Why Animals Eat Psychactive Plants

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    In Vietnam, the water buffalo have always shunned the local opium plants. They don’t like them. But when the American bombs started to fall all around them during the war, the buffalo left their normal grazing grounds, broke into the opium fields, and began to chew. They would then look a little dizzy and dulled. When they were traumatized, it seems, they wanted — like the mongoose, like us — to escape from their thoughts.


    Thousands of people were streaming in to a ten-day festival in September where they were planning — after a long burst of hard work — to find some chemical release, relaxation, and revelry. They found drugs passed around the crowd freely, to anybody who wanted them.


    Some people came back every year because they loved this experience so much. As the crowd thronged and yelled and sang, it became clear it was an extraordinary mix of human beings. There were farmers who had just finished their harvest, and some of the biggest celebrities around. Their names—over the years—included Sophocles, Aristotle, Plato, and Cicero.

    The annual ritual in the Temple at Eleusis, eighteen kilometers northwest of Athens, was a drug party on a vast scale. It happened every year for two thousand years, and anybody who spoke the Greek language was free to come.


    There was some political grumbling for years that women were behaving too freely during their trances, but this annual festival ended only when the drug party crashed into Christianity. The early Christians wanted there to be one route to ecstasy, and one route only – through prayer to their God. You shouldn’t feel anything that profound or pleasurable except in our ceremonies at our churches.

    This is a good read for those who wonder about the current trends to roll back on our massive prohibition efforts today.


    Early Christians spoke of a “route to ecstasy”? That’s news to me.

    Christians likely and rightly spoke out against debauchery for the sake of those involved in it–to save them from damnation.

    At any rate, here in the US one is free to get drunk, watch pornography, participate in an orgy, impregnate his girlfriend and legally dispose of the inconvenient fetus, etc. etc. what’s left to roll back?

    What’s left is to silence the Christians and to make them change their beliefs to conform to the political whims of the day.


    this was common. One could also see it in the early responses to rock and roll. More conservative religion sees it as competition and frames it in sin terms to marginalize it’s appeal, or cultivate guilt over enjoyment in the same way we see over drugs and booze today.

    I experienced this growing up, and made the music drug connection early. When I asked, I was given frank answers in line with that piece.

    The core realization isn’t that religion is bad or anything. It is that we need to continue the science and follow through with fact based, data driven policy.

    That was why I put it here.

    Edit: Go and read on history and religion. Many cultures and their various faiths associated changes in consciousness with spirituality and or their own well being, medicine, enlightenment, etc…

    If there is any advocacy to be done right now, it’s to very seriously question our goals, intended outcomes, risks, costs, benefits.

    That too is why I put it here.

    The current drug free / zero tolerance framing on these things is a serious failure and it’s expensive. Our cost and risk exposure as people is over the top crappy, and worse, we can’t point to equally serious material benefits to warrant those costs and risks.

    Why do it that way then?

    Fair, and timely questions, if you ask me.


    Well, Jer, it looks like your Biblical scholarship is lacking.

    “…To separate pleasure from God is impossible. Follow happiness to its end and you will find God. The world endorses every route that leads to happiness. A lot of billboards promise happiness, but their end is death. He is the fountainhead of bliss. In 2 Corinthians 12, we read of the apostle Paul being the subject of an “inexpressible ecstasy.” This is beyond human explanation. The gospel comes as a heartfelt revelation.



    One does wonder…

    There is a material difference between recognizing how our basic public policy differs from social norms.

    Again, in the hopes more of you read this, Lessig outlines the forces that regulate behavior. They are: money and markets, norms, law, physics.

    Get the PDF here: http://codev2.cc/download+remix/Lessig-Codev2.pdf

    Start on page 135, as typed into the Adobe PDF program. This may vary on your reader, so you are looking for Chapter 7, “What Things Regulate”

    It’s about 20 pages. Might not take an hour, though it could, if you think about it, which I did for some considerable time. Still do.

    In that book, the purpose of the chapter is to help people understand how computer code can act as law, yet isn’t subject to the review and social contract law is. Different, but important topic.

    Set that aside, unless you want to discuss. By all means, start a thread and let’s do that.

    Do think through those forces and give norms and laws a hard look.

    Religion is about norms, not laws. That’s the intent of our system in the USA, and it’s why we don’t have things like clerics, or Sharia law. It’s also why many of us find attempt to embody religion in law. Religion may well offer great guidance and insight. This is for each of us to judge.

    The law, being common to all, needs rational justification, or a very broad, mutual agreement as to it’s applicability.

    This difference is very poorly understood. “There ought to be a law…” is heard very frequently in a lot of contexts where it shouldn’t be, and it’s heard because people simply do not understand how these things work.

    (which is why the PDF is there)

    In these modern times, making law based on the doctrine, or teachings, testimonies, beliefs, etc… inherent in religion is complete bullshit. Doing that is an insult to our way of life, founding values, etc…

    However, all of those things can, do, and should contribute to norms people can choose to follow and potentially benefit from.

    And that’s the difference.

    Nobody wants to silence Christians. They remain free to advocate their way of life and their peers completely free to hear it, or not, as they see makes the best sense for them.

    The line gets drawn at law, a discussion we’ve had here many times before.

    Christians, who are attempting to actualize their faith in law, can, are, and should very consistently and regularly be spoken out against.

    That too isn’t silencing, as they remain free to continue their advocacy for their way of life to which they are entitled to.

    But they don’t get to make choices for everyone, and that is what law does, and that is why establishing social norms with religion makes sense and using it as the basis for law does not.

    In parts of the world where this distinction is not yet actualized in the State and it’s binding documents, people get killed, maimed, flogged, tortured, imprisoned, and worse for nothing more than somebody says God says it’s OK to do that.

    Not here. Not ever.

    Yes, it is that important. For all the crying about the potential for Sharia law here, I’m regularly and consistently stunned at the blindness to the same dynamics being promoted by various religious entities here, all making some religious claim to the nation that has no basis in fact, nor law, at all.

    Go ahead. Read it. Get educated. The whole book is good, but that chapter should make the basic dynamics in play clear enough.


    A few weeks ago, I saw part of an interesting PBS documentary on prohibition. They explained (as is well known) that anti-saloon and anti alcohol advocacy in the late 19th and early 20th century started in religious communities. The details in the following paragraphs were not in my school history classes, and they were new information to me.

    Once the anti-alcohol rhetoric started to pick up steam, people from various parts of the political spectrum got on board, for various reasons. The KKK and similar groups believed that alcohol caused members of racial minorities to become unruly, especially toward White women. Prominent Black advocates believed that alcohol hurt the social and economic progress of Blacks. Even atheists and humanists supported anti-alcohol rhetoric, citing social and health problems brought about by excessive drinking.

    What made prohibition happen was the extreme xenophobia that existed in that era. Drinking was associated with Irish and German immigrants. During World War I, anti-German sentiments hit a peak. A German immigrant named Robert Prager was lynched by a mob on suspicion of espionage. Even dachshunds were stoned to death because. By 1920, there was enough support for a prohibition amendment, and the rest was history.


    Interesting take Alfredo.

    I’m shocked at the killing of dogs. That really was bad.

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