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A multitude of events this past week provides convincing evidence that the world in general, including vast numbers of Americans, and the majority of voters in California, is going certifiably insane.

That 53% of California voters made it illegal to require a pregnant teenage girl to tell her parents about her having an abortion is way beyond moral depravity. We’re into organisms perilously close to no longer being normally human.

Then again, what sort of human bond can you feel towards rioting barbarians in France, savages who behead Christian girls in Indonesia, or suicide bombers in Iraq, Jordan, and Israel?

I could multiply further examples of insanity – such as Harry Reid and his Democrats who hate George Bush more than Moslem terrorists – but instead let’s talk about a case that just appeared before the Supreme Court, Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal, and the connection between religion and hallucinogenic drugs.

Doesn’t that sound like more fun? So get set, for this is going to be a mind-blow.

“Gonzales” is the US Attorney General against 130 members of the UVD (Uniao Do Vegetal) church who want to use a hallucinogenic tea called “hoasca” in their religious ceremonies.

This got my attention because I am very familiar with this tea. “Hoasca” is what it’s called in Brazil where the UVD originates. Elsewhere in the Amazon it’s called ayahuasca. The Shuara Jivaros – the ones who make shrunken heads, and the first tribe I ever lived with (see Tsantsas in Ecuador) – call it natema.

It’s made from the banisteriopsis vine, and the clear dark green tea contains compounds similar in chemical structure and psychological effect to LSD.

Yes, LSD, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Acid, the Psychedelic 60’s drug of hippie choice. But before you conclude the Jivaro headhunters are acid-freaks tripping out in the jungle, realize that the fundamental basis of their religion is the interpretation of visions induced by natema.

Through natema, and guided by the shaman who explains the visions, the Jivaro see with their own eyes the origin of the world and mankind, meet supernatural beings, and come out of their trance convinced of the verifiable truth of their religious teachings.

Here comes the kicker. Such hallucinogenic drug experiences are the foundation of the religious beliefs not just of Amazon headhunters, but of India, Ancient Greece, and the Witches of Salem.

Many of the hymns in the Hindu scriptures of the Rig-Veda written over 3,000 years ago are devoted to the god Soma, who instantiates himself upon the earth in the form of a plant. The Brahmins, the Hindu priests, by eating the god in a sacred ritual, were allowed to commune and become one with the Divine.

Part of the ritual involved drinking the urine of the priests who had eaten Soma. There is only one natural hallucinogenic chemical that passes through the body metabolically unchanged – muscimole – which is found only in the Amanita muscaria mushroom. How Hinduism was originally a sacred mushroom cult is described by historical ethnobotanist R. Gordon Wasson in Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality.

The Amanita is the classic Disney cartoon mushroom with the red cap and white spots. The religious practices of reindeer-herding tribes like the Tungus in Siberia and the Lapps in Scandinavia are based on the shaman eating the mushroom and sharing his urine with the devotees. The herders figured this out by watching the reindeer eating the mushroom, then licking each other’s urine spills, then acting very strange.

One of the commonest hallucinations with Amanita is the sensation of flying. Does the notion of flying reindeer bring anything to mind? And what are the colors of Santa’s costume?

This is just between us: Don’t ever tell your kids Santa started out as a ‘shroom.

For 2,000 years, the greatest religious ceremony of Ancient Greece was the Eleusinian Mysteries, the initiation rite of the cult of the goddess Demeter. The initiate was given a sacred drink, Kykeon, enabling him to gain secret wisdom.

It was called a “Mystery Religion” because if an initiate revealed anything of the ceremony, he was killed. That’s how it stayed mysterious.

Researchers such as Wasson have now determined that the Kykeon was made from the ergot fungus Claviceps paspali growing on certain wild grasses, and containing the LSD-like hallucinogenic alkaloid ergotamine. This is detailed in The Road to Eleusis by Wasson and biochemist Albert Hoffman.

A similar ergot fungus, Claviceps purpurea, grows on moldy rye. Eating bread made with such moldy rye induces ergotism where the victim has delusions (especially of flying), mania, burning sensations on the skin, and generally scary weird behavior.

In a paper for Science magazine, Ergotism: The Satan Loosed in Salem?, researcher Linnda Caporael describes how the people executed for being witches in the 1692 Salem Witch Trials were suffering from ergot poisoning via contaminated rye bread.

Hallucinogenic plants can be dangerous and deadly poisons. Yet from time immemorial, humans have used them as a pathway to the gods. This pathway can be mentally poisonous, for it results in an inversion of reality.

From the Hindu mystic to the Jivaro headhunter, the belief is that reality is an illusion, that the hallucination induced by a psychedelic drug or trance is the “true” reality. The drug or trance “parts the veil,” so the devotee can see the world as it “really” is.

The Secret Wisdom of all forms of mysticism is that what naïve regular people call the “real world” is a hallucination, and what these naïve folks call a hallucination is an insight into the hidden nature of things.

Yes, this is nuts, so nuts that no one behaves consistent with it. Some pseudo-intellectual mystic philosopher can mouth words all day long about how reality isn’t real, but when it comes to what he does, he puts gas in his car and avoids driving into a telephone pole in order to get somewhere just like everyone else.

Yet there are times, like now, when it seems that reality is nuts. Around the world, an epidemic of morally depraved weirdness is afflicting people. It’s times like these that make it tempting to believe the headhunters are right about reality.

So it’s time to reassure ourselves that they are not. Epidemics of irrationality are part of the human condition, and have been shown throughout human history to be more deadly than epidemics of physical disease. The moral depravity of pro-abortionism, of Democrat fascism, of Moslem Jihadism, and other sicknesses of the soul are greater threats to our well-being than bird flu.

More than ever, it is times like these to exercise our capacity for reason provided by Providence as our only means of successfully dealing with the one and only reality we have while we are here on this earth. That capacity is your oasis in the seeming ocean of craziness lapping at the world’s feet.

From now on though, you’ll have a whole new perspective when you see cartoons or pictures of this: