In the Beginning | The Dawn of Civilization | Empires of Hash Traders | Mysteries and Magicians | Romans Attack Paganism | Cannabis Crusades | Revival of Plant Power


Imagine when the human race was nothing more than a hundred or so beings living in a large, lush valley or island, somewhere around central Asia, South America or North Africa, millions of years ago. These early people would band together to hunt large game, kill any threatening beast, build shelters, study the envirnoment, look after the children and forage for food when necessary. The lives and thoughts of early cave-dwellering, nomadic hunters was centered solely upon immediate physical needs. There was no yesterday or tomorrow, no good or evil. Everyone and everything lived in the eternal Now.

Exactly when it happened, whether it was amanita mushrooms, cannabis, peyote or some other naturally occurring hallucinogenic which was discovered first, we will never know, but one day scavenging through the bushes someone found and consumed a mind-altering substance. The experience of non-ordinary reality which this prehistoric person experienced would have transformed their life. Their simple mind exploded in illumination, and for the first time concepts such as God/dess, nudity, time and morality entered into their consciousness. The Fall of Adam and Eve may well be a mythical representation of the first time two pre-humaniods, 50 million years ago, came down from the trees, ate vast quantities of magic mushrooms and could not get back up the tree again. They could not return to the Garden of Eden, any more than we could return to our own innocent state of being.

After the first awakening, humans shared this experience with others It was not long before everyone in the small group became familiar with altered states of awareness. Creative thoughts began to form in their minds which were expressed in powerful words, songs, stories and pictures. Pieces of wood were picked up and used as clubs or fashioned into tools to build shelter. Clothing was made from fur and eventually hemp fiber. Languages developed containing abstract concepts as time and space. Usually a God/dess, or group of God/dess', were given credit for the creation of our existence, universe, thoughts and actions, and a series of evolving myths was created by every sophisticated group of early human peoples. We stood up a little taller, saw a little farther and communicated in more complicated languages, as every generation passes away.

A major step in the evolutionary process of conscious awareness came with the taming of fire, about 1,000,000 years ago. This new technology would prove to one of the most useful tools humankind has harnased in our conquest of nature. Many important benefits have been derived from fire, such as providing heat and cooking facilities during Ice-Ages. It was probably not very long after fire was in control of human hands that a stalk of Cannabis sativa was thrown onto the fire inside a small shelter. Fire has long been associated with enlightenment.

Another important creation which was made possible by controlling fire was the development of pottery. This invention generated many tools and activities, including the development of art, as many ceremonial bowls and other artifacts were designed with symbolic figures and religious imagery which would dictate the purpose of the object. Many archeological sites have found hemp seeds, cannabis extracts and even preserved hashish inside pottery in tombs, which are ussually coated in cannabis resin as well indicating the burning of incense. Cannabis seeds, resins, fibers and hashish have been found frozen high in the mountains, sealed in airtight clay jars at the bottom of the sea, and around ancient ruins of cities and temples. Clay tablets were used by many ancient peoples to record myths, business transactions and the history of civilizations, like the Assyrians of ancient Iran. The progression in technology used to develop the ancient craft of pottery reflects many trends in human activities.

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When early people began splitting into families and clans across vast tracts of land, they took knowledge of medicinal and edible plants with them wherever they went. Since the cannabis plant is so easy to grow and has so many uses, it did not take long before it spread around the equator where the growing conditions are perfect for the crop. A couple of handfuls provides enough seed for a group of several dozen people every spring to provide hemp seed, medicine, intoxicating buds and fibre for rope, clothing, and nets. It would be as simple as saving some seeds from last years crop and throwing them into nearby grasslands or small open areas, returning in the fall to harvest the valuable plant. This could be easily done for thousands of years without need for equipment, tools or tiled land. Hence, humankind is just as widely spread and diverse as Cannabis sativa.

Cannabis has been considered by some individuals and cultures as being the 'Blood of the Earth'. Perhaps this is because there is evidence to suggest that when farming first began, it was the custom for women to collect their blood they excreted during menstruation to put a drop upon each seed as it was planted into the ground. It could also be because for some cannabis is such an important part of the natural growth and preservation of life, that it would appear as if everything flows into and out of the plant. The term 'Blood of the Earth' could be symbolic of the role cannabis has played in the development of not just the human species, but also in the evolution of the plant and animal kingdoms, and, consequently, in the creation of the world. In some ancient civilizations, everything could seem to flow into and out of the cannabis plant.

Whether that is true or not, there is little doubt that Cannabis sativa was the first crop to be grown by early humankind, about 10,000 years ago. Dr. Carl Sagan, author of, THE DRAGONS OF EDEN, amongst other renowned books, claims that hemp was probably the first crop grown by primitive hunter-gathers. He uses the example of the bushman of the Kalahari region in southwest Africa, who not only grow marijuana but claim to have done so since the beginnings of time. They use the stalk as a fiber for rope, basket weaving, netting, weapon making and clothing, the seeds for food for humans and birds, the root for medicine, and the flowers for food, medicine and spiritual exploration. All these uses were well established long before actual cultivation of the plant began in large quantities. The diversity of uses for the plant, combined with it's ability to grow in most areas, made it's production an important part of many early large communities of hundreds or thousands of people.

The practice of domestically growing cannabis and other plants became necessary to sustain large populations. Cannabis gave farmers and communities more benefits then any other crop or source of food, spreading fields from China to Great Britain to North America. The use of cannabis was probably the step which allowed larger societies to form for a variety of reasons. First, the quality and quantity of hemp seed provided excellent nutritional oils, increasing everyone's health, vitality and life-span. Second, the cultivation of cannabis lead to the domestic growth of other plants and the herding of animals, as part of the new industry of farming, which created a more stable, local food supply for growing communities. Third, the hemp fiber proved to be a very durable material which could be used for many purposes, including the use of rope and sails on salt-water traveling boats. Forth, the healing properties of cannabis would prove valuable in combatting many medical problems as well as help as preventative medicine for many other potential difficulties. Finally, the altered state of awareness which can be achieved from eating or smoking cannabis would have profound effects upon the development and growth of these individuals and societies. The religious ideologies and practices which resulted from the use of sacred plants created entire civilizations, cultures and long lost mythologies.

