c/o Morning Star Mission of God, 544 Barton St. E, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8L 2Z1
The Church of the Universe, founded in 1969 by Walter Tucker and others, emerged during the subsequent decades of the twentieth century as the major religious organization in Canada arguing for the legalization of marijuana (or cannabis) for religious and spiritual purposes. The church also espouses nudism, as a natural expression of humanity. The first center of the church was an abandoned rock quarry, since filled with water, which Tucker leased and dedicated, along with the 360 acres of associated wilderness land, as “Clearwater Abbey.”The site became a gathering place for people using the sacred substance, and Tucker also added an emphasis on clothes made from the hemp plant. In 1986, Tucker and the other residents were evicted by the land’s owners after a lengthy court battle. The fight gave a much higher profile to the church, which became the target of legal authorities seeking indictments for illegal drug use. In spite of some legal victories, the church developed a somewhat clandestine existence.
Basic to the church’s belief is the identification of marijuana as the Tree of Life mentioned in the biblical book of Genesis. Marijuana is thus a gift of God that dates to the ancient Garden of Eden. Members declare their intention of living with Marijuana, in harmony with the Universe, and assume a responsibility to defend the rights of church members to what they consider to be their sacramental substance. In like measure, the church fights for the right to go nude, weather and climate permitting. Members do not consider themselves Christian; rather they identify themselves as Universalists, as they believe Jesus to have been.
During the 1970s, the church evolved two essential (golden) rules: Do not hurt yourself. Do not hurt anyone else. They came to believe that as long as church members followed these rules, they should be free to practice their religion and worship God as they saw fit.
The symbol of the Church is a triangle on a nine-pointed star inside a circle, together with the number 69. The symbol is seen as combining the six-pointed Star of David (06 of the woman) and the 09 star (09 of the man). Together (that is, when visually superimposed) the 6 and 9 make 8, the symbol of infinity and of the river of life. Man and woman create between them universal peace and love, and fulfill the positive requirements of the creation.
The church continues to be led by Rev. Tucker, who is assisted by the Tetrahedron High Council, the leaders of the church. The church celebrates the two solstices and Cannabis Day (July 1) as major holidays.
Church of the Universe. www.iamm.com/.
“Cannabis and the Christ: Jesus Used Marijuana.”Posted at www.cannabisculture.com/backissues/cc11/christ.html.
PO Box 1161, Minneola, FL 34755-1161
The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church was founded in Jamaica in 1914 by Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) and originally came to the United States in 1920 as part of his reformist efforts in the black community. However, the church died out in the United States and became a small body in Jamaica. Then in 1970, several Americans in Jamaica encountered the church, joined it, and brought it back to Star Island, off Miami Beach, Florida. A second center was started in New Jersey. The leader of the group was Thomas Reilly Jr., generally known by his religious name, Brother Louv.
Church members believe in God, who is experienced through the smoking of ganja (marijuana). Smoking marijuana is described as making a burnt sacrifice to the God within. The ceremonies for smoking ganja utilize a specially made pipe. Coptics smoke ganja in such quantities that they hope it will reorganize their body chemistry around THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant, and they will thus survive the end of this world to live in God’s new world. The new world is seen as a place in which there will be plenty for all without the necessity of an eight-hour work day. Peace and brotherhood will reign, and life will be lived at the horse-and-buggy pace. Ceremonially smoking ganja is the major sacramental act of church members, and members quote the Bible (Gen. 1:29; Ex. 3:2-4; Psalms 104:14; and Heb. 6:7) in support of their use of marijuana.
Coptics also have a strong code dictating relations between the sexes. Women sit separately for the sacramental service and are not allowed to fill their own pipes. Sexual activity is strongly regulated. Homosexuality, oral sex, birth control, and abortion are prohibited. The only recognized purpose for sex is procreation.
