Academic Suicide

John Marco Allegro (1923-1988) counts among the textbook examples of respected scholars committing "academic suicide", and I have always been curious about his case. From 1953 on, he belonged to the small group of specialists who were deciphering the sensational scrolls and fragments found at Qumran in 1947, and he made his name with a book The Dead Sea Scrolls published in 1956. But then, in 1970, he published a book that he believed would cause a revolution in New Testament scholarship but that ruined his career and his reputation instead: The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East. What happened? How could he have made such a fatal misjudgment? How did he handle the fallout? What happened with him afterwards?
I hoped to find answers in a book written by Allegro's daughter Judith Anne Brown, John Marco Allegro: The Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It turned out to be a strange, partly fascinating, but ultimately disappointing read. The book starts out as a very well written and quite interesting story about a young man who, after World War II, decides to study theology in view of a clerical career but discovers a gift - turning into a passion - for ancient languages instead. While he is working on a Ph.D. in semitic languages, his supervisor recommends him to join the team of scholars working on the Qumran scrolls, and thus he arrives in Jerusalem in 1953. The story of what happened during the ensuing years - growing tensions and conflicts between the members of the scholarly team and endless delays in the publication of the scrolls, leading to frenzied media speculations and popular conspiracy theories about the church attempting to "suppress the truth" about the true origins of Christianity - has been told before, for instance by Geza Vermes (The Story of the Scrolls), and Brown provides a detailed and interesting account of her own, with an obvious emphasis on the role of her father and plenty of quotations from otherwise inaccessible correspondence. On the positive side, Allegro would seem to have been motivated by a sincere search for scholarly truth and intellectual honesty, a great enthusiasm for providing the public with reliable information about the scrolls and their implications, and a healthy disregard of theological scruples. But on the less positive side, one sees a consistent pattern of self-promotion and opportunism. Allegro seems to have understood much better than most of his colleagues that they needed to use the media to generate funding for their research; but once he had discovered his own talents as a popularizer, he seems to have gradually fallen prey to the temptations of fame and media attention.
 The sacred mushroom book marked the transition from Allegro the respected scholar to Allegro the ridiculed maverick; but unfortunately, the moment his daughter's begins discussing it in her 10th chapter, the quality of her narrative begins to decline as well. I had hoped for some historical and biographical contextualization that would help me understand where Allegro got his ideas in the first place, and what inspired him to make such a surprising and risky move.What was he reading during the 1960s? Was he familiar with authors such as Robert Graves or Gordon Wasson, who were pursuing similar agendas? Did he have any personal relations to people involved in the counterculture and the youth movement of the time? But Brown spends not a word on such questions: it looks as if for her, too, the mushroom book came suddenly and out of the blue. Unfortunately, her analysis of the mushroom book and its argument is not really convincing either. She makes a valiant attempt, but is clearly unaware of the fact that Allegro's idea of interpreting early Christianity in terms of ancient fertility cults was by no means as original as he might have thought (see, for instance, the phallicist hypothesis of religion and Christianity that was proposed by Enlightenment libertines already during the 18th century), and one gets the impression that her father's argumentation goes considerably over her head. Not that there is any shame in that: in fact The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross is a difficult book, grounded in an enormous apparatus of learned footnotes full of philological and etymological arguments referring to a whole range of ancient languages. What seems to have disappointed Allegro most is that none of his academic colleagues took the trouble to confront his argument on the level of philology and were content to dismiss it out of hand as just a cheap piece of "sex & drugs & Jesus" sensationalism.
But then again, Allegro himself was not exactly averse to sensationalism either. He loved to be in the spotlight, he got a kick out of upsetting religious or academic authorities and playing the role of the anti-establishment rebel or "martyr for truth", and became ever more sloppy and careless with his evidence and his argumentation as time wore on. His daughter's biography leaves me quite convinced about his intellectual integrity and good intentions during the first half of his career, up to and including the mushroom book, but the story ends with a rather painful account of intellectual and moral decline during the last two decades of his life.
POSTSCRIPT. By chance, this week I came across what seems to be the only recorded video interview with Allegro. For Dutch viewers of my generation this has a particular interest, for Allegro was interviewed by Kees van Kooten and Wim de Bie. At the time of the recording (1976), "Koot & Bie", as they were called, were absolutely famous in the Netherlands, because of their weekly satirical TV program "Het Simplistisch Verbond" (the Simplistic Alliance). Non-Dutch viewers may not even notice, but Allegro was walking with open eyes into a trap by accepting to be questioned by these two: to any regular viewer of "Het Simplistisch Verbond", it would be obvious that Koot & Bie could not possibly have serious intentions but were out to make fun of him all along. And they succeed brilliantly: precisely by making him believe they are genuinely interested, they let poor Allegro do all the work for them. Note how, during the course of the interview, they slowly creep up to Allegro from both sides, until the situation gets so claustrofobic that Kees van Kooten suggests they should get a breath of fresh air. Outside in the garden they are wearing their famous black barets with buttons of "The Simplistic Alliance" (logo: a carpet-beater), while Allegro, in blissful innocence, continues assisting them in his own self-demolition, even arguing at one point that Jesus' cross reflects the shape of a mushroom... It's all very comical, but ultimately very tragic too: even six years after his book was published, Allegro still does not seem to have understood the impression he was making, and still believed that foreign journalists were knocking on his door for no other reason than a serious interest to learn his scholarly opinions about the birth of Christianity as a mushroom cult.


