In southern France stands a beautiful mountainous massif named
the Maritimes Alps, the last one of the Alps chain just before it meets with
the Mediterranean sea.
In the highest and most remote part of this area stands an ancient
sacred mountain named Bego. This mountain is surrounded with thousands of prehistoric
engravings. The core of these engravings have been dated from 2500 BC to 14
BC. It is one of the oldest and most important cultural sites of this type in Europe.
There are three impressive wild valleys
conducting toward this mountain, which have been considered as being three
different sacred paths. The valley that surrounds Mount Bego is named the "Valley
of Wonders." The higher part of this valley opens to the most important
sites of engravings. At the top of it, just at the feet of the sacred mount,
there is the most central and significant site—the "Altar Rock."
It is a big red-purple rough rock standing on a large plaque of
a different smooth rock covered with thousands of engravings. From a tiny hole
in that plaque springs a small source of living waters. This rock stands like an
altar right at the core of a gigantic natural cathedral.
Just before this magic spot, at the place where the valley
narrows for a last time, stands a large plaque of a particular rock that has
been carried, erected, and engraved there—which is a unique case in this
context. This engraving is in many regards noteworthy. It is a very central one,
and it stands on the sacred path of this valley exactly like the front on a
medieval church. This site might then represent and summarize the central
element of a very ancient cult.
This carving also has one of the fairly rare anthropomorphic
figures of the site, and it has been named the "Chief of the Tribe."
Now look at the reproduction of it, and it is even more obvious in a photograph
or in life. This supposed "Chief of the Tribe" might rather be the
representation of a shaman whose plant ally or plant of vision was the mythic
mushroom Amanita muscaria. Exactly like with the Siberian or the Ojibway
shamans for whom the power of the sacred A. muscaria was also closely
linked with lightning (STAFFORD 1992, Psychedelic Encyclopedia); our
"Chief of the Tribe" is enlightened (symbolized by the lightning bolt)
with the power of the mushroom.
The other striking thing about this story is that there is,
among scholars devoted to the study of this very important site, a school among
which noted personalities for over a century and a half, have developed the
thesis of an Indo-European origin and influence on this site, going back to the
very beginning of the Vedas. Incredibly, none of them—as far as I know—has
identified the small motif over the head of the lightening-striked "Chief"
as being a mushroom of the species A. muscaria. (It is worth noting that A.
muscaria grow all over the foothills of these mountains.) Instead these
scholars have developed all kinds of sophisticated interpretations about this
so-called "abstract design."
There was a very ancient cult, 4500-years-old, in the Maritimes
Alps of southeast France. Its origins go back to the end of the Neolithic, 2500
BC, and it lasted all through the Bronze and Iron ages, up to the coming of the
Romans in 14 BC. This cult of shamanic practices was linked with some kind of
Vedic or pre-Vedic religious influence.
Now, if we accept that the motif is a representation of
an A. muscaria, and also R. GORDON WASSON’S proposition
that this mushroom was the principal original component of the Vedic Soma, then
we have to conclude that both had in common the ritual use of the sacred
Siberian mushroom for religious and shamanic purpose. Hey people, this is quite
In turn, if the scholars who suggest a Vedic influence on this
neolithic European cult are right and the motif is an A. muscaria, this
might then be the first archeological discovery able to prove R. GORDON WASSON’S
proposition about identity of the Vedic Soma.