Ep 176 – Smith-entheogen Theory at JWHA 2019

On this episode, we air a presentation given for the John Whitmer Historical Association conference on psychedelics in early Mormonism. If my inbox is any indicator, many of you have been waiting on the newest research related to the Smith-entheogen theory; the wait is over. This presentation focuses specifically on the likely presence of the nightshade family of plants in Mormonism within the 19th-century medicinal and occult context. If this presentation isn’t enough, consider listening to the Patreon-exclusive edition which is nearly 3 hours’ worth of extended research used to create the presentation, along with a few stories from the conference itself and some audience reactions. That’s my way of saying ‘thank you!’ to our financial supporters who made this research and attending the JWHA conference possible! Next week we’ll jump back into our historical timeline.

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What you’re about to listen to is a presentation on the Smith-entheogen theory I recently gave at John Whitmer Historical Association conference in Fairport, New York. My co-presenter, Brian Kassenbrock presented on Hermetic influences in the Burned-over district and the Book of Mormon, which constitutes the first roughly 18 minutes of the presentation. After that, I take the stand and present the most recent developments in my research on psychedelics in early Mormonism. I was unable to attain permissions to video the presentation as it required releases from all in attendance should they be seen on the video; however, John Whitmer Historical Association was kind enough to give me permission to air the audio of the presentation here on the podcast.

If you’re hearing this on the regular feed, you’ll get the entire presentation as well as a few final remarks about how the presentation was received. However, because I was able to make the trip and conduct all the underlying research thanks to my fantastic supporters on patreon.com/nakedmormonism, I want to do a little something extra for those supporters. If you’re hearing this on the patreon feed, it’s about twice the length, and here’s why:

I put a lot of research and work into this presentation and the strict time limit necessarily required a lot of culling away important information. I want all that information on the patreon broadcast in order to further contextualize the information within the presentation. I want to piece together a more holistic presentation of the evidence for the Smith-entheogen theory and my way of saying thank you for supporting the show is by aggressively expanding this broadcast to the presentation I would have given if I had the entire hour block to give it.

Quick heads up for both the patreon and the regular feed listeners, during the Q&A portion of the presentation, the audience wasn’t provided with a microphone. I’ve done my best to work with the audio provided but it might be tough for some of you audiophiles to hear because the audio isn’t perfect.

After the presentation I’ll cut back in with a few additional notes as well as some of the reactions of attendees after the presentation was given. If you’re dying to hear the newest research on psychedelics in early Mormonism, like my inbox reveals, today is the day for that update.

So, without further ado, here’s one small aspect of the Smith-entheogen theory in its most updated form. And, of course, I want to thank John Whitmer Historical Association, especially the past-president Rachel Killebrew, as well as Jason Smith for giving permissions and providing the audio respectively.

T+6:21:

Hey patrons, let’s take a minute to discuss this point. I put a bit of research into collecting modern trip reports from people but the strict time limit of the presentation didn’t allow for further exploration, instead only allowing for brief allusions to what I’ve found. Here are a few reports from people who specifically used Datura, which you’ll soon learn is the central focus of the presentation. These trip reports are mostly anonymous and self-reported, but the nature of studying these illegal plant medicines requires these limitations. These two trip reports are kind of long, but I want you to vicariously experience what a Datura trip is like through the eyes of these experienced users.

This trip report is titled Discovering Delerium by Jason Goyer, likely a pseudonym:

We carefully counted out 75 seeds for each of us and ate them as they were. This was followed by another period of waiting that lasted for another hour. Once again the concencus was that there was no noticable effect. This prompted the eating of 75 more seeds, bringing the total to 150.

At this point we decided to walk to a mutual friends house, and share some of the seeds we had with him. It was on the walk that the Datura started to show effects. I felt a bit warmer than usual, and I was having light hot flashes that travled up my body from feet to head. (I later found that this may be caused by the vasculardialating properties of the Atropine) I didn't have any trouble thinking, and my motor skills were unaffected.

As time progressed the effects became more intense, and I noticed that I had stopped sweating and my mouth was quite dry. I felt as though I should be sweating from the heat radiating off my body, and I queryed my partner as to whether he felt the same. He confirmed that he did, and he also suggested that we find some shade and rest a bit. We stopped at a 7-11 store, and checked the time for records sake and saw it was 1:30pm. It was when we stopped that I noticed my heartrate was well above normal. I took my pulse and got it at around 120bpm. We got some large drinks, and sat in the store drinking, and wondering if it was such a good idea to be out in the heat. The temperature outside was reaching close to the 100 degree mark.

