A Closer Look at the Influences for Our Society

     In class we’ve talked about how Ovid suggested that his love interest not drink what her boyfriend/husband fellow gives her. It makes sense; if Ovid likes this girl he doesn’t want to see her go home with some guy when she’s inebriated. Anyways, these beverages were made of wine mixed with water, spices, and herbs such as barley.  Often found in wild grass around the Mediterranean is a fungus called ergot that infests barley, and, as chemists would later figure out, contains an alkaloid used in the making of LSD.  These beverages potentially made people more than just drunk.

     So this mixture, called kykeon, was used for more than just recreational activities. At Eleusinian festivals, this psychedelic drink was used to open one’s mind to the mystical world. One of the reasons these events were called the Eleusinian Mysteries is because the contents of the drink are unknown. It has not been proven that the fungus ergot created these effects, but it is a likely possibility.

     And even if the wine that they drank was neat, they drank a lot. They attended orgies and used narcotics for night caps (or permanent sleep aids for one’s enemy). But were they really so bad? The ancients are god-fearing folk, the forefathers of art, science, religion, and philosophy. Should we trust them on their exploration of consciousness, too? Albert Hoffman, the inventor of LSD and Eleusinian Mystery investigator thinks, “If the hypothesis that an LSD-like consciousness-altering drug was present in the kykeon is correct – and there are good arguments in its favour – then the Eleusinian Mysteries have a relevance for our time in not only a spiritual-existential sense, but also with respect to the question of the controversial use of consciousness-altering compounds to attain mystical insights into the riddle of life.” 

     People back in the Hellenistic era didn’t care if you were a drug addict, alcoholic, homosexual, nymphomaniac, etc. They were focused on themselves, on furthering their empire and broadening self-actualization.  I don’t think any other society has contributed as much to Western civilization, so why aren’t we considering those beliefs still? Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, and many other great minds were all believed to attend Eleusinian festivals in an attempt to understand the world. We trusted them enough to base our society off of them, I mean maybe they had a point. I think we need to open ourselves up to new things, and I’m only using drugs as an example. I don’t actually suggest you go on a week long acid trip. However, I do suggest people stop micromanaging what goes on in other people’s personal lives and instead focus on the big picture: improving ones self and today’s empire, because both need it. 



Source Scavenger Hunt! I searched ‘kykeon’ on yippy.com and found my csp.org source about half way down the first page. Then I traced the references from that site to my source from the Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness. I read a lot about the Eleusinian Mysteries from other websites like this one (found by searching ‘kykeon’ on academicindex.net and clicking the second entry), but a good amount I didn’t include because they weren’t credible. I think the sites I chose are valid because of the validator.w3.org website and because a lot of their sources seemed credible, too, which was a good sign. 


2 thoughts on “A Closer Look at the Influences for Our Society

  1. Steve Maiullo

    This is a neat post, and I think for your next one you should think a bit about what the Eleusinian Mysteries were all about (a good place to start wopuld be here: http://books.google.com/books id=Zg9dGPXn5FkC&pg=PA99&lpg=PA99&dq=Eleusinian+Mysteries+sarah+iles+johnston&source=bl&ots=UazHMrmJ2X&sig=Y8JH00uLBd_eyfGKpVPYdNK28iI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5u9iUdntC9L1qAHc94GoAg&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=Eleusinian%20Mysteries%20sarah%20iles%20johnston&f=false).

    As a side note, I’d avoid phrases like this: “People back in the Hellenistic era didn’t care if you were a drug addict, alcoholic, homosexual, nymphomaniac, etc. They were focused on themselves, on furthering their empire and broadening self-actualization,”: mainly because i don’t understand it and because it’s a broad sweeping claim that is almost certainly “true” but also “false” (yes, that broad).

    But this is a really good start, and I think you are on a fruitful path.

  2. hopeadvancedlatin Post author

    I think that was a great thought. Sometimes we think some things are relatively recent in our history, but chances are (if it’s not technological) it’s been done before. The book of Ecclesiastes captures it, “That which has been is what will be, “That which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us.” Maybe they didn’t call it LSD, but lo and behold, there it was. Kind of reminds me of parents. During our young teenage years, many of us thought our parents just couldn’t understand because they knew nothing of what we were going through. Hopefully, most of us have realized by now that, yes, they do understand because they have “been there, done that.” They probably just had different terminology for everything–that’s just the generational gap. But otherwise, there’s nothing new under the sun.



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