With the movement of marijuana legalization sweeping across the globe, many of us forget that cannabis is a really, really old plant and has been used for thousands of years. And while the people from previous eras didn’t using cannabis like we do today, they were definitely making use of the flower, namely for religious and medical intentions.
Just how far back does cannabis use go? Some speculate that flower is one of the world’s oldest crops, dating back some 12,000 years. Cannabis seeds have been uncovered in Siberian burial mounds dating back to 3000 BC, and tombs uncovered of nobles buried in the Xinjiang region around 2500 BC contained vast amounts of mummified psychoactive cannabis.
Cannabis was so highly regarded back then that nobles wanted to be mummified and encapsulated along with it in their death. What was so sacred about the plant in these times? Many believe that cannabis led to a connection with God and helped to ignite closer communion to our true spiritual nature. This could also be the very reason it became so wildly unpopular in modern times as a restrictive society held reign over where the natural world once ruled.
The use of cannabis as a spiritual means to become closer with God dates far back. The ancient Chinese were some of the first to document use of the sacred plant. From early Chinese Taoists to modern marijuana worshipers, cannabis holds a sacred spot amongst many religions worldwide.
In the Pen Ts’ao Ching, the earliest book of Chinese pharmacopoeia written around 2700 BC by Emperor Shen Nung, the father of Chinese medicine, there’s indication that the ancient Chinese were well aware of the psychoactive properties of cannabis. In this notable ancient text, it was said that Ma Fen (the fruit of hemp) would make you see devils if you overindulged, but also went on to explain that when taken over a long period of time, it would help you better communicate with the spirits and lighten your body.
Mainly used by shamans in ancient China, marijuana was actually reserved for religious officials and wasn’t likely to be shared with the common people. Shamans also used marijuana in conjunction with ginseng to divulge the future as they believed cannabis had the ability to “set forward” time.
It’s also been recorded that Taoists added marijuana to their incense burners way back in the 1st century AD, and that the smoke from this incense was a means for one to reach immortality. The vapors produced from the incense were known to create a heightened sense of wellbeing and spiritual adulation. Sound familiar?
Indian Hinduism and Lord Shiva
As mentioned in the earliest Chinese texts, there is also mention of marijuana in the Vedas, the oldest and most sacred of all Hindu texts. It was said in these texts that cannabis was one of five sacred plants and that a guardian angel resided within its leaves. Ancient Hindus believed marijuana was a gift from the gods, one that offered happiness and wellbeing and would help people gain liberation over fear.
Since ancient times, Indians have consumed bhang. This traditional preparation of cannabis and milk is often mixed with other various ingredients such as almonds, rosewater, and ghee. It has been used for centuries to help reach a deeper spiritual state and is still widely used throughout India today.
Shiva, the Hindu god frequently associated with cannabis, is also known as “Lord of Bhang.” When he discovered cannabis, he loved its effects and made it his favorite “food” and was thought to sustain a heavily induced cannabis stupor much of the time. There is many a Shiva devotee that can be found throughout India drinking bhang or smoking a cannabis pipe. It is thought that partaking in consumption of cannabis will bring one closer to Lord Shiva himself.
The Old Testament
Remember the burning bush from which Moses heard the voice of God? That’s right. Many believe this was a burning cannabis plant from which he was divinely inspired to make an anointing oil containing myrrh, cinnamon, and nearly ten pounds of cannabis (kaneh bosm) mixed into a gallon and a half of olive oil.
This anointing oil was the holy oil that would make its way through Old Testament times, moving from Moses all the way into Samuel hundreds of years later. During this period of roughly 500 years, this cannabis infused oil was used by the priesthood to help one “receive the revelations of the Lord” and was also used for Jewish kings during coronation ceremonies.
Jesus, Cannabis, and the New Testament
Ask anyone their thoughts about Jesus using cannabis and you’re likely going to receive a mixed reaction. However, studies of spiritual texts show that Jesus did use cannabis and was responsible for bringing the holy oil that had always been strictly for royalty straight to the common people.
“Christ” is the Greek word for Messiah, which in English translates to “The Anointed.” Here we have Jesus (who some claim was the first marijuana “activist”) spreading around this cannabis infused oil which healed the sick and opened people’s minds to the teachings of God. The Gospel of Truth offers the notion that Jesus came to the people so he “might anoint them with the ointment. The anointment is the mercy of the Father … those whom he has anointed are the ones that have become perfect.”
Cannabis has holy rite throughout time in many of the world’s religions, with some believing it to be the Tree of Life itself. The Rastas regard it as “wisdom weed” and there are millions that have felt “closer to God” after using cannabis. After all, according to Mark 6:13, to be rubbed with the Holy Plant was to “receive divine knowledge.”