We have women to thank for many of these steps forward in cultural, spiritual and material evolution. As time passed from the earliest days, when males and females were almost equal in physical capacities, except for the obvious sexual differences, the specialized divisions of labour allowed for each gender to develop complimentary characteristics. Men became physically stronger, gradually increased their knowledge of building, hunting, farming and territory, while women became more gentle, increasing their knowledge of science, healing, religion, social interaction and the natural world. It is almost certain women were responsible for the discovery and continued use of cannabis since the beginnings of time. Most early artifacts depict female deities. The fact that it is the female plant which yields the buds we smoke indicates how strong the female nature of the YOUniverse is tied into Cannabis sativa. The loving, nurturing nature of the Mother Goddess is manifest in the very core of marijuana experiences.

As small nations began to form, the division of labour became more diversified. Some hunted for game, some tended the fields, craftspeople developed and manufactured an increasing number of household and industrial tools, equipment and other instruments. Some travelled to other villages to bring messages and goods, while the leader organized the daily operations of government and business, and shamans studied the ancient laws of healing, plants and consciousness. The constant shifting in power between cultures built upon religious, political, economic and/or military principles is an interesting viewpoint to consider when studying history. Any culture which became prosperous based upon values of peace, love and freedom was destroyed by male dominated, violent, slave-trading empires long ago.

Shamans have the task of healing the sick, of guiding the leader and community in present and future endeavours, instructing the youth about traditions, Mother Earth and life's other mysteries, performing and leading sacred ceremonies, teaching the art of shamanism to those ready for the knowledge, communicating with the YOUniverse for knowledge and guidance on behalf others, while fulfilling a own personal quest for information in the exploration of their environment and consciousness. In times of need and desperation, celebration and initiation, it is the shaman who the community turns towards for inspiration and guidance.

For many communities, shamans are the focal point for many communities. The skills and knowledge which they possessed are more valuable, in most situations, than the fighting or negotiating skills of military and political leaders. Experimentation with altered states of consciousness using methods to shift awareness like fasting, meditating, prayer, drumming, dancing, singing, sleep deprivation, self-mutilation or chanting. These slowly developed into intricate ceremonies. Many elaborate rituals evolved serving different purposes using combinations of these techniques of manipulating consciousness using plants. Healing, religous faith and science were inseperable. Many powerful shamans became the subject of local legends, and some were eventually transcended into the status of demi-god/dess'.

While it is hard to generalize the religious practices of prehistoric people across the globe, there are many similar tendencies which should be considered. One common characteristic of early religious worship was the practice of calling upon the true name of a deity when a specific ritual is being performed in order to draw upon the full powers of the god/dess. If one paid proper respect towards the deity being called upon, then the anticipated results should follow. This was generally true for everything from controlling the weather to the consumption of mind-altering plants. Deities would often be said to live within plants, gaining strength from the power of the sun and the Mother Earth from which they grow, waiting for the chance to touch your thoughts.

Storytelling, the sharing of myth and legend, is an important mechanism which allows shamans to communicate religious and philosophical beliefs. Plants, animals and celestial objects were given human characteristics so as to make the interaction between Mother Earth and humans more comprehensible to all members of society. The YOUniverse was perceived as being created for us, with everything we need to survive and grow given to us by the Creator.

The first book in the Old Testament, Genesis, is an excellent example of how some of these old stories tried to explain creation and the beginnings of the human race. Unfortunately, most original, ancient stories are lost since there was no means to record it, or the storyteller died before it could be written in full, the clan or culture which shared the myth was destroyed by enemies or disease, or the story simply got so changed over time that it was completely different in the end from what it was in the beginning. Many conquerors destroyed all literature which did not support their personal beliefs. Often when an area was conquered in battle, the new ruling class would permit the same customs to be performed by the population, but they would change the names of the deities being worshipped, erecting new public temples which were similar in many ways to the original religous institutions respected by the defeated people.

We have a large store of artifacts from these ancient times which contain a vast amount of information about what people believed so long ago. Many scholars are currently busy trying to decipher the messages left behind by early people from pottery ruins, cave drawings, tablets, statues and scrolls. Today, many of our modern stories and religions closely resemble those from our past, though the original meaning has been lost or distorted.

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Until 2000 years ago, Cannabis sativa was an important part of almost every major religion in the world. There is ample evidence to suggest that ancient Mesopotamians, Indians, Persians, Scythians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Buddists, Hebrews, Sufis, Moslems, Egyptians, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans and Celts used hemp stock to make clothing and rope, the seed for food, and the flowers for medicine and to achieve mystical revelation. There are so many Gods and Goddess' attributed to creating or being associated with cannabis that it would be an extremely difficult task to collect and list them all, with all of their various translations in various languages from different times in history. Of course, magic mushrooms, datura, peyote and several other mind-altering plants were also considered to have sacred status among early peoples. While these power plants have magical, healing properties that have become known to humankind in certain areas, cannabis was certainly the oldest and most widespread of all sacred plants, providing material, nutritional and spiritual benefits.

As cities and states formed across the planet, religious sects started building temples and alters to honour chosen deties. Animal sacrifices and the burning of hashish incense were very common, and the priests and adepts who lived, taught and worshipped at these holy shrines had their needs provided for by the general public. Many of these ancient civilizations buried their dead clothed in hemp clothes while burning bowls of hashish incense, a tradition which still continues in parts of China. Most cultures allowed the worship of many deities, as many believed that the more people prayed and the more god/desses that were honoured, the more good fortune would shine. People practiced religion in the public temples and in privacy at home.

