Titus Salt School
Part 4. Shamanism
Higher Masonic degrees of The Scottish Rite and The York Rite teach that religious texts are not to be taken literally, but one of the requirements for becoming a Freemason is to declare belief in a Supreme Being , and the only difference between a Masonic Bible and the King James Version of the Bible used in Protestant churches, is an additional introduction to Freemasonry.
The Bible is not all based on the movements of planets and stars; for Freemasons, Bible myths also include hidden spiritual truth. Manly P. Hall, describes the Masonic understanding as follows in his 1928 book, The Secret Teachings of all Ages. “There are, however, but few mature minds in the world; and thus it was that the philosophic-religious doctrines of the pagans were divided to meet the needs of these two fundamental groups of human intellect--one philosophic, the other incapable of appreciating the deeper mysteries of life. To the discerning few were revealed the esoteric, or spiritual, teachings, while the unqualified many received only the literal, or exoteric, interpretations. In order to make simple the great truths of Nature and the abstract principles of natural law, the vital forces of the universe were personified, becoming the gods and goddesses of the ancient mythologies. While the ignorant multitudes brought their offerings to the altars of Priapus and Pan (deities representing the procreative energies), the wise recognized in these marble statues only symbolic concretions of great abstract truths.”
Masons communicate “great abstract truths” using their own symbols, as seen below inside Trinity Church, next to the Trinity Centre in Leeds.
Masons in the first 3 degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason (known as the Blue Degrees) are not taught the secrets explained in this series of articles, as Albert Pike explains in Morals and Dogma: "The Blue Degrees are but the outer court or portico of the Temple. Part of the symbols are displayed there to the Initiate, but he is intentionally misled by false interpretations. It is not intended that he shall understand them; but it is intended that he shall imagine he understands them. Their true explication is reserved for the Adepts, the Princes of Masonry. The whole body of the Royal and Sacerdotal Art was hidden so carefully, centuries since, in the High Degrees, as that it is even yet impossible to solve many of the enigmas which they contain. It is well enough for the mass of those called Masons, to imagine that all is contained in the Blue Degrees; and whoso attempts to undeceive them will labor in vain, and without any true reward violate his obligations as an Adept. Masonry is the veritable Sphinx, buried to the head in the sands heaped round it by the ages." 
Freemasonic ritual is based on Gnosticism , which is, at its core, the most ancient spiritual belief system and the one from which all other religions were written. Gnostics believe that it is possible to experience direct contact with God (and other spiritual beings) by journeying into the spirit world or alternatively by summoning the power of spirits into the material world . Such contact cannot be achieved by following the instructions of a pastor, therefore Gnostics have no need of organised religion, which is quite normal today but in the past Gnosticism was regarded as a threat to the authority of the church and Gnostics were often declared to be heretics and executed . Gnostic societies were therefore wise to operate under a code of strict secrecy .
The image below from Camille Flammarion's 1888 book L'atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire ("The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology") shows a man peering through the Earth's atmosphere as if it were a curtain to look at the inner workings of the universe. It is used by Gnostics as a metaphorical illustration of contact with the spirit world. The caption translates to "A mediaeval missionary tells that he has found the point where heaven and Earth meet..." 
Direct contact with God and/or the spirit world requires a person to achieve an altered state of mind (consciousness) which is known as transcendence . Gnostics describe transcendence as the process of receiving a particular kind of knowledge called gnosis. Neuroscientists have studied meditation experts and they can describe what happens in different parts of the brain during transcendence . Somewhat similar effects are described, from first hand experience, by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor in the remarkable video below:
There is an easier way than practicing meditation to achieve an altered state of mind likely to produce a spiritual experience or journey and that is to take psychoactive drugs known as entheogens .
Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)  has been isolated as one of the active substances in an entheogen called ayahuasca, which is legal in south America – DMT is known as the spirit molecule . Naturally occurring entheogens were used by tribal hunter gatherer societies for thousands of years before any religious scripture was written; typically their use was supervised by a shaman  who knew what dose to administer and every adult member of the tribe participated. In 2008 Peru's government recognised ayahuasca's status as "one of the basic pillars of the identity of the Amazon peoples" and that consumption of the "teacher" or "wisdom" plant "constitutes the gateway to the spiritual world and its secrets, which is why traditional Amazon medicine has been structured around the ayahuasca ritual" . Today there are churches in Brazil such as Santo Daime and União do Vegetal that consider ayahuasca a sacrament and one of them gives it to children on a regular basis. 