After a 20 minute rest at the 7-11 we started off again to our destination. In only 10 minutes of walking I started to feel the beginning effects of heat stroke, and so did my friend, so we once again had to stop and rest. The total period of time we layed in the shade is unknown to me. When we felt that it was safe to continue, we walked the rest of the way. Although it was less than a quarter mile, we felt as if we had walked across the Sudan. The effects had not intensified much more with the exception of the dry mouth. It was as if every last drop of water had been sucked from my body (which it had). It hurt to swallow, and I was in desperate need of some water.

We got into our friends house at just 2:05pm, and rehydrated ourselves. We counted out 150 seeds for our friend and took 100 more ourselves. The same effects we had expirenced before got a bit more intense as time slipped by, and I noticed a definate dialation of my pupils. I also had trouble reading small print, or seeing smaller objects any distance. The waves of heat were pulsing through my body at a comfortable rate, and they made me feel at peace with myself. My friend and I had both assumed layed out positions on our back and were resting well.

At around 2:45, I consumed 50 more seeds (no one else took any more). The same effects continued for a good three hours, and I still noticed no change in mindset or motor control. However, at around 6:00pm I started to have problems with my fine motor control. I found it difficult to move my fingers, and pick up small objects. My eyesight had become a bit worse, and I definitely started to notice a major change in perception. In particular there was a nail sticking out of the wall in the room that seemed to be moving through the grain up and down, then side to side. This only lasted for 2 minutes or so, however the naps of the carpet began to twich furiously. At this point I began having to use the restroom constantly, this being the diaretic properties of the datura. I couldn't keep much water in my body, so I resorted to drinking gatorade.

I don't have much memory of waiting for the sun to go down, but I do remember waiting for that to happen. The next clear memory I have is looking out the window and seeing that the sun was down. My state of mind had obviously moved towards a lack of judgment because I decided it was safe to walk home. The time of my departure from my friends was around 9:00pm. I was no longer feeling the body high, either I had become used to it, or it had just gone away. My heart was racing at an ungodly rate, but I didn't notice unless I specificaly checked. When I reached about a quarter of the way home I began to talk to my friend who had been with me earlier in the morning as I walked. We were having an indepth conversation on a topic which I can not remember, when he suddenly veered off and layed down in a patch of grass. This alarmed me because I knew that Datura may have sever adverse effects on the body causing coma and or death. I started walking to over to him so that I might get him up or carry him to the nearest place we could get help when he just disappeared. I must have looked and yelled around for him for about 30 minutes. I finally gave up and decided it was best to head to my house.

It was then that I started to notice flashes of light in the periphrieals of my vision. I looked around to discover the source of the flashes and could not find one, so I continued walking. I saw a large white puffy object that resembled a mushroom of some variety I had never seen. When I approached it, it was very large. The top had a diameter of about 4 inches, and it had a very stubby stock. This, however was not what caused me to walk over. It was the flashes of light inside the cap that interested me. It looked almost like a video of neurons firing in someones brain. It was very real to me, I could touch it. It was not untill much later that I even realized that I had been hallucinating. Everything was real to me. I had no more hallucinations on the way to my house. I did however start to have major motor control problems. My hands were almost twiching out of control, and it felt as though my knees were going to give out at times. I began to worry, and almost panicked at the fact that my knees were coming out from under me. It took all the concentration I had just to keep walking. At this point I felt that if I had fallen I would not have been able to get back up. However I did make it safely back to my house.

Upon arrival at my home I immediatly checked the time, and was flabbergasted to see it was 11:20pm. A walk that usually takes no longer than 20 minutes took me over two hours. I forgot about the time when my stomache rumbled loudly and quickly went to make myself a nice cool bowl of cereal. As I was making my cereal I remember listening to an episode of Drew Carey on the TV. It was the April fools episode with all the pop-ups like from Pop-up video. The show was coming to an end as I walked into the livingroom and sat down to eat. I ate several spoon fulls of cereal and looked up to see what was comming on next. The TV was not even on. It was at this point that I finally made a separation, and realized that I had been hallucinating. I finished eating quickly, took a long cold shower, and went to bed.

Now as for lasting effects, the only one that plauged me was the fact that my pupils remained completely dialated for a week, and I could not read any small print, or street signs from a distance. As for my friend who went to sleep in the grass, I called his house to see if he had made it home, and he answered the phone. The first words out of my mouth were, 'Oh good you made it back, you have no idea how relived I am about that.' His reply stunned me, as it still does every time I think about it.... 'I never left the house last night.' We argued for a long time, because in my mind it really happened. He was there, he layed down. And then I couldn't find him. But It was confirmed by the people who live there, that he never left the house with me that night.

I will never do Datura again. It is definitely not a recreational psychedelic. In fact it is not a psychedelic at all, it causes your body to go into a near death delerium, by raising your body temperature to dangerously high levels, Raising your heartrate to equally high levels, and drying every moisture producing gland in your body. I found it to be dangerous, and very un-spiritual. They are real hallucinations, meaning that you can not tell the difference between a hallucination and whats real. I do not recommend that anyone ever try to use datura for a recreational purpose, or at all for that matter. I feel to this day, that had I not been in as good of shape as I was that it would have killed me. 

