The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush

Publication Details

    The Mushroom in Christian Art by John A Rush
  • Author: John A Rush
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
  • Format: Paperback


In The Mushroom in Christian Art, author John A. Rush uses an artistic motif to define the nature of Christian art, establish the identity of Jesus, and expose the motive for his murder.

Covering Christian art from 200 CE (common era) to the present, the author reveals that Jesus, the Teacher of Righteousness mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls, is a personification of the Holy Mushroom, Amanita muscaria.

The mushroom, Rush argues, symbolizes numerous mind-altering substances—psychoactive mushrooms, cannabis, henbane, and mandrake—used by the early, more experimentally minded Christian sects. Drawing on primary historical sources, Rush traces the history—and face—of Jesus as being constructed and codified only after 325 CE. The author relates Jesus’s life to a mushroom typology, discovering its presence, disguised, in early Christian art. In the process, he reveals the ritual nature of the original Christian cults, rites, and rituals, including mushroom use. The book authoritatively uncovers Jesus’s message of peace, love, and spiritual growth and proposes his murder as a conspiracy by powerful reactionary forces who would replace that message with the oppressive religious-political system that endures to this day. Rush’s use of the mushroom motif as a springboard for challenging mainstream views of Western religious history is both provocative and persuasive. The package includes an informative DVD with 252 striking color images depicting Christian art, with key motifs indicated by the author.

In a previous review, I revealed how impressed I had been with the book Entheogens and the Development of Culture—a publication that highlighted the impact of psilocybin (magic mushroom) use throughout the world.

Entheogens and the Development of Culture contains a collection of highly enlightening essays written by various experts on the subject.

It was edited by John Rush—the author of this book.

I was initially drawn to the hypothesis that Christianity is based upon the worship of the mushroom—and the veneration of Fly Agaric in particular, through the work of John Allegro and his book The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross: A study of the nature and origins of Christianity within the fertility cults of the ancient Near East.

While Allegro used various processes to support his thesis, including some as diverse as Greek gematria, to expand his argument that Christ and the Christo Mythos is grounded in the shamanic and ritual use of hallucinogenics John Rush has approached the subject from a slightly different angle by looking at examples of early Christian Art for encoded and symbolic references to the good, old sacred mushroom.

The main section of this book is divided into three main parts, each one covering a different era of Christianity’s development.

It starts with the earliest references to Christ around 200CE and takes the reader on to the present day with a look at the religious iconography of the time and how it expressed itself through art.

Rush begins his hypothesis by arguing that Christ and the myths that surround him, are, in fact, not literal but symbollic of the mushroom ingestion process.

Like many writers over the years, he argues that there is little evidence to support the idea that Jesus Christ existed and that he was simply an adaptation of the earlier Egyptian veneration of their God Horus.

Along with the printed book, the author includes a CD of images, replications of the Christian artwork he has investigated for clues.

These are commented on through the book so to get the best from reading it, you need to have access to a computer to decipher the strands of his arguments.


Having approached The Mushroom in Christian Art with a great deal of sympathy towards these ideas, I was hoping to be shown conclusive proof of the existence of the mushroom-worshipping cult within Early Christianity…

However, after reading this book, I was left feeling less, not more, convinced by the argument that Christianity and magic mushrooms are in fact related at all.

This book relies heavily on circumstantial evidence to sustain its hypothesis and sadly, either I need my eyes testing or that evidence is simply not there.

The images supplied on the accompanying CD have been compressed and reproduced at such a small size and low resolution that it is extremely difficult to determine what is being examined within the paintings.

Given that many mushroom symbols contained within the artwork are tiny, indistinct or actually merged within the paintings themselves, the task of determining whether the research is sound or not becomes impossible.

On the occasions when mushroom sort of shapes do seem to be contained in a painting, they are still open to alternative interpretations. There are very few instances when you are left feeling that you are looking at conclusive evidence that mushroom iconography has been encoded into a painting.

Because the book itself relies so heavily on the accompanying images to develop and maintain a particular thread of research, the poor quality of evidence available to the reader completely undermines the author’s arguments.

Although there is a great deal of serious, enlightening and valid re-interpretation of Christianity within its pages, this book simply fails to prove that the priest classes’s use of mushrooms was little more than side practice and not a core feature of their religion.

Sadly, I have to give this book something of a thumbs down. It may well be a valuable contribution towards supporting an argument that Christianity was aware of magic mushrooms and their sacred properties, but the same can be said of many religions, cults, sects and societies throughout the world at that time.

The Mushroom in Christian Art does not, to my mind, provide conclusive proof that, as the author maintains, Christianity IS sacred mushroom use and not just an aspect of it.



Credit: Review copy kindly supplied by North Atlantic Books.