A very popular and ancient method of ingesting THC was by drinking 'bhang'. It is made by combining crushed flowers, milk, water, honey or sugar, black pepper and some other seeds or herbs boiled together. This continues to this day in many places throughout India, China, Burma and Thailand. In all likelihood, cannabis is the main ingredient in 'Soma' and 'Hoama', names given to ancient potions which were said to contain immense powers of healing, vision and even return people from the dead. Many ancient myths concerning leaders, demi-gods and even the god/desses themselves are focused upon the idea of returning from the dead, a.k.a. resurrection. Many believe that the consumption of large quantities of cannabis concentrated in milk, with a drop of honey for sweetener, induces a mystical state of awareness in the individual which could be said to eliminate the existence of their former ignorant self, replacing their consciousness with a more enlightened state of being. While under the influence of large quantities of bhang, an initiate appears dead, with shallow breathing, minimal pulse and no body movements. This 3 day experience of death, rebirth and transformation appeared to have divine influences, for many reasons, and could have been the deciding factor in the minds of initiates when determining whether a deity or religious leader is worth following, as religious leaders would impress upon their minds the concept that the honoured deity had entered their body, mind and spirit to induce the experience.

One of the oldest deciphered historical references to cannabis is from the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia. It is a story about Atrahasis, the first saviour of mankind, "the far wise". He could speak to his god, Enki, who would reveal the other god's secrets to him every time Atrahasis desperately needed some specific knowledge to save his people from destruction. This communication would take place as he lay in an incense-induced dream-state. This was certainly hashish that he used as in his stories he fully expected inspiration and revelation from smoking incense. This was the accepted and common means by which people communicated with their personal gods for thousands of years. With no authorities prohibiting the growth of cannabis to make hash incense, fertile valleys along large rivers like the Nile, Euphates, Indus and Ganges would provide large quantities of very resinous plants. The gardens of Babylon in Sumer probably grew beautiful cannabis.

India has been considered by many to be the cradle of civilization, and it also happens to be the largest country in the world where cannabis is still openly used as a religious sacrament. The oldest writings in the world, the Vedas, are thought to have been written in Sanskrit almost 8000 years ago, with cannabis being mentioned throughout the texts. Both the Hindus and the Buddists study the Vedas, basing many of their current teachings upon these ancient books. It is claimed that Buddha lived upon a single hemp seed a day. Shiva, or Siva, the ancient Persian God, had all intoxicating substances dedicated to him, but cannabis, in the form of bhang, was considered his favourite drug of choice. Bhang was thought to purify and cleanse the soul, bringing vision and prosperity to those who drank it, while literally speaking scaring away evil spirits, bad thoughts and negative iinfluences. Charas is the term used for hashish, which is still smoked in chillums by many who live in and visit India. While there is confusion over some of the terms used to describe the mind-altering substances used in these ancient writings, there can be no doubt that cannabis was a major part of most religious ceremonies in the past in India. However, some would argue that the magic mushroom, amanita muscaria, was the plant used in the creation of soma because the word amrita is used to describe the drops of nectar from which the sacred plant sprung. While this seems logical when looking at the two words from a linguistic point of view, when the Vedas are read closely by someone experienced with THC-induced intoxication, it is obvious that the sacred plant from which soma is created is cannabis.

The Sadhus are probably the most known about modern group of religious ganga worshippers, with as many as 100,000 still living around the country. During holidays, once every three years, they gather with others to celebrate Kumbha Mela. This festival alternates between four holy places where the first drops of nectar touched the earth, from which the cannabis plant sprung. The Sadhus themselves are described as usually naked, covered in dust or ashes, with matted hair and painted body, living in forests practicing yoga whenever possible. As well as Sadhus, millions of other people join in the celebration of cannabis, smoking chillums while reciting the mantras, "Alakh!", "Bam Bam Bholanath!", and "Bum Shiva!". Other religions which continue to use bhang and charas include the semi-Tantric groups the Nathas, Siddhas and Rasavadas. The festivals at which bhang is consumed include the Holi, Diwali, Chait Sanskrit, Pous Snaskranti, Sripanchami, Sivachaturdasi, Ramnavami and Ganesh Chaturi, as well as weddings. The Goddess Kali is paid special tribute to by many of these different religious groups. Thankfully, the War On Drugs and the influence of American society has not ruined the cultural environment which continues to support the the Sadhus, an ascetic people living off of the kindness of those who recognize the value in a spiritual way of life.

Remains of pottery containing hemp fibers over 10,000 years old have been found in Taiwan, which helps explain why the mainland Chinese have long considered their country the 'land of mulberry and hemp'. They believe that Shen Nung, the Father of Chinese Medicine, developed the science of healing with plants, teaching them how to cultivate hemp in the 28th century B.C. It was only later in times of economic hardship that the fiber was spun for clothing, a wise move made by the ancient King Huang-Ti who realized the dwindling animal population could not continue supplying fur for the increasing number of citizens. Early Chinese healers used to wrap a dead snake around a hemp stalk, or carve the image of a snake in the stalk, and would beat around the bed of a sick person to assist in the driving off of evil spirits. This medicine stick is the precursor to the symbol used in modern medicine which has two snakes intertwined around a staff. A secret Taoist cult, the Religion of the Golden Elixir of Life, used the book, THE SECRET OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, written by Yin-hsi, a student of Lao Tsu, when studying the practice of THC-induced enlightenment. Japanese also used hemp cloth in ancient times, threw hemp seeds upon incense burners, and used hemp stalks in healing ceremonies.

