Prometheus and Kykeon
By Nobleman Nash Hollowhill - January 14, 2010
Firstly, I do not claim to have an above-average knowledge of the Greeks or of Greek mythology. But to me the Greek myth of Prometheus is some of the clearest evidence available on the subject of whether Ancient Greece was a culture of people who imbibed themselves with entheogenic sacraments at The Eleusinian Mysteries, such as Kykeon and possibly psilocybin mushrooms, which took place for nearly two millennia. Like our modern lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), Kykeon was made from the rye fungus ergot. To initiates of the lysergic acid experience, the Prometheus myth will probably take on a new light when this is taken into account. Another quintessentially lysergically induced myth might be that of Sisyphus. The Prometheus myth was originated by Hesiod, who lived during the time the Mysteries took place, as did Homer, who wrote of Sisyphus in The Iliad.
Entheogens may be traced to the origins of our myths of Heaven and Hell (on Earth.) Perhaps, through aiding people’s capacity for insight in archetypal terms, entheogens generated the very foundations of mythology as well. The realms of Heaven and Hell can be directly correlated to the degree to which the person’s heart chakra is opened at the moment when a peak experience is achieved. If a person is loving toward the environment, it reciprocates with a Heavenly experience. Likewise if fear grips the chest, that person will plummet into their own personal Hell. This experience has given man license in exploring and extrapolating the universal laws of consciousness into the currently held metaphors of burning forever and floating through clouds. The entheogenic Hell in my experience is one of maddening repetition, synchronicity, déjà vu, increased sensitivity to pain, the tyranny of time as seeming infinite, a short attention span, and inescapable intensity of the experience.
Prometheus was punished by the Gods for bringing fire to man by being granted eternal life and being subjected to the maddening experience of having his abdomen disemboweled by vultures, only to have it heal completely overnight for the vultures to tear apart the following day. This is a particularly graphic interpretation of the personal Hell, but in comparison to the current Christian notion of burning eternally, it seems tame. Likewise the Sisyphus myth is rather dull and benign when taken in relation to the Christian Hell. Sisyphus was punished for believing to be more clever than Zeus by being charged with the task of pushing a boulder up a steep hill and being unable to succeed in forcing it to reach the top, only to try endlessly without death or success for all eternity.
This is a very symbolic notion of Hell, and has many different contexts in which it can be meaningfully interpreted. The situation is one in which pleasurable transcendence can never be reached. The top of the hill is Heaven, the bottom Hell, thus the overall experience is Hell. Without a notion of Heaven for comparison, Hell has no innate power. In the Prometheus myth Heaven is present as a reference point for the relative Hell experienced, but its position in the story is not obvious. Generally tactile sensations are perceived as pleasurable. Though obviously physical pain is not pleasurable, and the sensation of beaks and claws tearing at the flesh and organs would be most uninviting, the memory of a painful experience if it has been survived does not fall outside the spectrum of bearable sensations, so in a way the pain reminds us of similar tactile sensations in the same category as loving caresses. The latter sensations are an important part of life because it is through these that our species can regenerate itself, so they correspond with the automatic mechanism of the brain releasing endorphins. Endorphins are endogenous analogues of morphine which lessen the sensation of pain to the nervous system. The lack of pain is a common attribute of Heaven.
In order for Prometheus to experience any sensation of pain, torture, or a personal Hell, he needs to have an reference point of equal weight for a basis of comparison. The tactile sensations of being ripped apart are so excruciating that the only parallel that can be drawn to counteract this experience, the act of procreation, needs to be present at every moment in order to prevent Prometheus from becoming desensitized or accustomed to this ritual. This may require that the vultures take on certain alien characteristics to counteract familiarity. In my interpretation of Prometheus’s Hell, the vultures are almost equal manifestations of Eros (love, sexual pleasure, positive ego loss) and Thanatos (death, ego death, negative ego loss;) predominantly Thanatos.
