magic mushrooms
Psychedelic, church sacrament, or both?

Like many churchgoers, the members of one Bay Area congregation are slowly returning to in-person services, excited to see friends they haven’t seen in over a year and finally resume worship amongst their fellow believers.

It’s a story that’s playing out in pews across America, but this San Francisco church is a bit different. While churchgoers elsewhere are likely taking the standard bread and wine as sacrament, this church’s congregants are instead taking substances like LSD and psychedelic mushrooms.

Finding a Higher Power

The church has requested that news outlets refrain from publishing it’s full name, for obvious reasons. Led by the enigmatic Pastor Bob, they employ all manner of psychedelics to reach enlightenment during worship. As Pastor Bob explains, “they [guide] us into something ineffable.”

While it might sound like the religious angle is simply an excuse to hang out and do drugs, that’s appparently not really the case. Before congregants can consume any substances, they must first join the church, then undergo a period of safety training and education before they can imbibe under the supervision of a “sacrament carrier.”

Pastor Bob describes them as “healing sacraments,” and proponents say that the use of mushrooms, LSD, or ayahuasca tea can help one achieve transcendence, enlightenment, and a feeling of closeness with a higher power, feelings adherents of other faiths might experience through prayer or meditation.

As one churchgoer, a retired physician, put it, “Through entheogens I’ve had divine experiences. I lost my fear of dying.”

A Growing Legal Issue

Of course, there’s a legal issue at play here. Most psychedelic drugs are currently outlawed federally, although some cities and states have taken measures to legalize or otherwise decriminalize them. One such bill is currently in the works in California, but there's little assurance it will pass.  

Proponents of legalization argue that psychedelics are generally harmless and that their illegal status is pointlessly putting nonviolent people in prison.

For some people, including members of the San Francisco church, legalization goes beyond basic common sense – it's fundamentally a First Amendment issue.

Should There Be Freedom to Trip?

Drug use is currently permitted in only a select few religious rituals.

Some Native American churches can use peyote as part of their religious practice, and a couple of Brazilian religious sects within the United States are allowed to consume ayahuasca tea during their religious rites.

Churches that use psychedelics want to widen that scope, and they say the law is on their side. “I am confident that our practice is legally supported in the United States,” says Pastor Bob. “But demonstrating that to the DEA and the courts could be costly, time-consuming and a real distraction from what we are trying to do.”

They’re hardly the first group in recent years to use drugs in religious ritual. A few years ago, the International Church of Cannabis opened their doors, precipitated on the argument that consumption of marijuana as part of religious ritual “accelerates and deepens [the] process” of creating their best selves.

Turns out, it's also an ancient tradition. Burned cannabis was recently discovered at a religious site in Israel, used as part of an ancient Jewish ritual. Scientists confirmed: it was enough weed to get everyone in the room very high.

It all begs the question: is there really that big of a difference between consuming marijuana, or mushrooms, or LSD as sacrament, compared to bread and wine?

What do you think? Would you take psychedelics as sacrament? Are the congregants of these churches legitimately looking for deeper truths, or just looking for a good high?

62 comments

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Well, for those of you that don't know it, the Isle of Patmos is well known for its "Shrooms", and has been for centuries, possibly millennia. Ever wondered why the Book of Revelations is difficult to read? It was written on the Isle of Patmos. Arguably the most psychedelic book in the whole bible. I wonder why?

    🦁♥️

  1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

    And then they go to the Flat Earth meeting.

    1. Quelyn Purdie's Avatar Quelyn Purdie

      :-D :-D -Quelyn

  1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

    Yeah nope, such so called guides are well documented to take sexual advantage and abuse those under the influence of these substances. If one seeks to use them, they should go and study with shamans and mystics, and then only use them alone in safe and peaceful conditions to allow for an optimal personal experience.

    However I personally find them to be at best crutches for those chasing enlightenment.

    Go and do as I did, and hike to the top of a mountain that over looks a city, and sit there for 3 days and nights with only a rich hearty broth, and natural falvorful fruit tea to consume. Do not let yourself fall asleep and instead meditate on Nature and Civilization, and humankinds place in the world. If by the end of the 3rd day you are still in the darkness, then you may as well walk back into society and accept your place as one of the forever blind, because nothing well ever teach you to see if that has failed to take the scales from your eyes.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      You sound really proud of yourself for climbing a mountain to the top )like a big boy), and sitting there acting like a guru, while starving yourself, Ilmenheru. I guess someone might even look up to you for that...and laugh, wholeheartedly!!!

