:24:51 RN: I wear glasses, I’ve actually lost my glasses at the moment, so everyone’s face is blurred. Now, if I put my glasses on, I can start to recognize people. Now, that doesn’t mean to say that those people are a product of my glasses, no, it means that with my glasses, I can see those people. So the kings and the priests, they took, they were anointed with this stuff, and actually a whole lot of other stuff, which we can go into. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Yahweh doesn’t exist outside of those stuff, those things.
0:25:17 PA: It just means that it’s easier to perceive a oneness, or get in touch with that sense of spirituality for those people who are being anointed with the substances.
0:25:26 RN: Well, I’ll tell you what, Yahweh… Oneness isn’t really Yahweh’s bag, to be honest. Yahweh is fierce and scary, he’s a War-God. He is described as a man of war in the Bible, and there’s quite an interesting Erowid report from somebody who, he took a mixture of nutmeg and myrrh. Now, if you take nutmeg and myrrh together, you’ve got loads of the chemicals that are in that anointing oil. He took that from the Kalachakra Tantra, which is an Indian text, and he described his experience. And I’m gonna find it and describe it to you because it’s really fascinating. This guy, as far as I know, had no idea that he was taking something chemically similar to what the priests and the kings would’ve taken back in the day in Israel. Over here, listen to this. So he describes it… Actually, he fell asleep and then he woke up, and this is what happens.
0:26:12 RN: “Awakening as if possessed by a fierce and aggressive deity; deep, monstrous voice boiling out of me unbidden, etcetera. Open-eyed visions and closed-eyed visions of a bulging-eyed, white-skinned man in ceremonial armor. The real world perceived as a faraway and distorted window. This window also emanated and originated a mental fireball or supernova. This fireball had as its identity the fierce deity above. My voice seemed to penetrate the walls and echo off the sky. New doors, avenues opened up inside familiar mantra. New knowledge disclosed, new perspectives on hidden meanings.” So we’re not really talking about a chilled out vision of oneness here, we’re talking about a fierce and aggressive deity, which Yahweh certainly is, if you read the stories. And also, this idea he talks about penetrating the walls and this kind of thing, this is what the Apocalypse is.
0:27:01 RN: Apocalypse is a Greek word and it means the lifting of the veil, that is where the walls collapse. It’s where we see things that we couldn’t previously see. “New doors opened up inside familiar mantra, new knowledge disclosed.” So, he’s discovering things through this mix of chemicals, through this mix of plants, and that was very much what the shemen ha-mishchah, what the anointing oil was meant to do. It was meant to give you a direct experience of Yahweh, and also wisdom. Because the way it was used back in the day, is that the priests would take it inside of a tabernacle, or they would be anointed with it inside the tabernacle, and they would come out with information for the tribe, with new insights that they could use for the tribe.
0:27:44 RN: So back in the day, the shaman, from whatever culture you look at, the shaman, one of his jobs was divination, and particularly war divination. So he was called upon to know when to attack the enemy, when to hide, all these kind of things. And that’s one of the things that Moses does when he goes into the tabernacle, he is anointed with oil and he also has a smoke bath in the backroom of the tabernacle, which is a hot box, basically. We can talk about that in a moment. And then he comes out with instructions to the tribe. Yeah, so, what was his name? Strassman wrote a really interesting book about this, “DMT and the Soul of Prophecy,” it’s called. And although he doesn’t think that there are drugs in the Bible or he certainly doesn’t, he’s not forthcoming with that information, he does make the case that the Old Testament view of relationship with these entities is quite different to the Zen style, merging with oneness, all that jazz.
0:28:39 PA: And so when you’re talking about these seemingly psychedelic states, with what’s happening with the massaging oils, and the anointing, and the lifting of the veil, so to say, with these apocalyptic visions; are there any other particular instances in the Bible that read as religious visions, but that you perceive as being potentially psychedelic substances? Any other major stories that we would be familiar with, or generally, people would be familiar with?
