Marijuana and the Goddess
Holy pot has been smoked by Goddess worshippers since before history, and was first banned by those who sought to subjugate feminine spirituality.
In most ancient hunter-gatherer societies, women balanced the male’s supply of game with their collected harvest from the surrounding wilderness. Women therefore became the first to learn the secrets of plants and how they propagated themselves.
This knowledge led to the development of agriculture and the evolution from the animal totems of the hunter-gatherers to images of the Great Mother, who with proper worship produced her abundant harvest in the same way that women produced children. Cannabis is among humanity’s oldest and most useful cultivated crops, and so it is not surprising to find that cannabis in all its forms has been intricately associated with Goddess worship in many cultures, throughout history.
The most ancient goddess still worshiped in the world today is the Indian Kali-Ma, the Mother of Life and Death. Her worship stretches back into pre-history, and is believed to predate that of her better known consort Shiva, the longest continually worshiped god on earth. Both Shiva and Kali are strongly associated with marijuana. Kali is generally depicted with a girdle of human arms and a necklace of skulls and represents the dark aspect of the goddess trinity of virgin-mother-crone.
Both ancient and modern devotees of Kali partake of marijuana in various forms as a part of their worship. Devotional ceremonies to Kali involve cannabis ingestion and sacred sex, which is directed at raising the Kundalini energy from the base of the spine up into the higher centres of the brain.
[ snippet] Kali wears a girdle of severed hands and necklace of skulls. Most noticeable in Her representations is her tongue extended out. Kali translated means time. She appears fearsome and to some terrifying but offers no harms to humans except as a “destroyer of ego”. Many devotees love Her as we love our own Mothers. Hindi religion is very diverse, and there are sectors that worship Kali with various intoxicants. They tend to be mostly in India and many close or in the cremation grounds. In Her “proper” temples it is rare. [Denise]
The worship of Kali, under various names, extended into the ancient Near East, and cannabis was also used by many of the worshippers of Kalis ancient Near East, and cannabis was also used by many of the worshippers of Kalis ancient world counterparts. Kali is the Hindu counterpart of the ferocious and sensual Canaanite goddess Anath, (part of a similar trinity with Ashera and Astarte) who is also described with “attached heads to her back, girded hands to waist.” In ancient Germany, marijuana was used in association with Freya, the slightly tamer Kali- like goddess of Love and Death.
It is generally accepted that it was the horseback-riding Scythians who spread the combination of cannabis and goddess worship throughout much of the ancient world. Amazon-like Scythian women fought alongside their warrior mates, and that these “Hells Angels” of the ancient world were known to have used cannabis in funeral rites, doing so in veneration of their own variation of the Goddess Mother of Life and Death, Rhea Krona. Showing cannabis strong ties with Scythian mythology, Rhea Krona came to reap her children in death with the scythe, an agricultural tool named for its Scythian origin, and originally designed for harvesting cannabis. This scythe image has survived through patriarchal times and into our modern day, with both Father Time and the Grim Reaper still carrying Rhea Kronas ancient hemp harvesting tool.
The Tree Of Life
In a cave where an ancient urn was found that had been used by the Scythians for burning marijuana, there was also a massive felt rug, which measured 5 by 7 meters. The carpet had a border frieze with a repeated pattern of a horseman approaching the Great Goddess and the Tree of Life is also found amongst other cultures with whom the Scythians came into contact. The Ancient Canaanites and also Hebrews paid particular reverence to the Near Eastern Goddess Ashera, whose cult was particularly focussed around the use of marijuana. According to the Bible itself, the ancient worshippers of Ashera included wise King Solomon and other biblical kings, as well as their wives and the daughters of Jerusalem. The Old Testament prophets often chastised them for “offering up incense” to the Queen of Heaven. Like the imagery on the Scythian carpet, icons dedicated o Ashera also have depictions of a “sacred-tree”, most likely a reference to the cannabis that her followers grew and revered, using it as a sacrament, as a food and oil source, and also using the fibres in ritual weaving.
Eve: Cultural Hero
Among her other titles, Ashera was known as “the Goddess of the Tree of Life”, “the Divine Lady of Eden” and “the Lady of the Serpent”. Ashera was often depicted as a woman holding one or more serpents in her hands. It was Asheras serpent who advised Eve to disobey the male gods command not to partake of the sacred tree. The historical record shows that the Old Testament version of the myth of Eve, the serpent and the sacred tree was concocted as propaganda against pre-existing Goddess cults. Originally, the outcome of the Eden myth was not tragic, but triumphant. The serpent brought wisdom, and after the magic fruit was eaten, Adam himself became a god. What was originally involved was probably a psychedelic sacrament, like the Elusian festival in Athens, in which the worshipper ate certain hallucinogenic foods and became one with the Mother Goddess. The rites associated with her worship were designed to induce a consciousness open to the revelation of divine or mystical truths. In these rites cannabis and other magical plants were used, and women officiated as priestesses.
Roman Catholic Persecution
In early Christian times, the holy cannabis oil was ingested and used by many Gnostic Christian sects, in honour of the Queen of Heaven.With the rise of one of the more harshly ascetic and anti-female Christian sects in Rome, and the subsequent development of the Roman Catholic Church , such groups were forced out of existence, along with most pagan religions and the cult of the Great Mother. The new Church of Rome followed their Judaic predecessors in naming Eve (the representative of all women) the Mother of Sin” as well as demonizing magical plants. Their violent purges of Goddess worship and magical plant use persisted into medieval times. It has been estimated that over a million female practitioners of the older Goddess religions were burned as “witches” for utilizing cannabis, mandrake, belladonna and other plants in their “flying ointments”. Even medieval French heroine Joan of Arc was accused of using cannabis, mandrake and other plants in order to hear the voices which guided her, and this eventually led the church to commit her to the flames.
Marrying your Goddess
Similar to its use in the spiritual techniques of India, medieval European occult and alchemical masters used cannabis to aid in the “Marriage of the Sun and Moon” in the individual. The Sun and Moon represent the masculine and feminine aspects of the self. Tantril, Zoroastrian, Gnostic, Alchemical and occult literature all refer to “marrying your Goddess”, which means connecting an individual’s feminine and masculine aspects together into a unified force. This theme appears over and over again in medieval occult literature. Even the Gnostic Jesus states’ when you make the male and female one and the same then you will enter the kingdom.”(Gospel of Thomas)
Much like the woman’s liberation movement which has been taking place in our modern world, individual self completion requires a similar process to take place in our minds. The feminine aspect, or right cortex, becomes a full partner with the masculine aspect, or left cortex. Marijuana use can greatly assist in this process. Is it any wonder then, that Shiva the Lord of Bhang, was known as the god who was both man and woman? Or that cannabis has been associated with worship of the Goddess since antiquity.
Now, as we begin a new millennium, in what seem to be the death throes of the patriarchy, it is as if the Goddess is once again reaching out her hand and offering her sacred Tree of Life to us in our time of collective need. Like so many disobedient Eves, numerous female figures such as Elvy Mussika, Hilary Black, Mary Kane, Mountain Woman, The Holy Sisters of Hemp, Mama Indica, Brownie Mary and many others have decided to challenge the commandments of the male authorities and once again tempt us with the forbidden fruits of cannabis. Indeed, it is likely not until we are once again free to enjoy all the sacred fruits of Mother Earth that the liberation of the feminine will fully take place, and we can restore Gaia, or planetary matriarch, back to health.
The androgynous nature of the human organism is re-emerging into consciousness in new ways that have evolved from past experience. We are learning to recognize and differentiate the opposites in our nature. It makes no difference whether we call these opposites masculine and feminine, creative and receptive, knowledge and wisdom, competition and cooperation, explosion and implosion, or Logos and Eros. What is important is that they be experienced in union as aspects of our own inner self. They are the self-renewing possibilities of our own individuality. Yoked together, they can fertilize each other to generate the creativity which is the potential of human beings.
The return of such female values as cooperation and forbearance is longed for in a world torn by war and threatened by nuclear disaster, poverty disease and rape of the land. When the goddess of fertility is reunited with the god of consciousness; the renewed culture will have its conception.
From -The Yoga of Androgyny, by June –Singer.
MARIJUANA AND THE GODDESS- By Chris Bennett.
Holy pot has been smoked by Goddess worshippers since before history, and was first banned by those who sought to subjugate feminine spirituality.
Ancient cannabis queens: 5 legendary weed-loving women
Many women today use cannabis medically, and many more just love a good high, which in ancient times was one and the same says Ellen Komp, author of Tokin’ Women: A 4000-Year Herstory of Women and Marijuana and deputy director of cannabis advocacy group, California NORML. “What has come down in recorded history as healing was done in a more ritualistic fashion, tied to spiritual practices where a shaman or shamaness partook of the cannabis or dispensed it to her patients.”
While history has often left women’s stories out, surviving legends of some goddesses and influential women reveal cannabis as central to their powers—at least in theory. Here are some of the biggest names that have carried over maps and millennia:
Ancient Near East: Goddess Ishtar (2300 BCE, likely earlier)
Ancient Akkadian cylinder seal depicting Inanna resting her foot on the back of a lion while Ninshubur stands in front of her paying obeisance, c. 2334 – c. 2154 BC (Public Domain)
Tributes to this “Queen of Heaven” and goddess of healing were widespread across the region, with a dedicated herb called Sim.Ishara burned in her honour.
For thousands of years the goddess Ishtar (also Innana and Astarte) held spiritual rule over Mesopotamia, the land that gave rise to powerful empires such as Akkadia, Babylon, and Assyria, and that roughly makes up modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Syria, Iran, and Turkey.
