Was Moses High On DMT?

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Was Moses High On DMT?

DMT has influenced many cultures throughout time, but now it has been suggested it shaped on much closer to home.

Those who have tried psychedelics know first-hand the spiritual enlightenment it can bestow. For the religiously inclined, it can be revolutionary, showing them insights into beliefs never pondered. Could it be possible that these trips are so profound that they have influenced they very roots of modern Western religion? One psychologist seems to think so.

According to Benny Shanon, a Stanford-trained psychologist currently teaching at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, there is a good chance that Moses was under the influence of DMT at key points during history. It is quite a theory, and one that, as you can probably imagine, has been branded as heresy and unfounded by many.


The theory stems from Shanon’s own encounters with Ayahuasca, a DMT-rich Amazonian brew used for entheogenic practices. It would just so happen that components required to create this powerful brew are also available in the Near East, with parts of the Acacia tree and the Peganum harmala bush coming together to make an MAOI and DMT concoction – leading to one of the most potent hallucinogenic experiences known to humans. The mix is not technically ayahuasca, but the base molecules are the same.

For Shanon, it is not a far leap to presume that the powerful hallucinogenic experience of these plants – which were treated with reverence and even seen as sacred - would have been used by early holy men to come closer to God. Although there is no direct evidence to show that Moses used such brews, religious preparations outlined in Exodus very closely mimic those used in the ritualistic precursor to ayahuasca use.

So, when was Moses under the influence of DMT? Well, Shanon said it was likely when he was God as the burning bush, and when he was given the ten commandments. It would explain a lot. In a radio interview he said:

“As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don’t believe, or a legend, which I don’t believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics.”

He also described how the experiences encountered by Moses – seeing fire, altered perceptions of time, serpents, entities whose faces are not visible, seeing sound and hearing colours, and encountering the divine – are all common encounters documented by those who use ayahuasca. Ayahuasca users are also said to have a certain glowing radiance about them post-use, which would account for “shining” seen around Moses.

Is it true? Well, no one can say for sure. However, there are a lot of holes in the theory that need filling in. For example, although these the two plants mentioned above can be found throughout the Near East, and were considered sacred, there is no evidence that they were ever brought together and used as a hallucinogen. You would think, that if it were the case, its use would be much more widespread and better documented. For the theologically sceptical, there is also the question of whether Moses even existed. Other than being mentioned in the bible, there is no other reference to him.

Despite the flaws, it does beg the question: could this mean that the very foundation of some religion is based on a DMT trip? It is quite a novel and interesting idea, and one that is sure to create some very heated debates for some time to come.



Written by: Josh
Writer, psychonaut and cannabis aficionado, Josh is Zamnesia’s in-house expert. He spends his days nestled out in the countryside, delving into the hidden depths of all things psychoactive in nature.

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