This account, anonymously published in 2000 by a male user, is remarkable and entirely consistent with many others I found. We typically understand hallucinations from psychedelics to be flashes of light, blurred vision, and tracers at low dosages, then increasing to fractal patterns, movement of static objects at mid-range doses, and ending in pure whiteness and complete dissolution of any real images at high doses. Nightshade hallucinations are completely different. The user sees things which aren’t there and completely mistakes them for reality. Hallucinations from acid or psilocybin are clearly seen as hallucinations, the user understands that what they see isn’t real and usually recall that they’re tripping, but that’s not how nightshades work.

Nightshades contain three psychoactive alkaloids, 2 of which are used in medicine today. Atropine, commonly used as an anesthetic, and scopolamine, commonly used to reduce the symptoms of sea-sickness, and hyoscyamine, which I’m not aware of any medicinal uses. These three in combination work on similar receptors to completely alter how the person experiences the world around them. Combined at high doses, they produce what are called anti-cholinergic effects, which you’ll hear me discuss briefly in the presentation, which include everything described in that trip report along with many more severe symptoms including partial paralysis, coma, and death. Nightshade plants are not to be messed with.

This anonymous person’s experience shows that time loses all meaning, people you believe to be near you and even interact with aren’t there, and their mind even imagined they were watching a tv show when the tv wasn’t even powered on. In the presentation I called this non-ordinary reality or altered states of consciousness, which is the only fitting and indeed, academic, description of the perception of the user.

I want to read another Datura trip report because it reveals the necessity for a babysitter. A shaman is a practiced babysitter who can help the user see and experience what the shaman directs, but a babysitter is usually just a friend who can help calm the user down when the line tethering them to reality seems to snap.

This trip report is titled Truly the Devil’s Weed written by user Chimpanzee. It’s particularly useful in that it includes timestamps kept by the babysitter:

One of my friends told me he had gone to stay with his grandparents for a week and noticed a plant near their house that looked a lot like Datura, so he went over to it and sure enough he saw the small, spikey pods growing near the bottom of the plant. He himself didn’t want to try any because he always feared any sort of hallucinogen because of the risk of a bad trip, but knew I had been wanting to try it for quite some time, so he picked one of the magical pods and wrapped it up in cellophane and brought them back for me. The bastard wouldn’t hand them over unless I paid him 20 bucks, but I figured it would be well worth it.

I couldn’t wait to try them. First thing I did was found someone who would be a sitter for me, and that sitter was the most trustworthy friend I know (lets call him Steve). I asked my mom if he could sleep over and she said it was fine. So the next day, Steve came over around noon, and I got the seeds out of the pod and counted 37. I heard it only took like 10 or 15, and I wanted to have more so I could trip another time or sell them, so I decided to take 15.

T:00.00 - Me and Steve went up to my room to take them. We put on some music and sat down in my bean bag chairs. I was feeling confident that things were going to go smoothly, mostly just because Steve was there with me, he was a very responsible person who I felt very safe and secure with. Of course I had a little butterflies in my stomach because I was taking something new, but it was mostly excitement, a total 'I can’t wait' feeling. As Steve and I talked, I decided it was time, and pulled the sandwich baggie out of my pocket. I got all the seeds in my palm and looked at them, little teardrop shaped things, darkish brown, almost black. I thought to my self 'here goes nothing' and licked my palm to get all the seeds stuck on my tongue, chewed ‘em up a bit, and swallowed. As they went down I got this overwhelming feeling of 'finally'. I have finally taken this crazy Datura, and in time I will be experiencing it. All I could do now is relax, keep the best state of mind I possibly could, and wait for things to kick in.

T:00.30 - Went down to the kitchen with Steve to get a drink of water, and then went to the bathroom. No noticeable effects. Steve suggested we play video games while we wait for it to kick in. We went back to my room and played Mario Kart 64 and snacked on some doritos.

T:00.50 - Starting to feel different. A lot like when you need to stretch really bad, but in my whole body. Mouth is getting dry, very similar to the cottonmouth after smoking a thick blunt. Steve is winning the game and I am loosing my grip on the controller, and I can’t seem to keep the A button pushed down. After about 10 minutes I feel much different, very intense, and I’m wondering why Steve is in my room playing video games. He reminds me that he is sleeping over to watch me because I took Datura. Right after he says this a wave of shock and fear run down my body like goosebumps, for I had completely forgotten the reason he was there, and that I had taken anything, although I do recall it, I am needless to say in shock at what just happened with my brain. I look at Steve and say 'calm me down', and somehow, Steve knew exactly what to do. He just smiled at me in this reassuring smile and said 'don’t worry man, you’re gonna have a blast' this made me feel incredibly better, and my mood shifted. After this, things seem to go back to normal, and I ask Steve to stop playing video games and go downstairs with me. We go downstairs into my kitchen and I pull a full pitcher of cherry kool-aid from the fridge. Steve got 2 glasses, then we went into my living room and sat down on the couch. I pour the both of us a glass and we sip it while watching tv. Afer I finish my glass I pick up the pitcher and gulp it down halfway. I am very thirsty, but the drink doesn’t seem to quench my thirst at all, it seems to glide over the surface of my mouth, leaving it dry still. I now just try my best to ignore it, and continue watching tv.