The ability to experience our own existence in a way not available normally through our five senses is represented in the language of symbols by a third eye  (also known as an all seeing eye) often depicted in the centre of the forehead. A person who’s third eye is open is said to have received gnosis, which is the ultimate spiritual wisdom or (in Freemasonic jargon) light. People who have achieved the resulting psychological state of inner peace and who, typically, no longer fear death are represented by the mythological characters of religion such as Buddha and Jesus Christ.
The third eye is a commonly used religious symbol today in recognition of the now secret process by which we may all directly experience the divine . Below is a selection of third eye symbols from different religions around the world:
In 1970, Dead Sea Scroll scholar John Allegro used his expert knowledge of ancient languages to demonstrate hidden references to the psychoactive Amanita Muscaria mushroom in the Bible . Allegro’s work was not well received by the Freemasonic establishment who depend on supressing historical knowledge to keep their secrets safe. Time magazine labelled Allegro’s book on the subject as “like the psychedelic ravings of a hippie cultist”. When opponents resort to name calling it’s usually a sign that they’ve lost the argument and the Christian church’s own art shows that church leaders already knew what Allegro so ably demonstrated. 
A 1291 CE Fresco in Plaincourault Abbey in Indre, France depicts Adam and Eve standing in the Garden of Eden beside a tree, which is painted as the hallucinogenic mushroom, Amanita Muscaria . The abbey was built by members of the Knights Hospitaller who had returned from the crusades.
The image above helps in understanding the Garden of Eden story as myth with historical meaning. Once people moved from hunter gatherer tribes to live in structured societies where land owners employed people to work on their farms, psychoactive drug use was considered a disruptive influence by those in authority and people’s spiritual needs were deemed better served through organised religion. The biblical story tells of an authority figure (God, also known as the Lord) who tells his servants (Adam and Eve) they will die if they eat (hallucinogenic mushrooms) from the Tree of Knowledge. Eve is tempted, by a talking snake who says she will not die, to eat from The Tree of Knowledge and persuades Adam to eat with her. Adam and Eve do not die. The Lord quickly banishes his servants from the garden before they can eat from the Tree of Life and he forces Adam to till the ground (to work on the farm).
Snake worship was practiced in Canaan before Christianity  and demonising the snake in the Garden of Eden may have been done deliberately to discouraging people from following the old religion. Hindu monks still use cobra venom as a psychoactive drug for creating spiritual experiences  and for some Gnostics the snake (Gnostic serpent of wisdom) who gave Adam and Eve knowledge (gnosis) is a heroic figure for opposing a cruel and vindictive Lord, which is another reason why Freemasons are wrongly accused, by some, of being devil worshipers.
The most frequently used symbol for the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden in western art is an apple. Apples have never been forbidden, but when an apple is cut horizontally through the core the seed cluster in the centre does form a pentagram, making it a symbol of Lucifer the Light (Gnosis) Bearer.
In various places where early man has been discovered revering a Tree of Life, he is actually fixing his attention on trees that have a mycorrhizal relationship with the Amanita Muscaria mushroom  Intense death/rebirth and out of body experiences are commonly experienced while under the influence of Amanita Muscaria  which have been interpreted as experiences of reincarnation (eternal life) and of the soul leaving the body. Freemasons use The Tree Of Life as a symbol for the pathway to spiritual enlightenment as can be seen below:
If the fruit of the Tree of Life is Amanita Muscaria, one possible candidate for the fruit of The Tree of Knowledge is the psilocybin, or magic, mushroom that is used to achieve transcendence  and is acknowledged by modern science to have a spiritual effect on people . BBC Four featured magic mushrooms in their series on the Secret History of The Brain  and scientific studies show that the mushroom has the power to transform people’s personalities  making them more open minded.