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I once went to an N.A. birthday meeting, years ago, while high on a yellow butterfly. I laughed my ass of for the whole three hours, and nobody seemed to notice.

    3. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I saw that movie too, Ilmenheru, but I'd rather stay home, and watch the freaky people do such things on T.V. I even go on vision quests in my home. Ofcourse, I do have wildlife DVDs, mountain climbing DVDs, and walking tour DVDs of such exotic and spiritually uplifting places as the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge. I'm also great at mental visualization. So, I can't see any point in going through all that he'll just to sit on top of a mountain, and forget to pack enough food, like you claim to have done. I bet you didn't even have an excelled, complete, awakening, and suddenly transform into a Buddha. However, if you'd stay home and study Deepak Chopra's book The Return Of Merlin, you could turn into a wizard. Then you could blink yourself to the top of a mountain, and blink yourself plenty of food, whenever you want it.

    4. William Sadler's Avatar William Sadler

      Sleep deprivation is an historical-anthropological technique to alter consciousness. Seems REM sleep deprivation causes a variety of temporary psychosis. I can attest to that bit. Fortunately, a few good night sleep sessions cleared up that issue.

    5. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

      Amen 🙏

  1. P. Keith Benefiel's Avatar P. Keith Benefiel

    The creator gave us drugs. Thanks!

    1. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

      That is a misconception. Creator’s will for us is to reach spiritual enlightenment , I agree on that. But he didn’t create artificial ways to get there. People use drugs to make them feel good. Period. It takes them to a higher realm. But to start using drugs to feel ‘ truly spiritual’ that’s an absurd.

  1. Angela Kay Panhorst's Avatar Angela Kay Panhorst

    The Immortality Key by Brian C. Muraresku...definitely a must read for anyone interested in the ancient historical use of psychedelics during religious ceremonies. Were aren't talking about weekly communion here, but more of an annual religious ceremony for initiates and higher in which they needed to make preparations for months in advance. Used in this manner, yes, I do believe it can help people achieve the elusive "oneness" with divine spirit.

    1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

      Thanks for this reference, am going after it now!

  1. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

    As a SHP (Secular Humanist Pantheist) I acknowledge a higher power (the Sun) and I know “creationism” took place, because as our Sun matured, the gasses it spewed out, ended up being our Earth, and all of its fellow planets.

    When Thomas Jefferson, referenced “their creator” in the Declaration of Independence, he was referring to the Sun — which created all life on Earth.

    It’s easy to conclude, that SHP-ism is the best moral philosophy on Earth — because everything a SHP’er likes to do — is good; and everything the SHP’er doesn’t like to do, is bad.

    How can anyone object to SHP’ism?

    1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      Since this church is not a recognized religion, like the navaho is when they use peyote. Then if they get caught the "pastor" will be charged with the possession of illegal substances and the charge of intent to distribute which carries (depending on how much he or she had) a possible life sentence in prison. And the Congregation will also be charged with the possession of a controlled and illegal substance. Sorry but that is the law. And no this does not violate the 1st Amendment.

      1. William Sadler's Avatar William Sadler

        And you attended what law school? Seems to me that your knowledge of .Dine, Navajo culture is a bit weak. Now, John M. Allegro, PhD, wrote a book called "The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross". Find it. Buy/Read it. R. Gordon Wasson (psylocibin mushrooms used in Mexico) & Albert Hoffman (discovered LSD 25) wrote about sacred fungi and historical religious-healing uses in "The Road to Eleusis". The possible list is extensive. Our laws change as we evolve. Our knowledge should, as well.

        1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

          Dont need to attend any law school when the navaho freely admit they use peyote in their religious ceremonies. Not to mention the Navaho that was arrested for having peyote on his person. This went to the US Supreme Court which ruled The use in Native American Church ceremonies or traditional Indian religious use, regardless of race, is legal under US federal law and additional uses are legal under some state laws, peyote is listed by the United States DEA as a Schedule I controlled substance.

          So you have just been proved ignorant of this issue therefor the rest of your post makes about as much sense, which is no sense at all.

