Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The Great Book of Hemp:
Complete Guide to the Environmental, Commercial, and Medicinal Uses of the World's Most Extraordinary Plant.
Robinson, Rowan. (1996).
Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
Description: paperback original, viii + 248 pages.
Contents: Publisher's Foreword, Introduction, 7 chapters,
Appendix 1: The Hemp Resource Guide, Appendix 2: The Hemp
Marketplace, Chapter notes, Bibliography, Index, A Note on Hemp
Note: Chapter 4 "Hemp and Spirituality" will be of most interest
to readers of this guide. It contains sections on Hinduism,
Buddhism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, African traditions,
Chinese Taoism, Japanese traditions, Christianity, Western
occultism, Rastafarian movements, mystical sexuality, the Great
Mother, and more.
Excerpt(s): But more than happy accidents may explain hemp's
sacred role. Many religious scholars suggest that the ancients
would naturally have expected plants to hold the secrets of the
heavens. Plants draw nourishment from both moisture above and
soil below. As such, our predecessors may have viewed them as
obvious intermediaries between heaven and earth and thus the
perfect key to the divine mysteries. And because of hemp's
multitude of practical uses, the ancients might have looked to it
first. (page 75)
The use of cannabis whether to commune with the divine or to
heal or simply to celebrate was branded witchcraft, for which
practitioners could be severely punished, even put to death.
Among those charged was Joan of Arc, whom the inquisitors accused
of using several witch herbs, including cannabis, to hear
In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal fiat declaring
hemp to be an unholy sacrament of satanic masses as part of the
church's assault on Arabic culture in general. The ban, which
lasted more than 150 years, did not go unchallenged. Benedictine
monk and radical dissenter Francois Rabelais (1483-1553)
satirized both church and state in the esoteric book series
Gargantua and Pantagruel ... in which the herb Pantagruelion is
incontrovertibly hemp. (pages 78-79)
The decision about whether to use cannabis for spiritual
purposes or consciousness-raising purposes is far more ambiguous.
Obviously, many spiritual leaders entirely reject the
appropriateness of cannabis for spiritual practice; on the other
hand, vast numbers of people have found their spiritual
commitment and curiosity deepened after first using marijuana.
The standard advice given by spiritual leaders who are open
to cannabis and other psychedelics is that while these substances
may introduce some seekers to the possibilities of higher
consciousness, they can't deliver enlightenment itself. ...
In some circles, however, the suspicion has long existed
that the great sages do in fact know how to access the highest
states with drugs but keep the secret to themselves to protect
the information from misuse by the masses, indeed, mystical
traditions typically maintain an inner, secret set of practices
not intended for mass consumption but available to advanced
students sometimes by intuition alone. Read the mystical
literature carefully and the plot thickens. For example, a
student of the Russian mystic Gurdjieff wrote that his Master
alluded to a pill that could accomplish what might take an
ascetic a month of austerities. No mystic disputes that the
ultimate spiritual goal is to realize a capacity for cosmic
consciousness that is entirely inside the seeker and that the
seeker has the ability with his or her own inner resources. But
will a second, labor-saving key, harvested from outside one's
person, unlock the same door? That remains the intriguing
question. (pages 100-101)
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP