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Asterion: The God of Cannabis

Marijuana Leaf (Photo Courtesy of marijuana.com)

“Cultivated hemp. Cannabis (some call it Cannabion, some Schoinstrophon, some Asterion) is a plant of much use in this life for the twisting of very strong ropes. It bears leaves like to the Ash, of a bad scent, long stalks, empty, a round seed, which being eaten of much doth quench geniture, but being juiced when green is good for pain of the ears.” (Russo, E.B., MD. Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential)

“Pausanias continues that above the Argive Heraion flowed the river Asterion, on whose banks grew the asterion plant. The vines and leaves were woven into garlands for the statue of Hera, and the plant was made an offering to Her. Asterion was one of the ancient names for cannabis, according to the first century C.E. Greek physician named Dioscurides.” (Rigoglioso, M. The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece)

Note: the following blog post in no way reflects the teachings of the Minoan Brotherhood. It is a result of my own independent research into entheogens. NO secret teachings of the Brotherhood are held within this post.

Cannabis
Cannabis has been a psychotropic drug, otherwise known as an entheogen, since ancient times. The origin of the plant is thought to have come from Central Asia (Rudgley, R. The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age). Its use for twine is well-known, but braziers were also discovered as far west as Romania showing evidence that the seeds were burnt for ritual purposes (and I suspect the use of cannabis may have lead to big munchies which nearly killed of the Mammoths, but just my morbid speculation). These discoveries date back to the Neolithic Era. Cannabis, along with opium, were venerated in places like Minoan Crete for their properties as mind-altering substances which opened up the portals to the spirit realm. It’s a well-known fact that many spirit walkers in indigenous societies use entheogens in order to connect with the spirit realm. Central Asia, as the ancient home of cannabis, is also conjectured to be the source of Pythagoras’ teacher Abaris (Kingsley, P. A Story Waiting to Pierce You). It wouldn’t be too much of a leap in logic to suggest that wherever a spirit-walker went, his psychotropic drugs went with them.

Connecting to the Spirits
This fact makes the illegal status of marijuana even more of a travesty, since it is forbidding us from engaging with the Gods in ways our ancestors would have known. Many realms, I believe, remain untapped due to the non-use of this potent drug, and it has also diluted the essential power of the Craft (in my opinion). To be a spirit walker, an iatromantis, a shaman, or what-have-you, is to have an alliance with the realms of the plant and animal spirits. It means to remember the time of the Sacred Ancestors and join in the Sun Dance of the Labyrinth. It means to open ourselves up to the spirits themselves and use their connection as a authentication of our power. Without that connection, a spirit walker is nothing. Although the use of drugs is not necessary, it is also not forbidden. I think the Mysteries, missing this ingredient, are robbed in some way of their true essence. These plants had a meaning that was more than the average street user or the “War on Drugs” politician could ever imagine. They were the lifeline our ancestors relied on for a purpose. Opium was sacred to the Goddess Rhea for a reason. Cannabis was labeled Asterion for a reason.

Europa taken by the White Bull

The White Bull and the Western Cow
As I wrote in another post, the public name of the God in the Minoan Brotherhood is Asterion. The mythology we have available states that Asterion was the name of two sacred kings in Minoan Crete: the first was a Cretan King who reared the children of Zeus and Europa. Europa was a Phoenician princess (hinting at the cultural relationship between the Minoans and the Phoenicians), kidnapped by Zeus in the form of a white bull. The etymology of Europa means “wide-eyed,” and hints that she was possibly a Cow Goddess. The abduction story of Europa is very similar to the kidnapping of Kore by Hades:

“Zeus saw Europa the daughter of Phoenix gathering flowers in a meadow with some nymphs and fell in love with her. So he came down and changed himself into a bull and breathed from his mouth a crocus. 18 In this way he deceived Europa, carried her off and crossed the sea to Crete where he had intercourse with her. Then in this condition he made her live with Asterion the king of the Cretans. There she conceived and bore three sons, Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthys. The tale is in Hesiod and Bacchylides.” (The Catalogues of Women by Hesiod).