Even before the church was granted tax exempt status in 1975, it fought an intense battle with government authorities. By 1973 authorities had seized 105 tons of marijuana from the group. In 1977 tax exemption was revoked. The church filed a lawsuit demanding the religious right of its members to smoke marijuana, but lost the case in late 1978. Immediately after the court ruling, Reilly and five other church leaders were arrested in a raid on the Star Island headquarters. They were indicted and in 1981 convicted for drug smuggling. In 1982 Reilly, serving time in the Metropolitan Corrections Center in Miami, sued U.S. Attorney General William French Smith for the right to his daily sacrament of at least an ounce of marijuana.
In 1981 a group of approximately 20 members of the church moved to rural Wisconsin and established a settlement in an isolated valley near Soldiers Grove. They had moved from Iowa because of local harassment as a result of their refusal to have their children immunized as required by state law. Investigation stimulated by the group’s use of marijuana led to arrests of church leaders in 1985. The arrest and conviction of church leaders has disrupted the life of the church, and the courts in the United States have persistently refused to allow the use of controlled substances by church organizations (apart from the Native American Church). The present status of the church is in doubt.
International headquarters of the church are in White Horses, Jamaica, where it was incorporated in 1976. The church operates a 4,000-acre farm in St. Thomas Parish. In 2008 the leader of the church in Jamaica was Keith Gordon (religious name, “Nyah”).
Not reported. There are an estimated 200 members in the United States.
Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church. www.ethiopianzioncopticchurch.org.
Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church. Marijuana and the Bible. Hialeah, FL: Author, n.d.
The Fane of the Psilocybe Mushroom was chartered in Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada, on January 22, 1980, an action catalyzed by the success of Native Americans in gaining legal recognition of their use of peyote. It has been the hope of the members of the Fane to have their use of psychedelic substances, especially the sacred mushroom-the several species of mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe-declared legal, at least when in a religious, sacramental context.
The Fane describes itself as a fourth way mystical school. The term fourth way was coined by George Gurdjieff, who described the three ways of the fakir, monk, and yogi, and then declared that the fourth way combines the essence of all three earlier ways. The Fane uses the term in a considerably different way. It suggests that instead of pursuing yogic exercises, monk-like prayers, or the fakir’s self torture, the “sly man”of the fourth way “simply prepares and swallows a little pill”that contains the proper substance and produces the desired state of consciousness. The Fane suggests that the mushroom sacrament is the most efficient way to expand consciousness-said expanded state of consciousness being defined as the desired religious experience. The ingestion of the sacred mushroom is the essential aspect of the Fane’s community.
Membership in the Fane is open to all who believe that the ingestion of the sacred mushroom is a sacrament; that everyone has the right to expanded consciousness by whatever means they choose; and that the unprepared should not be encouraged to ingest the sacred mushroom.
As with the members of most groups advocating the religious uses of psychedelic substances, much of the life of the members of the Fane of the Psilocybe Mushroom has been lived at a confidential, if not clandestine level. The Fane maintains a Web page and continues to advocate the use of the sacred mushroom, but much of its religious activity remains out of the public spotlight. Neither the names of the present leadership of the Fane nor a means of contacting it are provided through its Web page.
Fane of the Psilocybe Mushroom Association. www.thefane.org/.
Rte. 1, Box 67, Osseo, WI 59758
Long before the white man came to America, psychedelic substances were used by the various American Indian tribes who had come into what is now the United States from Mexico. Some time before 1870, the use of psychedelic drugs was introduced in the United States by the Mescalero Apaches. The practice spread northward to the Kiowa, Comanche, and Caddo. Its spread followed the demise of the Ghost Dance, for which it substituted. The prime psychedelic source was peyote, a small, spineless, carrot-shaped cactus that grows wild in the Southwest. The dried peyote button is ingested during a spirit ceremony and produces effects similar to those of LSD. Legal measures and the hostility of both whites and fellow Indians led to the quest for legally guaranteed security of worship. In the second decade of the twentieth century, Jonathan Koshiway (1886–1971), the son of an Oto mother, and a former missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discovered in peyotism a way of affirming both his Indian heritage and his Christian tendencies. He viewed peyote as one of God’s creations, which he pronounced “good,”seeing the button and the peyote tea as a reflection of sacramental bread and wine. Under his leadership, the First Born Church of Christ was formed in 1914 with 411 members. This group was later absorbed by the Native American Church.
