Fucking in the pot fields
The origins of sexual marijuana use are bound up with the fertility rites that accompanied early agriculture. In the hunter-gatherer phase of human existence, shamans used imitative magic to draw herds of animals to the hunting ground by dressing in animal heads and skins for ritual dances. When humanity made the transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer, this same logic was applied to the planting of crops, and thus the agricultural cycle was imbued with symbolism and accompanying rites.
To encourage fertility in their fields, early farmers ritually re-enacted the fertilization of the earth-goddess by the sky-god. This was done through sex: massive orgies in the fields, later refined into a ritualized congress between a king and consort, or priest and priestess.
As cannabis is generally considered to have been one of humanity’s very earliest cultivated crops, and as the plant has powerful aphrodisiac quallities, it’s likely that these orgiastic practices began among those who first grew and used cannabis. Thus one of the first religious acts of early humans was fucking in the pot fields.
Attractive religious experience
Pioneering cannabis researcher Sula Benetowa believed that the origins of the ancient “cannabis cult” could be traced to the Near East. In his article Tracing one word through different languages, he writes: “Taking into account the matriarchal element of Semetic culture, one is led to believe that Asia Minor was the original point of expansion for both the society based on the matriarchal circle, and the mass use of hashish.”
The “matriarchal elements” of Semetic culture Benetowa refers to were the worshippers of the Semetic goddess Asherah, who burned cannabis as sacred incense. They also annointed their bodies with a cannabis-based Holy Oil, similar to that used by Moses and other ancient Jewish prophets and kings (see CC#5, Kaneh Bosm: the hidden story of cannabis in the old testament).
In Sex and Love in the Bible, William Cole provides further insight to Asherah, one-time wife of Jehovah. “She was a nature deity, symbolizing sexuality and fertility. In some passages in the Old Testament there are references to an asherah as a wooden pillar, an object of cultic devotion. This is clearly a phallic symbol, occupying a place similar to the Hindu lingam in the temple of Shiva…”
Cole also explains that many ancient gods and goddesses appeared in male/female pairs, and were portrayed creating the world by copulation. “Their worship apparently required a kind of imitative magic, in which male and female devotees yoked their bodies sexually and spilled their seed upon the field they desired to yield bounteous crops. Orgies involving the use of intoxicants and indiscriminant sexual activity played an important part in these cults.”
Cole concludes that “the exotic character of the cult, with its mystic roots extending far back into antiquity, together with the highly sensual pleasures afforded in the worship, combined to make it an attractive type of religious experience. Any such temple in modern society would encounter no difficulty in attracting large numbers of devotees.”
Solomon’s sexy song
The classic piece of Biblical erotica, the Song of Songs, is now widely accepted as a remnant of the love liturgy which formed part of the worship of the fertility god and goddess throughout the Near East and elswhere. The Songs were attributed to King Solomon, whose “foreign wives” led him to worship their goddess, Astarte, and burn cannabis-incense (1 Kings 11:3-5). Thus it is not surprising to find that one of the few direct Biblical references to cannabis appears in Solomon’s Song:
“How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your ointment than any spice!… Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, cannabis and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree…”(Song of Songs 4:8-14)
Another passage demonstrates the explicit sexual imagery within the liturgy :
and my inwards seethed for him.
I rose to open for my love,
and my hands dripped myrrh,
My fingers liquid myrrh,
On the hands of the bolt.
I opened to `my love…
? Song of Songs 5:4-6
Astarte was worshipped as a daughter and counterpart of Asherah, and as with her mother, the worship of Astarte was often associated with both ritual sex and the use of cannabis. Fertility hymns to the related Sumerian goddess pair Inanna/Ishtar indicate a similar procession to that described in the Songs, and also have references to the q’aneh bosm (cannabis) of the Jews.
Pot sex processions
In the case of both Solomon’s Song of Songs and the hymn to Ishtar, the poems describe the divine bride and groom being brought together by a beautiful procession. This reveals a parallel with sexual cannabis rituals still practiced in India. The pre-Vedic “festival of chariots”, is still performed by the Jaganath cult in Puri. In this ancient rite, massive elaborately decorated chariots (representing the world in motion) are drawn together, carrying the veiled figures of Jaganath, the “Lord of the Universe”, and his bride.
The English word “juggernaut” comes from “Jaganath”, and its meaning is derived from the gargantuan size of the chariots used in this ceremony. Although the Jagannath festival is off-limits to outsiders, it is believed that one of these veiled figures is a giant lingam (penis). The massive chariots and their entourage are analogous to the processions which accompanied Solomon’s bed and Ishtar’s carriage.
