Francis Bacon on Opium, Coffee and Tobacco, etc….

[Francis Bacon on Opium, Coffee and Tobacco, etc. He recommends a yearly course of opium, preferably in spring, but not too much, because while the Turks can handle it, too much kills Englishmen.

Bacon (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English nobleman serving as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor. He is famous as a statesman, philosopher and scientist. He was an acquaintance of John Dee, and a contemporary of Christopher Marlowe (who died in 1593) and of Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake – and of major discoveries from America and Asia, including tobacco and coffee in the English “Age of Discovery.”

His History of Life and Death is a medical text which was well regarded in his time. Here he discusses the use of opiates and other drugs to “calm the spirits,” as we (still) say.]

Francis Bacon’s History Of Life And Death
The Operation Upon The Spirits, That They May Retain Their Youth And Renew Their Vigour.

1. The spirits are the agents and workmen that produce all the effects in the body. This appears manifest both by general consent and by innumerable instances.

2. If it were possible for young spirits to be put into an old body, it is probable that this great wheel might put the lesser wheels in motion, and turn back the course of nature.

3. In every kind of consumption, whether by fire or age, the more the spirit of the thing, or the heat, preys upon the moisture, the shorter is the duration of that thing. This occurs everywhere, and is plain.

4. The spirits are to be put into such a temperament., and such a degree of activity that (as one says) they shall not drink and absorb, but only sip the juices of the body.

5. There are two kinds of flames; the one active but weak, as the flame of straw or chips, that consumes and discharges lighter substances, but has little effect upon the harder; the other strong and steady, as the flame of large timber and the like, which attacks likewise hard and tough bodies.

6. The brisk and yet weak flame dries up bodies, and make them effete and sapless; whilst the strong flame softens and melts them.

7. Of dissipating medicines, some only draw forth the thinner parts of tumours, and thereby harden them; but some discuss them vigorously, acid thereby soften them.

8. Of purging and clearing medicines likewise, some carry suddenly off the more fluid parts, and some draw the more obstinate and viscous.

9. The spirits should be clad and armed with such a heat that they may prefer rather to pluck asunder and undermine the hard and obstinate parts, than to discharge and carry off such as are weak and prepared; for by this means the body becomes fresh and firm.

10. The spirits should be so tempered and ordered, as to become in substance dense, not rare; in heat lasting, not eager; in quantity sufficient for the offices of life, not redundant or excessive; in motion settled, not starting or irregular.

11. Vapours evidently operate powerfully upon the spirits; as is shown by sleep, intoxication, melancholy and mirthful passions, and recovery of the spirits in swoons and fainting fits by odours.

12. The spirits are condensed in four ways; by putting them to flight, by cooling, by soothing, or by quieting them. And first of their condensation by flight.

13. Whatever puts to flight from all sides drives the body to its centre, and therefore condenses.

14. Opium is by far the most powerful and effectual means for condensing the spirits by flight; and next to it opiates and soporifics in general.

15. The power of opium to condense the spirits is very remarkable; for perhaps three grains will in a short time so coagulate them that they cannot separate, but are quenched and rendered immoveable.

16. Opium and similar drugs do not put the spirits to flight by their coldness (for they have parts manifestly warm), but contrariwise they cool by putting the spirits to flight.

17. The flight of the spirits by means of opium and opiates is best seen when they are applied externally; for the spirits instantly retire and will return no more, but the part mortifies and turns to a gangrene.

18. Opiates give relief in great pain, as the stone, or amputation of a limb; principally by putting the spirits to flight.

19. Opiates draw a good effect from a bad cause; for the flight of the spirits is bad, but the condensation thereof by that flight is good.

20. The Greeks imputed much to opium, both for health, and prolongation of life; but the Arabs still more; so that their higher medicines (which they call “God’s Hands “) have opium for their basis and principal ingredient, with a mixture of other things to counteract and correct the noxious qualities thereof; such are treacle, mithridate, and the like.