    2. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      Sorry but no, he specifically mentioned the SON, not the Sun. make sure you get it correct and not spew your opinion

    3. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      It's very bad to be totally hood all the time, and the opposite is also true. It's much better to be well balanced in every way. As long as that evil isn't hurting anyone, it can be a lot of fun. I've always hated being around totally nice people. And if you survive on this blog for long William, we'll make a believer out of you, and you'll lose all interest in being a goodie-two-shoes.

    4. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

      Never heard of SHP before. Is it a new psychedelic drugs?

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    Psychdelics are an illegal drug Who really needs to trip out whilst at church or anywhere else in life.Only. Smoked a bit of weed 40 odd years ago with my brother.2 or 3 puff's.No thanks no drugs for me It's a mugs game.We had a Drug dealer/User in my street in UK but thanks to my providing info to the police.She got raided Twice and banned from her apartment.Not when you have kids on the street I'm teetotal and have been for over 5 years.my only vice is cigarettes which is difficult to stop

    1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

      Did you forget the Harvard divinity research done in the 60s? The priests who took the psychedelic drugs turned out to be better priests.

      1. William Sadler's Avatar William Sadler

        My friend,Paul Lee, PhD, was a participant. He didn't get the psylocibin. He told me he wished he'd gotten the entheogen.

      2. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

        I’d make a slight correction by saying that if they did turn out better priests it’s because the drugs helped them ( so are some psychiatric patients after taking prescription drugs appear to be in better state of mind). Try becoming a better priest when you are not on drugs. That’s where true power of spiritual leader lies - not in drugs but in ability to achieve that kind of state of consciousness, not altering mind with artificial stuff .

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Nicholas, not all hallucinogens are illegal in any nation. Some are even common household items. The spice nutmeg for instance is definitely a hallucinogen. And you're not likely to be arrested if a few pop up above your cow's thirds, in your backyard. Try brewing some tea out of it, and see what happens. Think about god while sipping it, and you might even have a burning bush experience. There are many other examples. It's not illegal or immoral to feel euphoric, depending on what substance caused you to feel that way. Some hallucinogens are even used in some religious rituals. Even tobacco is a hallucinogen. It creates a false sense of security. Atleast try a cup of coffee while smoking. It will make you feel a lot better. Also, it isn't healthy to go around telling people that you're a snitch.

      1. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

        That’s exactly the reason why people use hallucinogens - to make them feel better. Nothing to do with spirituality. Religious leaders know they can easily control their people when they are in hallucinogenic stage. It’s easy to figure out. Same reason guys offer girls free drinks at the bar.

    3. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

      For my fellow clergy persons (I’m a ULC Bishop) I’d like to offer a guaranteed method of giving up smoking.

      My mom quit this way, and she only smoked one more time until she smoked no more.

      After she died from lung cancer, she’s smoked for the last time, when she was cremated— maybe this sorry story is enough to get a few of my fellow clergy persons, to quit — without doing what my mom did in order to finally quit.

    4. Brien's Avatar Brien

      Your life choices are admirable and I applaud you for them. So, tell me, is it acceptable to go out for a couple of drinks and dinner after chuch? Many people of the more known religions do just that. Alcohol is a drug, and as you know so is nicotine, both proven to cause death. I am not saying that I agree or disagree with whatever flavor of the day belief that is being discussed here, I am just interested in where you draw the line. Peace ☮️

    5. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

      Cig smokers are worse then any other junkie, and you prove exactly why with your arrogance and lack of self awareness. You smoking them has most certainly caused more harm to others then that weed dealer ever did that you in the spirit of evil sought to cause harm because you dared to think yourself their better.

      Anyone who takes up tobacco is the lowest of the low, the most degenerate and weak of will and has helped to cause death and sickness to many many more lives then any other substance abuser in the history of the human race.

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        I'll smoke to that! But only cigars, and maybe an occasional blunt, but never those vile, disgusting, low-life cigarettes!!! Please, excuse me while I fire one up, your imminency, from your most exalted place, above Mount Everest.

      2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        Fairytales, can come true, they can happen to you...

    6. Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.'s Avatar Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.

      Cigarettes are a highly addictive drug, and their use is responsible for a huge number of deaths. I have no criticism that your only vice is one of the most addictive drugs on Earth.