The Assyrians were possibly the largest military empire to embrace the cannabis plant. The Tree Of Life in many forms is engraved in the stonework remaining from the enormous temples and cities the Assyrians built. The stylizied image of the Tree Of Life appears to have large buds growing at the top and around the sides of the plant, held up by a very thick stock. Many images protray men with wings, kings and eagle-headed figures, referred to as 'genius' by archelogists, standing in front of the Tree Of Life holding a large marijuana bud in one hand and a sacred bucket in the other. At times the 'genuis' appears to be collecting resin, other times it anoints doorways and the king. There are many pictures of the large incense stands where hash was burned. During it's height, the Assyrian Empire stretched from Egypt to Persia, transporting huge amounts of hashish across land from India and the Persian Gulf to the pyramids. The Assyrians existed as a people for about 2,000 years, ruling over one of the largest empires in recorded history from 1100 B.C. ending abruptly in 612 B.C. They were so hated by everyone for their brutality that 300 years later when the Greeks were marching through the ruins of cities like Nineveh, the historians which came with them were unable to find out anything about Assyria from the people of the area because no one retained the memory of this once proud culture.

The Egyptians also used cannabis for fiber, seed and as an intoxicant. Many Egyptian rulers from Ethiopia probably brought hashish with them, since the soil, temperature and humidity there is ideal for growing resinous cannabis. Many believe that Ancient Egypt itself was spawned from Ethiopia In the ancient world Ethiopia was known as Sopdu, Abyssinia, Ancient Nubia, the Divine Land or Land Of Incense, covering the area between the Nile and Red Sea, sometimes stretching over onto the Western Arabia coastland. The Ethiopians were given credit by some as being the inventors of religious worship, and may have invented the water-pipe in more recent history. In Ancient Egypt, a divine shrub from this area was thought to mature the spirit, making the three-dimensional universe we live within appear limited. Also, certain oils were believed to induce mystical states of awareness and produce all sorts of magical effects. Many Egyptian papyrus contain pictures of people burning incense in small hand-held burners. Some papyrus show humans with a lump of perfumed unguents, or solidified oils piled upon their head while participating in religious and social ceremonies. This unguent probably consisted mainly of hashish, which has both a pleasing smell and euphoric properties. One of the widely known about legends is the Egyptian myth of Osiris, who was killed by Set, only to be returned to life by Isis, with the help of their son, Horus, to claim the throne in the heavens. This myth could be meant to represent the spiritual transformation induced under the influence of bhang and hash incense. Many Egyptian remains are coated in cannabis resin.

In the current versions of the Old Testament cannabis is referred to often. Incense, kineboisin, kaneh bosm, kanbosm, kanabos, honeycomb, honeywood, sweet cane, sweet calamus, calamus, and, in general, sweet-smelling oils, ointments and grasses, are likely references to cannabis, a word the Scythians used to describe the sacred plant. Moses is commanded by God to make an oil using kaneh bosm as a main ingredient, and is told to anoint the temples, altars, incense burners, priests, and all sacred objects used in religious ceremonies as a means of purification (Exodus 30:23-27). This oil was slowly poured over the head and body of initiates of the priesthood. The burning bush that was not consumed from which Moses heard the voice of God was probably a mature cannabis plant covered in hash resin shimmering in the mid-day sun. Later in the Old Testament, King Solomon, who ruled Jerusalem in the golden days of Jewish history, not only allowed his hundreds of wives to burn incense in honour of their homeland deities, but he also ordered the creation of 20,000 gold censors for the temple of Jerusalem and 50,000 others for the burning of incense. While King Solomon certainly worshipped Yahweh as the Creator, he also paid tributes to other deities when he saw fit.

The first wave of prohibition is documented in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 44:15-23 and II Kings 22:3-23:25, where ruin and distruction is rained upon those who worshiped Baal, Asherah (Ishtar), and other 'false' gods, by power-hungry priests and statesmen. The acts of King Josiah in Jerusalem in 621 were the first recorded imposed set of prohibitions in history. More details are provided in Chapter 5, but it should be noted here that cannabis was not directly targeted by these prohibitions, as incense could still be burned in honour of Yahweh. However, the religious use of cannabis was restricted somewhat to suit the purposes of the Jewish priesthood. The main focus of these prohibitions was the worshipping of deities other than Yahweh.

As empires expanded across the Old World, myths and gods were changed to incorporate many of the beliefs of subdued populations, so slaves would accept their new rulers customs and laws. Many religious practices and rituals were very similar to each other, even though they were performed by different civilizations across vast expanses of land.

The epitome of this overlapping and merging of religious and philosophical beliefs cumulated under the reign of Alexander the Great, the Greek statesman who conquered and ruled over the largest empire ever gathered under one man in history. He created a wonderful and rich culture as he stormed across the land, founding as many as 70 cities, including Alexandria, one of the richest and most culturally diverse cities ever to exist. In contrast to many of his predecessors and teachers, Alexander knew that all men and women were created equal, no matter what their status at birth was, and prayed to a Youniversal God. He invited Hindus, Buddhists, Egyptians, Zoroastrians, Jews, Taoists, Neoplatonists, Christians, and all other races and creeds, to Alexandria to build temples. A new age of intellectual thought and creativity was born, with the art and literature created during this age still inspiring us today.

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Out of this mixed bag of religions grew, amongst other things, the Mithra. This very advanced and complicated organization was very secretive in it's members, customs and rituals, leaving behind almost no written text at all. Most of what we know comes from studying monuments, usually depicting the god Mithra stabbing and killing the Bull of Heaven. The blood which flowed from the Bull's wound gives life to all plants, and looks very much like a marijuana leaf.

The Mysteries of Mithra were a set of instructions for rituals, after which the initiate would have attained spiritual enlightenment. Revealing the secret rituals to others was punishable by death. Mithra became a very large underground religion, from Scotland to North Africa, and around 300 AD it was equal to Christianity in size and power. Mithra was not an elitist or autocratic religion. Those who successfully passed through the initiation simply helped guide others through the experience later. As long as one proved to be trustworthy and truthful, then they would be considered to be invited as an initiate.