  1. This is a most interesting glimpse into the rather extraordinary saga of John Marco Allegro. The controversy around his radical ideas is very much alive today, and indeed still provides Jan Irvin's principle motive for his far-reaching extrapolations and investigations into the greater psychedelic context of the Wasson/Allegro/Leary et al. MKUltra era and the strange fallout it produced. The impact of those bizarre adventures has been simply colossal, resonating through and informing the current revival of interest in psychoactive mysticism ~ a mycotrophic spectre cloaked in the dark guise of covert political intelligence. There is a good deal more to this remarkable story than one might immediately surmise. Fascinating indeed.

  2. It seems the author has not read my Holy Mushroom book.

  3. I've got to wonder what specific citations in SMC this author's referring to, as they all checked out when I went through them. It would be nice if he took the onus of proof and provided some examples outside of those that I already addressed.

    Also, Allegro got the idea from Prof. John Ramsbottom and Robert Graves, as cited in Allegro's book.

    I posted the video of the comedians. It was located on the Allegro website. Dutch mycologist Gerrit Keizer sent it to me after he retrieved it from the BBC archives.

    It's absolutely absurd that Allegro got the idea from Wasson. Allegro went public on Oct. 13, 1967 regarding his mushroom / drug hypothesis for Judeo-Christianity. Of course Wasson didn't even publish Soma until 1968. That an academic could even suggest this is poor research on his part.

    It's time researchers learn to use primary documents and stop with all of this long ago disproved speculation and dragging up others' unfounded opinions instead of doing actual research.

    Not to be rude, but it seems the author of this article is at least 4 years behind on current research.

    I also published the first ancient primary canonized text discussing "the holy mushroom". Allegro wasn't wrong in any way shape or form.

    Furthermore, the author seems also ignorant of Prof. John Rush's work and 3 books exposing all of this, including 200 Christian icons showing the mushroom. My own "The Holy Mushroom" book published 43 such images, one from France clearly depicting Jesus as the mushroom.

    It would be nice if academics would at least get up to speed on current research before they drag out old, disproved junk again. It's a simple matter of using Allegro's citations - you know, the 150 pages of notes in the back of his book.

  4. Anonymous: given your repeated references to "my book", it would help if you told us who you are. As for my poor research on Wasson & neglect of primary sources, let me remind you of the famous "Seeking the Magic Mushroom" article published in Life magazine as early as 1957.

  5. The title of my book is above (name is on the cover – J. R. Irvin) and will come up in any and every search on John Allegro or The Sacred Mushroom, whether online such as Google, or in the academic searches, such as Jstor. As you're an academic writing on this very subject and repeating old fairy tales, I find little excuse for you overlooking the work, much less not having checked any primary documentation.

    Wasson's Life magazine article does not promote mushrooms in Christianity in any way, and is in fact about Psilocybe mushrooms in Hualta de Jiminez - Mexico - an entirely different variety, location, people, et al, and not about Christianity.

