Most modern readers likely believe that the celebration of Christmas originally developed during the early Christian period. Yet Solstice celebrations of the birth of a virgin-born savior actually predate the mythology of the baby Jesus by millennia, and these celebrations were usually intertwined with the sacred use of cannabis.
The Solstice Sun Kings
The December 25 calendar date often overlaps the Winter Solstice, honoured throughout the ancient world for the annual return of the sun, and the longer hours of daylight needed for the planting of the next year’s crops.
The Winter Solstice was the mythical birth date of a number of archetypal fertility gods, such as Mithra, Adonis, Dionysus, Osiris, Baal, and many other versions of the Solar Sun God, who bore such titles as the Son of Man, Light of the World, Sun of Righteousness, and Saviour. Most pagan mysteries celebrated the birth of a Divine Child at the winter solstice.1
Most of these archetypal deities, including Jesus, can not only be grouped together by their association with the Sun and Winter Solstice, but also by their association with a sacred plant, which many scholars believe is cannabis.
Jesus, the Sun God
It is not only Jesus’ timely birth at the winter solstice which marks him as another incarnation of the Sun King. Early Christians often associated Jesus with the Sun, depicting him driving his chariot across the sky, and calling him the Sun of Righteousness.
As with the earlier prototypes whose body and blood given in sacrifice enriched the earth and caused wondrous plants to grow, so do countless popular legends and songs tell of flowers and medicinal herbs that grew under the cross or on Jesus’ tomb.2 As the dead and resurrected Savior, Jesus is clearly the embodiment, and marks the continuation of such earlier gods as Mithra, Baal, Dionysus, and others.
The gift of the Magi
As for Sun King Jesus’ association with the holy cannabis Tree of Life, we not only have references to his personal use and distribution of both healing cannabis ointments and incense (see CC#11), but also his connection to the Magi, and his earlier official birthdate of January 6.
Up until the fourth century AD, many Christians were celebrating Jesus’ birth on January 6. At the time, December 25 was the traditional birth-holiday of the Persian savior Mithra. Catholic Church Fathers were angered at the celebration of this other Sun King proceeding their own festivities, so they appropriated the earlier date and moved Jesus’ own birthday up by some twelve days.
January 6 became known as The Feast of the Magi, or Three Kings Day. This holiday is still celebrated in both Latvia and the Ukraine with a dish made from cannabis.
The Magi who brought gifts to baby Jesus were also known as Zoroastrians, after their prophet, Zoroaster. Zoroaster taught a religious technique of shamanistic ecstasy which originated around the consumption of potent preparations of marijuana.
Of the three symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, it is not known specifically what the ancient word translated as “frankincense” refers to. Knowing the Zoroastrians’ use of cannabis, it seems likely that the precious incense given to the new-born baby Jesus included marijuana.
Mithra, world savior
The Zoroastrian sect also originated the concept of a “world savior,” in the form of Mithra, one of many concepts later copied by Christians.
Not only was Mithra’s birthday of December 25 adopted by Christians, but also the halo of light surrounding baby Jesus’ head, the resurrection of both the god and his faithful followers, and numerous other aspects were all borrowed by the early Christian church directly from the preceding mythos of the Mithraic cult.
The Persian Mithra rose to such popularity in Rome through the first few centuries of the Common Era that the Western World very narrowly missed becoming Mithraist instead of Christian. Yet not much is known of the Mithraic cult, partly because it guarded its inner mysteries, and partly because it was later eradicated by a jealous Catholic Church.
Mithra’s clear association with the holy cannabis plant can be seen in a relief, which shows Mithra sacrificing the sacred cow and allowing the sacred drink of the mysteries to issue forth from the wound as the symbolic animal’s blood. (see over) The blood from the wound clearly makes the shape of a cannabis leaf, indicating that their sacred initiatory drink included marijuana as a prime ingredient.
