Thanks to the writings of ancient physicians like Dioscorides (I CE.) and Galen (II CE), modern authorities are well aware of the use of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) as a medication in the Greco-Roman world. Scholars have shown that cannabis was used in the treatment of specific ailments for both humans and domesticated animals. However, little is known about the role of marijuana as an important and widespread tool in the performance of rituals performed in celebration of the cult of Aphrodite.
Dr. David Hillman will show that marijuana was a primary component of rituals performed by archaic, classical and Hellenistic colleges of priestesses associated with temples of Dionysus and Aphrodite. From the earliest associations of oracular priesthoods in Cyprus, marijuana was an integral component of cult sacrifices.
The temples of Aphrodite-Urania in the Eastern Mediterranean were the earliest Greek localities where incense containing Cannabis was burned at all times during the day and night. Travelers and devotees to the triune divinities of Dionysus, Aphrodite and the Muses, indulged in fumigations of marijuana meant to induce theurgic operations. Cult followers inhaled the fumes of burning marijuana in order to assist in the “motivation of statues” and the production of oracular visions.
Priestesses associated with temples of Aphrodite-Urania formed private associations that trained young women in the use of drugs to alter menstruation and the use of poisons as a means of defending and enforcing oracular pronouncement. These colleges date back to the first associations of oracular priestesses who served the temples of Black Night, a god whose cult was associated with the administration of archaic justice under the auspices of the Erinyes, Nemesis and Dike. These colleges referred to their members as “wolves” and the cult deity as the great “She-Wolf.”
Marijuana was used by members of the “wolves” as a medication and aphrodisiac. As a matter of fact, Cannabis appears to have been one of the earliest aphrodisiacs used in Greece. Dr. Hillman will show that the use of marijuana was associated with a specific colloquial drug vocabulary that developed in Greece and Rome. Marijuana was referred to originally as “star” and was the drug responsible for inducing “the quenching of the flame,” a cult term used to express the achievement of female sexual satisfaction by priestesses of Aphrodite involved in both oracular pronouncements and temple prostitution.