    Wasson, for your information, was Vice President of Propaganda for JP Morgan Bank, trained personally by Edward Bernays (the founder of propaganda, Freud's nephew), and that Life Magazine article was orchestrated by two of Wasson's bosses - Henry P. Davison, who was a founder and director of Time-Life Inc and a Skull & Bonesman, and also This Week magazine in which Valentina's article was published - also run by another director of JP Morgan Guarantee Trust - Joseph P. Knapp. The entire thing was a PR campaign - orchestrated. Wasson himself also worked at the CFR under Allen Dulles, the head of the CIA, and ran various project with Allen Dulles directly. Both Allen and Wasson headed the Century Club together - I have their personal letters. Of course Dulles was key behind MKULTRA. All evidence points to Wasson being an MKULTRA and CIA man.
    Wasson launched the campaign against Allegro himself to cover up their own lies and distortions of the research - all of which I published in the above mentioned book in 2008.
    But I entirely fail to grasp your reasoning of this citation to the Life Magazine article, as it references absolutely nothing about this subject, other than mushrooms themselves - in a broad sense - and is therefore a red herring to the facts of the matter...You may as well have cited Alice in Wonderland... especially when I already pointed out to you Prof. John Ramsbottom, who had published about the Plaincourault Fresco long before Wasson, as had the French Mycological Association back in 1910 or 1912 – and the fact that Allegro cites Ramsbottom as a primary source. Ramsbottom had published Wasson's personal letter to him (pg. 48), telling him to tote the official story line... Allegro caught the letter in Ramsbottom's book, see Ramsbottom, 1954, pg. 48, and Allegro ch. 9, note 20 "rightly or wrongly".. It's all right there in Allegro's citations! No reason for your speculations of academic theft!

  6. Allegro proved Wasson wrong by quoting his own words in the Times Literary Supplement. The entire academic world missed it... because they failed to bother with Allegro's citations, much less to follow up on what he was saying... as you exemplify here.

    "Allegro to TLS, written 31 August, pub. 11 September 1970
    Sir, Is it too much to hope that persons who presume to comment critically on my book, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, would read it thoroughly first? ***Mr Gordon Wasson’s (August 21) objections to the mycologists’ identification of the Plaincourault fresco’s tree of good and evil as the Amanita muscaria are ***quoted verbatim in n. 20 to chapter IX.****** [emphasis added]
    One other point: “others” have not, in fact, “treated thoroughly” my philological evidence for the identification of the mushroom cult and mythology in the ancient Near East. Adequately to assess the results of this major advance in language relationships, now presented for the first time in published form, will require much longer unemotional study by competent philologians than has yet been possible. Until this has been done, laymen would be well advised to ignore the kind of emotive criticism of my work so far expressed by clerical and other reviewers and read the whole book for themselves.
    Furthermore, the argument and false accusations have never been that Allegro some how took it from Life magazine. As you seem to be keen on repeating Jon Ott’s ad hominem attacks, you should be aware that the argument, that Wasson himself denied, was that Allegro took it from Soma.
    “Wasson to Arthur Crook, Ed., TLS, 16 September 1970
    I think Allegro must have got his idea of the fly-agaric from us, yet his book does not show any influence by us, apart from the fly-agaric.
    ~ R. Gordon Wasson”

    In fact, Wasson published almost nothing on mushrooms in Judeo-Christianity, and in fact attacked any and every scholar who attempted to investigate the matter, and set up a fallacious argument to prevent scholars from looking, which apparently you bought.
    Are you even aware that Wasson admitted to never having read Allegro's book before he launched an entire PR campaign against him?

  7. "Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, has recounted to me on several occasions his telephone conversation with Wasson in February 1984. Herer had just spent six months examining many of Allegro’s references. He called Wasson to ask him personally why he felt Allegro’s work was incorrect. As Herer recalls the conversation, Wasson informed him that he had actually been too busy to read Allegro’s book, and that two respected friends, a Jewish Rabbi and a Catholic Monsignor, reviewed it and reported back to him that “there was not one single word of truth in the book whatsoever.” (See the Appendix for a full transcript of Herer’s conversation with Wasson.) In conversations and emails, [Prof. Carl A. P.] Ruck confirmed Herer’s statements."

