As cited and cued in the article
Conjuring Eden:
Art and the Entheogenic Vision of Paradise

Entheos: Vol. 1 Issue 1, Summer 2001.
By Carl A.P. Ruck, Blaise D. Staples, Mark Hoffman
Images 31-40
Jump to images 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50

[32] Vision of Ezekiel, with the Ascension of Christ, miniature, Rabbula Gospels, Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, Florence.
[33] Ezekiel window
[34] Psalm 148, Narthex dome fresco, Monastery Church of Koutloumousion, Mount Athos.
[35] Psalm 148, catalogue of praisers, Narthex dome fresco, Monastery Church of Koutloumousion, Mount Athos.
[31] Bosch, Temptation panel, Garden of Delights Detail, Prado, Madrid.
[36] Alabaster bowl, Orphic cultic initiation, late Roman, collection of J. Hirsch, New York.
[37] Phanes in "egg," Orphic relief, Museum of Modena.
[38] Ascension mosaic, dome, Hagia Sophia, Thessalonika.
[39] Empty throne, Italian manuscript illumination.
[40] Franco Fabbro summary, mushrooms and snails.
Sumnmary of Fabbro, Franco, "Mushrooms and Snails in Religious Rituals of Early Christians at Aquileia," Eleusis, n.s. 3, p. 69 sq.

In his wonderful and surprising article, Frank Fabbro documents the depiction of entheogenic mushrooms, namely Amanita muscaria, in the art of the Christian Basilica of Aquileia in northern Italy. The section of the mosaic floor which displays these mushrooms is found in the oratory of the northern hall, which is the oldest part of the basilica, dating to before 330 AD. An epigraph in the floor itself claims that the oratory was used for religious ceremonies.
That this mosaic depicts the entheogenic A. muscaria variety of mushroom is strongly suggested by the fact that there are at least eight exemplars with dark red caps, scattered with pale orange mosaic tesserae and with radiating gill-shaped lamellae in the undersurface of the caps. Fabbro is correct in basing his identification on the surprisingly detailed morphology as represented in the ancient floor. The fact that medium to large sized red-topped, white shaped mushrooms appear at all would be enough evidence to prove that early Christians knew first hand of the entheogenic properties of A. muscaria.
However the careful addition of the scattered pale orange mosaic tesserae‚ can only be understood in terms of the very distinctive white to golden spots‚ or warts‚ of the A. muscaria, which distinguish it from other close varieties. If these scabby remnants of the shattered white universal veil were intentionally included in the mosaic, as they most certainly were, then the mushroom represented could be none other than the A. muscaria.
It might be argued that these mushrooms are merely an ornamental element, similar to that of the other plants and animals rendered in the floor, but this is surely countered by the fact that the mushrooms are depicted in and around a bowl or basket, unlike other ornamental motifs. It is difficult to image what artistic purpose these bowls might serve other than to distinguish their contents as edible. Fabbro recognizes this fact, and cites other scholars who have argued that the two bowls suggest the ritual agape feast.
It is extremely fortunate for entheobotanists and students of early Christian art that the mosaic floor in Aquiela has survived. All too often 'ornamental' is a term used to describe plants, animals, and symbols whose iconographic significance is not appreciated nor understood. This ignorance is a consequence of the often esoteric nature of the icons under consideration.
Another bowl containing snails, probably of the variety Helix cincta. a favored edible species, is found adjacent to the mushrooms. Fabbro hypothesizes that the snails and mushrooms were eaten together. It is possible, however, that snails were allowed to feed on the mushrooms, and then the snails were consumed. This preparation may have effectively reduced or eliminated the undesirable physiological effects of consuming the mushrooms directly. This is more likely than it might sound initially; not only were the Romans well known for snail breeding, but they recognized that what the snails fed upon had a determining effect upon their flavor.
Fabbro also mentions that snails, as hibernating animals, are important symbolically in that they represent death and resurrection. This mythological trait would certainly not have been lost on the early Christians, whose initiation into the cult was seen as a death and rebirth. Fabbro cites Brusin, G. & P.L. Zovatto, Monumenti paleocristiani di Aquileia e di Grado, Doretti, Udine, 1957.
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