Religious Visions and Psychoactive Plants


Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala) is widespread in Biblical areas and is noted on Gebel Musa, the likely Mt. Sinai of Moses (Hobbs). Persian rug makers would use its seeds to make a dye for their carpets. As this would penetrate their skin, it would induce visions, giving rise to the belief in "magic carpets."

Furthermore, a specific desert acacia named Sant (Saint?), a host tree of the mistletoe-like loranthus, may be Moses 'burning bush' and the original manna (Graves), which is the prime oracular tree of Canaan. If so, then Moses could have had access to a psychedelic potion much like the South American ayahuasca.

The vision of Moses is not dissimilar to those of the Prophet Muhammad during his night journey to heaven on the axis mundi.

"It is related from the Prophet that over each leaf and seed of the isfand plant (Syrian Rue) an angel is appointed so that through its bark and roots and branches grief and sorcery are set aside" Baqir Majlisi (Rudgley).

An old hadith (Islamic saying) relates that in seeking a solution to the cowardice of his followers, Muhammad was told by Allah to command them to consume isfand in order to make them brave (Rudgley). In the garden of paradise Allah also has a sacred drink spiced with ginger. This suggests an intriguing possibility that the inspiration of Muhammad's vision could have been the Vedic Soma itself and that this vision is comparable with that of the Vine of the Soul.