The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries Spiral-Bound | November 25, 2008

R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, Carl A. P. Ruck, Huston Smith (Preface by), Peter Webster (Afterword by)

★★★★☆+ from 101 to 500 ratings

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Unlock the secrets of the Eleusinian Mysteries: A deep exploration of secret rites, psychedelic sacraments, and spiritual revelations that captivated ancient Greek society for nearly two millennia.

Uncover the evocative history of The Road to Eleusis. Once held in hushed whispers, the Eleusinian Mysteries were a series of secret rituals and initiations in honor of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone. They stood as an enigmatic cornerstone of ancient Greek spirituality, capturing imaginations and fevered intrigue for close to two millennia. But beneath the veils of tradition and ceremony lay a potent secret.

First unveiled in this book's controversial 1978 release, a groundbreaking trio—a mycologist, chemist, and historian—proposed a radical theory: the sacred potion imbibed during these clandestine rites was infused with a potent, psychoactive entheogen. This was not just a challenge to conventional interpretations: it was a revolutionary reframe of the role that naturally occurring psychedelic drugs have played in spiritual rituals and rites since time immemorial.

The Road to Eleusis goes beyond dissecting ancient rites: it charts how the authors reshaped our modern understanding of entheogens' role in spiritual ceremony, revealing facets of the Mysteries previously thought lost to history. The authors share intriguing new insights on experiential religious practices, perspectives on the healing potential of psychedelics, and how—and why—the secrets of the Mysteries were deliberately concealed. The book's revelations reach beyond the scholarly into legal, social, and spiritual realms—all while recasting everything we thought we knew about the rites and rituals of Hellenic cults and expanding our understanding of foundational tenets of Western philosophical and spiritual thought.

This 30th-anniversary edition brings with it an enlightening preface by religious luminary Huston Smith and a renewed exploration of the chemical findings by Peter Webster. It powerfully argues for a reimagining of Western religious history and the transformative magic of entheogens.
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Original Binding: Trade Paperback
Pages: 192 pages
ISBN-10: 1556437528
Item Weight: 0.7 lbs
Dimensions: 6.0 x 0.5 x 9.0 inches
Customer Reviews: 4 out of 5 stars 101 to 500 ratings
“[Gordon Wasson has] made the specialty of mycology something of universal importance and one of the pillars of anthropology and the history of religions.”
Octavio Paz, Nobel Prize-winning poet and author
The Road to Eleusis grew out of a three-way collaboration of scholar-scientists sparked by R. Gordon Wasson’s insight into the true nature of an ancient religious ritual, the Eleusinian Mysteries. In collaboration with the world-renowned chemist, Albert Hofmann, and Carl Ruck, a Classical scholar specializing in the ethnobotany of ancient Greece, they give solid foundation to what Wasson deduced as the essence of the Mysteries. The three authors present their findings and their evidence, drawing the specialties of their three fields together in fascinatingly persuasive form.
“The content of those Mysteries is, together with the identity of India’s sacred soma plant, one of the two best kept secrets in history, and this book is the most successful attempt I know to unlock it. Triangulating the resources of an eminent Classics scholar, the most creative mycologist of our time, and the discoverer of LSD, [The Road to Eleusis] is a historical tour de force while being more than that. For by direct implication it raises contemporary questions which our cultural establishment has thus far deemed too hot to face.”
Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions
“The book’s themes of the universality of experiential religion, the suppression of that knowledge by exploitative forces, and the use of psychedelics to reconcile the human and natural worlds make it a fascinating and timely read.”
Gaia Media
R. Gordon Wasson (1898—1986) was a pioneer investigator of sacred indigenous mushroom rituals in Mexico in the 1950s. Albert Hofmann, the famed chemist who discovered the curious properties of LSD in 1943, recently celebrated his 100th birthday in Switzerland. Carl A. P. Ruck, an expert on ancient Greek ethnobotany, lives in Massachusetts.