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This is a very brief synopsis of the ancient and widespread history of the spiritual use of cannabis. Please see my introductory Author the Month article on this forum for more detail and sources for some of the information to follow, (https://grahamhancock.com/grays1/). Internationally known cannabis historian Chris Bennett also has a chapter in Cannabis and Spirituality, the book at the center of this project, that covers much of this history, especially in Asia and the Middle East.

The intension driving the book is forward looking; how do we reclaim this ancient plant for spiritual benefit for "the generations to come," perhaps even thinking of the seventh generation, as the Inca of pre-conquest Peru apparently did when making important decisions? The reason for looking back is to authenticate the longstanding spiritual use of the sacred herb, to let people know that this idea wasn't cooked up in the fevered brain of a modern day stoner.

Informed and unbiased researchers will agree that cannabis is one of humanity's oldest and most important plants. The lineage from which it comes may be as old as 90 million years. It has been intertwined in human affairs for at least 10,000 years and probably much longer. Cannabis paraphernalia have been found in the gravesites of shamans from the Neolithic Era (the Stone Age.) While written records don't go back that far, there is clear evidence that people in China and other regions of Asia had discovered many uses for cannabis long before the Christian (or Common) Era. Since then cannabis has traveled far and wide on trade and exploration routes and has been used as an aid to meditation, an adjunct to yoga practice, for divination, shamanic healing work, as part of group ritual ceremonies, and many other uses.

While cannabis has shown up in the ritual practices of numerous religions and spiritual traditions at some point in their history, we also know that its acceptance has waxed and waned in many places over these past several thousand years. One view, still applicable and discussed by cannabis advocates today, is that the plant has a tendency to provoke a dishabituation of rigid thought patterns and a deepened connection to the "fierce intelligence of now." In other words, cannabis can be a kind of truth serum that leads people to see through and de-couple from oppressive social conditioning.

Agents of social control, keepers of the orthodoxy, have proven themselves to be threatened by an empowered populace. This is one of the most exciting things going on in these troubled and tumultuous times. More and more of us are not buying the stories we've been sold about the order of things. We are learning to become our own authorities and this may be the greatest hope for the future of humanity. Necessity is the mother of invention they say, and mother do we need invention now, particularly invention fueled by awakened hearts for the benefit of humanity and the Earth altogether.

It is the contention of the contributors to Cannabis and Spirituality, along with many others, that the judicious, skillfully directed use of cannabis in the context of a mindful life, has an important role to play in this urgently needed consciousness transformation process. Contributor to the book Steven Hager has even proclaimed cannabis "the sacrament of peace." As the month progresses, I'll write more in this forum about various aspects (including challenges) of working with cannabis as a spiritual ally. I hope you'll ride along with me and contribute your own questions, understandings, and experiences.

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Cannabis and Spirituality: A Venerable History 259 Stephen Gray 05-Jul-17 05:04


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