The Native American Church dates to 1906, when a loose intertribal association of peyote groups in Oklahoma and Nebraska was formed. In 1909 the name “Union Church”was adopted. In 1918 the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs began a campaign to declare peyote illegal. In reaction to this effort, the Native American Church was incorporated. Present at the formation was Jonathan Koshiway, who attempted to get the group to join the First Born. Koshiway’s church was rejected as too Christian; eventually, Koshiway joined the Native Americans.
Although the actual practices of the Native American Church vary widely, there is a considerable core of commonality. The central figure is the shaman, who keeps the peyote buttons and controls their use. As with all mediumistic figures, he is endowed with psychic powers. Peyote ritual begins with the pilgrimage by members of the tribe to collect the buttons, which are brought to the shaman.
The ceremony occurs in the evening in a tepee. The “father peyote”is placed on a crescent-shaped mound. The mound is in the west, with the crescent horns facing east. Before participants eat the peyote there is prayer and smoking, and singing and drumming follow. The ritual lasts until morning.
Legal battles over peyote began as early as 1899, when Oklahoma outlawed its use. Following the conviction of three Indians in 1907, the law was repealed in 1908. Antipeyote laws were passed in Colorado, Utah, and Nevada in 1917, and similar laws were passed in other Western states. A significant case involved Mary Attakai, arrested for peyote use in 1960. In his decision, the judge ruled that peyote was non-habit-forming and not a narcotic, and found the antipeyote statute unconstitutional. In 1964 the California Supreme Court ruled that the Native American Church could not be deprived of peyote for religious ceremonies. Finally, when the psychedelic drugs were made illegal by federal law in 1966, peyote and the Native American Church were excluded from the strictures of the law. Since the court rulings of the 1970s, many non-Indians have attempted to affiliate with the church. In reaction, it has tended to exclude non-Indians from its rituals, both to protect its special status and to keep people believed to be merely seeking a drug experience from distorting its rituals.
The church is headed by a national president elected for a two-year term. An annual convention elects officers and is the church’s highest legislative body. State and local chapters are autonomous.
Not reported. In 1977 the church had approximately 225,000 members.
Aberle, David F. The Peyote Religion among the Navaho. New York: Wenner-Glen Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1966.
Anderson, Edward F. Peyote, the Divine Cactus. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1980.
La Barre, Weston. The Peyote Cult. New York: Schocken Books, 1969.
Smith, Huston, and Reuben Snake, eds., One Nation Under God: The Triumph of the Native American Church. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers, 1996.
White, Philip M. Peyotism and the Native American Church: An Annotated Bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.
Box 3473, Austin, TX 78764
The Original Kleptonian Neo-American Church (OKNeoAC) was founded in 1965 at Cranberry Lake, New York, by Art Kleps (1928–1999), the chief boo-hoo. The church has three principles:
- Psychedelic substances, such as cannabis and LSD, are religious sacraments because their ingestion encourages enlightenment, which is the recognition that life is a dream and the externality of relationships an illusion (solipsistic nihilism);
- The use of the psychedelic sacraments is a basic human right and all interference therewith is an assault on this right; and
- The church does not encourage the ingestion of the greater sacraments such as LSD or mescaline by those who are unprepared, with preparedness defined as familiarity with the lesser sacraments such as cannabis and nitrous oxide and with solipsist-nihilist epistemological reasoning based on models such as those advanced by David Hume, Sextus Empiricus, and Nagarjuna.