0:29:09 RN: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. The prophets don’t seem to be taking anything, and Strassman makes that point quite clear. They have their visions on their own, and they are stimulated by things like asanas, certain ways of, certain postures, for example, or fasts, or sexual abstinence, or just sadness. They seemed to come on either spontaneously or provoked by those kind of practices, as they do in kind of, amongst yogis. But they’re not all yogis, of course. The use of psychoactive agents, well, there’s a couple of places where it is, but the main area where you see it is in the tabernacle, which was the exclusive domain of the priests. No one else was allowed in there. So the priests, that was a caste, it was the priestly caste, was one of the tribes, if you like. And then everybody else was not allowed in there, and what went on there was very psychoactive.
0:30:01 RN: You have this, yeah, you had, for example, you had something called the showbread, lechem hapanim in Hebrew, and this is described in the Talmud in a lot of interesting terms because… Well, Maimonides, who was a great Jewish Sage, he was baffled by this. He wrote a book called “The Guide for the Perplexed,” which is a kind of explanation of Jewish bits and bobs, Jewish culture, really, and he said he had no idea what was going on with the showbread. But there’s this great bit in the Talmud, and I’m gonna read to you, it says, “In High-Priest Simeon the Upright’s time, a blessing was sent into the armor, the two loaves of bread, and the showbread, and every priest who received only the size of an olive became satiated and some was left over.”
0:30:42 RN: So they’re eating the size of an olive and they’re becoming satiated, and that’s plenty. And it goes on, “But after him, these things were cursed and every priest got only the size of a bean. And the delicate priests refused to take it all together, but the voracious ones accepted and consumed. It once happened, one took his own share and his fellow’s; he was nicknamed ‘robber’ until his death.” So there you’ve got something, the dosage is the size of a bean and that is too much for some people. So we’re not talking about sandwiches here, we’re talking about doses.
0:31:12 PA: Like frankincense, would that be like… ‘Cause you had said before that in terms of when you eat frankincense or when you chew it, it’s a very tiny amount. Or would it be something else, possibly like the ergot or… What would you assume that it would be? What would be the substance?
0:31:26 RN: Well, in the Bible, it doesn’t say. It does say that it’s served up with frankincense, so I think it has frankincense in it. We’ve got to bear in mind that these guys were absolute masters, they were masters of plants, basically. They really knew what they were doing. It doesn’t say in the Bible what the showbread was, what it had in it, but the secret of making it was jealously guarded by the Korahite clan. In fact, the Korahites had to look after all the psychoactive things in the tabernacle, so they were the ones who made the wine, and of course, back in the day…
0:31:53 RN: Well, wine is psychoactive anyway, but back in the day, wine was often used to infuse other things in cultures all over the world. And they were also charged with making the incense, the temple incense, they called it ha-samim. Now, in the Bible, that is described as having stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense in it. We talked about frankincense. Galbanum is another GABA agonist, another tranquilizer. Stacte, we’re not sure, but quite a few ancient authors describe it as high-grade myrrh. And the onycha, again, not sure about that. It looks like it was a shell.
0:32:27 RN: Now, those are the things which are described in the Bible, but then if you look in the Talmud, which is a first century collection of Jewish folklore and law and a repository of culture, well, the oral tradition of the Jews and the Israelites was recorded into the Talmud, and that describes a whole load of other ingredients. And some of those are, we’ve already talked about, like the cassia, Chinese cinnamon; spikenard, which was the dopamine booster; saffron, which works on the opioid system; costus and myrrh and cinnamon, but then there’s other ones as well. There’s Jordan amber, and there’s Carshina lye, and there’s aromatic bark, and there’s Cyprus wine, and there’s Sodom salt, and there’s something called Nebtadini pyrotechnica, which is “that which causes the smoke to rise.”
0:33:10 RN: That’s quite interesting as well because… So what happens is, the tabernacle is a tent that the Israelites carry around the desert, and the tabernacle has two chambers, it has two parts of it, and the back end of the tabernacle is a 4 1/2-meter cubed chamber. The tabernacle is described in intricate detail in the Bible, it gets 5 1/2 chapters, whereas the Ten Commandments get about half a chapter, just to put that into context, and it is described… Everything about it is described, how many pegs hold down the coverings and how many coverings. There’s four skins, or there’s four coverings, rather, which are pulled tight over a frame made of acacia. Two of those coverings are skins, one of them is known to be a really thick skin ’cause it was the same stuff that they made shoes out of, and then there’s another skin, and then there’s two more as well.