21. All remedies successfully used in pestilential aid malignant diseases to check and curb the spirits, lest they become unruly and turbulent, may be advantageously transferred to the prolongation of life. For the condensation of the spirits, which is best secured by opiates, is beneficial in both cases.

22. The Turks find opium, even in large quantities, innocent and cordial, so that they even take it before a battle to give them courage. But to us, except in small quantities, and with strong correctives, it is fatal.

23. Opium and opiates are clearly found to excite the sexual passion, which shows their power to strengthen the spirits.

24. Distilled water of the wild poppy being doubtless a mild opiate, is successfully given in surfeit, fevers, and various diseases; and let no one wonder at the variety of its use. For this is common to opiates, as the spirits being strengthened and condensed will fight against any disease.

25. The Turks use likewise a kind of herb, called ” coffee,” which they dry, grind to powder, and drink in warm water. They affirm that it gives no small vigour both to their courage and their wit. Yet this taken in large quantities will excite and disturb the mind; which shows it to be of a similar nature to opiates.

26. There is a certain root, celebrated through all the East, called ” betel,” which the Indians and others use to carry in their mouths, and chew ; whereby they are wonderfully re-freshed, and enabled to endure fatigues, and throw off disorders, and strengthened for sexual intercourse. It appears to be a kind of narcotic, because it blackens the teeth exceedingly.

27. The use of tobacco has immensely increased in our time. It affects men with a kind of secret pleasure, so that persons once accustomed to it can scarce leave it off: It tends no doubt to relieve the body, and remove weariness; and its virtue is commonly thought to lie in this, that it opens the passages and draws off the humours. But it may be more properly referred to the condensation of the spirits; for it is a kind of henbane, and manifestly affects the head, as all opiates do.

28. Humours are sometimes generated in the body, which are a kind of opiates themselves; as is found in some kinds of melancholy, wherewith if a man be seized, he is very long-lived.

29. Simple opiates, which are likewise called narcotics and stupefactives, are opium itself, which is the juice of the poppy, the plant and seed of the poppy, henbane, mandragora, hem-lock, tobacco, and nightshade.

30. Compound opiates are, treacle, mithridate, trifera, laudanum of Paracelsus, diacodium, diascordium, philonium, and pills of houndstongue.

31. From these observations certain directions or advices may be drawn for the prolongation of life, according to this intention, namely, the condensing of the spirits by opiate.

32. From youth upwards, therefore, let there be every year a kind of opiate diet. Let it be taken at the end of May; for in summer the spirit: are most wasted and weakened, and there is less fear of cold humours. Let the opiate be of a superior kind, not so strong as those in use, either as to the quantity of opium or to the proportion of very hot ingredients. Let it be taken in the morning between sleeps. Let the diet at the time be more simple and sparing, without wine, spices, or things that produce vapours. Let the medicine be taken only on alternate days, and be continued for a fortnight. Such directions appear to me to answer the intention satisfactorily.

33. Opiates may not only be taken through the mouth, but likewise inhaled in the form of smoke; but it should be such as not to excite the expulsive faculty too strongly, nor draw out the humours, but only to work upon the spirits within the brain for a short time. Wherefore a suffumigation of tobacco, lign-aloes, dried leaves of rosemary, and a little myrrh, inhaled in the morning through the mouth and nostrils, would be very beneficial.

34. In the powerful opiates, as -theriacum, mithridate, and the rest, it would not be amiss, especially in youth, to take the distilled waters rather than the bodies themselves. For in distillation the vapour rises, while the heat of the inodicine generally settles; and distilled waters in the virtues conveyed by vapours are mostly good, in others weak.

35. Some medicines have a degree, weak and secret,- and therefore safe, of opiate virtue. These impart a slow and abundant vapour, but not malignant, as opiates do. And hence they do not put the spirits to flight, but yet they collect and somewhat thicken them.

36. The medicines that make opiates are, first of all saffron and its flowers; then Indian leaf, ambergris, a preparation of coriander seed, amomum and pseudamomum, lignum Rho-dium, orange-flower water, or better still, the infusion of fresh orange-flowers in oil of almonds, nutmegs pricked full of holes and soaked in rose-water.

