KINGDOM: Plantae

ORDER: Rosales

FAMILY: Cannabaceae

GENIUS: Cannabis

SPECIES: Sativa, Indica, Ruderalis

I’m sure many of you have seen the bumper sticker stating that weed is naturally occurring and theoretically created by god versus alcohol which is man made. Then it inquirers about who you should trust. I would say this is not about religion but it certainly has a strong history and presence there. We can very simply argue that the plant came with the planet. It was already here, stems, seeds and everything. You’d think we’d know more about it. We do know it has never killed anyone so there might be something to those gods.

It has also proven resilient and valuable as a resource in it’s industrial form. The main difference between narcotic and industrial hemp is that only Sativa is suitable to grow for stalk fibers and of course it is cultivated to have minimal THC, usually less than 3%. There is evidence of hemp cultivation for fibers dating back 12,000 years. Clothes, shoes, ropes and an early form of paper have been found. Note we don’t see widespread usage of it in that capacity even though it is less expensive and more durable than cotton. Clearly someone’s agenda is at work. It is also thought that the popularity of smoking the flowers is what led to the spread of hemp as a textile during the Neolithic Period.

Cannabis has been used in ancient indigenous medicine for more than 5000 years in India, China and Tibet. As it is native to that region this makes sense. The use in spiritual and religious context predates that possibly by thousands of years. In India it is mentioned in the Atharva Veda as 1 of 5 Sacred Plants. There are 3 ways it can be engaged.

1.) Bhang which is an infused beverage made mostly for religious ceremonies and festivals like the Hindu holiday Holi.

2.) Ganja which is when the tops of the plants & leaves are smoked.

3.) Hashish or Charas which is a compound made from the plant parts and resin.

The Vedic Period dates to somewhere between 1500 and 2000 BCE. Hindus refer to the plant as amrita meaning elixir of life. The folklore is that it was produced by the churning of the oceans by the devas and asuras. Shiva created cannabis from his own body to purify the elixir. Angaja means body born. The alternative tale is that cannabis sprang up from the ground when a drop of the elixir fell. Sages use it to unite with Shiva and avoid the miseries of hell in a future life. Wise drinking of bhang cleanses sins but foolish drinking is a sin in itself.

In Nepal, though it is illegal, cannabis is consumed during Shivarati and other religious festivals.

In China shaman called Wu have been using cannabis for hallucinogenic properties for possibly the past 2 millenia.  A shaman is a spirit medium and a doctor so there is also the belief that medicine originated from magic. Taoists are credited with the oldest text noting herbal cannabis as psychodynamic and that was in 100CE. It was their experience that if you took too much you would see demons but taken over a long period one could commune with the spirits and the body would become light. Later they would experiment systemically with ritual incense burners. The founders of Shangqing School of Taoism channeled down their scriptures from the immortals with the help of cannabis and a Taoist pharmacologist said that even though the hemp seeds were little used in medicine if they were taken with ginseng it would give you preternatural knowledge of the future.

Ancient pagan Germans associated cannabis with the Norse goddess of love, Freya. The plant was harvested for the erotic High Festival. It was believed that Freya is the fertile force that lives in the flowers and consequently ingesting them is divine. In late medieval Europe it was used as food and later for fibers.

According to the philosopher Herodotus the Greeks knew the vapors of the hemp and seed smoke as ritual and recreation. Mythology mentions it as powerful in eliminating anguish and sorrow.

Traces of hashish have been found near the birthplace of Celtic culture.

Several tribes in various regions is Africa have used cannabis to restore appetite and relieve pain. It also serves as an antiseptic. It has been used in treating tetanus, delirium, infantile convulsions, rheumatism, neuralgia, nervous disorders, asthma and protracted labor during childbirth. There were also some cults and sects that worship hemp. The Sensui in the Sahara was one, another was the Bashilenge who cultivated large plots around their villages. These cults began as small clubs for smokers united by friendship but eventually became religious. Calling themselves Bena Riamba the “Sons of Hemp” they referred to their land as Lubaku meaning friendship. Their greeting was “moia” meaning hemp and life. They attributed the universe’s magic powers to hemp and thought it combats evil. They took it with them to war and when traveling. These groups had initiation rights and the hemp pipe was symbolic to them in the same way the peace pipe is for Native Americans. It was used to mark all significant and auspicious occasions.

The Rastafarian Movememt began in the 1930’s in Jamaica. They use cannabis for it’s natural consciousness exaltation, to worship King Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and for religious rites. They believe it is the tree of life giving “livity” according to the sacred scriptures of the ancient mystics. For Rastafarians cannabis illustrates the truthful, faithful and prophetic way of life.

The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church considers cannabis the eucharist dating back to Christ. There are at least a dozen more churches that have arisen in the past century that maintain the view that cannabis is a sacrament.

Fortunately there is no arguing with documented facts and archeological evidence from ancient societies. There was cannabis before there were governments or prohibition or even organized religion. There can only be acceptance in the face of this type of information. So please be a responsible cult follower & beware the demons in this life and the next one.









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