How Ancient Religions Utilized Cannabis

How Ancient Religions Utilized Cannabis

As vilified as cannabis once was, it has been used in the rituals of many religious practices. Some of these religions date back as far as the 3rd Century B.C. Prevalent scholars such as Graham Hancock and Brian Muraresku have even written publications confirming the use of cannabis in ancient religion. The former even suggests that cannabis and psychedelics may be the key to immortality. Some of these ancient religions that have been known to utilize cannabis in rituals include Hinduism, Taoism, and many others.

Precursor: Cannabis and Ancient Medicine

It is no secret that cannabis has been utilized as a medicine for thousands of years. The oldest known record on cannabis dates back to China in  2700 B.C. During this period, it was considered a legitimate medication. There is social evidence that the Ancient Greeks and Romans were also familiar with cannabis, while in the Middle East, use spread throughout the Islamic empire to North Africa. Cannabis was utilized well before its written record in history. In 1545, cannabis was spread to the western hemisphere where Conqistidors imported it to South American countries such as Chile for its use as fiber. In North America cannabis, in the form of hemp, was also introduced by the Spanish and later grown on many plantations for use in rope, clothing, and paper. Cannabis was even being implemented into rituals in religions prevalent during this time such as Taoism. 

Cannabis and Taoism

Taoism is a religion that is native to China and other Asian countries. Individuals who practice this religion focus on qualities such as genuineness, longevity, and health. Taoists also hold values such as immortality, vitality, and even detachment. Terms such as Wu and Wei refer to non-action, a natural action, and perfect equilibrium. The former terms mirror the three kingdoms of Wu, Wei, and Shu before the modernization of China. During this time, Taoism utilized cannabis in a multitude of rituals. One significant ritual known as ‘supreme incense burning’ burned raw cannabis with other aromatic leaves and spices to produce an enlightening smoke. It is believed that the enlightening smoke would allow Taoist to speak with the “Perfected Immortals” or Xian. These are not deities, but Taoists who were believed to have reached enlightenment. Calling Taoist would use supreme incense burning in an attempt to gain insight on the aforementioned values of Taoism. 

Cannabis and Ancient Religion in Literature

The book “The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name” written by the renowned Graham Hancock and Brian Muraresku thoroughly discusses how psychedelics and cannabis were utilized in rituals of ancient religions as an attempt to find the key to immortality and enlightenment. Moreover, the book states that members of these ancient religions would encounter oracles in their spiritually-induced state. It is believed that ancient religions from Greece, Asia, and even lesser-known ancient religious practices.

Cannabis and Hinduism

Another ancient religion that is believed to utilize cannabis in rituals is Hinduism. This religion date back as far as 400 B.C. Followers of Hinduism believe that the path to enlightenment can be reached in a variety of ways. This includes accepting the ideas associated with a wholesome life, accepting death, and being open to reincarnation. During a spring festival known as Holi, Hindus consume an elixir infused with cannabis flowers or extract. It is believed that Shiva, one of the deities of Hinduism, crafted cannabis from her body to give to the material world. Many believe this was a form of semblance to allow mortals a chance at connecting with the higher plane.

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