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Part of what initiation into the ancient Mysteries entailed was something called ‘the trial of the elements.’ These oftentimes consisted of intimidating confrontations with the elements, i.e. earth, wind, water, and fire. A trial by earth might consist of a temporary live burial; of wind, a fanning of the open eyes without blinking; of water, having to hold the breath for extended periods of time while submerged; of fire, an exposure of the flesh to open flame without flinching, etc. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry continues this tradition with its own elemental trials.

The trial by fire is particularly interesting as it involves a substance called lycopode, the hydrophobic pollen of lycopodium or clubmoss, that has been blown through a pipe containing an open flame, thereby causing a blast of fire to be expelled from the opposite end of the pipe near the candidate for initiation.

Interestingly, lycopodium contains the potent acetylcholinesterase huperzine A which, according to Felgenhaur et al, is highly intoxicating. Additionally, Thomas Yuschak, in his book “Advanced Lucid Dreaming: The Power of Supplements,” relates that acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are used to promote lucid dreaming via the prolongation of REM cycles.

How much this short exposure effects the mental state of the candidate is uncertain. However, what is certain is that a highly intoxicating compound is incinerated and blown in the general direction of the candidate being initiated.

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The Psychoactive Effects of Lycopodium 1932 P.D. Newman 31-Jan-18 16:52

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