      In Brazil, there are many thousands of churches where vision-producing plant medicines are the principal sacrament. Government research has shown that these churches are the ONLY place where people have stopped using the drugs you are talking about.

  1. Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.'s Avatar Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.

    The Bible is full of prophets having visions. There are many such religions active in Brazil with numbers such as 150 participants at each meeting continuing this tradition. This is mainstream there, There are politicians who participate in such sacraments there, who are popular with the voting public. Native Americans enjoy this right to their sacraments. There are churches in the USA who have legal exemption to use these sacraments, both traditional Native American and Brazilian style.

    Anybody who wants to have religious prejudice against these sacraments should first remove all pages from their Bible of prophets having visions, from both New and Old Testaments.

    1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      prove that they were on Drugs...you cant so your post is utter stupidity

      1. William Sadler's Avatar William Sadler

        Prove that they were not using "drugs". The Roman catacombs where early Christians held their unlawful ceremonies, by Roman law, have frescos depicting the tree of life as a mushroom, Amanita Muscaria. That's the red topped with white spots familiar to many fairy story illustrations. The one reindeer sometimes eat, whose urine passes the psychoactive substance onto the snow, then consumed by Tungusic shamans. And, Santa Claus in his red and white suit drives a sleigh with flying reindeer, on Christmas Eve. Hmmm.

        1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

          Sorry but I dont have to prove anything. Barkley was the one claiming they used drugs therefor YOU and Barkley are the ones that has to prove they did. Not to informed on this are you?

          1. Lyndy Borden's Avatar Lyndy Borden

            asks for proof someone gives proof completely ignores proof, condescendingly calls other person ill-informed

            Look at that, I found a Christian moron on the internet. Those are sooooo rare these days.

            1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

              Sorry Lyndy but fact and reality are not wrong just because you may think it so. He claimed they used drugs, and I asked him to prove it. He has not and here you go whining and crying yet again. Must be magic to live in your house when you get corrected all the time.

    2. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

      Very poor argument. ‘anyone with ‘religious prejudice’ completely irrelevant to what true faith is really all about.

  1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

    "One such bill is currently in the works in California, but there's little assurance it will pass.

    Proponents of legalization argue that psychedelics are generally harmless and that their illegal status is pointlessly putting nonviolent people in prison."

    First, the remark on the bill is stupid because it is vague. What are the chances the bill will pass, how does it poll?

    Second, these drugs were made illegal because their use upset conservatives, who believed that young people would no longer go to war...do some history digging, that was the only reason. It was in response to young people protesting, and refusing, the draft to go to war for purely political and financial gain of the proponents, and to pick up after the French Colonials fell apart in their SE Asian wars, with no logical benefit otherwise. Has nothing to do with anything else except commerce.

    1. William Sadler's Avatar William Sadler

      I agree. But, there were other factors. The pharmaceutical industry and some psychiatrists don't like competition. MDMA was outlawed in 1985. There was no draft or combat in Vietnam. Problem was ignorant drug abusive street kids flooding the free clinics in the Bay Area overdosed on Ecstasy. I used it briefly when it was still legal. Had profound and mostly positive experiences. I stopped when it was outlawed, purity and cost, and the fact that I didn't need it anymore.

      1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

        "...didn't like the competition."

        Yes, thank you for mentioning! That is very much true and part of the picture. Pharmaceuticals impede and "catch and kill" much research that offers improvements and cures, because it limits their "sick care for a lifetime" business profits model. Yes Yes Yes.

        I wonder how many here know that the original anti-abortion laws were engineered in the 1850s by physicians, who had them outlawed because mid-wives were doing abortions and cutting into the physicians' business. Notice that has nothing to do with religion, or saving unborn children's lives for religious beliefs, or any of that. Again, documented history identified by professional historians.

      2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        I didn't try ecstasy until after it was outlawed. It's only fun to use illegal drugs. Just don't get caught.

  1. Rev Nolan's Avatar Rev Nolan

    Wow. And I thought their Book of Mormon was trippy!

  1. Kevin Michael Meyer's Avatar Kevin Michael Meyer

    Comment removed by user.

