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The bottom-line is that it’s far from absurd – and perhaps entirely reasonable – to think that some early Greek-speaking Christians had hallucinogens in their ritual wines.
Armed with Vatican archives, Greco-Roman texts, and the innovations of archaeochemistry – a new discipline that can isolate the exact chemical makeup of ancestral food and drink – Muraresku traces the rich and vined history of “spiked” wine through the ages. He suggests that the wild parties of Greek Mystery sects – which occurred thousands of years before, and at the time of Jesus – were powered by wines likely imbued with drugs, later making their way into Christianity’s early sacred cups.
It’s a controversial claim to make. The communion wine has been a fixture of Christian worship since the Last Supper, and stands as a core ritual for its 2.5 billion adherents around the world every week of the year. Called to sip the wine and invite the presence of Jesus, Christians believe that the wine becomes the blood of Christ (metaphorically or literally, depending on the sect) during the Eucharist phase of a church service, when special Biblical blessings are cast on the drink by the vicar, priest or pastor.
Of course, the vast majority – if not all – of Christianity’s predominant sects would place strong injunctions against hallucinogenic drugs altogether. But as researchers continue digging up the boozy remnants of our ancient past, it may well be that the Church is in for a big and truly shattering surprise.