    "Allegro goes on to reference chapter IX, footnote 20. Footnote 20 is a contradictory statement by Wasson. In SMC, chapter 9, Allegro describes the fresco as recalling the tradition of the Eden story as mushroom-based mythology: “Even as late as the thirteenth century some recollection of the old tradition was known among Christians, to judge from a fresco painted on the wall of a ruined church in Plaincourault in France (pl. 2). There the Amanita muscaria is gloriously portrayed, entwined with a serpent, while Eve stands by holding her belly.” Allegro continues in note 20 to this chapter: ‘Despite rejection of identity of the subject (“rightly or wrongly”) as being a mushroom by R. Gordon Wasson: “for almost a half-century mycologists have been under a misapprehension on this matter” (qu. Ramsbottom op. cit. p. 48)’."
    “The 2nd (1954) edition states on pg. 48:
    Addendum: “Rightly or wrongly, we are going to reject the Plaincourault fresco as representing a mushroom. This fresco gives us a stylized motif in Byzantine and Romanesque art of which hundreds of examples are well known to art historians, and on which the German art historians bestow, for convenience in discussion, the name Pilzbaum. It is an iconograph representing the Palestinian tree that was supposed to bear the fruit that tempted Eve, whose hands are held in the posture of modesty traditional for the occasion. For almost a half century mycologists have been under a misapprehension on this matter. We studied the fresco in situ in 1952.” – Wasson, private letter of December 21, 1953”

    But your reply only further emphasizes your poor research on the matter, and your willingness to bring up irrelevant data to defend it.
    May I recommend you get yourself current with the research so that you understand what you're getting yourself entangled in?
    If you're going to attempt to enter the field of ethnomycology, then it helps to be current on the subjects and researches and not repeat disproved lies, as it reveals a lack of competence and inability to check primary documentation.
    A debate will go very poorly for you regarding John Allegro.
    You may be the great Dr. Hanegraaff, but if you're incapable of primary research and keeping current, it means absolutely nothing. I could provide you hundreds of facts and citations, but it seems clear that you’ve already made up your mind and are only here to defend what someone else told you to believe, rather than checking it yourself...

  8. A comparison of the effects of Soma with those of the Amanita muscaria and cannabis was first proposed in the book Scatalogic [sic] Rites of All Nations by John G. Bourke, 1891. The author dedicated more than 30 pages (pp. 65-99) to the study of the ritualistic use of mushrooms, including the Siberian Amanita muscaria urine-drinking custom, and Mexican mushroom practices. This is probably where Wasson first learned of the ritualistic use of mushrooms, urine consumption, and Soma. On page 98 is a letter to Bourke by a Dr. J. W. Kingsley:

    I remember being shown this fungus by an Englishman who was returning [...] from Siberia. He fully confirmed all that I had heard on the subject, having seen the orgy [mushroom rituals] himself. ... Nothing religious in this, you may say; but look at the question a little closer and you will see that these 'intoxicants,' [...] were at first looked upon as media able to raise the mere man up to a level with his gods, and enable him to communicate with them, as was certainly the case with the 'soma' of the Hindu ecstatics and the hashich [sic] I have seen used by some tribes of Arabs.

    Most scholars claim that Wasson was the progenitor of these ideas, but this is not wholly accurate. It appears that Wasson may have 'borrowed' several key ideas from Bourke's research and expanded upon them throughout his career, subsequently creating the field of ethnomycology. Thereafter it appears that Bourke was relegated mostly to rare catalogue and bibliographical entries published by Wasson and a few other scholars of his ilk. However, Bourke is not to be found, as one should expect him to be, given the extent of his studies on the subject, in the main body of text in most of the books published on the subject for the last half century.

  9. J. P. Morgan, Jr. was also involved in mushroom research, and, as Donald H. Pfister points out in Mycologia, Morgan appears to have funded Harvard’s Herbaria:

    In 1928, Wasson entered the banking world and joined the Guaranty Trust Company of New York. He spent extended periods of time in Argentina and London. In 1934, he joined the staff of J. P. Morgan and Co. (which merged with Guaranty Trust to become Morgan Guaranty Trust) and remained with the firm until 1963, from 1943 as a vice president. The Morgan connection is an interesting one upon which I will digress for a moment. J. P. Morgan, Jr. (Harvard, class of 1889) took courses with Farlow and wrote an undergraduate thesis under his direction. He was a student while Roland Thaxter was a graduate student. If Harvard tradition represents the situation correctly, Morgan was devoted to mycology. His generosity was important, particularly to Thaxter, during the period of the establishment of the Farlow Reference Library and Herbarium as a separately endowed unit. In a letter to Farlow upon that man's 70th birthday, Morgan thanked Farlow for allowing him to work under "your inspiring presence." Certainly something mycological lived on at Morgan Guaranty Trust with Wasson as a vice president.
    ~ Donald H. Pfister

    In a future essay or book, I’ll also show that J. P. Morgan, Sr. was also interested in collecting mushroom art in relation to Shakespeare from as early as the 1850s.

