Council on Spiritual Practices

Food for Centaurs.

Graves, Robert. (1960).
Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co.

ISBN: None

Description: First edition, 382 pages.

Contents: Foreword, sections: 5 stories, 3 talks on poetry, 11 studies in history, 8 critiques of new books, 21 poems.

Notes: In this collection of short stories, essays, and poems, three chapters are of particular interest to psychedelists. In "New Light on an Old Murder" Graves considers the murder of Claudius. At the instigation of Valentina and R. G. Wasson, Graves addresses Claudius' last dinner, which was mushrooms. He suspects that an amanita phalloides, which is poisonous, was included among the amanitas caesare, which are not poisonous. As Claudius subsequently vomited up his dinner, as was his wont, from drinking too much wine, as was his wont, he was later given an enema, ostensibly to help clear the poison. The enema, however, contained colocynth, a gourd which is a purgative in small doses, but poison in large doses. Phalloides + colocynth = R.I.P. Claudius.

In the chapter "Centaurs' Food" Graves supports the Wassons' claim that hallucinatory agents were used in the Eleusinian Mysteries with citations of ancient Greek poetry, plays, statuary, and vase-art.

Excerpt(s): The meaning of "ambrosia," the food of the gods, like "nectar," their drink is: "that which confers immortality." ... At this point, I wrote down the Greek words of the ambrosia recipe, as follows, one underneath the other:


Next I wrote down the nectar recipe, namely honey, water, and fruit:

And also, while I was about it, the recipe for kukeon [Demeter's drink during her search for Persephone] ...


So, if mushrooms were ambrosia, and if ambrosia was mushrooms, be pleased to examine those three sets of initial letters-M-U-K-E-T-A; M-U-K; M-U-K-A. You are at liberty to call me crazy, but I read them as three clear examples of ogham (which was what the ancient Irish bards called the device of spelling out a secret word by using the initial letters of other ordinary words). MUKETA answers the question: "What do the gods eat?"; for MUKETA is the accusative of MUKES ("mushroom"). ... MUKA is an earlier form of the word MUKES ("mushroom"). (pages 264-265)

CSP Home Page
This Compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby
and © 1997 by Council on Spiritual Practices