Dionysus’ magical wine
Surprisingly, the legends of Dionysus, Greek god of intoxication, are also closely related to both cannabis and the biblical story of Christmas.
Like Jesus, Dionysus was also said to have been born on the Winter Solstice, the son of a divine father and a virgin mother. The followers of Dionysus celebrated his “advent” with a newborn baby placed in a winnowing basket ? the forerunner of baby Jesus in the manger.
Dionysus and Jesus were both hailed as the King of Kings, and both died ? Jesus on the cross, Dionysus at the hands of the Titans. Both were reborn, and Dionysus ascended to Olympus, Jesus to heaven, both to sit at the right hand of their father.3
Dionysus is erroneously regarded to be the god only of alcoholic inebriation, because of a misunderstanding of the nature of Greek wine. They were actually potent infusions of numerous psychoactive plants, in which the alcohol served as a preservative, rather than an inebriating ingredient.4
Such a marijuana infusion was known to be popular in ancient Thrace, the home of the oracle of Dionysus. The oracle used marijuana in combination with other dried herbs to achieve a state of divine ecstatic trance and predict the future.2
Baal, the flesh of qunubu
Of the many interrelated cannabis-using Sun Gods born on Solstice, the one most connected with marijuana is an ancient Canaanite deity known popularly as Baal. Actually, Baal was merely one of the many names this ancient god was known by. In Egypt he was referred to as Osiris; in Syria as Adonis; in Rome as Hercules; in India, as Siva; in Greece as Dionysus.5
Much of the Old Testament narrative is concerned with Jehovah’s prophets fuming against the continuing Semitic worship of this older god, and the struggle of the new Hebrew monotheism against the older Baal cult.6
Priests and royalty who were devotees of Baal enacted the part of their deity, and in these sacred rites the holy qunubu (cannabis) was also used to achieve enlightenment and ecstasy.7
The devotee who partook of the holy plant partook of the god himself. This concept is echoed in the symbolic eating of the sacred flesh of Jesus, a practice which finds much of its origin in the consumption of magical plants.
When the Church Fathers adopted the Solar King’s birthdate, they couldn’t have foreseen its usurpation by a modern deity, who serves as a perfect mascot for our materialistic age.
A Cabalist might note that Santa, the fat, jolly man in the red suit, is a perfect anagram for Satan, and interpret that “Ol’ Saint Nick” is in fact “Old Nick”, a “popular English name of the devil.
Thus, beneath his seemingly jolly demeanor we can uncloak him for what he is, the symbol of greed, gluttony and avarice, which he instills in our children at their most vulnerable imprinting point.
Likewise with the Easter celebration of the death and resurrection of the same solar-fertility god, which materialistic culture has magically subverted into the Easter Bunny, who feeds us with his tooth-rotting Eucharists of a chocolate body and caramel blood!
Perhaps by reclaiming these ancient myths and identifying them with the stories of our own lives, we can change the focus away from the collection of material goods and refocus it on development of the self, as did our ancient ancestors.
So when Solstice rolls around this year, why not take a page from the ancient Magi, and celebrate with the sharing circle of the sacred spliff, getting in touch with the Sun God within, rather than in an orgy of greed, consumerism and shallow religion?
1 Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Harper Collins, 1983
2 Eliade, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas, Vol. 2. University of Chicago Press, 1982
3 Johnson, Robert A. Ecstasy. Harper-collins, 1989.
4 Ott, Jonathan. The Age of Entheogens & The Angels’ Dictionary. Natural Products Co., 1995
5 Scott, George Ryley. Phallic Worship: A History of Sex and Sexual Rites. Senate 1996/ Luxor Press 1966.
6 Danielou, Alain. Gods of Love and Ecstasy; The Traditions of Dionysus and Shiva. Inner Traditions 1992
7 Waterman, Leroy. Royal Correspondence of the Assyrian Empire, Part 1. University of Michigan Press, 1930.