0:34:04 RN: So you’ve got a veil, which is at the front of the tabernacle, and that keeps wandering eyes out of the tabernacle, ’cause they were doing all kinds of things in there. But then, at the back of the tabernacle, you’ve got another veil. And this veil, certainly in the temple time, was described as the thickness of a man’s hand span. So the question rises: Why would you need such a thick veil at the back of the tabernacle? What were they trying to keep in? The idea is that Yahweh himself descends upon that part of the tabernacle, but Yahweh is not gonna be kept in by a tent. What would be kept in by a tent is smoke. And here’s another line, “He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before Yahweh, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil,” so we’re talking about the second veil.
0:34:48 RN: So what happens is, you get all these 16 or so psychoactive ingredients, you beat them very, very small, and then you take handfuls of these and put them on a censer inside this back chamber of the tabernacle, it’s called the Holy of Holies in Jewish scripture. And there, what do you have? You’ve got the magic box, you’ve got the Ark of the Covenant, and then you’ve got the censer, which you use to burn incense, and that’s all you’ve got in the back of the tabernacle. And the only thing you were meant to do there is burn incense and talk to angels and have visions, and then the… And the only person who would would go in there was the high priest. Everyone else was not allowed in that particular room.
0:35:28 RN: And then when the high priest came out, he would come out with information for the tribe, and it might be information of how to cure something, or where they should go next, or who they should attack next, or so on and so forth. So the setup for that particular ritual is very much a similar setup to what happens in shamanic societies. The shaman generally goes off on his own, or on her own, and goes to their hut, and they take their mushrooms, or they take their ayahuasca whilst they’re surrounded by magical objects, and then when they’re done with talking to their familiar spirits, they come back to the tribe and they give information.
0:36:05 PA: And that’s kind of the parallel that I was drawing in my mind as you were discussing this and as you were talking about this, yet I think a lot of people in our mainstream culture today, they perceive the use of ayahuasca in these Amazonian regions, for example, as being part of a primitive ritual, and to suggest that our ancestors, our cultural ancestors, did something similar, it’s heretical, so to say. There’s probably quite a few people, especially people who consider themselves to be of the Christian faith, that would obviously push back on a number of these fronts that you’re speaking of. Can you talk a little bit about that? What kind of resistance do you meet from evangelicals or other people of the Christian faith when you discuss these topics, if you discuss these topics with them?
0:36:49 RN: I would be delighted to meet some more spirited resistance, really. When I was… I’ve written a book called “Neuro-Apocalypse,” and one of the chapters is called Exodrugs, and that’s where all of this stuff comes in. And I wanted to get this looked over by an evangelical guy, so I selected this guy, he’s from the Tectonic website, and he writes… He’s a Christian apologist, and he writes quite well on things like when people draw connections between pagan gods and Jesus Christ and stuff, this is the guy who goes online and writes essays about why they… Where their mistakes are. So I wanted… Well, to be blunt, I wanted to use his mind as a way to tighten up my research, basically, to make sure there weren’t any foolish mistakes in it.
0:37:28 RN: And so I wrote to him pretending to be a concerned Christian, worried about what this awful Reverend Nemu was writing and saying, and how the youngsters in my church were smoking all kinds of things and saying it was in the Bible, but I really had to provoke this guy. It took a little while to get him to comment on the thing. The first thing he said was, “Oh, no, no, just ignore it, there’s nothing there.” And I wrote back incensed and said, “Look, all the kids in my church are smoking themselves silly. Have you not got anything to say?” So I finally managed to provoke this guy into a response, and he wrote… It was kind of disappointing, really.