In DMT The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman, this bizarre encounter is a strangely frequent occurrence. When subjects are presented with the experience of pure ego death, their reactions, depending on their psychological preparation for this notion, are sometimes those of the deepest form of chest-clenching fear they have ever encountered. This is reciprocated by the DMT with visions of aliens, reptiles, insects, and other vermin performing a combination of sexual violation and consuming the flesh or feeding off of the subject’s energy. Rick Strassman also proposes this as the origin of the alien abduction experience involving rectal probes. I have thought about this in a couple of different ways.
To view the act of fishing from the point of view of the fish, in which beings of higher intelligence abduct you, examine, torture, or intimately violate you, leaving you helpless, vulnerable, and in deep physical pain, often killing you, (an experience that has no parallel in the relatively mundane marine life that has been lived up till this point,) we can draw many parallels between this experience and that of being abducted and examined by aliens. In fact, if you believe like I do that the collective unconscious allows us to tap into areas of experience that lie in the consciousnesses of beings and creatures that are related to us, then this abduction experience should not be too far away from our ordinary waking consciousness. Perhaps psychedelics may break down unconscious filters blocking this experience from our sober minds and allow us to be subject to this experience directly from the fish’s point of view. Another interpretation of the archetypal existence of the alien abduction experience in our collective unconscious is that it is psychologically transferred from the microcosmic experience inherent in the fish’s abduction, to the macrocosmic equivalent from our own position as humans. We sense this experience in our species’ unbalanced karma for committing such an act upon a lower species, and in turn interpret what this act may serve back to us in the future that is the mathematical equivalent to abducting fish to gain knowledge or sustenance from their bodies at their expense, so when the filters to our collective unconscious dissolve for any reason, the visions of alien abductions may materialize.
One experience that is mirrored in the primal terror that can be induced by entheogens is that of a clam being dropped by a bird. Imagine yourself as a single muscle cosied up inside your shell, protected from and desensitized to much of your environment, and occasionally opening your shell a sliver to let some food filter in. The dull roar of the ocean is your primary stimulus, and it is more felt than heard. Your digestive organs have little more to adapt to than the random fluctuation of currents and slight variation in the nutrients you collect. Slowly you realize there is a change in your environment. The dull roar of the waves has become sharper and less continuous. The outside of your shell is drying out, and it is more difficult to obtain nourishment.
All of a sudden, some alien creature is grappling you with its sharp talons and carrying you high up in the air to somewhere you have never before experienced. Euphoria rushes through your weak, unprepared nervous system as you consider the possibilities you have never had the mental capacity to imagine until now. Just as you are coming to terms with this sensation, the talons relinquish their grip, and you begin to plummet. Imagine the impacts this experience would have on your heart and stomach chakras. Imagine the newfound vertigo or primal fear you would then immediately discover that was simply laying dormant in your DNA, waiting for an experience this dramatic to leap forth and drive you to do anything necessary to survive this trauma. Unfortunately you are a product of the less tenacious processes of natural selection, which have not equipped you with a pair of wings you can start to flap, or a hard enough protective shell to allow you to survive being dropped from this height, and your calcium shell shatters on the rocks below, leaving your defenseless body vulnerable to the sharp edges of the talons and beaks of hungry seagulls.
This example is one that we all have access to, because presumably, during the long sojourn through the multitude of lives our identity, or elements of it, have passed through to get to this point, bivalves are one possibility. Certainly not all of us have been bivalves in past lives, but if we are related to anyone who has been, insight into our own experiences may overlap with those of people we are close to on the family tree. Simply by imagining the absolute highest concentration of fear that could ever possibly be experienced by a sentient being, the example of being dropped by a seagull springs to my mind and my heart does a virtual somersault if I imagine this happening to me. This is a very roundabout way for me to say that although Prometheus was most likely never a real person, the myth is also accessible to you or I in terms of personal experience. All we have to do is experience some lysergic acid or dimethyltryptamine and this may reveal itself in vivid detail in some way that directly relates to our own individual lives and situations. We may feel martyred for trying to do good, and the pain which accompanies this experience may be so severely intense that it might fall near the experience of Jesus, Prometheus, or Sisyphus, or for that matter, a human abductee, fish, or hapless clam.