  10. J.P. Morgan Bank and Skull and Bones Created Time-Life Inc.

    Wasson’s direct boss at J. P. Morgan was Henry P. Davison Jr. Davison was a senior partner and generally regarded as Morgan’s personal emissary. As it turns out, it was Henry P. Davison who essentially created (or at least funded) the Time-Life magazines for J.P. Morgan in 1923. After a row with Henry Luce for publishing an article against the war for Britain in Life, Davison “became the company’s first investor in Time magazine and a company director.”

    Another J.P. Morgan partner, Dwight Morrow, also helped to finance the Time-Life start-up.
    Davison kept Henry Luce in charge of the company as president, as he and Luce were both members of Yale’s Skull and Bones secret society, being initiated in 1920. In 1946 Davison and Luce then made C. D. Jackson, former head of U.S. Psychological Warfare, vice-president of Time-Life. It seems to me that the entire operation at Time-Life was purely for spreading propaganda to the American public for the purposes of the intelligence community, J.P. Morgan, and the elite.
    On a side note, Henry P. Davison’s brother Frederick Trubee Davison was Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of War, and also became Director of Personnel for the CIA. Frederick was also a Skull and Bonesman, initiated in 1918. Frederick’s son, Daniel P. Davison, also became a banker and a Skull and Bonesman, 1949, and headed United States Trust.
    Yet another Skull and Bonesman behind the establishment of Time-Life was Briton Hadden, who worked with Davison, Luce and Morrow in setting up the organization. Hadden was also initiated into Skull and Bones in 1920. The list of Bonesmen that tie in directly to Wasson and his clique is astounding, and also includes people like Averell Harriman, initiated 1913, who worked with Wasson at the CFR , and was a director there. Harriman was a financial backer of the Nazi Party until 1938, as was Prescott Bush, initiated to Skull and Bones in 1917.

    In the Executive Intelligence Review of June 25, 2004, Steven P. Meyer and Jeffrey Steinberg explain:

    Luce's personal lawyer, who would come to represent his entire media empire, was his brother-in-law Tex Moore, of Cravath, deGersdorff, Swaine and Wood, the same firm which deployed both Allen and John Foster Dulles to facilitate bringing Hitler to power in the early 1930s.

    Luce was an intimate of Britain's Lord Beaverbrook and the Prince of Wales, who were notoriously pro-Hitler and members of the Cliveden set. He also formed an extremely close relationship with Winston Churchill, himself a promoter of Hitler in the early 1930s. [emphasis – mine]

    Documents also reveal that Luce was a member of the Century Club, an exclusive “art club” that Wasson had much ado with and may have held some position with, and which was filled with members of the intelligence and banking community. Members such as George Kennan, Walter Lippmann and Frank Altschul appear to have been nominated to the Century Club by Wasson himself. Graham Harvey in Shamanism says that Luce and Wasson were friends, and this is how he came to publish in Life:

    A New York investment banker, Wasson was well acquainted with the movers and shakers of the Establishment. Therefore, it was natural that he should turn to his friend Henry Luce, publisher of Life, when he needed a public forum in which to announce his discoveries.
    ~ Graham Harvey

  11. It was Luce, Wasson’s friend, who featured Hitler as man of the year for 1938 in the January 2, 1939, issue of Time.

    However, here’s the most common mythical version of the story that we’ve all been fed – as told by Time magazine in 2007:

    Wasson and his buddy's mushroom trip might have been lost to history, but he was so enraptured by the experience that on his return to New York, he kept talking about it to friends. As Jay Stevens recalls in his 1987 book Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream, one day during lunch at the Century Club, an editor at Time Inc. (the parent company of TIME) overheard Wasson's tale of adventure. The editor commissioned a first-person narrative for Life.

    And being that this article was written in the post-Luce and Jackson age, the author was a little more candid about the Wasson/Luce/J.P. Morgan/psychedelic revolution connections:

    After Wasson's article was published, many people sought out mushrooms and the other big hallucinogen of the day, LSD. (In 1958, Time Inc. cofounder Henry Luce and his wife Clare Booth Luce dropped acid with a psychiatrist. Henry Luce conducted an imaginary symphony during his trip, according to Storming Heaven.) The most important person to discover drugs through the Life piece was Timothy Leary himself. Leary had never used drugs, but a friend recommended the article to him, and Leary eventually traveled to Mexico to take mushrooms. Within a few years, he had launched his crusade for America to "turn on, tune in, drop out." In other words, you can draw a woozy but vivid line from the sedate offices of J.P. Morgan and Time Inc. in the '50s to Haight-Ashbury in the '60s to a zillion drug-rehab centers in the '70s. Long, strange trip indeed.