The Gnostic faith was evolving in Egypt at about the same time. It, too, was a synthesis of a variety of different cultures, beliefs and rituals. Gnostics had a deep respect for all living things, believed that all humans were in the search for truth and that divine revelations could be attained by altering consciousness. This could be done by a number of different methods including meditation, fasting, sleep deprivation, repetitive exercises, chanting, regular breathing, sexual activity, drumming, intoxication, or a combination thereof. These exercises were intended to help open the energy channels between the seven chakras of the human body, which are located up the spine from the groin to the pineal gland, or third-eye, located in the middle of the forehead. This 'lifting of the seven veils' allows the initiate to shed their former ego and enter into a state of external bliss and oneness with creation. They investigated the divine flux of the Youniverse using these techniques seperately and combined. Different teachers of Gnosis set up unique schools and taught in their own manner. Students travelled from one school to another, learning about themselves and the world until they too were able to teach.

There were three major branches of the Gnostic faith; Zoroastrians (Magiian) , Christian and Hermetic Gnosticism. All forms of Gnosticism preached syncretic monotheism, the belief that all religions and forms of religious worship were truthful attempts at divine inspiration, as opposed to the Jewish practice of ethnic monotheism, the view that one's personal religion is the only true one and that all others are false. Gnostic teachers taught about Christ, Supreme Being, a state of conscious awareness which, once attained and held, revealed the god-like inner qualities of our human soul.

While the Magiian and Hermetic Gnostics believed that Christ was a state of being, the Christian Gnostics were obsessed with the idea of a physical manifestation of the Supreme Being of Christ. When Christianity rose and joined with the Roman Empire to form the Roman Catholic Church, all Gnostic sects were dismantled, the Magiian and Hermetic Gnostics being driven underground or destroyed along with all other pagan cults, while the Christian Gnostics were swallowed into the metamorphosis of the Church. All of the ancient secrets of conscious flux were lost from the public.

It is quite probable that Jesus himself was an initiate of the Mithra and the Zoroastrian Gnostics. The Gnostic faith was very popular in Egypt at the time of his birth and adolescence, and many of the sayings and quotes from him, both in the New Testament and in other sources, showed Jesus had an indepth understanding of mystical out-of-body experiences and the Oneness of the Youniverse. His impressive philosophy of love, peace and forgiveness was very similar to that practised by Gnostics and very unlike that practised by the Jewish priesthood of the time. It is thought that once he passed through the initiation stages at age 30, Jesus proclaimed that all people should openly have access to this knowledge and power. He openly preached about a direct relationship to God which could be experienced by everyone without the guidance of spiritual specialists. He sought, with the help of other initiates who later became his apostles, to teach this faith openly to the world. He knew the power of the archetype of Christ, the Jewish prophecies regarding a Messiah, and understood human nature itself. He lived out the prophecies to the fullest, even faking his death on the cross to fulfil the Resurrection Myth of ancient times. Jesus undermined the authority of all institutions of his time by empowering individuals with an example of how one person can make a dramatic differences in the world.

There is evidence which suggests that the 'old vinegar' which was passed up to Jesus when he was on the cross was, in fact, concentrated THC. This was probably what gave Jesus the appearance of being dead to the Roman Guards, just like Juliet appeared dead to Romeo, in Shakespeare's play, after she drank the friar's potent brew. This ended his public life, something which was becoming increasingly at risk as both traditional Jewish priests and underground secretive religious cults were after him for revealing secrets, challenging customs and defying authority. Jesus was a rebel of the highest order. For a well researched, realistic account of the story of Jesus and the history of cannabis, Chris Bennett's book, SEX, DRUGS AND VIOLENCE AND THE BIBLE, should satisfy the sharpest critics and sceptics.

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The response to Jesus among the statesmen of Rome and the priests of all sanctioned religions was not nearly as warm as it was among the masses. The Zoroastrian Gnostics and Jewish priests were upset because ancient knowledge and rituals were being spread out to everyone. The Jews were upset because they did not believe Jesus was Christ, the Messiah, in part because he was not born of the Levi tribe, which is the priest caste, but was born of the tribe of David, the tribe of kings. All other priests, prophets, sages, oracles, sophists, philosophers, teachers and mystics of that time charged a fee for their services, and were antagonistic towards a religion, or person, which taught freedom from tradition, monetary constraints, religious hierarchy and authoritarian rule. Jesus was a true revolutionary.

The State, too, was antagonistic towards a religious way of life which preached love, happiness and peace. This attitude did not provide the proper atmosphere to train young, Roman soldiers in the art of war, or how to be good, tax-paying citizens. It was reasoned by the Roman Emperor Constantine, that in order for him to consolidate his powers, he needed to employ the help of the Christian Church founded by Paul to collect taxes and control the population. People were to be strictly controlled through their religion. The rigid structure of the Roman Empire was cracking. Constantine rightly saw that a religious obligation to pay taxes and respect was more legitimate and enforceable than a political alliance. Though Jesus was first feared by the Roman Empire, the Christian Church which rose from his grave later became embraced by it.

In 325 AD Constantine formed the Roman Catholic Church as the official church of Rome, even though he only had a vague impression of it's doctrines and it's conflict with his other practice of worshipping the Unconquered Sun God, Apollo. The Catholics then went on to write, collect and edit the New Testament about 367 AD. There is much debate about when the first four books, Mathew, Mark Luke and John, were written. By this time the original teachings of Jesus and the early Christian Gnostics had been so distorted, that only subtle remains of their ideologies actually remained in the Christian doctrines. The Catholics also rewrote the Old Testament to suit their purposes. They discarded scrolls and teachings which did not favour the history or ideology of the ruling Roman statesmen, the first of many 'new translations'. The extent that the Roman Catholic Church used the teachings of ancient, secret societies in it's formation is exemplified in the selection of December 25 as the birth of Jesus, a date which was previously celebrated by the worshippers of Mithra, who claim their God was born from a rock on that day.