  1. Kevin Michael Meyer's Avatar Kevin Michael Meyer

    It is not our job to criticize or judge anyone. If this church needs drugs to bring them closer to their god them so be it. As for myself…my savior lives within me. I don’t need anything of this earth to bring him closer to me. He is already a part of me.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      I saw that episode on the X-Files Kevin, where someone was inside of another person. I wonder if your savior came from the same planet. That's really cool, man, how they're able to do that. However, I'll pass. I don't want anyone climbing inside of me.

    2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Thank you for that claim Kevin. I'm curious if you have managed to delude yourself with anything else that is totally unsupportive with any factual evidence using logic and reason.

      If I was to say that the spirit of the Lord Krishna dwells within me, and is part of me, and I don’t need anything of this earth to bring him closer to me, do you by any chance see how silly that sounds. And more to the point, how delusional that statement really is, yet you will presumably defend your statement as being perfectly rational?

      It's actually very schizophrenic, akin to someone saying they talk to someone that isn't there, and feel their presence of someone that no one else can see, and it speaks to them. There is actually medication for these type of people. You are fortunate though because the get-out-of-jail card is the religious connotation you will apply to it, so you are safe there. Anyway, thank you for your comment.

      By-the-way, living in a country of freedom and liberty we actually can criticize, and also judge people if we want to. I criticize Biden as being the worst incoherent, bumbling, President we have ever had. I won't mention Pelosi or Kamala, because they worth it. Others will make similar disparaging remarks about Trump, Obama, Clinton et al. It's the way we are.

      🦁♥️

    3. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

      Kevin, drugs don’t bring anyone closer to god. Drugs help religious leaders to control people (sexually abuse them, etc) Please educate yourself better on that subject matter.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    All things considered Kevin, I'm surprised you go by your whole name.

  1. Natasha Jean Lacy's Avatar Natasha Jean Lacy

    There are churches all over the US that do this work and use entheogenic sacraments. Including my own, World Tree Sanctuary!

  1. Tammy Lyn Deschesne's Avatar Tammy Lyn Deschesne

    You DON'T need drugs to have an experience with Our Lord Jesus Christ

    1. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

      Amen 🙏

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      There is no such thing as "our" Lord Jesus Christ, Tammy.

  1. William Sadler's Avatar William Sadler

    I attend a common denomination church where many of the attendees actually believe that a construction worker who was executed 2021 years ago: a- was born of a sexually inexperienced girl, b- was divinely fathered, c- never had sex or used any psychoactive substance other than alcohol in his 33 years, d- died and returned from the dead, and e- forgave everyone always for the horrible and/or stupid things we sometimes do. I like the members of the church. They do good stuff. I don't believe the mythology.

    1. Natasha Victorovna Martinelli's Avatar Natasha Victorovna Martinelli

      That means you only rely on your logical mind and see things on a physical level. You can’t see it from a higher spiritual level.

    2. Angel's Avatar Angel

      Just don't drink the kool-aid...

  1. Rev. Jonathan Peebles's Avatar Rev. Jonathan Peebles

    This has been hapening forever and as long as it doesnt hurt anyone else and you do it safetly who cares how you find you way to spiritual enlightenment. I dont know about mushrooms cause they are discusting to me personally but many herbs where created just for this I believe

  1. Sergiy Kozulya's Avatar Sergiy Kozulya

    Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Here is the link: cannabis was grown on the territory of a prayer house in the Crimea. https://www.3652.ru/news/3154615/v-krymu-na-territorii-molitvennogo-doma-vyrasivali-konoplu

  1. Angel's Avatar Angel

    They all are going to get COVID anyway's, so let them decide how they are going to get it...

  1. Todd Radus's Avatar Todd Radus

    Recent studies have show that psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) caused neurons to grow new receptors for up to 25 days in the brains of mice. Additional studies are showing that 3 treatments over 3 months of psilocybin is curing anxiety disorders and depression. In the 60's psilocybin was being studied and showing great promise in treating many mental health disorders. This all came to a crashing halt when the drug war was started by Nixon.

    God provided everything we need to remain healthy, many of todays most successful drugs are derived from nature.

  1. Mark Joseph Lutz's Avatar Mark Joseph Lutz

    My church is "The Church of Me". Everyone's path to The Devine is as unique as the individual walking it. Christianity may have started with good intentions but it has been hi-jacked by those wishing to control others to get what they want. As more souls that wake up, they are a threat to the established religions.

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