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Michael! This piece came together well. You refined for flow and kept the depth accessible and impactful.

I know we've discussed this together, but I'll say here I believe the earliest rites of passages should still be the baptism (public proclamation) and the wilderness (fasting and facing temptation). To me , consumption still seems like the curse and fasting the true trip.

I do believe that at the core of religion should be a mystical discipline. Though I don't believe this should be something paywalled behind a priest. I don't know if I mentioned John's time on Patmos during our discussions as I know we were more focused on Paul, but Johns seemingly self guided experience to me at least are more accessible and encouraging. But who knows, Patmos is only a short trireme ride from Athens and the mysteries!

We should continue to explore the lost components of these rites, and religion holistically. I can't remember who said this but it has stuck with me that the temple of Solomon must have smelt like a cross between a den of incense and a barbecue pit.

The related readings I'm exploring now are attempting to find references to Alexander the Great's time with the mystery's if at all, along with each of his worship and sacrifices from Egypt to India. Cicero seems to have some references to the Elysian Mysteries as well in his writings and while his friend Atticus more than likely participated in them, I still can't find any records of Julius Caesar, though it's more likely his deputy Marc Antony took place in them (hence they let the whores into Eleusius).

To your final point of the current religious sects more than likely rejecting putting the LSD back in the wine, I believe there would be encouragements of a sort in the desert fathers and mothers from the 5th century, and then again in the Carmelites (Teresa of Avila being one of many) and surrounding orders of the time that through asceticism and possibly other aids, embarked on the expedition again of experience over dogma.

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Yaaaas, Transformation of Myth Through Time. 🤩 That's so cool that you have the Greek Orthodox lens through which to view this. Mine was originally Midwestern Catholic, and even then, when I started researching mythology and religious history, the threads were so apparent. Road to Eleusis was one of the many things I read while writing the first drafts of my Persephone & Haides novels. Because they are Mysteries, and because the POVs are divine, not mortal, I've definitely mused on how they might have created that experience. You bring up super good points--especially for one who rarely drinks and has tried pot a couple times, disliked it, and that's it. I've had multiple brain traumas so I've been especially leery of trying any stronger drugs, and like you said. The setting and the set are almost always a combination I would never entrust with my precious brain and my precious psyche/heart. So I'm always excited to find someone more knowledgeable with the psychedelic aspect of this ritual nerding out about it!

1) I went through Baptism when I was baby and Communion when I was too young to know I should object. Shortly thereafter, I started asking Big Questions and pointing out Logical Inconsistencies that received unsatisfactory answers, and that downright got me in trouble. From there, religion lost me. I was forced into Confirmation and had quite the rite of passage while having a conversation with the Divine: "You know I'm totally lying because I don't wanna hurt my family and it's not worth the fight. We're all good, right? Cool. Wink. Fist-bump." The second I left my parents' house, I began exploring. First other Christian religions, then other religions, and finally philosophies, sciences and spiritual traditions, which all combined into one big stew of curiosity and very few Answers.

The only other true rite of passage that I've done was a Wiccan Labyrinth. I was 28, and the ritual itself was very cool, but revealed no burning bush, no revelation. Instead, that came when I deviated from the entire ceremony and tromped off into the woods, following my gut instincts and my heart. Dang, you make me want to post that story now. Hahahah! In that light, my greatest spiritual revelations have taken place on my dance studio floor amidst meditation, and other times that I've been mentally "kicked out" or "barred" during attempts to do ceremonial stuff with other people, but then later went off by myself or returned to the empty temple. This is another reason I don't mess around with psychedelics, because I can get to some very intense places without them.

2) I think for some it would have taken away the Mystery, and for others it wouldn't have mattered. As you said, the Set is really important...what you bring into it.

3) Ummmph...since religion lost me so young due to the hypocrisy I witnessed, the greed/power/control/prejudice mechanisms that did me damage, and because I am such a self-service mystic...I guess I'd have to say that it's equally important for the religious structure, its leaders and its practitioners to take on this responsibility. Because I can go to any service of my friends' religions or into a cave on a tourist-filled tour or drive up to the top of a mountain or soak in my bathtub and have a revelatory experience. I understand that this is not the norm... But is that because mysticism isn't often something taught to us from the cradle that infuses all of life the way it does for me? I have no idea what it would take for others.

4) Since I've never had the guts to try it, and because it can be such a risky and erratic thing, I think the structure would be a good idea. Because I've listened in on the conversations of my friends who are into them heavily. When they go to lead someone through it, it's all safety, safety, safety, prep, prep, prep. Especially if you're gonna do it in a Mystery setting where you're not educating the people in hefty drug science as part of initiation??? Definitely then. Like you said, 20 year old keg-bros vs. 75 year old master monks. Really a big difference.

5) My big question I had while reading this was--do you know of any good sources of newer material since Road to Eleusis? It was probably back in 2016 that I read that so... I'd be fascinated to know where they've taken that now.

This was a super cool read! Thank you so much for sharing it!

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I'm not religious at all, Michael, but this was an insightful wander into the mysticism of religion.

I loved the discovery about holy drink: "It’s quite possible that Christian rituals are already designed to include a psychedelic experience."

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"At the peak of a religion’s flagship ritual should be a moment of shock, awe, and ecstasy. We’re talking sharp, life-defining mystical experiences that bring disbelief, instant insight, redemption, and a transcendence of self, time, and space. I want the fear of death shocked out of my operating system."

I read this and wondered if you were about to discuss what you have planned for Cohort 10. 🤷‍♂️

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Wow, this was so good. It's a provocative idea revealed through something I had no idea about (Greek rituals), and I think you are onto something powerful regarding religious experiences of today.

One of my biggest reasons for my departure with organized religions was the transactional nature of it all (on top of the hypocrisy of the Catholic church). I think mystical experiences could offer a way to add meaning to these religions, which as you say, are "full-stack."

Interestingly enough, your key point for me was this footnote:

"Religions (in the best case scenarios) offer a stack of benefits to live a psychologically rich life: community, shared traditions, history, morality, habits of mindfulness, fasting schedules, charity, theology, and a philosophy of death. That said, Christianity is missing a core feature: the mystical experience. Still, it’s probably easier for Christianity to add this than for a startup folk religion to build a full-stack religion without centuries of momentum."

I'm so glad you are writing and sharing consistently. What a gift!

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