Friday, August 3, 2012

The Buried Secrets of Freemasonry: Acacia

Warning: If you are in agreement with those who would present the Craft as some sort of boys club, and with a straight face no less, then read no further.  You will either not like or will reject what you read. If however, you are aware that reality is far more complex and far less fixed, measurable, or even concrete than we try to convince ourselves it is, and that secrets and spirits hide in even the most innocent of shadows, and that those who claim to speak the truth seldom know it, then read on. But, you've been warned.

There are reasons why every symbol and every legend should be held to be of import. If, as many would have us believe, the craft is based upon spiritual teaching from the earliest days of human civilization, then we should not be surprised if it continues to unfold to the curious student, secrets far deeper than those written of in any of our histories or catechisms.  Before I proceed, I will note that sometimes the deepest truths are far from what we expect them to be. The preservers of knowledge are often ignorant of what they preserve. We can argue endlessly whether Freemasonry contains an esoteric system of teaching or whether it is a purely intellectual and moral enterprise. As far as I am concerned, the two are not mutually exclusive. Where ever you fall on the line from mystic to rationalist to disbeliever, it cannot be denied that the institution of Freemasonry contains teachings which can be unquestionably linked to the most esoteric of human studies and knowledge. Do with it what you will, but I offer it  for consideration and, with perhaps just a little more glee than is proper, for the consternation of those starched shirts who believe in nothing more than they can ascertain through their myopic vision. And so we begin, with a radically different set of data about the Acacia.

The Hedgemason does not recommend or encourage anyone to experiment with potentially fatal or dangerous substances, natural or otherwise. The Hedgemason will not be liable for any harm or injury resulting from the use of any substance mentioned on this blog. We advised you not to use it. We provide this information solely for educational purposes, and do not recommend the use of this or any other psychotropic or potentially psychotropic plants.

Why is the Acacia so central to the Masonic Legend? Given that Freemasonry describes itself as 'a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols,’ it would be surprising to think that the choice of the Acacia stopped merely with the fact that it was a tree commonly associated with burial customs. Let us ask why? One answer, and it is in keeping with ancient spiritual teachings is because it is a plant that grants access, for those who know its secrets, to the realm of spiritual vision.

It will come as no surprise to modern ethnobotanists and those who examine the history of Entheogenics, that a plant which has hallucinogenic properties would be prominent in a system of ethics, morals, and metaphysics which is foundational to much of the Western Esoteric system. With that fact noted, let us look at the botanical information available concerning the Acacia, and most specifically, it’s role as an entheogen, or plant providing humanity access to spiritual experiences. One speculative hypothesis suggests the ancient Israelite religion was associated with the use of entheogens (mind-altering plants used in sacramental contexts). The hypothesis is based on a new look at texts of the Old Testament pertaining to the life of Moses. The  ideas entertained by this thesis were primarily based on the fact  that in the arid areas of the Sinai peninsula and Southern Israel there grow two plants containing the same psychoactive molecules found in the plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic brew Ayahuasca  is prepared. The two plants are species of Acacia tree and  the bush Peganum harmala. The hypothesis is corroborated  by comparative experiential-phenomenological observations, linguistic considerations, exegesis of old Jewish texts and other ancient Mideastern traditions, anthropological lore, and ethnobotanical data.

“In his book Poisons sacrés, ivresses divines (which, to my knowledge, has not been translated into English), Philippe de Félice (1970 [1936]) reviews various cultures throughout the world and notes the use of psychotropic substances in them. The use of such substances, most of which fall in our contemporary Western culture under the label “drug,” has in many traditions been considered sacred. Indeed, de Félice points out that in many religions, both in the old world and in the new, the use of
such substances was (and often still is) central. The substances, or the plants from which they were produced, were deemed holy and at times even divine. De Félice  puts forward the hypothesis that the use of psychotropic substances is deeply embedded in human culture and intrinsically intertwined with what he characterizes as the most basic human instinct—the search for transcendence. Thus, he proposes, the use of psychotropic substances is at the root of  perhaps all religions” — Benny Shanon

FAMILY: Leguminosae

GENUS: Acacia

SPECIES: Angustifolia, Baileyana, Catechu, Coringera, Maidenii, etc.

COMMON NAMES: Pulque Tree, Timbre, Catechu Tree, Horned Acacia, Acacia, Maiden’s Wattle, Wattle, Druce

The genus Acacia encompasses from 130 to 800 species, found all over the world.  Most Acacia trees are medium sized, with pinnate leaves and clustered flowers.  They produce pod-like fruits.  The flowers are very fragrant and are often made in to an essential oil that is used in aromatherapy (Ratsch 1998, 28).

TRADITIONAL USES: Numerous acacia species have been used for medicine and as entheogens, as well as for making incense.  Many species of acacia, particularly contain DMT and other tryptamines

It has been suggested that the burning bush witnessed by Moses in the Old Testament was an A. senegal tree.  This tree is still held sacred in the Middle East, and it is said that anyone who breaks off a twig will die in a year.  It has even been suggested by scholar Benny Shanon,  Professor of psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), whose main foci of research  are the phenomenology of human consciousness and the
philosophy of psychology,(His publications include The Representational and the Presentational (1993) and The Antipodes of the Mind (2002);  At present, he is working on a book devoted to a general psychological theory of human consciousness) that Moses composed an ayahuasca analog from acacia resin and syrian rue, an MAOI, and that this allowed him to see his visions of Yahweh, the burning bush, and so forth.  The wood of this tree was also used to build the Jewish tabernacle (Wahba Khalil & Elkheir 1975).

TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: Various types of acacia root, leaf and bark may be used as ingredients in ayahuasca analogues, in cases where they contain DMT. Many species of acacia are also used in combination with other herbs in ritual psychoactive alcoholic beverages, such as pulque. The Masai, who use A. ataxacantha to stimulate themselves for battle or hunting prepare the plant by making a water infusion of the bark and roots and then consume meat that has been cooked with an extract of the same plant. Milk is not to be consumed at the same time as this combination, in order to avoid illness.  The Masai also occasionally chew the bark to produce stimulation and courage (Voogelbreinder 2009, 65-66).

Much care should be taken with the preparation and consumption of unknown species of acacia, as many contain poisonous cyanogenic glycosides and have been known to poison livestock.  Closely related species also often interbreed, which may make identification of the alkaloids present in the plant very challenging.  Therefore, it is not recommended that one consume any part of an acacia plant until the species is confirmed (Voogelbreinder 2009, 65-66).

MEDICINAL USE:  In Africa, A. ataxacantha root is combined with other herbs and used to treat wounds.  The leaf is an analgesic.  A. nilotica has been used in Sudan to treat a variety of different inflammatory disorders.  The Masai use a decoction of the stem bark and root to acquire courage and as a stimulant (Voogelbreinder 2009, 65-66).

TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Many African species of acacia are said to have very stimulating and energizing effects, although some individuals are also said to go mad from chewing the bark, and even to fall comatose in rare cases.  The bark is said to cause a “furious and imbalanced state of mind” and is therefore often consumed before battle. Many species of African acacia are said to be stimulating aphrodisiacs, and are still used as such by indigenous tribes in the regions in which they grow (Voogelbreinder 2009, 65-66).


ACACIA: Burned with sandelwood to stimulate the psychic powers.

(Acacia senegal) Also known as gum arabic, gum senegal and gum acacia; produced by a tree that grows in North Africa. The species of acacia that produces gum arabic and gum acacia are so closely related that one can be used for the other.

Parts Used - flowers, leaves, stems, root, bark, resin, seeds, and essential oil

Magical Uses - (Herb and Oil) Burn for altar offerings or purification; aids psychic powers, meditation, platonic love, psychic awareness; purification; inspiration; wisdom; visions; anointing; protection; prophetic dreams; spirituality; money. A sprig place over the bed wards off evil.

Ritual Uses - In India, the wood is used as fuel in scared fires, and also in building temples. Acacia is an excellent choice to build a small chest or sacred box. It should be handmade and used only to store your ritual tools.. If unable to obtain enough to build the box, the powdered herbe may be used to consecrate the containers you use for sacred items.

Other Uses - The dried gum can be burned as incense, the leaves and wood can be infused to create sacred water for aspurging. This gum is water soluble and when dissolved in boiling water, clarifies and makes a very good adhesive that is used, among other things, to make scented beads and pomanders.
Acacia can be used for blessing any sacred space.

Gum Arabic
Acacia senegal
Also known as gum hashab, this resin is associated with the Sun because of its light warmth and the fact that the plant loves to grow in warm, dry, sunny places, but it also has some associations with Air (its lightness) and Mars (it comes from a prickly plant). This gum has literally thousands of uses--changing the texture of food, in adhesives, in medicine, and of course, in incense, where it makes a good binder for other ingredients--it is water soluble. It has its own very light, typically resinous scent. This gum arabic comes from Kenya, where farming of acacia is being substituted for herding cattle. Overgrazing is destroying the environment there, and farming acacia is a viable alternative that gives people an income and provides them with a source of firewood. I have high-grade nuggets ground into a convenient, fine powder.

The acacia tree has been associated with the sacred since the proverbial time immemorial, from the myth of Osiris to the Ark of the Covenant. Burn it as incense to stimulate and enhance psychic ability as well as to provide contact with the sacred.

Basic Acacia Incense:
Burn dried powered acacia and allow the fragrance to permeate the area.
Osiris Incense:
Blend Acacia, frankincense, cypress, and cedarwood and burn wafting the fragrance as desired.
Sacred Wood Incense:
Blend dried powdered acacia, sandalwood, and frankincense. Burn the powder to enhance and develop psychic power and vision.

It is food for thought, and material for visions. Of course.

The Hedgemason does not recommend or encourage anyone to experiment with potentially fatal or dangerous substances, natural or otherwise. The Hedgemason will not be liable for any harm or injury resulting from the use of any substance mentioned on this blog. We advised you not to use it. We provide this information solely for educational purposes, and do not recommend the use of this or any other psychotropic or potentially psychotropic plants.


"Acacia Spp. – Acacia Tree." Acacia Spp. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. <>.

Hofmann, A., Ratsch, C., Schultes, R., Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers.  Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1992.

Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.

Shanon, Benny. Biblical Entheogens: a Speculative Hypothesis in Time and Mind:  The Journal of Archaeology Consciousness and CultureVolume I-Issue IMarch 2008 pp. 51-74

Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009. 

Wahba Khalil, S.K., and Y. M. Elkheir. "Dimethyltryptamine from the Leaves of Certain Acacia Species of Northern Sufan." Lloydia 28, no. 2 (1975): 176-177.

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