The church was incorporated in December 1967 in New York. Kleps, Timothy Leary (1920–1996), William Haines (also known as Sri Sankara), William Mellon Hitchcock, and Karl Netwon formed the original Board of Toads (directors). The church was headquartered at Millbrook, in upstate New York, until it dispersed in 1968 when, as a result of earlier actions by law enforcement agents, the owners evicted all resident groups on the estate. The church was reincorporated in 1973 in Vermont. Through the next decade Kleps fought for religious use of psychedelic substances. Following a conviction in 1985, Kleps served a year in prison. From 1987 to 1991 he and his family lived in the Netherlands. He continued to fight for the right to use psychedelic drugs, in spite of legal barriers in North America and Europe against their use, until his death in 1999.
Kleps authored the Boo Hoo Bible and Millbrook, in which he describes neo-American philosophy as solipsistic nihilism. He identifies it as similar to the philosophies of Heraclitus, David Hume, and Buddhism as practiced by Nagarjuna. He denies the externality of relations, space, time, and multiplicity. He believes that life is a dream, and truth is found by ridding oneself of illusions through the ingestion of psychedelic sacraments under the proper conditions. Yoga and meditation are believed by Kleps to be used more often than not to prevent awareness of the Truth.
OKNeoAC is an absolute monarchy. When His Highness Arthur Kleps, chief boo hoo, died in 1999, his wife, Her Highness Joan Kleps, chief bee hee (CBH), succeeded him. The Board of Toads is appointed by the CBH. There are three levels of membership: upper, middle, and lower. Upper- and middle-level members subscribe to the church’s current three principles. Upper-level members apply in writing for their status, and only they may be ordained. Lower-level members include all those who have ever subscribed to any version of the three principles as formulated by the chief boo hoo since 1965, at the time such versions were active. All members are expected to pay nominal annual dues. Members in a local area may be organized into an OKNeoAC vortex, or an affiliate church, each of which is headed by a boo hoo general, in a geographical area specified by the CBH.
In 2008 there were three affiliate churches. The Neo-American Church of Texas was headed by Sahib Kevin Sanford, Original Mahout. His Eminence Robert Funk headed the Original Kleptonian Neo-American Church of California, as boo hoo general of California, and the Original Kleptonian Neo-American Church of Alaska, as archon of Alaska.
Brown, Robert E., et al., eds. The Psychedelic Guide to Preparation of the Eucharist. Austin, TX: Linga Shirira Incense, 1975.
Dwyer, Ed, and Robert Singer. “Interview: Art Kleps, Chief Boo Hoo, Neo American Church.” High Times 8 (March 1976): 21–24.
Kleps, Art. The Boo Hoo Bible. San Cristobal, NM: Author, 1971.
———. Millbrook. Oakland, CA: Bench Press, 1977.
———. “Synchronicity and the Plot/Plot.” Psychedelic Review 8 (1966): 123–124.
30800 W Klondyke Rd., Klondyke, AZ 85643
The Peyote Way Church of God was founded in 1977 by the Revs. Immanuel Pardeahtan Trujillo, Eugene Yoakum, and William Russell. Trujillo, the son of an Apache and his French-American wife, joined the Native American Church in 1948. The Native American Church is the main body to continue the traditional religious use of peyote among Native Americans. Trujillo objected to the church’s policy of excluding from membership—and hence participation in the ritual use of peyote—anyone who was not at least 25 percent Native American. Trujillo considered the policy racist, and he believed in some of the teachings of Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Trujillo left the Native American Church in 1966 and established an independent group that evolved over the years under various names, including the Church of Holy Light Pentecostal Indian Mission.
At the time of the founding of the church in 1977, Trujillo, Matthew S. Kent, and Anne L. Zapf registered a declaration of intent with the recorder of Graham County, Arizona, stating that they were growing, using, and distributing peyote as a holy sacrament of their church. The new church emphasized section 89 of the Doctrines and Covenants, one of the scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which specifically forbids the use of a number of harmful substances such as alcohol and tobacco while commending the use of “all wholesome herbs.” Church members believe that passage specifically supports their use of peyote, a wholesome herb.
The church uses peyote in what is termed a “Spirit Walk.”Members come to the church land, fast a minimum of 24 hours, and spend a period of time in the desert in prayer and self-examination. They take peyote alone rather than communally, as in the Native American Church practice. Peyote, the church teaches, cleanses both body and spirit, produces a visionary state of consciousness, and allows users to contact the light of Christ within.