T:01:30 I tell Steve I’ll be right back, and walk to the bathroom. While I piss I look at this picture above my toilet. It’s a cartoon of a polar bear lying on its back in the water, holding a wine glass like it fell asleep from being drunk. The concept makes me want to laugh, it seems like the dumbest cartoon in the world to me, and its location is just as random as its contents. I think to my self 'why the f*** do we have a picture of a drunk polar bear in our bathroom'. For some reason, this seems near hysterical to me.

I walk out of the bathroom and go back to the couch with Steve. As soon as I sit down, my mom walked out of the kitchen and tells us she’s going to work and to behave, she’ll be back around 10. Steve and I say good bye and she leaves. Perfect. Now we have the house to ourselves.

T:02:00 - Nothing much more seems to be happening. I have finished the pitcher of kool-aid and gone to the bathroom 2 more times. Steve says to go in the kitchen and refill the pitcher with water in case I feel like I’m going to dehydrate. It seems like a responsible idea so I go into the kitchen and refill it with water and put ice cubes in it. I walk back into my living room to find Steve has left, and the tv has been turned off. The entire house is dead silent. Then I hear the tv go back on, but the screen is blank, and I hear Steve saying 'hey I’m over here'. I realize that he’s calling me from out in my backyard, so I put my shoes on and go outside. At first I scanned my back yard for him, but couldn’t see him, and I couldn’t hear him anymore. I suddenly get the idea that Steve had come over for a hide and seek game (at this point I have absolutely no idea that I have taken anything) so I run into the yard looking around for him. Then I speak 'come out come out where ever you are' . Right when I say this my voice sounds very different, like a person who has gone totally insane. This starts to scare me very much, and Steve is nowhere to be found. I look way across to the other end of my yard (my yard is only about a 100 foot by 200 foot area, but now it was a soccer field size) and at the other end I see my dog’s pen, a fenced in area in the corner with all my friends who are straight edge that stopped being friends with me when I started smoking pot. I haven’t seen them in so long, so I run towards the pen. They look just as happy to see me as I am to see them, and they let me into the pen. We start talking and to my surprise, one of them pulls a blunt out of nowhere and sparks it. I am naturally amused but shocked, then they start to explain to me that they came to see me cause they all 'got into the game' and don’t think drugs are that bad after all. On the outside I am pleased to hear this, but on the inside I begin to get feelings of untrust. These bastards abandoned me years back. I don’t show any unpleasant feelings on the outside, and I continue to be cheery with them, although I keep a state of mind not to trust anyone there. They pass me the blunt and I take a super long hit, and hold it super long and blow out. After it went around a few times we all spark a cigarette to increase our high. We just keep talking and talking. It seems like time has stopped. How long can people just sit here and talk? It’s been hours, I think to myself (strangely enough I am still puffing on the same cigarette, but dont notice anything unusual about it). Then I drop my butt, and it falls under the chair I’m sitting on. 'Ah Shit' I said and got out of my seat to get it. I look under the chair but I can’t seem to find it. 'Did any of you see were my...' as I turn around I notice no one is there, and I am alone in the pen. A sense of anger comes over me, and I get intense feelings of 'I shouldnt have trusted them' and 'how dare they'. These feelings are followed by loneliness and then total fear. I need to get out of this pen and go back in the house. I walk back to my house across the long field, and it seems to take even longer to go back than when I had come.

Next thing I know I’m back in my kitchen lying on the floor very sweaty, Steve is there sitting on the kitchen counter. My focus is very blurred and 'off' and I feel very confused about why he’s there on the counter and I’m on the floor, but every few moments I kinda snap back into reality and know exactly what going on, then snap back into delirium and totally forget everything.

Next thing I know its already 6:46am and I am running late. My mom tells me I only got a half hour to get ready or ill get a Saturday detention. I scramble out of bed and run into the bathroom to take a shower. I suddenly realize how mush school’s gonna suck cause I forgot to do my homework and I have an oral presentation due today. All these thoughts make me panic and I know there’s no way out of it cause I already skipped school 3 times this year and got caught and I cant skip another day or I have to go to court. I get out of the shower and dry off as quickly as I can. Then I run into my room and get dressed and go downstairs to the kitchen. Right then I noticed something was wrong, the clock said 1:00am and the calendar was on July. No body was up. My mom was asleep and had been asleep. She didn’t wake me up for school, I did not have school in summer. I wished I was dreaming, and the thoughts in my mind were on the brink of driving me insane. All I remember after this is running back up into my room in total panic ready to cry and scream and if one more weird thing happened I was gonna commit suicide.

I woke up in my bed with Steve on the floor watching me, he looked very concerned and asked me if I was ok now, if I was still tripping. I didn’t know what to say to him, cause right then I could have still be tripping for all I know. It was 5:00pm the next day, I had a bad headache and couldn’t focus on shit, and my whole body was in this dreadfully uncomfortable state. It took me awhile to collect my thoughts and figure out I was not tripping anymore, and I had these series of very strange realistic dreams stuck in my head from when I was asleep, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were now, I forgot them completely about 4 hours after I woke up.

From Steve’s point of view, in a nutshell, I had started acting weird when I had gotten the water from the kitchen. He said that he was trying to talk to me but I would just have this blank stare like I couldn’t see him, and then ran outside into my shed in the backyard and started talking to myself, and after an hour or so I ran out of the shed with this scared shitless look on my face and fell down, and crawled back into the house, into the bathroom and he said I was trying to drink out of the toilet, he pulled me up and carried me into the kitchen and put down on the floor and got some ice for me. He said I was talking in my sleep and saying random words in no logical order whatsoever but I was saying them fluently like I knew what I was talking about. Before my mom came home, he carried me upstairs and put me to bed, and stayed up to watch me, and he said I was talking out loud and moving around like I was having nightmares, and around midnight I sprang out of bed and ran into the bathroom and got in the shower for an hour and then went back into my room and put a shirt on backwards and some boxers but no pants and ran downstairs and stood in the kitchen for 10 minutes, just standing there. He said then I freaked out and ran upstairs into my room and he said he had to push me onto my bed and hold me down until I stopped moving, and eventually fell asleep, then he did. He woke up around 10 that day and I slept till 5.

To sum it up in one word...insanity. That’s what if feels like if you start to snap out of it and realize what’s happening, but then you just go back into this state of total confusion and its enough to drive anyone crazy. Overall I am glad I experienced this, just to know what its like, but this is not for everyone, and I’m not saying the experience was at all pleasant, so I have no motivation to do it again anytime soon, maybe someday years from now just for some crazy fun. But this Datura seems to be something not of this world. The hallucinations were accompanied by delirium and confusion which made them seem real and like I wasn’t really tripping. This stuff truly is THE DEVIL’S WEED.

Let’s get back to the presentation.

T+ 10:34

Let’s discuss this book briefly and why it’s important. Primitive Physick, as stated in the presentation, was written by one of the cofounders of Methodism. Materia Medica and herbal remedy books were incredibly common at the time and Primitive Physick is John Wesley’s proprietary version. In this book, it describes over 300 ailments with over 800 herbal cures for them. One I found quite notable was for “Vigilia, Inability to Sleep” or insomnia. One of the cures listed for this ailment on page 111 is “a Poultis of Henbane and Poppy-Seed, beaten together”. Opium puts the user to sleep while the nightshade, Henbane, will certainly give them incredible dreams and keep them under for many hours longer than the opium itself. Wesley was also really into cold-bathing and electrification; electricity being such a mysterious force of nature in the mid-1700s. I would also like to point out that Wesley’s Primitive Physick includes a section on abortions, how to cause and how to prevent them, as was common in almost all of these herbal remedy books. That bears significance when we consider Nauvoo and the need for concealing the practice of polygamy. Ability to induce abortions via herbal toxins wasn’t an unknown practice until John C. Wreck-it Bennett came along, half a dozen church leaders were just as capable of inducing them as Bennett was. Notably as well, many of the herbal remedy books also contains salves and ointments for relieving symptoms of STIs, which would have come in handy particularly in the Nauvoo-era of Mormonism. Notably, counselor to Joseph Smith, Frederick G. Williams, had a proprietary herbal remedy he titled “bachelor’s delight,” although I’m unable to find the ingredients to know if it was most likely used to alleviate burning genitals or as an intoxicant to put women who were resilient to the practice of polygamy into a more suggestible state of mind.