    In The Sacred Mushroom Seeker, a third version of this story is told by Allan Richardson:

    Sometime just before or soon after our return from the ’56 expedition, Gordon and I were dining at the Century Club in New York. He noticed Ed Thompson, the managing editor of Life magazine, alone at a table nearby, and asked him to join us. We talked about the article Gordon was working on to publicize what he’d discovered in Mexico. Thompson said Life might be interested in publishing it, and invited us to make a presentation at his offices.
    ~ Allan Richardson (Richardson in Riedlinger 1990/1997. p. 199)

    As we noted above, nowhere do these accounts mention Valentina’s own write-up in This Week magazine, which was coincidently released that same week (May 19, 1957) to 12 million newspaper subscribers. Also coincidently, This Week was published by Joseph P. Knapp, who was a director of Morgan’s Guarantee Trust, where Wasson had begun working for Morgan in 1928.

    In light of the above, the idea that Wasson published his “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” article in May, 1957, in Life, due to a “chance meeting with an editor” seems ridiculous. In fact, Abby Hoffman is quoted as saying that Luce did more to popularize LSD than Timothy Leary (who first learned of mushrooms through Wasson’s Life article). Luce’s own wife, Clare Boothe Luce, who was, interestingly, also a member of the CFR, agreed:

    I’ve always maintained that Henry Luce did more to popularize acid than Timothy Leary. Years later I met Clare Boothe Luce at the Republican convention in Miami. She did not disagree with this opinion. America’s version of the Dragon Lady caressed my arm, fluttered her eyes and cooed, “We wouldn’t want everyone doing too much of a good thing.”
    ~ Abbie Hoffman

  12. BTW, the above image of John Allegro is one that I've not provided you permission to use, though you may do so. Though it was taken from Wikipedia, the person who posted it there took it from me illegally.

    Also, the above image of Allegro's SMC, 40th anniversary edition is not the proper copy and has someone's illegal signature at the bottom of it. I've not authorized such a presentation or change of the cover.

  13. I'm releasing all CIA documents related to Wasson and MKULTRA Subproject 58 (aka Life Magazine May 13, 1957 Seeking the Magic Mushroom).

    These documents prove that the CIA paid for and funded the Life magazine article that was largely behind launching the psychedelic movement. We'll be doing a critical analysis soon to show how the CIA is misleading people by inserting the word "unwitting" while Wasson already worked with the CIA, CFR, and Century Club with Allen Dulles - as the other documents reveal. More documents will be released soon, but these are the core documents that should put anyone's doubt to rest.

    I've included a letterhead from Wasson at JP Morgan to compare to the CIA archives where the letterhead and name, etc, has been blotted out. A little forensic analysis reveals that indeed it's Wasson's. The documents further reveal that J.P. Morgan Bank was the subcontractor for MKULTRA Subproject 58. J.P. Morgan directors Henry P. Davison, and Joseph P. Knapp were also directors of both Life Magazine and This Week Magazine from which the Seeking the Magic Mushroom article and Valentina's article (both to now be known as MKULTRA Subproject 58) were published.

    Please share far and wide. We must wake people up to the fact that MKULTRA is ongoing.

    Anyone who was involved in the psychedelic revolution, or who took psychedelics as a result of this program, are direct victims of the CIA's Project MKULTRA. This should open the floodgates to tens of thousands of new MKULTRA lawsuits against the CIA.

    Jan Irvin

  14. LOL Jan Irvin *rolls eyes*

  15. I am yet another anonymous

    Jan Irvin is a driven, sincere and emotional man, but that doesn't make him right. Of course Allegro could have got his idea from Wasson's 57 piece. He is a scholar in Semitic languages, he is interested in mushrooms, he cooks up a theory that mixes the two and boom, he loses all credit. Experts are not always as rational as we think.

