DMT and the Soul of Prophecy: A New Science of Spiritual Revelation in the Hebrew Bible

DMT and the Soul of Prophecy: A New Science of Spiritual Revelation in the Hebrew Bible (Park Street Press, 2014) asks a number of provocative questions about drugs, consciousness, prophecy, and the Hebrew Bible—with attention to how a particular chemical can help us understand mystical experience. DMT (dimethyltryptamine) is a molecule endogenous to several mammals including humans, as well as the active psychedelic ingredient in a number of plant species around the world—most notably in an Amazonian brew called ayahuasca. Rick Strassman’s first book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, showcases his research in the 1990s at the University of New Mexico, during which he injected several volunteers with DMT as part of a government-sanctioned research project. During the trials, volunteers experienced a number of similar phenomena, such as communication with other-than-human beings, out-of-body experiences, and geometrically complex closed-eye visuals. DMT and the Soul of Prophecy complements Strassman’s first book, but it also stands on its own and gives enough context of his DMT research to make sense of his arguments about prophecy in the Hebrew Bible. The new monograph aims to further interpret the data from Strassman’s experiments in the 90s, by arguing that the notion of prophecy in the Hebrew Bible offers a compelling model for what happens in the DMT state. One might ask, then, if the Hebrew prophets were affected by DMT. Although it’s not possible to know for sure, and Strassman doesn’t claim that they were, he nonetheless draws significant parallels between DMT experiences and prophetic states in the Hebrew Bible. At the cross-section of biology, psychology, and religious studies, Strassman’s monograph is sure to spark provocative conversations about the relationship between religion, drugs, and the politics of research.