T+ 11:30

I want to take a second to talk about this History of Drugs books by Pierre Pomet from 1748. This book is absolutely incredible. You can find a copy on archive.org and I highly recommend it. The book is simply beautiful. What I find notable about this book isn’t just that it includes extensive descriptions and pictures of various herbs, but that herbal remedies are only one section of the book. It also includes a massive section on animals from around the globe with artist’s representations. There are hand-drawn pictures of alligators, goats and unicorns, elephants and rhinos, skinks, even whales, which are hilarious, and a dozen other animals that were mysterious to western cultures and readers. But, the most notable section of the History of Drugs includes the medicinal and practical properties of metals and minerals. In the section about stones, it lists the “Nephritick stone” spelled very similar to Nephi. The medicinal properties of the Nephritick stone apparently helped with “gravel in the kidneys,” kidney stones, and the user hangs the Nephritick stone near their thigh and it apparently draws out the kidney gravel. But, one of the visual descriptions of the stone is remarkable. “Of latter Years there is brought into Use for the same Diseases, a brown smooth, shining Stone, which they call, from its great Virtues, the Divine Stone;”

The books describes other healing properties of the Nephritick stone and its use in divination or scrying, but I find it remarkable that the visual description matches closely with the smooth chocolate-colored stone used for scrying by Joseph Smith. Once again, this History of Drugs books is absolutely remarkable

Let’s get back to the presentation.

T+ 16:26

Brief pause here. This is a point I tried to drive home during the original Sunstone presentation on the Smith-entheogen theory. When Cody had done his portion of the presentation, he and I crafted a game together where we alluded to and played with some of these codenames. I, in my ignorance, introduced the game in a way which was dismissive of the world of herbal remedies, but the central point of the game still remained intact. This is possibly the most important point in the presentation you’re listening to now, specific herbs and roots could only be identified by codenames which were only known by initiates who had studied under the watchful eye of an adept herbal remedy practitioner. Sacred words for sacred knowledge.

Let’s get into the occult:

T+ 23:10 First off, that joke was terrible but that’s what happens when I go off script. What I really want to take note of here is the passage from Agrippa. Due to time constraints of the presentation, I cut a significant portion of that passage, but there’s so much incredible information there when read through the eyes of mycovision.

Let no man wonder how great things suffumigations can do in the air, especially when he shall with Porphyrius consider that by certain vapors, exhaling from proper suffumigations, airy spirits are presently raised, as also thunderings and lightnings, and such like things… There are also suffumigations under opportune influences of the Stars that make the images of spirits forthwith appear in the air or elsewhere… Also it is said, that a fume made of the root of the reedy herb sagapen, with the juice of hemlock and henbane, and the herb tapsus barbatus, red sanders, and black poppy, makes spirits and strange shapes appear; and if smallage be added to them, the fume chaseth away spirits from any place and destroys their visions. In like manner, a fume made of calamine, peony, mints, and palma christi, drives away all evil spirits and vain imaginations.

Here is where Agrippa seemingly jumps into codenames for certain plants and herbs, although some could be literal. It’s tough to know for sure without being a 17th-century occult practitioner what he’s really saying with this next passage.

Moreover, it is said that by certain fumes certain animals are gathered together and also put to flight, as Pliny mentions concerning the stone liparis, that with the fume thereof all beasts are called out. So the bones in the upper part of the throat of a hart, being burnt, gather all the serpents together; but the horn of the hart, being burnt, doth with its fume chase them all away. The same doth a fume of the feathers of peacocks. Also, the lungs of an ass, being burnt, puts all poisonous things to flight; the fume of the burnt hoof of a horse drives away mice; the same doth the hoof of a mule; with which, also, if it be the hoof of the left foot, flies are driven away. And, they say, if a house or any place be smoked with the gall of a cuttle-fish, made into a confection with red storax, roses, and lignum-aloes, or lignaloes, and if then there be some sea-water, or blood, cast into that place, the whole house will seem to be full of water or blood; and if some earth of plowed ground be cast there, the earth will seem to quake. Now, such kinds of vapors, we must conceive, do infect any body and infuse a virtue into it, which doth continue long, even as any contagious or poisonous vapor of the pestilence, being kept for two years in the wall of a house infects the inhabitants, and as the contagion of pestilence, or leprosy, lying hid in a garment, doth long after infect him that wears it. {An early thought of germ theory which I found quite interesting. This passage and much of this book was used for medical purposes and I can’t find any earlier allusion or thought given to some form of germ theory than this book from the early 1600s.} Therefore were certain suffumigations used to affect images, rings, and such like instruments of magic and hidden treasures, and, as Porphyrius saith, very effectually. So, they say, if any one shall hide gold or silver, or any other precious thing, the Moon being in conjunction with the Sun, and shall fume the hiding place with coriander, saffron, henbane, smallage, and black poppy, of each a like quantity, bruised together, and tempered with the juice of hemlock, that which is so hid shall never be found or taken away; and that spirits shall continually keep it, and if any one shall endeavor to take it away he shall be hurt by them and shall fall into a frenzy.