    Christianity cannot have stemmed from a mushroom cult. First, because no "Magic Mushrooms" worth the name grow in the parts where Christianity started, and that's counting the Greek world, the Roman world, etc. Amanita Muscaria was only used in remote Siberia, but even then, it was not really traditional. "Intoxication by mushrooms also produces contacts with the spirits, but in a passive and crude way. This technique appears to be late and derivative. Intoxication is a mechanical and corrupt method of producing "ecstasy", being "carried out of oneself". It tries to imitate a model that is earlier and that belongs to another plane of reference." (Mircea Eliade about the Siberians, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, 1951)

    Amanita Muscaria did grow in Europe and the Mediterranean area, it was always seen as a poisonous plant and nothing else. The same happened for the ergot fungus. The middle-ages lived in dread of it, as it sometimes found its way into the bread, and made whole villages go crazy. They were not amused.

    Historically, the ritual use of the mushrooms is circumscribed to parts of South America and parts of Siberia.

    And that should close the matter. Save of course for New Age buffs, who like nothing better than mixing things up: a bit of tantrism, some badly digested Freudian lore, some South American mushrooms, Indian Chakras thrown in along with Chinese acupuncture, add a dose of Druidism, a bit of old European fairy lore, one or two angels from Christianity and of course, modern personal development techniques. Shake well, end up with nothing recognizable. Let alone even remotely useful.
    But then, de gustibus...

  16. Interesting essay. As reflects, motive is no doubt key in the case, ‘mystery' if one likes, of Allegro's academic suicide - or 'intellectual suicide' as noted by Wattiaux, in “The John Allegro Affair: Some Etymological Observations.” As he asks, “How could such a brilliant scholar have committed intellectual suicide by maintaining this shocking theory? Nobody has offered any plausible answer."

    This essay suggests "Allegro would seem to have been motivated by a sincere search for scholarly truth and intellectual honesty ..." – true to Wattiaux. Such suggestion, no matter how its sliced - sounds a dubious note.

    How might one 'not so sure' of Allegro's supposed sincerity and honesty, discover such virtue of motive (if factual, true)? That these are Allegro’s ‘true colors' (especially relative to his ‘Sacred Mushroom & ...”) sounds like something one might “like to think” - if he could. But how might one reach such an impression?

    How has such an impression been gathered here? What method is applied to the motive question, yielding what evidence for such reassuring note?

    As stated forthrightly enough, no dodging – it was “his daughter's biography” that left our blog host “quite convinced about [Allegro's] intellectual integrity and good intentions during the first half of his career, up to and including the mushroom book ..."

    Fair enough. And I’m sure Brown offers a poignant testimonial to her father's good name. No doubt blood is thicker than water. But in the wake of Allegro’s crestfallen reputation – can his daughter’s impassioned plea be construed as evidence material to something as conplex, potentially, as his motive?

    Brown's statements are neither sworn testimony - nor those of an impartial, nonpartisan witness with nothing at stake, no personal interest.

    To sympathize with a grieving daughter’s eulogy may be well meant, on sentiment. But to spare it from cross exam on privilege, giving it ‘safe passage’ – undermines this nonetheless interesting essay. Taking her ‘character witnessing’ at face value, to reach such a sanguine conclusion about what made Allegro tick would hardly pass as sound method for inferring motive. Quite contrary, it resembles a lack of due diligence - critical rigor missing in action If the motive question applies to Allegro, how would his daughter be exempt? In any context, much less that of reality?

    To spare Brown from question seems a ‘noble’ gesture - as if acquitting her father from suspicion of any less honorable motive, on her behalf - resembles an olive branch offer of ‘partial credit’ for effort if not achievement – to soften a flunking grade, as assigned, for Allegro's cockamamie theorizing. As the above essay reflects, the question of motive is undoubtedly the key. But the attempt upon it here seems abortive - opening question only to close it a bit hastily. And without minimal, routine gumshoe work-up it might be due.

    Nothing against philology, mycology, social sciences, religious studies or comparative religion etc. Those fields have vital roles to play. But they hardly offer a theoretical framework or methodology, for investigation into motive. Perhaps such a fundamental consideration ties in with the persistence of puzzlement or mystery, a sense of some unaccounted sum, in the strange case of John Allegro. Indeed, it doesn’t add up.

    Still kudos for an interesting essay, thoughtful - boldly going into a subject, the ground of which seems crisscrossed with trip wires (ahem). Albeit on the evidence, explanation-wise, I’m not so sure about an ‘innocent routine’ for this Allegro business. To put it mildly.


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