Although Jan Irvin at Gnostic Media cannot always be trusted to tell the truth, his video below is a good exploration of shamanism and astrotheology for those who would like more information:
By 1,500 BCE Ancient Greece had been an agricultural society for thousands of years. Consequently exploring the mysteries of life through hallucinogenic drug trips was against the law and practiced only in a secret. The Eleusinian Mystery School is thought to have been a descendent of older schools including The Mysteries of Isis and Osiris in ancient Egypt and numerous scholars believe that the visions experienced by mystery school initiates were brought about by psychedelic drugs  and scholars have pointed to the carving below as evidence that mushrooms were taken.
Modern science has proved that psilocybin mushrooms can have a very positive effect on people’s long term mental health  but there is a dark side to Gnosticism. Aleister Crowley is a good example of Gnosticism gone bad. Crowley became a heroin addict and cocaine eroded his nasal cavity, he was also accused of animal sacrifice and wrote about child sacrifice. Crowley believed in magick  of the sort sold by the Sorcerers Apprentice in Leeds  but he was not a Satanist as many people believe. Crowley understood Satan to be merely a symbol as the following quote from his book Magik explains:
“Satan is Saturn, Set, Abrasax, Adad, Adonis, Attis, Adam, Adonai, etc. The most serious charge against him is that he is the Sun in the South. The Ancient Initiates, dwelling as they did in lands whose blood was the water of the Nile or the Euphrates, connected the South with life-withering heat, and cursed that quarter where the solar darts were deadliest.”
The secrets of astrotheology and shamanism are becoming increasing well known; it is common for UK students taking a gap year to go to South America and experience ayahuasca , but the Masons have greater secrets. In Part 5 of this series we will explore a part of history that the Freemasonic establishment work much harder to keep hidden.
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- Freemason Information, Gnostic Reflections in Freemasonry, 9 July 2009 http://www.freemasoninformation.com/2009/07/gnostic-reflections-in-freemasonry/
- gnosis.org, A Brief Summary of Gnosticism, 18 May 2014 http://gnosis.org/gnintro.htm
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- The Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, Flammarion Woodcut, 18 May 2014 http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/liberal/flammarion.html
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- Wikipedia, Dimethyltryptamine, 18 May 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyltryptamine
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- The Guardian, What is Ayahuasca? 28 April 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/society/shortcuts/2014/apr/28/ayahuasca-celebrities-usage-hallucinogenic-substance-death-british-teenager-colombia
- Wikipedia, Third Eye, 18 May 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_eye
- Wikipedia, Religion and Drugs, 18 May 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_and_drugs
- Wikipedia, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, 18 May 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Sacred_Mushroom_and_the_Cross_cover.jpg
- Amazon.co.uk, The Mushroom in Christian Art: The Identity of Jesus in the Development of Christianity, 11 January 2011 http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mushroom-Christian-Art-Christianity/dp/1556439601
- Wikipedia, Amanita Muscaria, 18 May 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanita_muscaria
- Wikipedia, Snake Worship, 18 May 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_worship
- Riverfront Times, Drinking The Cobra Venom, 18 May 2014 http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2009/04/drinking_the_cobra_venom.php
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- scottishrite.org, The Tree Of Life Seminar Series, 12 March 2012 http://scottishrite.org/2012/03/the-tree-of-life-seminar-series/
- Wikipedia, Psilocybin, 18 May 2014 transcendencehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin
- New Scientist, Magic Mushrooms Really Do Cause Spiritual Experiences, 18 May 2014 http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9522-magic-mushrooms-really-cause-spiritual-experiences.html#.U1toy1fxwt0
- BBC Health News, I Took Magic Mushroom Drug Psilocybin In Clinical Trial, 18 May 2014 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12122409
- The Independent, Single Magic Mushroom Can Change Personality, 18 May 2014 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/single-magic-mushroom-can-change-personality-2363324.html
- Wikipedia, Elusinian Mysteries, 18 May 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleusinian_Mysteries#Entheogenic_theories
- Bloomberg, Magic Mushrooms Return To Psychology Lab 40 Years After Leary, 6 December 2011 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-06/-magic-mushrooms-return-to-psychology-labs-40-years-after-leary.html
- Wikipedia, Aleister Crowley, 18 May 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleister_Crowley#Beliefs_and_thoughts
- Sorcerer's Apprentice, 18 May 2014 http://www.sorcerers-apprentice.co.uk/