0:38:01 RN: I’ll give you an example of one of the things he said. I was talking about mandrakes. There’s a bit in the Bible where the two wives of Jacob, one of them goes to get some mandrakes, and the other one says, “Give me some of those mandrakes.” And the one says, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you some of these mandrakes if you let me sleep with our husband tonight.” So, there’s a value attached to these mandrakes. Now, so this guy came back to me, and he said… Well, he didn’t come back to me, he published it on his newsletter. And he said, “Just because a DIY manual mentions the use of paint thinner, doesn’t say that it’s recommending that you use it to get high.” He was suggesting that mandrakes can be used for something else.
0:38:42 RN: Now, mandrakes… Well, for one thing, his Hebrew’s pretty rotten because mandrakes in Hebrew is dudaim. And dudaim comes from the word dude, and dude means beloved. And mandrakes, of course, are well-known as an aphrodisiac as well as giving you visions. So that’s one area where he was just kind of… It was a poor attack, really. The other thing is that mandrakes, you’ve got to be very, very careful with the dose. If you take a small amount, it’s described as euphoric. If you take a little bit too much, we’re talking another teaspoon here, is described as, someone wrote on Erowid, “erotic delirium,” and described having terrifying, sexy dreams. And then if you take much more than that, well, then you’re having muco-bloody, dysentric discharges.
0:39:26 RN: So, it’s not really a thing which can be used as a foodstuff. It’s a rubbish foodstuff. It’s an excellent aphrodisiac and it’s an excellent visionary blunt, but really not very good foodstuff. So, that guy was kind of disappointing, and I would love to get some traction with Christian evangelists. Unfortunately, in England, we don’t really have that kind of Christian, right-wing, fire-and-brimstone stuff in the same way that you do have in the States. I would love those guys. I’d love to go jousting against these guys. It’d be a whole load of fun for me, but sadly, it hasn’t happened. So if you can send some my way, I would love to get my teeth into them.
0:40:02 PA: Have you received any other pushback or resistance from even those who maybe aren’t Christian, who just question some of your sourcing or question some of the conclusions that you’ve drawn? Have you received any type of criticism like that?
0:40:15 RN: There’s not much criticism to make. The Bible, if you’re a Christian, the Bible is the Word of God. And so, they can’t question my source there; It’s the Bible. And so you look at the plants, and it’s simple pharmacology. The stuff has been… Although it’s been investigated in two ways, the stuff has been distilled and looked at. And then these things have been fed to rats, and they’ve done all kinds of nasty things to rats. And… But, well, of course, it’s not done just to eat them.
0:40:37 RN: But we have established, by being very mean to rats, that these things are sensitive, are analgesic, are tranquilizers, are antidepressants, or whatever. So, they don’t really have a leg to stand on, to be honest. The thing about kaneh-bosm, for example, the evidence is overwhelming but I wouldn’t push that too far because they could say… There is an argument there that it’s not cannabis. It just happens to be called kaneh-bosm, and it’s a cane. Kaneh-bosm, by the way, means fragrant or resinous cane. And of course, cannabis is a fragrant and a resinous cane. So I would look forward to some more fighting.
0:41:09 PA: And yeah, I would as well, just because I think there would be interesting backlash. And maybe if any listeners are hearing this right now and they can think of any individuals who we could screen this with, I’d be really interested to see how people do respond and react. And I think I would be interested, as you would, I’m sure, Danny, as well, because we live in a culture today that has been so influenced by certain puritanical values that are supposedly derived from Christianity. And of course, one of those big things is, “Just say no to drugs,” and, “All drugs are bad.” Except, of course, alcohol and tobacco, or pharmaceuticals, for that matter. So I think we have this kind of inbred resistance to drugs, and I would be interested to see how people would change, or if they would change if they understood that the very culture that we have built our civilization on has this extensive history of drug use.
0:42:09 RN: Yeah. So going back to the Bible, those drugs were controlled, back in the day. They were only to be taken by the priests. Going back further than that, we don’t really know. We do know that other people were using them. And certainly, this mandrake story makes it pretty clear that mandrakes, they were into them. But if you look all through Jewish history as well, you’ve got some great rabbinical authorities, for example, saying things along the lines of describing their own drug use, saying that certain drugs which they have access to have the same effect as manna, which is to cause them to have knowledge of higher things.