About 50 years after Constantine formed it, the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of the emperor, Theodosius, opposed and condemned worship of the Mother Goddess in any form. They denounced the burning of incense, the lighting of a fire or pouring of wine in honour of the house god, and the worship of trees, not all of which were solely the practices of pagans. Once the Christian fanatics were given endorsement from the state to condemn all other religions, the damage that they did to the relics and statues within the temples of the ancient world is only comparable to the damage sustained in the two World Wars. They destroyed every altar upon which incense was burned upon, tore apart ancient forest groves within each city (which is where most god/dess, earth worshipping ceremonies took place since the beginnings of civilization), murdered the philosopher/sage Hypatia, who taught her lessons at the Museum of Alexandria in 415 AD, while denouncing all other women from teaching or learning, ruined hundreds of enormous, beautiful ancient temples, destroyed libraries, religious artifacts, and ancient writings, conjured up myths and legends concerning religious martyrs to create a false history of Christian faith, and forced Roman citizens to convert to Christianity, denouncing publicly their former pagan religions, usually under the threat of torture or death.

It is no wonder that the Roman Catholic Church grew so powerful and quickly. However, many people learned to acknowledge Christianity in public while continuing to practice their true faith behind closed doors. Eventually, though, many secret arts were lost from the public. Punishment for practicing pagan activities was so great and intense at certain times, that people forgot their earlier beliefs over long periods of time during which they refrained from earth-worshipping ceremonies and could not openly speak ancient words. The fear of God ruled over the populace.

However, not all of the knowledge from ancient times was forgotten or lost. Many of the teachers of Zoroastrian and Hermetic Gnosticism continued their practices in deep secrecy. Even though Emperor Justin spent most of his 38 year reign, starting in 527 AD, trying to exterminate all remains of goddess worshipping. Mystical experiences induced by psycho-active substances remained alive in the kitchens of alchemists. Christian high priests, who had lost contact with the divine flux, thought alchemy to be nothing more than the vain attempt to create gold from lead, rock, or other worthless material. In this way, faith in the Mother Goddess remained alive through the early prohibitions and persecutions. The damage had been done, though, and with the rise of the Roman Catholic Church came the Dark Ages. This thousand years of history is shrouded in mystery because so much information was suppressed, destroyed or forbidden, that not much is truly known about these times except for that it was full of war, hate and struggle.

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The use of cannabis disappeared from use in public throughout the Arab world after the Roman Catholics began engaging in murderous campaigns against some mind-altering substances. Though the Moslems, who were founded by Mohammed around 610 AD near Mecca, at first condemned the use of cannabis, they were influenced by hash lovers from Persia on one side and Egypt on the other. When the capital of Islam was moved to Baghdad, in the ancient homeland of the Assyrians, alchemy and secret societies flourished. This generated the creation of several sects within the Moslem tradition. The use of cannabis as a religious sacrament renewed this millenium with a story about Sheik Haydar (1155), the founder of a Sufi sect in Persia, explains how he found and ate a Cannabis sativa leaf and was introduced to the ecstatic euphoria which THC induces. Upon returning to his monastery and gathering his confused pupils together, he made them swear an oath not to reveal the secrets of marijuana to anyone else saying, "God has granted you the privilege of knowing the secrets of the leaves. Thus when you eat it, your dense worries may disappear and your exalted minds may become polished" The Sufis also have a seven grade initiation process, much like the Mysteries of the Mithra and Gnostic religions, and they tell legends of Khidr (Khizr), the Green One or Verdant One, in honour of whom they would drink bhang. So, although the religion of Islam was originally built upon many ideas similar to Christianity, the use of cannabis eventually became more accepted.

Another culture which rose out of these times was the Isma'ilis, also known as the Assassins, from the root word, Haschishins, which may have been derived from the groups most famous leader, Hassan I-Sabah. They lived high in the mountains of present day Iran and Afghanistan, from about 970 to the 1200's. The Europeans called them Assassins because of their practice of training men from birth to secretly infiltrate the armies and families of states throughout the known world for the purpose of killing the leader upon command from home. Every large monarchy had a number of trained killers secretly inside the leader's court. If any ruler did not bow to the desires of the Isma'ilis, they would be killed in a premeditated ambush, usually with all of the Assassins dying in the process. It was rumoured that these men would be promised a life in the garden of paradise for the completion of their mission. These selfless acts of devotion intimidated almost every empire at the time which, in combination with their remote mountain strongholds, allowed the Assassins to live relatively safe from attack. This gave them time to enjoy the beautiful gardens they created high in the hills, burning hash all day long.

The Isma'ilis referred to themselves as the 'faithful ones' and claimed to have knowledge about the structure and nature of the Youniverse unavailable to the rest of the world. They perfected the art of modern day "hot-boxing", as they made small, portable, enclosed tents and burned large quantities of hashish upon a barbeque-style burner. The Assassins were destroyed by Jenghiz Khan's great-grandson, Hulagu Khan, who sought out the hidden castles of the Ismal'ilis one by one so that his fate would not be sealed with an Assassin's knife. The great library of Alamat, with all of it's ancient Zoroastrian, Egyptian, Greek, Jewish and Gnostic doctrines, was burned. Coincidentally, 1256 is just before Marco Polo visited China and returned to Europe with news from a world which had been completely forgotten. After the dissolution of the Assassins their knowledge spread amongst the Sufis, while some hid in small secret networks, oriental secret societies and hidden pockets of religious refuge to study on their own.

After Marco Polo returned from China with his knowledge of Eastern culture and trade goods, notably hashish and opium, many people became interested in Eastern philosophies and the Ancient World. The Great Crusades were launched, starting in 1096, by some who desired the Holy Lands, where Jesus was born and lived, to be in control of Christians. The Christian warriors took control of Jerusalem in 1099, after much ugly bloodshed.