37. Though opiates, as has been mentioned, are to be used seldom and at certain times, yet this secondary kind may be taken frequently and in daily diet, and will conduce greatly to the prolongation of life. An apothecary of Calieut, by the use of amber, is said to have lived 160 years; and the nobles of Barbary, where the common people are short-lived, are found by a use of the same means to be long-lived. Our own an-cestors, who were longer-lived than we arc, made great use of saffron, in cakes, broths, and the like. And so much for the first means of condensing the spirits; namely, by opiates and their subordinates.

Pasted from <>

Theatricum Botanicum—Wikipedia on Psilocybin makes reference to a “foolish mushroom…

[Wikipedia on Psilocybin makes reference to a “foolish mushroom,” mentioned in John Parkinson’s 1640 herbal, suggesting it was a Psilocybin-containing mushroom and that its effects were recognised in the mid-seventeenth century England. The reference Wikipedia offers says the same thing. Going directly to Parkinson’s herbal it still isn’t clear on a quick perusal if it’s Psilocybin, despite Parkinson’s being an herbal.]

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

“English botanist John Parkinson included details about a ‘foolish mushroom’ in his 1640 herbal Theatricum Botanicum.”

Pasted from <>

[…But the reference isn’t directly to Parkinson’s Theatricum Botanicum. It’s a reference to a brief mention of Parkinson’s work]

[Following is that brief reference – This is all the Wikipedia reference (Gartz (1997), pp. 10–2.) says:]

‘Similarly, in England, John Parkinson’s “Theatricum Botanicum” (1640) includes details about a ‘foolish mushroom. ”

Pasted from <>

[So we go to Theatricum Botanicum. This is the Theatricum Botanicum image and reference (the mushroom “7” under discussion is not actually illustrated):]

Page 1321 [1345/1776]

See the source: Theatricum Botanicum”foolish”&pg=PA1322 (back up a page for the image).]

Google “foolish mushroom” (thinking that a name could be kept over hundreds of years). and we get:

Amanita verna

See <>

[But A. verna is bigger than Parkinson’s half-inch, and he doesn’t mention the veil or vulva. It’s also clearly white, not “whitish.” What Psilocybin-containing mushroom is “whitish?”

Psilocybe semilanceata.

P. semilanceata is widely distributed and was reported to have poisoned/intoxicated a family in an English park in 1799, at which time the effects of the mushroom had not been realized. 1]

[Perhaps the “Boletus” referred to in Parkinson’s text was something other than a member of the Boletus genus which was only defined in 1753. Amanita caesarea was once called Boletus, although it does not grow in England. It is more similar to A. verna than P. semilanceata. Still, P. Semilanceata pretty much fits the description apart from “boletus,” which needs explanation. It seems Wikipedia is correct—and so is Parkinson. We can see – kind of – that in 1640, a mushroom which we know as a Psilocybin-containing mushroom was already known in England for its effects. Notably, being called a “foolish” mushroom – and being listed among Parkinson’s “dangerous” mushrooms, indicates they were less impressed by its effects than people today! Incidentally, at the top of the Theatricum Botanicum page see that Parkinson notes that he hardly has to warn his fellow Englishman to beware of the bad mushrooms since they don’t care much for the good ones. Clearly the English of the time weren’t inclined to sample any mushrooms, allowing the entheogenic ones to go un-noted.]

(Our analysis is pretty rough and loose, we know, but we see the dim shape of a succubus coiled just outside of the pool of light cast by the lamp, and we must go and chastise the wicked beast.)

