CODY NOCONI | THE PSYCHEDELIC HISTORY OF MORMONISM, MAGIC, & DRUGS
I felt a need to post on this episode. I understand that the guest was focused on the fairly limited subject of Pharmakeia in Mormonism. I also did appreciate the "treasure hunting" background and look forward to going down that rabbit hole.
That being said, I found the interview lacked a lot of things I hoped would be covered. Specifically, the masonic/Kabbalistic roots of Mormonism was brushed off. If you are at all interested in Mormonism, you need to read the following texts. They are high quality and deeply fascinating.
Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/45225960.pdf
"Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry": The Relationship between Freemasonry and
Dealing with "ex" Mormons often leads to unsatisfying conversations. They don't view the church objectively. They treat Mormonism as some sort of trauma that they need to find the answers to. In this case the guest is making the case that Mormons drugged people causing them to believe they had a religious experience. I am sure this did occur, but it isn't the "why" we are looking for.
Looking at Mormonism from the outside is puzzling. How could anyone believe this crazy origin story? How could anyone believe the crazy dogma? Simply put, Mormonism is the American Mystery Religion. It uses Freemasonry as its backbone. Was Martin Harris dum dum dum and his wife smart smart smart? Or was she just not invited to the party? If you were told that a crazy cult was operating out of an old building in the historic part of town, and you saw them blindfolded doing a bunch of silly things you would say wow, that was a bunch of really stupid cult members. But what if you are told it was the Masonic lodge and those people were the Mayor and District Attorney initiating the local factory owner into the Third Degree?
When you dig down into the theology of Mormonism, what you find is a uniquely American take on Gnosticism. Traditional Gnosticism holds that the Demiurge was a nasty biproduct of Sophia that bound Pleroma into this prison planet. The end goal is to escape and rejoin the Godhead. What they don't tell you is that once you are back in the Godhead, you don't exist any more. Your Ego is lost completely. As American culture is defined by the Ego, this simply cannot do. Mormonism recasts the Demiurge as the hero, the figure that takes nasty communal Pleroma and reshapes it into Ego. In fact, the Demiurge of this existence was once formed by another Demiurge, who was in turn formed by another. And if you complete the initiatory rights properly, you as well will be able to have your Ego transcend this earthly plane, intact. As a Libertarian and an American, I find this to be an amazing theology. As Steinbeck may have said, we are all just temporarily embarrassed deities.
I think people have a right to view Mormonism with skepticism. But don't let that prevent you from seeing the anthropological beauty. Mormonism is like the Banjo, one of the few things our country has exclusive claim to.
You should listen to Cody's podcast. He goes into all this stuff you're talking about.
As an "ex" Mormon (why the quotes around that, btw?), it's funny to see you write "they treat Mormonism as some kind of trauma," because it literally is a trauma for many modern Mormons. Ex Mormons might not be as interested in the kinds of conversation and magical-occult depths you seek because that's absolutely not the experience in the modern church. The modern church doctrine hides and denies the occult truth Joe created as well as the true magickal history and theology. Modern Mormons are taught a bland and shallow type of ideology, with no magick. Their temple ceremonies are magick and they don't even KNOW that and would be offended if you told them. When ex Mormons learn the truth, they usually aren't able to "look at the church objectively" because it's already a psychological mess to realize all the mind control/brainwashing nonsense you've been fed and start the process of un-fucking yourself. I know many ex Mormons who just don't want to know about what Joe was really talking about because their experience in the modern church has messed them up so much. I think that's a valid position. It's taken me ten years to come around to being interested again. For a long time I just wanted to have NOTHING to do with it because I hated what the church had done to my mind and soul. It takes healing before any ex Mormon can look objectively at Mormon history.
It is interesting and worthwhile to investigate Joe Smith's story from a Gnostic and occult perspective, though there was a LOT of scamming going on and perhaps less of the intentional illuminations you point to. He was both occultly educated and a conman. It is difficult to prove that he had any genuine interest in being a legitimate advanced occult practitioner or magician at all. He distanced himself from his magical beliefs as his "religion" began to become popular. It seems he was more than willing to change his story, his beliefs, his theology according to what made his religions successful as well as what kept him out of trouble with the law. What he was doing really WAS a cult, not a secret Masonic lodge. I see what you're getting at and I'm not arguing your point. I think you give Joe more credit than he deserves, though.
Of course I can't know what it was like to listen to this episode from the perspective of someone who didn't grow up Mormon. But I can say as someone who was steeped in the modern culture that Cody's research and analysis around the use of psychedelics is a big deal, since modern Mormonism denies all the occult stuff, all the treasure digging and magical workings and Masonic connections, etc. And from MANY accounts of the early Mormons, people really weren't that into Joe's teachings until they had these visionary experiences. There are also plenty of accounts of people who KNEW it was bullshit but saw the "business opportunity" so pretended to believe. For me, the dosing element explains a lot of the "why" because Joe was essentially making it all up, changing his story and mind constantly, stealing doctrine from all kinds of sources, but the visionary experiences people had when they went to his ceremonies explains why they fell for it. From my perspective, what REALLY makes no sense is why anyone wants to be part of the religion in modern times - like at least people who went to Joe's church got a fucking trip out of it!
I do think it's possible that he sort of accidentally brought something unique and interesting in terms of occult ideas, but he wasn't the only one writing and talking about this - - there are several texts that people think Joe might have essentially plaigarized for his Book of Mormon, which speaks to the fact that he wasn't the only one coming up with these ideas. Mormonism basically dropped all the occult foundation after Joe died, so even if he was trying to create an American Mystery Religion, it didn't last past his lifetime, so can we really say that Mormonism is that?
Dingus nails it. It was as if suddenly the shamanic drug-induced experience of reality has NO SIGNIFICANCE on a show that deals heavily in the truths revealed through shamanic drug-induced experiences. There's evidence that demands an investigation - paleo-Hebrew inscriptions found buried, menorah-shaped and other distinctively Middle Eastern earthwork on early maps of the midwest, "Egyptian" temple inundated by a lake on the Clinch River in East Tennessee, Native Americans refusing to live in Kentucky because it was the "Land of Blood" or some such...
...as they say, you can't make this stuff up. If Joseph Smith and his followers were on entheogenic drugs, it's little surprise that they could have gained insight into the spiritual historical imprint on this continent.