In 1118, Hugh de Payns founded the 'Order of the Knights of the Templar' in Jerusalem, to protect travelers going between the lands conquered during the Great Crusades and the homeland in Europe. The Knights Templar had very close ties to the Assassins and Sufis, quietly worshipped the Mother Goddess in the form of the Virgin Mary, while striving to put women and femininity back to it's rightful divine place in society. The Knights Templar were very organized and influencial, not only building large, beautiful castles to live and worship within, but also by gathering about them a fleet of ships, huge tracts of land and a strong, fierce army of devoted followers. They were in many ways the first bankers of the world, as they would guard money and goods while in transit, protect and store valuables and loan money. They also created the cheque, as it was easier to transport signed papers across vast areas of land than actual gold or coinage. The Knights Templars learned many languages, interacted with many religions and learned about local myths, histories and healing practices across the known world and beyond.

Although hemp had been grown for years during the Dark Ages in Europe as an agricultural fiber and food crop, any use of the flowers was strictly prohibited. It had been so long since such a thing had been done in public, the populace forgot the plant's effects upon consciousness. Alchemists had kept using cannabis for their experiments with the divine flux of the Youniverse, but they were extremely protective and secretive about it for obvious reasons.

The Cathar religion was for a long time larger, and more openly defiant towards the Catholics, than the Templar's organization. The Cathars worshipped the Mother Goddess. Both men and women were preachers who taught that direct personal experience with the Creator was more authoritative and important than any ideology or doctrine. It is not known exactly how or when the Cathars started, but in all probability it began with nomadic traders who brought hashish from the Near East, along with the proper knowledge of how to induce mystic states of extra-ordinary experience with it. The Cathars were very well read, studying Hebrew, Arabic, Cabala and other esoteric philosophies at a time when most other European nobles and aristocrats were illiterate.

Saint Dominic Guzman, founder of the Dominican Order, tried for years to convert the Cathars into the Roman Catholic Church. They laughed at him. The Church's ideology was ridiculous to them. They knew that the cross was a symbol for Christianity picked years after the death of Jesus used to stir up feelings of guilt and sin, which replaced the fish as the official Christian symbol. To the Cathars the idea of living with a spiritually and intellectually inferior religion was ludicrous. When Guzman saw that they would not be converted, he sent in the army and the Holy Wars began. In 1204, an army 30,000 strong destroyed the Cathars, laying waste to French towns, cities and villages, killing at least 15,000 men, women and children.

Eventually, the Templars openly denied the crucifixion of Jesus, saying they had proof that he lived a full life after his public death on the cross This was more than enough for the Roman Catholic Church to want to kill them all. They also practised a seven stage initiation process, much like the Mithra and Gnostic religions, and secretly worshipped a mysterious head. The Sufis used the phrase Golden Head to refer to someone who has reached a higher state of consciousness after consuming the required amount of cannabis. It has been put forward in Chris Bennett's book, GREEN GOLD, THE TREE OF LIFE, MARIJUANA IN MAGIC AND RELIGION, that this mysterious head of the Templars was a drinking cauldron from which the knights drank bhang, the holy grail of enlightenment. Unfortunately, we may never know, because on Friday October 13th, 1307, about 15,000 of the French Templars were rounded up, imprisoned and tortured. Many were burned at the stake. Most died in jail without ever having a chance to defend themselves. This is despite the fact that many had previously denounced their Goddess worship in public and had helped the Roman Catholic Church defeat the Cathar religion, which also happened to use cannabis as a medicine and intoxicant. The history of the Templars ended with this heinous crime, with many surviving Templars joining the still semi-secretive Masonic Lodges throughout Great Britian for protection.

The tradition of these warriors lives on in the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The origins of these myths can be traced back to the Order of Knights of the Templar. The names Perceval, Galahad, and Lohengrin are accredited with not only being valiant defenders of women, but as also being mystics, sages, saints, wizards and alchemists. The search for the Holy Grail was the symbol for humanity's search for the life-serving knowledge which flowed from Christ's cup. The turning of lead into gold representing the ability to take the leaden mind of an ordinary person into the golden mind of an enlightened human being. This transformation is the very crux of alchemy. Unfortunately, it is these beautiful qualities and practices which the Church felt most threatened by. They accusing the Templars of witchcraft and Satan worshipping, not to mention homosexuality, a practice which the sexually repressed Catholics still feel especially threatened by.

All this time the alchemists continued to practice their arts throughout Europe under the watchful and deadly eye of the Church. Alchemists convinced the State that they were conducting tests in search of a means to turn lead into gold, a perfect cover to grow and collect rare and forbidden plants while operating extravagant laboratories to conduct experiments. It was an excellent diversion from their real purpose- turning the dull, dark minds of humans into bright, beautiful companions in the Youniverse. The symbols and codes of these alchemists kept their objectives hidden, for the most part, and an underground network of brilliant physicians stayed in contact for hundreds of years right under the eyes of watchful authorities. A rich volume of texts is available from this time period. Many other incredible pieces of art and literature which the Church found was destroyed as quickly as it was discovered or captured. This includes manuscripts from alchemists, religious criticism and observations, paintings, prophecies (Nostradamus wrote in coded words, though never about his use of hashish), scientific theories, literature, poetry and philosophical arguments. However, most of the pictures and words were so emersed in symbology that interpreting the information is still more of an art than a science.

The first scientific societies in Italy and France all had cannabis inspired members. These worldly scholars worked together to found both Science and Medicine as separate, established organizations from Church and State by creating universities across Europe. Though knowledge of hashish, mushrooms and mystical experience remained hidden, Europe became flooded with old forgotten texts from the ancient world. Reading and writing was rediscovered by the masses as being a pleasurable and worthwhile experience. Knowledge of history, philosophy and the human condition was considered an asset, for the first time in over 1000 years. New artistic expressions flourished. Though the pagan rituals were forgotten, the use of cannabis had not.

