|Review by J. Irvin
author of The Holy Mushroom
Sacred Mushrooms of the Goddess
Secrets of Eleusis,
by Carl A. P. Ruck
Summary: Excellent scholarship with a deep understanding of Eleusis
Over the years the information on the secrets of Kykeon in the ancient Eleusinian mysteries has caused quite some debate. Was the drink just some wine, or strong wine with the ancients unable to handle their alcohol? Or was the Kykeon an entheogenic brew, possibly using psychedelic mushrooms, ergot, henbane and/or other secret ingredients?
The truth is with the latter. Today we know from the work of Peter Webster, Ruck and others that Wasson and Hofmann's first proposal was wrong, but that with some careful study and close analysis the proper corrections have been made. But the truth actually lies somewhere in the middle.
This book pulls together various aspects of ancient Greek mythology and the stories surrounding Persephone and Demeter. It argues a clear case for the use of the mushrooms - both primary varieties - Amanita muscaria and Psilocybe, with the primary focus on A. muscaria. So which was it, a concoction made from ergot, menthe, and barley, or was it made from mushrooms? It was certainly made from what was available when and where. Both mushrooms and ergot, Ruck argues, were used interchangeably.
Along with the Eleusinian mysteries and the shrouding of the ancient rites, so too do some people seem unable to grasp the reaches of this book. I'm left flabbergasted at the shallow three star reviews that some have left behind (on amazon). Certainly this book could use an index and maybe a `justify' alignment, but to say this book is not academic, when it is written by the professor of the Classics Department at Boston University is absurd. It's a sad day when someone's own ignorance is transposed onto another.
Careful reading and study shows this author knows well about that which he writes.