  1. The Medical and physical journal: containing the earliest …, Volume 3 at []

European use of psilocybin is undocumented…

[European use of psilocybin is undocumented, neither have we inherited much folk knowledge. Use of psilocybin for recreational/entheogenic purposes appears to have developed only from the 1960s onwards. As much as some people may have wanted to use it to discover God, they didn’t want to die to do it. We can’t assume that Europeans had a folk tradition of hallucinogenic mushroom use that was since suppressed. Even in the 1799 and later reports, physicians didn’t know how to treat psilocybin mushroom intoxication, and essentially just watched it run its – fortunately benign – course. Other mushrooms killed people in nasty ways, so we can understand people were pretty much willing to do without mushrooms in their diet.]

‘Although dozens of species of psychedelic mushrooms are found in Europe, there is little documented usage of these species in Old World history. The few existing historical accounts about psilocybin mushrooms typically lack sufficient information to allow species identification, and usually refer to the nature of their effects. For example, Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius (1526–1609) described the bolond gomba (crazy mushroom), used in rural Hungary to prepare love potions. English botanist John Parkinson included details about a “foolish mushroom” in his 1640 herbal Theatricum Botanicum. The first reliably documented report of intoxication with Psilocybe semilanceata—Europe’s most common and widespread psychedelic mushroom—involved a British family in 1799, who prepared a meal with mushrooms they had picked in London’s Green Park’

Pasted from <>

Kykeon—While Christian Europeans shun ritual drug use

[While Christian Europeans shun ritual drug use (outside of the Eucharist we suppose), the ancient culture they admired most, the ancient Greeks, maintained an annual rite of initiation into the cult of Demeter & Persephone which featured a drink, Kykeon, which is thought to have been entheogenic. Nobody knows for sure, but it seemed to do the trick since participants experienced “revelatory states” and the ritual was popular over a period of 2,000 years.]

“Numerous scholars have proposed that the power of the Eleusinian Mysteries came from the kykeon’s functioning as a psychedelic agent. Use of potions or philtres for magical or religious purposes was relatively common in Greece and the ancient world. The initiates, sensitized by their fast and prepared by preceding ceremonies (see set and setting), may have been propelled by the effects of a powerful psychoactive potion into revelatory mind states with profound spiritual and intellectual ramifications. In opposition to this idea, other pointedly skeptical scholars note the lack of any solid evidence and stress the collective rather than individual character of initiation into the Mysteries. Indirect evidence in support of the entheogenic theory is that in 415 BC Athenian aristocrat Alcibiades was condemned partly because he took part in an “Eleusinian mystery” in a private house.

Many psychoactive agents have been proposed as the significant element of kykeon, though without consensus or conclusive evidence. These include the ergot, a fungal parasite of the barley or rye grain, which contains the alkaloids lysergic acid amide (LSA), a precursor to LSD, and ergonovine. However, modern attempts to prepare a kykeon using ergot-parasitized barley have yielded inconclusive results, though Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin describe both ergonovine and LSA to be known to produce LSD-like effects.

Psychoactive mushrooms are another candidate. Terence McKenna speculated that the mysteries were focused around a variety of Psilocybe. Other entheogenic fungi, such as Amanita muscaria, have also been suggested. A recent hypothesis suggests that the ancient Egyptians cultivated Psilocybe cubensis on barley and associated it with the deity Osiris.

Another candidate for the psychoactive drug is an opioid derived from the poppy. The cult of the goddess Demeter may have brought the poppy from Crete to Eleusis; it is certain that opium was produced in Crete.

Another theory is that the psychoactive agent in kykeon is DMT, which occurs in many wild plants of the Mediterranean, including Phalaris and Acacia. To be active orally it must be combined with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor such as Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala), which grows throughout the Mediterranean.”

Pasted from <>

The alchemical panacea

From Wikipedia:

The panacea, named after the Greek goddess of universal remedy Panakeia, Panacea, also known as panchrest, was supposed to be a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. It was sought by the alchemists as a connection to the elixir of life and the philosopher’s stone, a mythical substance which would enable the transmutation of common metals into gold.

Pasted from <>

As well as knowledge Faust might seek immortality

[As well as knowledge, Faust might seek immortality, but, oh, right….