Witches and warlocks, older women, suspicious looking strangers, homosexuals, disfigured people, and some children, however, did not fare very well during certain time periods. They were sought out by the Church, tortured and burned on a stake whenever an unfortunate incident occurred in the village. They were generally weak and without protection, so crazed religious fanatics had no problem condemning and killing any suspicious suspect at will whenever evil seem to appear in the community.

There is really no way to calculate the number of people killed by the Church during the Holy Wars, the Inquisition, and the witch hunts that followed. It continued on for centuries, spanning as far as the United States. The most accepted theory puts the number of deaths around 9 million people, 85% women. The witch burnings began about 1233, soon after the end of the Albigensian Crusade which wiped out the visible Cathar religion, and continued killing innocent people until the early 1800's. Christians tortured all worshippers of the Mother Goddess, making them confess to crimes they did not commit, while accusing others of things they had not done, before being killed in a variety of sickening methods. One popular method of discerning the pagans from the 'true followers of Christ' was to force their heads under water for 5 minutes- if they lived they were burned as witches, and if they died they were given burials as faithful Christians. There are countless horrible stories of the suffering, both of innocent people accused of paganism by vengeful neighbours and those who worshipped the Mother Goddess.

Francois Rabelais, a Benedictine monk with a Bachelor of Medicine who lived from 1494-1553, was probably the most successful cannabis activist during the Dark and Middle Ages. His books, GARGANTUA and PANTAGRUEL are parables which both ridicule the church and state, as well as containing many hidden and direct references to cannabis and other things considered occult which were forbidden by the Roman Catholic Church. Soon after the publication of his books, at the end of his life, Rabelais was forced to hide from the Church or endure imprisonment at the very least, something he had already suffered for learning Greek. The books of PANTAGRUEL contain the most references to cannabis using parables describing the properties and uses of hemp fiber, as well as details concerning initiation rites into secret societies who used cannabis. Sometimes Rabelais refered to cannabis as a bean. This is something many alchemists did when constructing stories like Jack and the Beanstalk, which is also a parable about cannabis. In the last book, though, he admits that the good herb Pantagruel is hemp. While Rabelais disappeared from public life after the printing of his books, the impact of his writings has been felt for centuries after, with many referring to his works as inspiration.

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In the mid nineteenth century, an elite group calling themselves "Le Club Des Haschishins" was formed in Europe which reintroduced the public ritual use of Cannabis sativa. The members, which included some of the most famous and creative artists of the time (Dumas, Hugo, Gautier, Beaudelaire, DeNerval, Balzac, etc.) would dress up in the warrior costume of the Assassins and eat hashish together. At one meeting, a serving woman was so overcome with raw energy in a room full of powerful personalities, that she dropped her tray and had to leave the room.

The Club also inspired Aleister Crowley, a British mountaineer, magician and cabalist. His book, "The Psychology of Hashish" is a wonderful testament to the mind expanding capacities of drugs, and "On The Most Holy Grass of the Arabs" is a delightful account of humanities spiritual journey. He introduced H.G.Wells to the experience of hashish and did peyote with Aldous Huxley in Berlin when he was still a young man. Many modern intellectuals trace the roots of their interest in psychedelics to Crowley, and his influence upon our society has still not been understood or appreciated.

Throughout all of these times hemp was grown for clothing, rope, canvas, seeds, animal feed, stable fodder and a number of other products. In 1806, a Declaration was passed in London, England, signed by the king, stating that all Canadian farmers must grow hemp or face serious repercussions. The mid-1800's saw history's peak production of hemp. The growing British Navy's demand for hemp rose drastically. Napoleon burned all of the hemp fields in Russia to destroy the British supply of rope and sail. The United States and Canada began exporting hemp to Europe as fast as possible. George Washington was quoted as telling everyone to grow hemp, and also wrote in his journal about the female plants growing in his garden. You could pay your taxes with hemp for quite a while in the United States and the American Constitution was printed on hemp paper. The strain 'Kentucky Hemp' became one of the best species of hemp for fiber and hurd production yet found in the world.

We will end our chapter on the early history of Cannabis sativa with the onset of the twentieth century, the present era of prohibition, provocative change and radical possibilities. For a much more in-depth account of the use of cannabis in history, I refer you to Chris Bennett's book, GREEN GOLD. It is as much of a textbook for Hempology 101 as this book and it would probably be best if one has read that book before this. I have excluded a lot of information which is available in GREEN GOLD, as the history of cannabis is much more documented than this textbook could ever be. Much of this chapter has been gathered with information contained within Green Gold. Once the true message of GREEN GOLD is understood, the Mother Goddess will gently pick you up in her arms and carry you into a new Youniverse.

The mere fact that cannabis and other mind altering substances have been an integral part of our development as human beings, should warrant an intense resurgence in our interest in these plants and fungi. Most modern religious institutions continue to deny the importance of these sacred plants, both in the past and present, with some of the more fanatical and authoritative sects leading the War On Drugs. Meanwhile, the federal governments of the world continue to suppress any unofficial experimentation or distribution of psychoactive or hallucinogenic substances.

We should appreciate those people who, throughout history into the present, have sacrificed their lives in the worship of the Mother Goddess and Cannabis sativa. By pouring their vital energy into the Youniverse with love and respect, our ancestors, with the help of our Mother Earth, have created for us a vehicle to evaluate humanity beyond our wildest dreams. The power of the energy which is unleashed when these plant angels are properly used, is so much larger than our limited minds are capable of comprehending and translating into verbal language that we shall save ourselves the agony of trying to do so. We simply know it's power through the vibes sent echoing through the souls of our ancestors who share their spirit with us every time we smoke a spliff.

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Copyright 1996 by Leon Smith
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