I know this is all tough to listen to, and I promise, it’s even harder to decode, but essentially Agrippa is saying that a person who is attempting to conceal buried treasure will do so by suffumigating coriander, saffron, henbane, smallage, and opium, all mixed together in the juice of hemlock. By doing so, they invoke a protection spell over their buried treasure. In other places in this book along with other occult books, it describes how these binding spells are broken by similar methods along with magic circles using iron or witch-hazel rods in the ground around the supposed location of the buried treasure, which is found by a diviner or scryer using their magic implements. This whole system of occult and treasure digging is internally cohesive, and I make the argument that much of the mindset is driven by suffumigations and the ritualism that provides the set and setting for the suffumigated dosage to take proper effect.

I want to read a small portion from 2 chapters ahead, chapter 45 page 187 titled “Of Collyries, Unctions, Love-Medicines, and their Virtues.”

He begins with talking about unguents (ointments or salves) and collieries (eye-drops) providing the psychoactive effects of the plants used to make them.

Moreover, collieries, and unguents, conveying the virtues of things natural and celestial to our spirit, can multiply, transmute, transfigure, and transform it accordingly, as also transpose those virtues which are in them into it; that so, it cannot act only upon its own body, but also upon that which is near it, and affect that by visible rays, charms, and by touching it with some like quality… Hence by the touch sometimes sickness, poisonings, and love is induced; some things, as the hands or garmets, being anointed. Also by kisses, some things being held in the mouth, love is induced;…

This is troubling if we think of the ramifications of the practices Agrippa is here detailing. He’s literally talking about date-rape drugs that are held in the mouth and transferred through a kiss, kept on the tip of a finger whereby the predator touches their prey and the effect is transferred by transdermal application, or just by rubbing some of the oil on their clothes, thereby anointing them to be charmed by the Love-Medicine. Why were witches so feared by learned men? They could put the men under their spell and cause them to do all sorts of things. What did Jo do when one of his teenage wives wasn’t fully on board with becoming one of his wives? Met with them and told them they would receive a spiritual confirmation, after which they would go home and have visions of angels with swords or conjured spirits. When we think of the term aphrodisiac, sure it can mean something that lulls somebody into a state of fiery passion, but it can also mean something that puts them in a suggestible hypnotic trance where they lose all their rational faculties and no longer suffer from those pesky Victorian sexual ideals. If you think Joseph Smith was above drugging women for his own personal gain, you and I have a very different Joseph Smith living in our minds. Agrippa provides an example of a witch using hypnotic herbs to seduce men.

The same opinion was of Austin of, for, he saith, whilst he was in Italy, he heard of some women that by giving sorceries in cheese to travelers, turned them into working cattle, and when they had done such work as they would have them, turned them into men again; and that this befell a certain priest called Prestanitius.

This chapter is full of incredible stuff. He talks about suffumigations or unctions that cause men to speak in their sleep, to walk and do things which are done by men that are awake; “and sometimes to do those things which men that are awake cannot or dare not do.” He continues to describe various hallucinations induced by these powerful plants.

Some there are that make us to hear horrid or delectable sounds, and such like. And this is the cause why maniacal and melancholy men believe they see and hear those things without which their imagination doth only fancy within; hence they fear things not to be feared, and fall into wonderful and most false suspicions, and fly when non pursueth them; are also angry and contend, nobody being present, and fear where no fear is.

These all read to me like symptoms of nightshade hallucinations. People fearing where there is nothing to fear. People see and hear things only their imagination fancies within. People fall into false suspicions and run away from something only they can see. These hallucinations aren’t typical of most psychedelics, but fit perfectly within the profile of the hexing herbs known as the nightshade family. One final reading from Agrippa:

Such like passions also can magical confections induce, by suffumigations, by collyries, by unguents, by potions, by poisons, by lamps and lights, by looking-glasses, by images, enchantments, charms, sounds and music. Also by divers rites, observations, religions and superstitions; all which shall be handled in their places.

Agrippa acknowledges what’s known by users of entheogens today. A person can get into these altered states of consciousness through ritualism he calls “divers rites, observations, religions, and superstitions, but psychedelics provide a shortcut. This is a point I failed to make in the presentation for lack of time, but Cody wonderfully illustrated during his portion of the 2017 Sunstone presentation, which, of course, you can find in the backlog or the video of it on YouTube.

Let’s get back to the presentation.

T+ 30:22

I’ve done my best to massage and work the audio to make these questions audible. It may be tough to hear and understand everything and the audio fluctuates a bit, so I’m sorry about that, but please stick around for the Q&A section because it provides the opportunity to dive deeper into the context and evidence for the theory. The first person asking a question is a scholar named Clyde Forsberg who flew to New York from Kyrgyzstan just for the John Whitmer Conference. Asking you listeners to travel to St. George for next year’s conference isn’t too much to ask, right? I’ll most certainly be presenting an update to this update on the Smith-entheogen theory at next year’s St. George, Utah conference.