0:42:46 RN: So this is the mainstream Jewish thought. And in fact, there was a particular… What’s his name? Rabbi Kaplan describes one of the cabbalistic meditations with certain grasses and he says there is good evidence of those grasses being psychoactive. So, certainly, in Jewish history, there is no great taboo against drugs. And like I say, pork is not kosher. There are certain textiles which aren’t kosher. There are certain times that you can’t do certain things. But there’s no restrictions on drugs, except things like, you’re not allowed to mix up the massage oil unless you’re a priest.
0:43:24 RN: So what I would say is, if people are interested in this, just do go easy on the dose because just because these things are natural doesn’t mean to say they’re not powerful. So, back in the day, in Exodus for example, there were taboos on these things. The priests advised not to take strong drink or wine before they go into the tabernacle because they’re going to be anointed with the oil. And also, once they’ve been anointed with the oil, they’re not allowed out of the tabernacle. The line goes, “Do not leave the tabernacle, lest ye die.” So, like today, if you’re going to be taking stuff, don’t get wrecked beforehand and don’t go stumbling through the streets afterwards.
0:43:58 PA: A safe setting is probably conducive to a good experience, I would imagine. And being responsible. And I was just thinking of a question. One, have you ever done some of these yourself? Have you ever made some of these mixes, some of these massage oils yourself using these raw ingredients?
0:44:16 RN: Yeah, I’ve had a go with the massage oil. And yeah, it was certainly pleasant. I haven’t… You gotta bear in mind that the particular enzyme profile that I have as a Caucasian is quite different to the enzyme profile that a Middle Eastern or an Israelite… Well, what are we talking about, two and a half thousand odd years ago, had. We all got different enzymes, and I think that this particular mixture is particularly good for that profile. Certainly, I’ve tried with some enthusiasm, I haven’t quite managed, I mean I’ve got something out of it, but I haven’t had a meeting with Yahweh yet, but I did have someone… Someone came to a talk I gave and he had read an article I had written on this kind of stuff and he’d mixed up the stuff, and him and his girlfriend had massaged each other with it and they had a marvelous time, so, yeah…
0:45:11 PA: Because of the drug or because they were massaging each other?
0:45:15 RN: No, no, no. Well, maybe they… I don’t know, but they said they definitely got something out of it and, in fact, the whole next day they were feeling amazing as well. But yeah, eating frankincense, eating myrrh… You have to go easy on eating myrrh, by the way. But… That definitely has effects. The effect of myrrh, or sorry, the effect of frankincense and kaneh-bosm and cannabis together is really wonderful, actually. It’s very pleasant. It kind of… I’ve got a friend who gets a bit paranoid when she smokes, but she said when she ate frankincense before smoking, that paranoia didn’t happen, which is quite interesting because frankincense is traditionally used to keep bad spirits away; it’s used to purify the place, so that’s quite interesting that the paranoia doesn’t come when you’re using something which is there to keep the bad spirits away.
0:46:00 PA: I might have to try that myself, ’cause when I get really stoned I also have some paranoia, as many people do, I think, at high levels of cannabis.
0:46:07 RN: Yeah. We’ve got to bear in mind, modern pharmacology is about isolating potent chemicals and that kind of thing. That wasn’t the case back in the day. What they were interested in is synergies and how to make things that have these effects, which is, of course, the rainforest traditions. Going back to something you said before, people think of it as primitive technologies, these guys really knew what they were doing; they still do know what they’re doing, these guys out in the jungle. I lived in the Amazon for about a year, had a lot of… I spent a lot of time, I’m still involved with Santo Daime, and I got a parasite when I was out there. It’s called leishmaniasis.
0:46:38 RN: It’s a bacterial flesh-eating infection and it’s not meant to be treatable with natural medicines. In fact, everyone around me thought I was crazy for trying to treat it with ayahuasca. And I spent eight months sick in the jungle, treating this with ayahuasca, but one of the types of ayahuasca that I used was called nine-herb ayahuasca, and it’s a mixture of, obviously, ayahuasca plus nine herbs. It’s from a different tradition, actually, it’s from UDV tradition, but… Or was from a guy, rather, who was from the UDV. And these guys really do know what they’re doing, so although the technologies might be old, they’re certainly not primitive in the sense that they are not as good as ours.