During the festival to Jagganath, temple prostitutes played the role of “the wives of the god-king”, and had sex with the king (or priest) in order to bring on the seasonal rains. A similar role was taken on by the “Shulamite” in the Song of Songs, and the priestess who enacts the part of “Ishtar” in the Sumerian ritual drama. Other similarities occur throughout, such as the role of transvestites in all three ritual-dramas, and the use of cannabis.
In his book Pharmacotheon, famed psychedelic researcher Jonathan Ott explained how the British suppressed this ritual throughout India, calling the devadasis (the ritual wives of the god) prostitutes. He continues that “as a result, the practice, once widespread throughout India… all but disappeared, except in Puri.”
Shiva and Kali
Marijuana use forms part of the Hindu Tantric worship of Shiva and Kali, the two oldest still-worshipped dieties in the world. The Indian ritual and erotic use of cannabis obviously developed out of similar fertility rites as those practiced in Canaan and throughout the Mediterranean. Shiva’s strong association with cannabis is clearly demonstrated in his ancient mythology involving the plant, as well as the strict observances which his devotees still pay when sowing and harvesting the sacred crop.
Tantric worshippers of Kali and Shiva still use marijuana, as they have for millennia, to stimulate the central nervous system energy known as kundalini, which is strongly related to the sex-drive.
In her book The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, scholar Barbara Walker explains that “The main strands of tantrik thought and practice can be traced back to prehistoric times. Basically these include the worship of the great mother goddess, of the sexual forces, of fertility, and of natural phenomena, such as we find in animism. Some of the symbols used by the modern tantrik, like those of the male and female procreative organs, are similar to those found on paleolithic caves (c. 20,000 years ago) from Western Europe to China. It is the persistence of this primitive trait in Tantrism that has prompted scholars to say that the essential elements of the cult are probably older than any of the world’s major religions.”
Cats and catnip
A look at other plant and animal relationships indicates that the connection between humans, cannabis and these fertility sex-rites could have arisen out of an earlier, pre-cultural symbiotic relationship between man and marijuana.
When exposed to catnip, cats show clear evidence of “central nervous system excitation” (kundalini arousal) including profound sexual stimulation. In the classic Good Cat Book, Mordecai Siegel explains that “the similarity of the catnip response to the normal sexual behavior of cats is striking.” He also describes how “male cats have spontaneous erections while females adopt mating stances, complete with vocalization and ‘love biting’ of any available object.” Siegel concludes that “these displays have prompted naturalists to speculate that catnip once served the evolutionary function in the wild of preparing cats for sex, a natural springtime aphrodisiac.”
This seasonal symbiotic sexual association between cats and catnip may also hold true for the relationship between humans and marijuana. The spring-time aphrodisiac effects of catnip act as a trigger for mating, coinciding perfectly with the animal’s gestation period to make for birth in the summer, when food is more plentiful. This timing also holds true for the release of aphrodesiac cannabis resins and pollens in the fall. The nine-month human ncubation period would result in a birth at the beginning of summer.
Like catnip, which causes “estrous” behavior in female cats through the estrogen-like chemical it contains, the aphrodisiac effect of cannabis is also related to estrogen-like chemicals, as the active cannabinoids have a molecular resemblance to some female hormones.
The sacred marriage
The early fertility cults had become more refined by the time of Solomon, and eventually developed even further amongst both Gnostic and Tantric devotees, into a “sacred marriage” that took place in the mind of the participants. As humans became more philosophical, the sacred marriage of the fertility cults became a marriage of subject and object, in which dualistic thinking was abolished and the devotee came into contact with the primal creative source of life itself.
In the cases of both Gnosticism and Tantrism, the sex and drug rites that used cannabis were focussed on raising a serpentine energy located in the central nervous system, extending from the brain to the base of the spine. The view of both schools was that this powerful sexual energy could be inverted and raised up the spine and into the brain. The pineal gland was the prime target for this energy.
The pineal gland is considered the seat of instinct (see p.64) and it is the instinctual force’s strong relationship to the sex drive that accounts for much of the orgiastic worship within Gnosticism and Tantrism, as well as their use of the cannabis which works so well for invoking this power.
As the turn of the century mystic Gnostic pot-head Aleister Crowley noted, “When you proved that God is merely a name for the sex instinct, it appears to me not far to the perception that the sex instinct is God.”
So next time you’re planting or harvesting the herb, bring a few friends along and make the event a celebration of that old-time religion. After all, it’s only the natural thing to do!