That does it for the update on the Smith-entheogen theory after it resting for nearly 2 years since the Sunstone presentation by Cody Noconi and yours truly. Of course, this was merely a high-level overview of all the data going in to the Smith-entheogen book that will come out when I finish it, whenever that might be. A paper about all of this will be coming out in the Journal of Psychedelic Studies soon and I got some amazing feedback from this presentation that will allow me to focus and retool a working draft of another paper for submission to the John Whitmer Journal. The social science of history happens by degrees and moves at a glacial pace, but hopefully you can tell from the Q&A section that many people are looking forward to academic journal papers and the book on this provocative subject.

The immediate feedback was great. Everybody in attendance was super engaged and after the presentation Brian and I were surrounded by a gang of folks with dozens of questions. The resounding conclusion of everybody who talked to me afterwards was telling me to get this research out there because they want to see it.

A small anecdote for all the listeners, Dan Vogel attended the presentation which made me very happy to see. For those of you who don’t know the name, Vogel is one of the current foremost scholars on Joseph Smith. I read from his source and text critical edition of the History of the Church nearly every episode and few people have done more to shed light on the life of Joseph Smith through original documents than Dan Vogel has. Notably, Dan is quite skeptical of the Smith-entheogen theory and of my work in general because he doesn’t think Mormon history is a story to be told, so much as a rigorous academic battlefield on which he’s been a general for over 3 decades. It’s fun, though, because he’s so incredibly skeptical but I believe he has a morbid fascination with the Smith-entheogen theory, even if he doesn’t believe there’s much merit to it. His feedback to me after the presentation was that I’m a good presenter, but that he wishes I picked a different subject, which made me laugh. Vogel is a fierce academic and my presentation walk fine lines of academic mixed with entertainment value, which I believe he thinks degrades the sanctity of the field. My overall point in telling about Dan is that I’m very excited for the future of publishing on the Smith-entheogen theory because I have reason to believe that Dan, as a fellow atheist, may be one of the harshest critics. Good. I welcome criticism because so far the only criticism on the theory, in general, that I’ve received is that I haven’t published it in an academic journal yet. I need somebody like Dan to take the theory seriously and contend with it critically so it can truly experience the rigor of the academic field necessary to cull away the weak evidence and spotlight the strong. I also quipped to him that if he tried a psychedelic once it might change his mind… he laughed, whether it was at the remark or at me, I couldn’t tell.

One of the people who asked a question during the Q&A was Barbara Jones Brown, the executive director of the Mormon History Association, a well-renowned historian, a BYU and UofU journalism and historian graduate respectively, and a believing historian who’s worked with Rick Turley and many other official historians for the church on various. She and I had a wonderful conversation after the presentation and she gave me some fantastic ideas to help substantiate the theory. I’m excited to tell all of you about it but that’s only going to patrons of the show over at patreon.com/nakedmormonism as my way of saying thank you for providing the resources necessary to research and present this information. Patrons will also get a story about a super-secret special history tour I attended during the conference. Knowing the right historians certainly has its perks.

New patrons +- $X

To wrap up today, I just want to say that the John Whitmer Historical Association is truly a remarkable conference. The caliber of historians and scholars who comprise the majority of attendees makes it an amazing academic experience, and the presentations are fascinating.

Here are a few of the sessions during this year’s conference:

Frederick Douglass & Joseph Smith III: The Memoir Revisited by Kevin W. Bryant, Joseph Smith’s Courting: Plural Marriage in Nauvoo by Susan Staker, The Art of Polygamy by Kelly McAfee, The Spirit, like a Fire: A World for Joseph Smith by Rick Grunder, and the Family That Built Canals by my personal friend and moderator of the presentation you just listened to, Vickie Speek. This is the absolute cutting-edge of Mormon history research and if you wonder where I get my history from to bring to the show, it’s from the articles, books, and presentations provided by this body of unequalled historians and scholars. These people provide the foundation for the narrative you listen to every week on the show and I’m forever indebted to all of them for their tireless efforts and decades of constant, unwavering research.

Next year, in late September, JWHA will be in St. George, Utah. I know a lot of you listeners live in Utah and probably some of you even live in St. George. I implore you to consider attending next year, or at least keep the possibility of attending in the back of your mind. If you listen to this show, you have enough of a historical foundation of Mormonism to understand the presentations in proper historical context and why each session is important. You’ll likely meet some of the historians whose work I frequently cite on this podcast. Maybe you’ll bring your copy of their books with you to get autographs or buy a copy from one of the book retailers there to have the author sign. JWHA is a great gathering of the greatest minds in Mormon history and it’s completely unbounded by the correlated Brighamite narrative most of us were taught beginning in our childhoods. Maybe I’ll see you there next year.

Thanks for tuning in, I hope to talk at you next time, here, on the Naked Mormonism Podcast.

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