It was mainly just the European urban centers that converted Christianity, and often more for political or commercial interests, rather than as a matter of faith. The old religions persisted in the villages or pagani, pejoratively named after them as Paganism. The Christians built their sanctuaries upon the pagan sites, expropriating their numinous past, commonly incorporating the actual architectural remnants and assimilating the symbolism of the former deities. The wisdom of those deposed gods and their rites persisted in less objectionable forms, disguised to delude the censors, as country festivals and quaint tales, often about the fairy folk who coexisted with this world and could be accessed by magical procedures that perpetuated ancient visionary sacraments of ecstatic shamanism.
Encoded in tales seemingly as simple as Snow White with her poisoned red and white apple are themes traceable back to the great epic of Homer, about a hibernating bear hero called Odysseus, and the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh, as well as the cherished lineage of the leading families of Europe who derived their original empowerment from the pre-Christian fairy deities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S) / EDITOR(S) #
Carl A.P. Ruck, Professor of Classics at Boston University, has written extensively on Greek mythology and the ecstatic rituals of the god Dionysus. With the ethno-mycologist R. Gordon Wasson and Albert Hofmann, he identified the secret psychoactive ingredient in the visionary potion that was drunk by the initiates at the Eleusinian Mystery. In Persephone's Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion
, he proclaimed the centrality of psychoactive sacraments at the very beginnings of religion, employing the neologism "entheogen" to free the topic from the pejorative connotations for words like drug or hallucinogen.
Blaise Daniel Staples, PhD in Classics from Boston University, has written on ancient Greek comedy, Classical mythology, Greek folklore, and Aztec and Mayan rituals.
José Alfredo González Celdrán, Professor of Greek at I.E.S. Valle de Leiva, Alhama de Murcia, Spain, is the author of Hombres, dioses y hongos
and Las Puertas de Moeris
, a historical novel set in Egypt in the time of Akhenaten.
Mark Alwin Hoffman, an anthropological researcher based in Taos, NM, with degrees in Religious Studies and Philosophy from San Diego State University, is editor of Entheos: The Journal of Psychedelic Spirituality
and entheomedia.org. He has written on native American, Hawaiian, and Mexican shamanism, ancient religions, early Christianity, and the role of visionary sacraments in western mystery traditions.