All three sons were raised by Asterion, who wed Europa. After their marriage, Zeus transformed the White Bull into the constellation Taurus. Two of the sons, Minos and Rhadamanthys, became Judges of the Underworld. Sarpedon became a long-lived king (some say he died in the Trojan War, and Philostratus mentions that he, too, became Judge in the Underworld with his brothers). This is quite the story, and holds a lot of interest to me because of the early relationship, as I previously pointed out, about the kidnapping of the Maiden to become a Queen of a rich land.

Attic Kylic depicting Pasiphae and Her baby Minotaur

The Star of the Labyrinth
The second Asterion is the Minotaur of the Labyrinth. Asterion was the Son of Poseidon (the Zeus of the Sea) and Pasiphae, daughter of the Sun God, sister of the sorceress Kirke, and wife of Minos (son of Zeus). Pasiphae was considered to be a Goddess in Her own right. Plutarch mentions:

“Now there was a temple and much respected oracle of Pasiphae at Thalamae.” (Plutarch on Sparta, p. 60).

Pasiphae possessed the ability of Witchcraft, which was to say she was a skilled pharmakos. I personally would LOVE to know how she had her husband ejaculate scorpions, millipedes and snakes into women she hated. Talk about some jacked up shit! That makes for a great anime!

Anyway, Pasiphae and Poseidon’s child was at the center of the Labyrinth. For now we’re ignoring the Greek telling, because it was full of political claptrap that made the Athenians look good and the Minoans very evil. Theseus, the hero, was the legendary founder of Athens (and Athenian democracy which subjugated women as chattels and property). What a piece of shit. Ignoring the political veneer, the Minotaur is shown in the Attic Kylix just like the classic Mother-Child motif found with Aset (Isis) and Heru (Horus), Parvarti and Ganesha, and Mary with Jesus.

R.F. Willetts speculates that the Labyrinth design was based on an ancient sun dance (Ancient Crete: From Early Times Until the Roman Occupation). The ancient mimetic dance was probably used to honor the Sun Bull, the Cretan Zeus, who was represented in the person of the Minoan King. The journey into the Labyrinth and from it was probably a rite of Initiation, whereby the person was led by the Priestess (Ariadne, the Spider Weaver who used the scarlet cord to lead them to the center). At the very heart, the initiate became the Man-Bull: the union of Divinity and Mortality.

Reefer Madness!
Cannabis was identified as being called Asterion, the gift of Poseidon. His mother was a pharmakoi Goddess, Pasiphae. The ritual use of cannabis was the catalyst of Enlightenment (or, as I call it, Gnosis). The prototype for Dionysus from Crete, then, is the jewel Cannabis: the Son of the pre-Olympian Poseidon who is the Sacred Bull. That’s right peoples: reefer madness of Dionysus! Pipe it up, inhale, and enjoy the effects. In fact, cannabis enjoys and interesting piece of warning which the United States slapped on it much like the Romans did on the Bacchic revels in 186 BCE:

“Marihuana is that drug – a violent narcotic – an unspeakable scourge – The Real Public Enemy Number 1! It’s first effect is sudden, violent, uncontrollable laughter; then come dangerous hallucinations – space expands – time slows down, almost stands still…fixed ideas come next, conjuring up monstrous extravagances – followed by emotional disturbances, the total inability to direct thoughts, the loss of all power to resist physical emotions…leading finally to acts of shocking violence…ending often in incurable insanity.”

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)

Hunter, R. (Ed.)(2008). The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Constructions and Reconstructions.

Kingsley, P. (2010). A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet, and the Destiny of the Western World.

Rigoglioso, M. (2009). The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece.

Rudgely, R. (1999). The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age.

"Cultivated hemp. Cannabis (some call it Cannabion, some Schoinstrophon, some Asterion) is a plant of much use in this life for the twisting of very strong ropes. It bears leaves like to the Ash, of a bad scent, long stalks, empty, a round seed, which being eaten of much doth quench geniture, but being juiced…

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.

KALI-MA

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]

Other Pot-Goddesses

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.

Scythian Hempsters

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.