October 29, 2012 12:00AM
Although it wasn’t written as a Halloween tale, Earl Lee’s newest book may be an interesting companion for lovers of historical mysteries and the bizarre. Lee, a professor and librarian at Pittsburg State University’s Axe Library, is the author of “From the Bodies of the Gods: Psychoactive Plants and the Cults of the Dead,” published this year by Park Street Press.
Lee is the author of several books, including “Raptured,” “Drakulya,” and “Libraries in the Age of Mediocrity.” Although he is a self-confessed fan of horror stories, Lee’s “From the Body of the Gods” is an academic exploration of ancient burial rites and practices that may have shaped contemporary religious practices.
“For the past thirty years I have been researching material that many people would consider gruesome: the preparation of corpses, the use of bodily fluids from the dead, the torture of gods, and the mystical experiences of saints,” Lee wrote in the introduction of the book. “It isn’t just that I like horror stories, which I do; my research has led me to some startling conclusions about our contemporary religious practices.”
In his book, Lee documents the sacrificial, cannibalistic and psychoactive sacramental practices associated with the Cult of the Dead, from the prehistoric Minoans on Crete to the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews and onward to early and medieval Christian sects.
“I hope that this book provides a clear explanation, albeit an unusual one, for the complex burial rites of the Egyptians, Greeks, earliest Hebrews, and early Christians, and also for the heretical Christian sects of the medieval era,” Lee wrote.