From the beginning, the church’s leaders were concerned with building a presence in south Texas, the only place peyote cactus grows naturally in the United States. Their plans have been continually thwarted by Texas authorities and antidrug laws. In 1988 a court upheld the federal and state statutes that the church had tried to overturn on constitutional grounds. In 1990 the court refused to expand the legal peyote exemption it had granted to the Native American Church to include any non-Indian groups, among them the Peyote Way Church of God. In 2008 the church had legal standing in Arizona and may use peyote on its property, but it is unable to obtain peyote from Texas through the legal channels that the Native American Church may use. The church faced another setback when its cottage industry, MANA Black Rim Earthenware, was denied tax exemption and assessed for back taxes.
Resident members of the Peyote Way Church of God participate in the United Order, a system originally instituted by the Mormon founder Joseph Smith Jr. Members consecrate all their time, talents, wealth, and property to the furthering of religious freedom. This consecration is symbolized by their deeding all their property to the church. The church then deeds the property back to the donor, who serves as steward. Excess wealth is used by the church to support the poor.
The church is guided by a ministry graded into degrees from first to fourth, the latter being the highest level. The church is headed by its president, who serves a nine-year term. In 1984 Anne L. Zapf succeeded Trujillo as president of the church; she in turn was succeeded by Matthew Kent in 1993. Zapf continued as the apostle and secretary/treasurer of the church. The president and apostle are assisted by a board of stewards invited by the president to serve at the annual church membership meeting. The church is located on the 160 acres of land it owns in southern Arizona.
In 2001 the church conducted 52 Spirit Walks. There are 236 members.
The Sacred Record.
Peyote Way Church of God. www.peyoteway.org/.
Garcia, Joseph. “Peyote: A Drug or a Sacrament?” Tucson Citizen (January 3, 1989).
For Information: [email protected], New York, NY
The Temple of the True Inner Light is a small community centered in New York City that believes in and uses various psychedelic substances as a means to enlightenment. It was founded in 1980 by Alan Birnbaum as an offshoot of the New York City branch of the Native American Church. The Temple has a basic affirmation that the Psychedelic is the creator and that psychedelic substances are the true Flesh of God. This belief grows from the conclusion that religion and spiritual awakening originated from the ingestion of different psychedelic substances. The primary psychedelic used by temple members is di-propyl tryptamine (DPT), which is regarded as the actual manifestation of God, rather than a means to access God.
Archeologists and anthropologists have long noted that people have for centuries consumed mushrooms, marijuana, peyote, and other similar plants that produced visions and various experiences of a Higher Being. Thus, the Temple teaches that every true religion has at some time believed that psychedelics are the embodiment of God. The effect of psychedelic ingestion is the Light spoken of in scriptures and sacred texts. The Mexican Nahua tribe’s word for psilocybin mushrooms was Teonanacatl, which means “God’s Flesh.”
This Higher Being (psychedelic substances) chooses messengers. Among those so chosen were Moses, David, Elijah, Jesus, Mary, Vishnu, Uma, Gautama, Mohammed, Mani, and Quetzacoatal.
Worship in the Temple is conducted in a private environment and consists largely of listening to tapes (which include readings of various religious texts) after ingesting DPT. The intent is to produce wisdom (gnosis) by reexamining what is considered inspired literature while under the influence of DPT.
While advocating for the free use of psychedelics, the temple also sponsors a nonprofit charitable organization that supports the building of housing for low-income and street people, and helps people to detoxify from alcohol, opiates, and cocaine.
Church of the True Inner Light. psychede.tripod.com.
Lyttle, T. “Drug-Based Religions and Contemporary Drug Taking.” Journal of Drug Issues 18, 2 (1988): 271-284.
Pauli, Michelle. “The Temple of True Inner Light.”1997. Posted at www.csp.org/nicholas/A58.html.