0:47:18 PA: And I think that’s a super valid point and I think we’re rediscovering a lot of this primitive knowledge, this tribal knowledge, not only when it comes to psychoactive substances like ayahuasca, but also when it comes to things like diet and exercise and the way that we organize society. There’s a lot of value to be had in those more primitive way of doing things because they seem to be more in line with our human nature and from a traditional…
0:47:40 RN: Yeah, and also human physiology, if you look into… I gave a talk about this. You can find it online; it’s called “Taboo: From the Jungle to the Clinic.” But if you look at the dieta, the kind of things that people were… That shamans or apprentice shamans eat and don’t eat before they take ayahuasca, they certainly know what they’re doing. We have this idea that you shouldn’t take SSRIs, you shouldn’t take antidepressants, if you’re gonna take ayahuasca, and this is a taboo in the West, if you like. If you’re going on to take ayahuasca, one of the first things they ask you is, “Are you on antidepressants?”
0:48:13 RN: Now, there is absolutely no science behind that at all. There was a theoretical objection raised by Callaway and Grob, back in, I think it was in 1986, somewhere around then. No research has been done on that at all. And there have been plenty of people, the UDV, for example, they’ve never kept that taboo. They’ve had plenty of people who take antidepressants and ayahuasca with absolutely no… But there’s never been a death, or even a doubtful case, even a possible death, mixing those two things.
0:48:43 RN: So we, with all our fantastic machines and white coats and pills and all this kind of stuff, our sterilized needles and stuff, we reckon we’ve got a few things figured out, but the level of our research is actually pretty basic and we haven’t done any research on the traditional dieta. There’s no study into, should you or should you not have sex before you take ayahuasca? There’s no study into whether you should or shouldn’t eat pork or those kind of things. But these are traditions that are built into the culture of rainforest peoples, who have been doing this stuff for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
0:49:19 PA: Right. Yeah, yeah. It’s steeped in a ritual, it’s steeped in tradition. And when you’ve been doing it for that long, you tend to figure some things out from a trial and error basis that, I think, even 40-50 years of modern science has a hard time approaching.
0:49:34 RN: Or, I mean that’s one way of looking at it. Yeah, the other way of looking at is, as the shamans would say and as Jeremy Narby puts in his books, the plants told them how to do it. So, how did we discover monoamine oxidase inhibition? That was discovered by mistake. In fact, every single psychopharmacological drug which has been discovered has been discovered by mistake. In fact, all of the psychiatry, all the drugs in psychiatry, they’ve all been discovered my mistake, and it was Professor David Nye who told me that. So, how good are we doing? We talk about trial and error in the jungle. They wouldn’t agree with that. They’d say, “It’s because the plants told us,” or, “The spirits told us.” We don’t even have trial and error, we’ve just got error.
0:50:16 PA: That’s a really good point. I think that’s a really good point, is our epistemology, the way that we come to knowledge, it has a lot of gaps that I think we can… I think going forward, there’s gonna be a lot bigger of a push in terms of the source of knowledge that primitive societies have come to understand and a re-integration of that knowledge into more mainstream cultural things as a way to perpetuate healing for individuals and communities and things like that.
0:50:45 RN: Yeah, don’t get me wrong. I do think we do need to do the science, but it would be nice if the science occasionally looks back at what these people have been doing it for hundreds of years. We’re doing, and at least started doing, some research on those traditional taboo.
0:51:01 PA: Yeah, totally, I’m right there with you. So I wanna dig into one last question, and that is based on… You’ve done all this research in terms of drugs and consciousness in the Bible, and you obviously live in 2017 in London, in our modern society and culture. From your perspective and from all the research that you’ve done and what you’ve read, why is it that in our culture today, in our Western culture which has its basis in Christianity, in many ways and not every way, but in many ways, why is it that there’s still such a taboo around drugs even if they were used extensively in the Bible?
