Linguist; Attorney; New York Times Bestselling Author
Brian C. Muraresku graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University with a degree in Latin, Greek and Sanskrit.
As an alumnus of Georgetown Law and a member of the New York Bar, he has been practicing law internationally since 2005.
The Immortality Key, Muraresku's debut bestselling book, presents the first scientific evidence for the ritual use of psychedelics in classical antiquity.
Muraresku launched The Immortality Key on the Joe Rogan Experience.
A real-life Dan Brown-esque thriller, this 12-year adventure through the museums, archives, catacombs and archaeological sites of the Old World became an instant New York Times bestseller.
Audible named it "Best of 2020" in the History category.
CNN called him the "Indiana Jones" of psychedelic archaeology.
Since publication, Muraresku has become a prominent voice for the role of religion and the humanities within the Psychedelic Renaissance, both among scholars and the public alike.
Muraresku has appeared on NPR, SiriusXM and a number of podcasts, including Jordan Peterson, Lex Fridman, Andrew Sullivan, Pete Holmes and Gwyneth Paltrow.
His work has been featured in Forbes, Daily Beast, Vox, VICE, Haaretz, The Telegraph, Big Think, Patheos, Los Angeles Review of Books, Quillette, ABC Australia and Rolling Stone.
He works closely with the psychedelic initiatives at Harvard, Yale and Johns Hopkins University.
My Quest for the Psychedelic Grail: An Evening with Brian Muraresku
The most influential religious historian of the 20th century, Huston Smith, once referred to it as the "best-kept secret" in history. Did the Ancient Greeks use drugs to find God? And did the earliest Christians inherit the same, secret tradition?
There is zero archaeological evidence for the original Eucharist – the sacred wine said to guarantee life after death for those who drink the blood of Jesus. The Holy Grail and its miraculous contents have never been found. In the absence of any hard data, whatever happened at the Last Supper remains an article of faith for today’s 2.5 billion Christians.
Before the birth of Jesus, however, the Ancient Greeks found salvation in their own sacraments. Sacred beverages were routinely consumed as part of the so-called Ancient Mysteries – elaborate rites that led initiates to the brink of death. The best and brightest from Athens and Rome flocked to the spiritual capital of Eleusis, where a holy beer unleashed heavenly visions for two thousand years. Others drank the holy wine of Dionysus to become one with the god.
In the 1970s, renegade scholars claimed this beer and wine – the original sacraments of Western civilization – were spiked with mind-altering drugs. In recent years, vindication for the disgraced theory has been quietly mounting in the laboratory. The constantly advancing fields of archaeobotany and archaeochemistry have hinted at the enduring use of hallucinogenic drinks in antiquity. And with a single dose of psilocybin, the psychopharmacologists at Johns Hopkins and NYU are now turning self-proclaimed atheists into instant believers. But the smoking gun remains elusive.
If these sacraments survived for thousands of years in our remote prehistory, from the Stone Age to the Ancient Greeks, did they also survive into the age of Jesus? Was the Eucharist of the earliest Christians, in fact, a psychedelic Eucharist?
Join Muraresku as he recounts his twelve-year global hunt for proof. He tours the ruins of Greece with its government archaeologists. He gains access to the hidden collections of the Louvre Museum to show the continuity from pagan to Christian wine. He unravels the Ancient Greek of the New Testament with a Catholic priest. He spelunks into the catacombs under the streets of Rome to decipher the lost symbols of Christianity’s oldest monuments. He breaches the Secret Archives of the Vatican to unearth manuscripts never before translated into English.
And with leads from the archaeological chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he unveils the first scientific data for the ritual use of psychedelic drugs in classical antiquity.
Die Before You Die: Why an Ancient Riddle is the Future of Medicine and Religion
Psychedelics have re-emerged as promising therapeutics for a wide range of psychiatric conditions for which more effective treatments are desperately needed.
Clinical trials at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Yale, UCLA and elsewhere are investigating the potential for psychedelics to alleviate conditions as diverse as anxiety, depression, addiction, PTSD and end-of-life distress.
The clinical results, thus far, are unlike any intervention known to the fields of psychiatry or clinical psychology, and could represent a genuine revolution in mental health.
In October 2021, Johns Hopkins received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study tobacco addiction and psilocybin (the active compound in magic mushrooms). It was the first federal grant for psychedelics in 50 years. In June 2022, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs joined the psychedelic research effort. In February 2023, Australia became the first country in the world to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes. The United States could be next. The times they are a-changin'.
But there's a catch. Throughout history, the ritual use of psychedelics looks very different from today's Western medicine. In recent years, research has clearly demonstrated that the strength of the so-called ‘mystical-type experience’ unleashed by psilocybin is directly correlated to the therapeutic benefit, in both clinical and non-clinical populations.
It remains a mystery why psilocybin so dramatically improves mental health. But from the 're-discovery' of psilocybin in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico in 1955, to the Harvard Psilocybin Project of the 1960s, to the cutting-edge studies at Johns Hopkins, the data speak for themselves.
Participants routinely describe the kind of epiphany that is familiar territory for students of religion, practitioners of mindfulness or meditation, and the contemplatives of the world’s major faiths. The psilocybin experience has certain hallmarks: transcending time and space; intuitively sensing the unity and sacredness of all things; accessing knowledge that is normally not available; a merging of the everyday personality with a larger, more fundamental whole.
Oftentimes, there is a confrontation with death, which can seem acutely and terrifyingly real – perhaps the reason so many terminal cancer patients have experienced relief from a single dose of psilocybin. Perhaps death isn't what we think.
This is not medicine by any conventional understanding of the term. And this is not the religion that most people experience on Sundays. But the psilocybin experience could very well impact the future of both. In the Greco-Roman world that gave rise to Christianity, everyone from Plato to Marcus Aurelius was initiated into Ancient Mysteries that look shockingly similar to the confrontation with mortality reported in today's laboratory.
Part medicine, part religion, the end goal of the initiation was to die before you die; to be reborn into a cosmic being who transcended time and conquered death. Have the Ancient Mysteries returned in the form of a mushroom? How can history guide the next, crucial steps in the Psychedelic Revolution that will transform our very notions of health, happiness, well-being and even death.
“Absolutely one of the most fascinating podcasts I've ever done” ― Joe Rogan, Host of The Joe Rogan Experience
"Like the Da Vinci Code...I really do think you've got something big on your hands here."― Michael Smerconish, CNN and SiriusXM host
“The book—which is like nothing I had read before, it puts other ‘popular scholarship’ to shame—is part popularized classical scholarship and part Da Vinci Code-influenced investigative journalism.”― Candida Moss, The Daily Beast
“I was completely captivated.” ― Elise Loehen, The Goop Podcast
“Exceptional investigative work.” ―Derek Beres for Big Think