image: Wikimedia commons (combined and modified from images here and here).
The seemingly-interminable election season in the united states has reached its conclusion for 2016.
Having conspired to criminally undermine the campaign of Bernie Sanders, a candidate who by most estimations could have easily defeated the Republican challenger, the Democrat party decided to run a deeply compromised candidate and lost, to the supposed astonishment of the major corporate media companies who had been lobbying non-stop for her since the primaries (and who had deceitfully announced her selection as the Democrat candidate the night before the California primary election in June).
Meanwhile, voters in both California and Massachusetts overwhelmingly chose to legalize consumption of cannabis for non-medical use (in addition to the medical use that had already been approved in previous initiatives).
This plant has a long history of use stretching back to ancient cultures -- some of which clearly employed it in conjunction with shamanic travel to the Spirit Realm.
Mircea Eliade, in the encyclopedic discussion of shamanic practice from around the world entitled Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (first published in French in 1951 and published in an English translation in 1964), explains that the use of cannabis as part of the technique for inducing ecstatic trance was known and practiced among the ancient Thracians and Scythians.
Eliade cites passages from ancient authors such as Strabo and Aristophanes, who describe ancient shamanic practitioners known as the kapnobatai and the aerobates, a title often translated as meaning "those who walk in the clouds" but whose name should be more accurately translated (according to Eliade) as "those who walk in smoke" (390).
Later, Eliade also tells the reader that:
As we shall see, the use of hemp for ecstatic purposes is also attested among the Iranians, and it is the Iranian word for hemp that is employed to designate mystical intoxication in Central and North Asia. 395.
The word to which Eliade is referring is bhang or bangha, which he believes migrated into other cultures to designate "both the pre-eminently shamanic mushroom Agaricus muscarius (which is used as a means of intoxication before or during the seance) and [also] intoxication [itself]," showing up as pankh, panga, pang, and pongo (400 - 401).
Note that all of the above words contain the N - K sound that Alvin Boyd Kuhn identifies as relating to the concept of connecting, and which can by extension be seen as relating to the concept of connecting with the Other Realm.
We can see that this same N - K (or N - G and also K - N) sound can be found in the words cannabis and ganja, both of which are used in modern times to refer to the same sacred plant. Note that Alvin Boyd Kuhn begins his study of this vitally-important phonetic combination by examining the ancient Egyptian word Ankh, the word corresponding to a powerful symbol of life and of eternity: this idea is especially appropriate for all related words indicating connection to the Other Realm, because the ancient wisdom tells us that the Spirit Realm is actually the source or fountain from which everything in the "ordinary" or "material" realm flows.
For more discussion of words containing this sound-pattern, see the previous posts entitled "The name of the Ankh" and "The name of the Ankh, continued."
Although not mentioned by Eliade in his book, there is considerable evidence that the ancient Egyptians knew of and used cannabis. In fact, cannabis has been found within the wrappings of the mummy of the famous king Rameses II (as has tobacco and coca, both of which are held by conventional scholars to have been unknown outside of the Americas in ancient times). Also, the symbol of the important goddess Seshat of ancient Egypt strongly resembles a leaf of the same plant (and Seshat can be seen to have been depicted even in the very first dynasty of ancient Egyptian civilization).
Further, although the theory is also not widely or publicly accepted by mainstream academicians, there is significant evidence to argue that ancient dynastic Egypt practiced rituals and techniques which can be accurately described as being shamanic in nature -- see discussions in this previous post, as well as in my 2014 book The Undying Stars. This theory was put forth very convincingly by Dr. Jeremy Naydler in his 2004 text Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts.
Interestingly, as Mircea Eliade emphasizes, the use of cannabis for ecstatic trance was undeniably practiced by the ancient cultures of Scythia and Iran or Persia. The image above shows an ancient Scythian man, with his distinctive short boots tied at the ankle and long jacket trimmed with fur -- and especially his distinctive pointed cap. The original drawing is a reproduction of artwork found on an ancient cup from the Crimea.
The fact that he is wearing a pointed cap points strongly to an association with the constellation Perseus, a constellation who can be seen to wear a similar pointed cap -- suggesting that the ancient Scythians recognized a special connection to that particular constellation. We recently explored a similar piece of headgear known as the Phrygian cap, and saw that King Midas (who can definitively be seen to correspond to the constellation Perseus) is also depicted as wearing this same type of pointed cap. And indeed, Perseus himself is often depicted wearing just such a cap in artwork found on ancient Greek pottery.
And remember that Eliade was connecting the cultures of ancient Scythia and ancient Iran as having used cannabis smoke to induce ecstatic trance: another name for the land in which these cultures had their home is Persia -- which also appears to argue for a connection to the figure of Perseus.
Generally, the use of cannabis (or ganja, or bhanga) as a means of inducing ecstatic travel to the realm of spirit would be categorized as "non-medical use" of this plant -- and raises the question of why a plant so widely known and used for this purpose in ancient times would ever be banned so restrictively in modern centuries.
Such severe restriction is reminiscent of the widespread banning (as well as the seizing and burning) of shamanic drums in many cultures, largely by practitioners of literalistic Christianity. The suppression and criminalization of the use of cannabis or ganja in recent centuries may be evidence of the same long-running campaign against the shamanic worldview which appears to inform all of the ancient myths and scriptures entrusted to humanity around the world.
Thus, the lifting of this restriction in more and more parts of the united states is extremely significant (it should also have the effect of overturning the prison sentences and criminal records that have been given to those caught using cannabis in the past).
Note also that there are many ways to make contact with the Spirit Realm which do not involve the use of cannabis, or of any other external plant or substance (although there are also many ways, stretching all the way back to very ancient times, that do use external plants or substances). See for instance the discussion in the previous post entitled "How many ways are there to contact the hidden realm?"
There is also some discussion in Eliade's Shamanism that the use of external substances is an inferior means of contacting the Other World (see page 401 for example). We appear in many ways to be positively designed to be able to make contact with the hidden realm: the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods. Perhaps this is because we ourselves are dual spiritual-physical beings -- and the more ways this knowledge is enabled and not suppressed, the better.