0:51:38 RN: Yeah, good question. So I guess at the beginning of that, I’d like to answer that by saying they were used extensively in the Bible by the priests and…
0:51:47 PA: Correct. Yeah, correct.
0:51:48 RN: And the priests were those who were called upon to keep the rest of the people in order, right? Other people had experiences of revelatory experiences as well. They were prophets, and the prophets often came into conflict with the kings. Over and over again, you see the prophets will say to the people, “Look, if you keep on doing this, things will go terribly wrong.” We’ve got scientists who’ve been saying for decades now, “Look, if we keep on burning fossil fuels, things will go terribly wrong.” And are rulers listening? Well, no, not really. So we’re kind of reading… I would say that we haven’t really understood the lessons in the Bible in a very clever way. We’ve still got incredibly greedy central government and a whole load of vices like that. So, God, you know what? I was about to start ranting. I’ve forgotten your question, can you just tell me again?
0:52:47 PA: I was basically asking about why is it that there’s such a taboo in our modern culture and society around drugs, even if there’s all this talk about consciousness and drugs, even if it’s just the priestly class in the Bible, it’s still in…
0:53:00 RN: Yeah. So if you look back at the Gnostic movements, you had a very rapid spread of Jewish-y, Christian-y, kind of pre-Christian, but Christ-influenced Jewish centers around the Mediterranean. And they started to invite Gentiles into their fold, if you like, and they were outside of the control of the empire, and people there were prophesizing over their own and they were their own authorities. In fact, you see Gnostic texts, and they talk about bishops as being dry canals. Their authority came to them through voices that they would hear, and the voices that they would hear through certain channels. So, they did certain rituals. Some of them are documented as using psychoactives or using plants of some description or other.
0:53:50 RN: Now, if you are taking… Well, take the Gospel of Mary, for example. So, Mary meets Jesus in a vision and Jesus says to her, like I said before, “Do not accept any law that the law giver gives unto you.” Now, that is really very difficult for a centralized empire to control that kind of thing. If you’re taking your instructions from invisible entities, whatever they may be, you might be talking about deep levels of your unconscious mind or however you want to deal with that, that’s kind of up to you. And you’re also saying that the bishops are dry canals and we’re not hearing them, then it’s very difficult to control. So along comes St. Paul, and St. Paul says, “If any of you is spiritual or is a prophet, first, you have to understand that these teachings that I’m giving you, these are the words of the Lord.”
0:54:38 RN: I’m paraphrasing a little bit, but basically, that’s what he says. And then you get… You come back to the Council of Nicaea, and what happens there is, you get the Creed later, the Apostles’ Creed. The Apostles’ Creed says, “I believe in this, that and the other. I believe in resurrection in the flesh.” Why does it say, “I believe in resurrection in the flesh”? Because you must not believe in resurrection in spirit. The idea that Jesus can come back to you in your dreams and in your visions and perhaps on your psychedelic trips, is a big problem if you’re trying to control people and tell them how to behave. Now, fast-forward nearly 2000 years, you’ve got the same problem.
0:55:15 RN: How do you control people who are taking their authority from their own visions, from what they’ve learned when they’ve taken psychedelics and they’ve discovered, “Ooh! What can we do? We can be nice to each other, we can… ” I don’t know, you’ve taken them yourself. You know what happens when you take psychedelics, you build a new way of being in the world and it tends to be a whole lot kinder than the way that we are instructed to behave by the authorities that we labor under. So I would say that the answer is that the power structures that are oppressing us, and have been oppressing us for many, many, many generations, don’t really want us to have summers of love again.
0:56:00 PA: And so I guess the immediate follow-up question that I have for that is, with this kind of re-emergence of psychedelics from a mainstream perspective, will that change the power structure or, from your perspective, will there be a backlash in some way against integrating psychedelics into mainstream culture?
