HYMN TO CANNABIS & SOMA review

 

HYMN TO CANNABIS (A modern Veda)

 

O Wholly Holy Cannabis!

Welcome as a jolly jester

in a dull kings court.

Comforter of Countless Hurts.

Soother of the Jagged Edge,

Unruffler of Feathers.

Who restorath the flagging spirits,

and fine-tunes the human reciever

to the subtlest emanations of the Universe.

Thou that makest the Stars shine more bright.

In your shade I hear a great golden silence

tolling like a giant bell. 

Thou that collapseth Time & Space

into Here & Now,

so that everything happens in its own good time,

or doesn’t.

Obsessives nightmare, timekeepers bane,

thou takest the tyrant and maketh them ludicrous.

Punsters partner,

Satirists friend,

young lovers delight,

that infinitely extends

sense & sensation,

rest & recreation.

 

Bi-sexual Beauty,

Second Skin to the Sensualist.

To the Initiate, thou invokest the Muse,

To the herd thou bringest Sleep..or amuse.

Each thing in its season, you Invoke

and embody the Spirits of Place.

Amicable and Amiable,

there is no poison in you,

none have died or sickened from thy touch.

So soothe the Fevered brow

Give appetite to the wasted

bring Laughter to the Depressed

and Oppressed alike.

Cannabis!

The Lowest exalt thee,

while the Highest disclaim

all Knowledge or Love of Thee.

Hypocrites I name them! Pharasees!

Blind they cannot see

nor would let Others see.

So smoke then!

Drink!

Eat of the Sacred Herb.

Thou shalt gain Knowledge

and be as Gods!

Thus spake the helpful serpent,

Humanity’s truest friend.

As for Zeus, Zoroaster, Jehovah, Apollo et.al.,

always some self-righteous Forbidding bastard

saying/Thou shalt Not!/

But always in the garden too

some helpful seditious snake

or wandering Dionysus in the Wilderness

calling,

Theres more to Life than this. There’s Ecstasy at least,

and Life Itself a moveable, musical feast!”

So share the Soma Supper

with your fellow Sufferers

and join the Dance

beneath the Stars

in the shade of the Ganja Tree.

****

**********

 

Book Review:

CANNABIS AND THE SOMA SOLUTION”-by Chris Bennet (TrineDay pub.,2010)

Cannabis devotee Chris Bennett, a former surfer with no high-school diploma, has produced a learned dissertation, well worthy of earning him a P.H.D. Some Open-minded and Far-seeing Institution should really award him an honorary doctorate one of these days for this fine work.

Not to say that this book is some boring academic paper, choked in pseudo-scientific jargon, cloaked in the coded language of specialists and experts. No, it is entertainingly readable. But it is also meticulously researched, amply footnoted and logically argued. His central thesis is that good old Hemp is the long lost holy intoxicant of the Veda’s, the fabulous Soma of legend. But his overall goal is to retrieve the Lost (or possibly stolen) history of Cannabis, and restore the Holy Herb to its rightfully recognised place as the Tree of Life, inspiration of prophets, green Heirophant to the Mystic.

His research certainly thoroughly demolishes Gordon Wasson‘s contention that Amanita Muscaria, the famous fly-agaric beloved of childrens fairytale illustrators, was the much venerated Soma (or Haoma) of the Indo-Europeans. In retrospect its amazing Wasson’s shoddy scholarship went unchallenged for so long. Bennett similarly disposes of other contenders for the crown, such as Syrian Rue or ephedra. By the end of this book the author has amply demonstrated cannabis’s long and glorious history, both as a source of fibre, food and medicine, and as a sacred, safe and efficient entheogen.

In the process, Mr Bennett covers a lot of interesting historical ground, and we learn a great deal in the process, and not just about the herb. This is also a book about ideas and beliefs, developing religious traditions and political battles.

 

Often this book becomes a history of the battle between those who venerate the Herb and those who would restrict its use. Zoroaster, Manu, Ainslinger; always some Forbidding Bastard around it seems who wants to keep the herb away from the proles.

In essence I see it as a great Battle between two apparently opposing forces, the Ecstatic vs the puritan Ascetic tendencies. Perhaps Euripides portrayed this battle best in his famous play, The Bacchae. There the two forces are defined as the Apollonian-intellectual, rational, but emotionally repressed, and the Dionysian-ecstatic, inspired and at times dangerous.

In reality these two Tendencies should not be seen as being in opposition, but in tandem, somewhat like the old Yin & Yang of the Taoists. Surely, as Euripides tried to tell us, the way to achieve a healthy mind and society is to acknowledge both Apollo and Dionysus.

The book is not without its problems. The ‘publishing house’ is somewhat dubious and this book keeps odd company with the usual conspiratorialogist titles found there. The editing is somewhat sloppy; there are hundreds of typographical errors, and Mr Bennett cites himself as a reference too many times for my liking. There are a number of superfluous quotes of little value in advancing his arguments. I am also not entirely convinced that all pot usage in religion derives from a single tradition. It seems quite likely to me that religious/recreational cannabis usage popped up independently in a number of places at different times.

Case in point; I happen to know that the Ife Pygmies of equatorial Africa hold the tradition that they were the first people to smoke hemp, and that they taught the surrounding negroe tribes and the ancient Egyptians the Art. Lying little bastards, you might think, but there is some evidence showing a Pygmy/Egyptian connection. For the Egyptians had a god called Bes. Bes was portrayed as a dwarf or if you like, pygmy, and was a god of general mirth and jollity. He was also portrayed with cat ears and wearing a panther skin belt with the tail hanging down behind him. Interesting, because to this day the Pygmies call themselves the”cat people” and to celebrate this fact their only clothing is a sort of belt with a tail hanging from it. Perhaps the Pygmies did teach the Egyptians to smoke pot, hoho. But I digress.

 This book is strongest when focussing on the Soma/Haoma question. Evidence is a bit thinner on the ground when we hit Greek & Roman classical cultures. Needless to say Herodotus gets a good airing out. He is, after all, pretty much your sole authority for Scythian drug using habits until recent archaeological research has backed up his contentions. I found particularly interesting the section on Islam’s relationship with hashish, which necessarily spent a fair amount of time on the Sufi’s and Assassins. Also of interest was the section studying the British Raj’s campaign to criminalize the wandering dervishes thru their pot usage. The British strategy of building ‘natives only’ lunatic asylums to contain people who were seen as a political embarrassment, predates the Soviet Unions “psychiatric hospitals” for dissidents by a hundred years.

If nothing else this book put me in touch with the Church of the Universe (Tree of Life Sacrament) of which I am now an ordained Minister. Not that I’ll be forsaking my other pastoral duties but the Church of Spiritual Humanists are a bit soft on the whole Sacred Herb issue for my liking.

So light up a spliff, settle back with this book, and get ready to explore the spiritual dimensions. Bom Shiva.

**********

The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet & an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists AND the Church of the Universe.

Like Cerebus he wears three hats.

********************************

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~ by reverendhellfire on February 6, 2011.

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