Also worshipped in ancient Egypt, tributes to this “Queen of Heaven” and goddess of healing were widespread across the region, with a dedicated herb called Sim.Ishara burned in her honour. Sim. Ishara translates as “aromatic of the Goddess Ishtar”, which Assyriologist Dr. Erica Reiner has stated is the same plant as the Akkadian herb “qunnabu”, or cannabis.
As war and battle (and patriarchy) intensified across the region, Ishtar evolved from compassionate healer into the goddess of war, becoming the representative lover of the ruling king. Komp says this cultural shift “sexualized goddesses [and holy women] as it stripped them of their powers to heal. One of those powers was knowledge of plants like cannabis. Later, the witch burnings did the same.”
A likely precursor to the Greek Aphrodite, among others, Ishtar was also the centre of an ancient Babylonian spring solstice event celebrated with flowers, painted eggs, and rabbits—much like the German goddess “Ostara”, and modern-day “Easter”. (So go ahead and enjoy some cannabis-infused Easter eggs, in the name of Ishtar.)
Southern Arabia/North Africa: Queen of Sheba (950 BCE
The Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon by Tintoretto, around 1555 (Public Domain)
“We don’t know if she is mythical or real,” says Komp of the legendary Queen of Sheba, recorded as bringing a trove of gold and spices to the Israelite King Solomon. “The spices she brought are not named, but cannabis was traded in her time along trade routes she may have used.”
The Queen of Sheba is first mentioned in the Old Testament, then the Aramaic Targum Sheni, the Quran (where she is called Bilqis), and the Ethiopian foundational story, Kebra Nagast. Her kingdom of Saba, either modern-day Yemen or Ethiopia, amassed impressive wealth through control of trade routes. While her legend grew more fantastical with every iteration—including having the legs of a donkey—the common thread is her journey north to pay tribute to the newly powerful King Solomon.
In The Testament of Solomon (written circa 100-300 CE), Komp says there is mention of a woman named Onoskelis—meaning donkey-legged woman—who was close to King Solomon and helped him construct the temple of Jerusalem with hempen ropes. The Ethiopian legend says the Queen of Sheba came home pregnant with Solomon’s son, calling her the founding mother of their Solomic Dynasty, spanning three thousand years until 1975.
Ancient Israel: Goddess Asherah (circa 1800 BCE)
Image on pithos sherd found at Kuntillet Ajrud below the inscription “Yahweh and his Asherah” (Public Domain)
Sometimes considered mother to Ishtar, consort to gods El and Baal, or wife of Yahweh (later edited out of the Bible), goddess Asherah/Athirat is associated with the Tree of Life, “bearing the forbidden fruit that allows men to think like gods” writes Komp. Tributes to Asherah were cult objects of sacred poles, or stylized trees, erected by Israelites throughout most of their history and mentioned over thirty times in the Hebrew Bible. Even King Solomon had built an entire temple to Asherah, later torn down by King Josiah.
The identity of the Tree of Life is one of mankind’s greatest mysteries. Why was only one plant forbidden?
“An ancient depiction of an Asherah tree from the palace of Ashurbanipal looks a lot like a cannabis plant with a top cola,” says Komp, noting the tree’s leaves were inscribed with seven and nine points. Israelites were eventually forbidden to pay tribute to Asherah, but many kept erecting sacred poles/trees in her honour anyway. Much later, in medieval times, Komp notes some Islamic writers identified cannabis by the name asherah. She continues: “The identity of the Tree of Life is one of mankind’s greatest mysteries. Why was only one plant forbidden?”
Siberia: Princess Ukok (a.k.a. the Siberian Ice Princess, 1500 BCE)
Preserved by permafrost in the Altai Mountains, the mummified remains of an ornately tattooed young woman were found in 1993 by Dr. Natalia Polosmak. Discovered along with six saddled and bridled horses (possibly her spiritual escorts), Princess Ukok was entombed with ornaments of bronze, gold, plus a small container of cannabis. Because of her tattoos, Komp says the ‘princess’ was more likely a high priestess of the Pazyryk people, a tribe closely related to the nomadic Scythians known for their ritualistic cannabis use.
A Gift From the Gods: The History of Cannabis and Religion
“Healing and spiritual practices were more connected in the past,” she says, referring to MRI evidence that the princess had cancer and possibly used cannabis medically. In addition, she says the tall, elaborate headgear found with the woman’s remains is thought to represent the Tree of Life. (see Asherah, above).
“Many more grave sites in the region are being found with hemp present that are now being identified as women, thanks to DNA testing,” says Komp.
Ancient cannabis queens: 5 legendary weed-loving women Many women today use cannabis medically, and many more just love a good high, which in ancient times was one and the same says Ellen Komp,