0:56:19 RN: It’s something I struggle with a lot because, obviously, I like psychedelics but I have seen a lot of people, certainly in the ayahuasca world, who will… I mean, the first thing that happened, maybe not the first thing. One of the things that happens if you take psychedelics, if you take ayahuasca, is that you can enter into a kind of ego expansion level, ego expansion mode, and we’ve often seen wanna-be shamans who think they’re fantastic and become rather messianic. Now in my tradition, which is Santo Daime, there are quite specific, I guess, prohibitions. For example, on proselytizing, you’re not allowed to run around saying, “Daime’s great. You’ve gotta take it. You’d be much better if you took it,” all that kind of stuff.
0:57:06 RN: You’re specifically forbidden from saying that, and you’re also specifically forbidden from inviting people. So you’re not allowed to invite, in my tradition, and you’re not allowed to… In Portuguese, they say “Faze propaganda.” You’re not allowed to big it up, right? And part of that is because it’s kind of troublesome when people become messianic. In the indigenous traditions as well, you take your ayahuasca, but you don’t take it once and then run around telling everybody. You spend six months or you spend a year in the jungle on your own taking it, or perhaps under supervision of another shaman. In fact, there’s tribes which will say, “That next-door tribe, the reason they’ve got so many witches, so much witchcraft, is because they have dietas of only six months rather than a year.”
0:57:50 RN: Alright, so I don’t want to sound all fuddy-duddy about this, but just necking psychedelics is not really enough, I would say. I think we have to be quite careful about integrating that into our lives. And I think it’s really quite important that we don’t talk so much about how good psychedelics are, but that we lead by example, by being the kindest people that we can humanly be, the most responsible people that we can humanly be. And if people notice, “Gosh, you’re a particularly interesting person. What is it you’re doing that I’m not doing?” “Well, actually, it’s acid.” That’s another way of going at it.
0:58:25 PA: I like it. In the back door there, right? Right in the back door.
0:58:29 RN: Yeah. Basically, a lot of resistance that people have against religion, of all manner of religion, is proselytizing, is putting it in your face, ramming it down your throat. And the same can be said for psychedelics. We should go easy on people [chuckle] and allow them to make… You can say, “Well, this is what I do,” but we don’t wanna be too in-your-face about these kind of things.
0:58:52 PA: And I think that’s an excellent way to wrap up. I think that’s an excellent way to finish up this conversation that we’ve had that has been fascinating. And I’m very grateful that you came on the show and shared this knowledge with us, Danny. It’s been an excellent hour, or just over. Can you tell our listeners where they can find you and a little bit about the books that you’ve written about these topics?
0:59:12 RN: Brilliant. Okay, thank you. So my books… I’ve written two books. One of them is called “Science Revealed.” The other one is called “Neuro-Apocalypse.” They’re both out on Psychedelic Press. So, there’s psypressuk.com, I think it is, which is where you can check that one out. You can also get them on Amazon, but I would encourage you not to get them on Amazon because, basically, they are not so kind. [chuckle] They’re not as kind as we’d like them to be with their money. So if you’re gonna get it, then I would recommend you to get it on Psy Press. I’ve got a bunch of articles on there. I’ve also got articles on my website, which is www.nemusend.co.uk, and there’s a bunch of talks on there. What else is there? There’s some stuff from Breaking Convention. I’d also recommend anyone and everyone to come to Breaking Convention in England. Tickets are selling out fast on that one quickly.
1:00:08 PA: And that’s June 30 to July 2nd. Is that correct? Those are the dates?
1:00:11 RN: Yeah. Oh, I think so. I don’t know. [chuckle]
1:00:13 PA: I think so. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s June 30. It is. It’s June 30 to July 2nd, Breaking Convention in London. And Danny Nemu? Is that how I pronounce your last name?
1:00:22 RN: Yeah, well, Reverend Nemu.
1:00:23 PA: Reverend Nemu? Nemu. Okay.
1:00:25 RN: Yeah, everybody needs a title, and mine is Reverend. I actually bought that on the Internet for $15, but I used to… I’ve done many things, but I used to marry people in Japan, sometimes five couples a day. And I needed to be a proper Reverend to do that. So I got myself ordained online. But yeah, Reverend Nemu.
1:00:42 PA: That’s another story in itself that we might have to hear another time. So thanks again for sharing this time with us.
1:00:48 RN: Thanks very much, Paul. It’s been brilliant.