hist-brewing: kykeon

OZRICofPSYTH at webtv.net OZRICofPSYTH at webtv.net
Thu Jan 20 14:09:00 PST 2000

Kykeon ("mixture"). The ingredients of the kykeon are spelled out in the
Homeric Hymn: barley, water and blechon (or glechon , probably the
aromatic mint, Mentha pulegium.). From fragmentary ancient reports,
including the remains of a fresco at Pompeii, it is known that initiates
to the Mysteries drank Demeter's potion as a prelude to experiencing a
soul-shattering vision. Gordon Wasson (1972) first proposed that the
secret of the Eleusian Mystery was based on hallucinogenic ingredients
in the kykeon. The theory is that ergot growing on the barley added to
the kykeon was responsible for the vision-producing properties (also,
see Ott, 1993). Hofmann argued that by making an aqueous extract of
ergot-infested barley, the ancient Greeks could have separated the
water-soluble hallucinogenic ergot alkaloids (erginine, ergonovine,
etc.) from the hydrophobic toxic alkaloids of the ergotamine/ergotoxine
group (Hoffman, 1978). One particularly striking piece of evidence in
support of Wasson's theory is that Demeter was often called Erysibe
(ergot). And that purple, the color of ergot, was her special color.


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