Redefining Christianity in the Plant Medicine Space

Azalea Montaño-Kemp
5 min readDec 29, 2021
mushrooms in Huatla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, Mexico
los niños santos en Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, Mexico

I was raised Christian. I never thought I would ever take psychedelic plant medicines (let alone end up working with them extensively) given all of the rules I understood in organized religion. I never defined my spirituality because as a true follower of Christ’s example, I didn’t love a lot of the prejudices that I found in so many Christian churches. The first time I took mushrooms, I was reconnected to Mother Earth, Mother Nature, and the Christ Consciousness in a form of love I was always reaching towards. After this and many other plant medicine experiences (including Ayahuasca), I was comfortable telling people that I loved psychedelics and Jesus!

Of course, given how far off modern day Christianity is from a true Christ Consciousness, my friends were always confused by this statement of mine. “Aren’t Christians not allowed to do drugs?” “You’re allowed to embrace the existence of your chakras and Jesus at the same time?” “Isn’t the bible super judgmental? And shrooms are super mind opening?” etc. etc. etc. I’ve heard it all. The Jesus I knew and learned about from the bible wasn’t judgmental at all — in fact, quite the opposite. I knew so strongly when I took mushrooms that I was accessing the consciousness of love which Jesus had always described and lived in. So, I did have to wonder, if Jesus himself understood this “space” while he was on Earth, what happened that made Christianity different today?

While I explored the answer to this question, I found myself in Mexico learning from mushroom shamans in Huautla, Oaxaca. If you don’t know, this is the birthplace of magic mushroom ceremonies. This is Maria Sabina’s hometown. Many people know Maria Sabina as the first Mazatec shaman to share the medicine with the Western world which kickstarted the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s. However, many do not know that she, and other Mazatec mushroom shamans, are also Christian!

Mazatec Christian Mushroom Church in Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Mazatec Christian Mushroom Church in Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, Mexico

My very first proper mushroom ceremony was with my maestra (my teacher), a Mazatec mushroom shaman in Huautla. Before ingesting the mushrooms, we hiked to a small hut (her sacred temple named Chójn Ndafè). Before even entering the mountain, we connected with Mother Nature and asked for permission to enter the sacred mountain (Chikón Nindoó) by putting dirt on our foreheads and offering cacao seeds to the land. This alone probably already sounds too “witchy” for a lot of Christians. Once we finally entered the temple, we were handed our dose of mushrooms and asked to eat them intentionally. We were encouraged to talk to the mushrooms, Madre Tierra (Mother Earth), Madre Naturaleza (Mother Nature), and Espíritu de Amor (the spirit of Love) asking for what we wanted from the experience. While we did this, Maestra sat near the altar with candles, herbs, flowers, and pictures of Mary with Jesus while singing songs of prayer. She sang her songs the entire time which included lyrics in Spanish about Jesus, Mary, Earth, nature, the mushrooms, chakra centers, opening the heart, the third eye, and anything within these categories relating them all together.

This, like every experience with my maestra, was the safest psychedelic experience of my entire life. I still wondered why so many people think you either love Jesus or psychedelics and you can’t have both. So, after ceremony, we asked Maestra how this all works together. She gave the simplest explanation:

“Mother Earth gave us Jesus as a way to understand how to access the spiritual realm and our own healing. Mother Earth also gave us psilocybin mushrooms to physically connect to this space.”

It all made sense and the explanation was right in front of me the entire time! Mother Earth gave us Jesus.. and mushrooms — Duh!

Now, of course it does go deeper than this and there are clear reasons why colonization has redefined Christianity to push a patriarchy and oppress women. For example, Mother Mary is actually a representation of Mother Earth, as she created life herself the same way that Mother Earth gives us life through the plants and ourselves every single day. Women, as humans with the ability to create life in their wombs, were actually the holders of the medicine. Most shamans were women and the medicine they worked with offered cognitive freedom that colonization did not want us to have access to. These were the “witches” that were burned and suppressed (but I’ll redefine witchcraft in a different post).

Although we have tangible scientific evidence that mushrooms are helpful for our mental health and cognition, it can be difficult to describe a full mushroom experience without speaking of a spiritual realm. Because of political rulers restricting access to cognitive freedom for society as a whole, we are afraid to speak about the spirit realm without being ridiculed. Yet, even our smartest psychologists and philosophers have stated that nothing is more true to us than experience.

I’m not comfortable with the direction Christianity has fallen into. I know many non-Christians who believe Jesus would not have behaved the way a lot of modern Christian churches do if he were here today! Yet, I do strongly know that Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, and other spiritual figures understood spirituality in a way that helped them heal themselves and those who they came across in the physical. Maybe they weren’t even operating from a spiritual space — maybe they were just operating from a space of love. That’s what I’ve learned from Jesus and that’s what I’ve learned from psychedelics. It doesn’t make sense to me to separate the 2.

If you’re interested in learning more about psychedelics in early religion and the societal control of psychedelic substances over time as an infringement to our freedom of consciousness, check out the following references:

The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity

➔ Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear

➔ The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name

The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East

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