Immortality was something he didn’t ask for (though an eternity in Hell is a kind of immortality), but for many seekers of knowledge-at-all-costs, that is their prime pursuit – to find the alchemical elixir of life. Today we still look for it, but in the health and sports supplements section of the store. The elixir is real: at least every generation thinks they’re about to discover it. It’s part of the search for God’s secret knowledge, and it was the “other” tree in the Biblical Garden of Eden – the one we didn’t eat from. We’re still trying to make up for that omission.]

From Wikipedia on the elixir of life:

“The elixir of life, also known as elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher’s stone, is a mythical potion that, when drunk from a certain cup at a certain time, supposedly grants the drinker eternal life and/or eternal youth. This elixir was also said to be able to create life. Related to the myths of Thoth and Hermes Trismegistus, both of whom in various tales are said to have drunk “the white drops” (liquid gold) and thus achieved immortality, it is mentioned in one of the Nag Hammadi texts. Alchemists in various ages and cultures sought the means of formulating the elixir.”


“The Elixir has had hundreds of names (one scholar of Chinese history reportedly found over 1,000 names for it.), including (among others) Amrit Ras or Amrita, Aab-i-Hayat, Maha Ras, Aab-Haiwan, Dancing Water, Chasma-i-Kausar, Mansarover or the Pool of Nectar, Philosopher’s stone, and Soma Ras.

The word elixir was not used until the 7th century A.D. and derives from the Arabic name for miracle substances, “al iksir”. Some view it as a metaphor for the spirit of God (e.g., Jesus’s reference to “the Water of Life” or “the Fountain of Life“). “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

The Scots and the Irish adopted the name for their “liquid gold”: the Gaelic name for whiskey is uisce beatha, or water of life.

Aab-i-Hayat is Persian and means “water of life”. “Chashma-i-Kausar” (not “hasma”) is the “Fountain of Bounty,” which Muslims believe to be located in Paradise. As for the Indian names, “Amrit Ras” means “immortality juice,” “Maha Ras” means “great juice,” and “Soma Ras” means “juice of Soma.” Soma was a psychoactive drug, by which the poets of the Vedas received their visions, but the plant is no longer known. Later, Soma came to mean the moon. “Ras” later came to mean “sacred mood, which is experienced by listening to good poetry or music”; there are altogether nine of them. Mansarovar, the “mind lake” is the holy lake at the foot of Mt. Kailash in Tibet, close to the source of the Ganges.

Pasted from <>

[Incidentally, Mt. Kailish is a mountain which mountaineers do not/may not climb out of respect.]

“Comte de St. Germain, an 18th-century nobleman of uncertain origin and mysterious capabilities, was also reputed to have the Elixir and to be several hundred years old. Many European recipes specify that elixir is to be stored in clocks to amplify the effects of immortality on the user. Frenchman Nicolas Flamel was also a reputed creator of the Elixir.”

Pasted from <>

Beatific vision

Beatific vision

[Drugs are often seen as a short route to knowing God because of the common experiences of gaining secret knowledge and new perspectives, and of seeing (illusory or not), or otherwise experiencing God or spirit. The Eleusinian Mysteries, referenced below, included a drink called kykeon, which is thought to have been psychedelic, although there is no real evidence for that beyond the reputed efficacy of the experience and the use of (possibly ergot-contaminated) grain.

Whether or not the drug experience really does bring one closer to God (if He is there) is moot, since the subjective experience is real. Apart from the risk to the physical body of ingesting some drugs, Western civilisation joins the esoteric practices which devote time and effort to communing with God in condemning shortcuts such as drug use as false and dangerous in that participants are unprepared for the experience and don’t know what to do with it once they have it.]

South Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“In Christian theology, the beatific vision is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person. A person possessing the beatific vision reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven. The notion of vision stresses the intellectual component of salvation, though it encompasses the whole of human experience of joy, happiness coming from seeing God finally face to face and not imperfectly through faith. (1 Cor 13:11–12)1

It is related to the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox belief in theosis [becoming God-like.2], and is seen in most – if not all – church denominations as the reward for Christians in the afterlife.

Pasted from <>

‘In the Eleusinian Mysteries
Socrates’ mystic vision of initiation from Plato’s Phaedrus.

“There was a time when with the rest of the happy band they saw beauty shining in brightness – we philosophers following in the train of Zeus, others in company with other gods; and then we beheld the beatific vision and were initiated into a mystery which may be truly called most blessed, celebrated by us in our state of innocence before we had any experience of evils to come, when we were admitted to the sight of apparitions innocent and simple and calm and happy, which we beheld shining in pure light.” Phaedrus:250′

Pasted from <>

  1. “11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” []
  2. Does Faust undergo false theosis? []

Potions can fulfill all of our alchemical and Faustian aspirations

[Potions can fulfill all the alchemical and Faustian aspirations of humans, from finding God, to gaining secret knowledge, to restoring health and promoting long life – even immortality. At least that’s what we’ve imagined over time. These are essentially also the same things promised by the two trees in the Garden of Eden in the origin story of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.]

“The Fountain of Youth is a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus (5th century BCE), the Alexander romance (3rd century CE), and the stories of Prester John (early Crusades, 11th/12th centuries CE). Stories of similar waters were also evidently prominent among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration (early 16th century), who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini.

The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, when it became attached to the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, first Governor of Puerto Rico. According to an apocryphal combination of New World and Eurasian elements, Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513, but this is a myth. The legend says that Ponce de Leon was told by Native Americans that the Fountain of Youth was in Bimini and it can restore Youth to anyone.”
Pasted from <>

The Fountain of Youth, 1546 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Pasted from <>

Poisoning was a steady business

[Poisoning was a steady business. In Goethe’s Faust, Faust considers suicide by poison at one point, and later Mephisto gives Faust a potion to drink. Faust also gives Gretchen a potion to put Gretchen’s mother to sleep, but the potion kills her. Paracelsus said “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”

While we know that it happened at the highest levels, ordinary people poisoned each other. It was suited to women looking for a way to get rid of their husbands. A witch knew something about the use of specific plants, but so did alchemists and apothecaries and herbalists. Fortune tellers, healers, astrologers – and even dressmakers – met privately with clients, heard their secret complaints, and arranged a “solution.”]

“Marie Bosse, also known as La Bosse (died 8 May 1679), was a French poisoner, fortune teller and alleged witch. She was one of the accused in the famous Poison affair. It was Marie Bosse who pointed out the central figure La Voisin.

Bosse, the widow of a horse trader, was one of the most successful fortune tellers in Paris. Unofficially, she was also a poisoner, who provided poison to people who wished to commit murder. By the end of 1678, Bosse attended a party held by her friend Marie Vigoreaux, the wife of a dressmaker, in the Rue Courtauvilain. During the party, she became drunk and boasted freely that she had become so wealthy by selling deadly poisons to members of the aristocracy that she would soon be able to retire. At the time, the Paris police was investigating poison sales in Paris. A guest at the party, the lawyer Maitre Perrin, reported the conversation to the police. The police sent the wife of a police officer to Bosse to ask for poison to murder her husband, and Bosse provided her with what proved to be deadly poison.
On the morning 4 January 1679, Marie Bosse was arrested with her daughter Manon and her sons, Francois and Guillame. Her older son was a soldier in the royal guard, the younger one was recently released from a working house. According to the report, when the family was arrested they were found in the only bed in the house and had committed incest. Marie Vigoreaux was arrested the same day, and was found to have close ties to the family, as she had sexual relations with all of the members of the family. Their confessions revealed that the illegal sale of poison in the capital was handled by a network of fortune tellers. This led to the arrest of the central figure La Voisin and the opening of the Poison affair. Marie Bosse confessed of having provided the poison used by Marguerite de Poulaillon in her murder attempt on her husband. Marie Vigoreux died during interrogation under torture 9 May 1679.
Marie Bosse was condemned to death by burning and executed in Paris on 8 May 1679. Her children and associates were also sentenced to death.

Pasted from <>