H.P. Lovecraft and the origins of 420

In the story is titled The Walls of Eryx. written in 1936, published in 1939 in Weird Tales Magazine, Lovecraft refers to the “mirage-plant” which from the description looked very much like cannabis and an incident under its inlfuences that happens at precisely 4:20:

“I had encountered at last one of those curious mirage-plants about which so many of our men told stories. Anderson had warned me of them, and described their appearance very closely – the shaggy stalk, the spiky leaves, and the mottled blossoms whose gaseous, dream-breeding exhalations penetrate every existing make of mask.”

And then Lovecraft goes on to have his main character have the following experience on the plant at precisely 4:20

“Although everything was spinning perilously, I tried to start in the right direction and hack my way ahead. My route must have been far from straight, for it seemed hours before I was free of the mirage-plant’s pervasive influence. Gradually the dancing lights began to disappear, and the shimmering spectral scenery began to assume the aspect of solidity. When I did get wholly clear I looked at my watch and was astonished to find the time was only 4:20. Though eternities had seemed to pass, the whole experience could have consumed little more than a half-hour.”

“Contemporary counterculture author and occultist Victor Cypert, on the website for the rock band Tool, has pointed to a passage from the story as a possible origin for the number “4:20″ being code for smoking marijuana”:
Reclaiming, Reprogramming, & Repossession”, by Victor T. Cypert, ToolNews, April 2002.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Walls_of_Eryx

Chris Bennett
Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett has been researching the historical role of cannabis in the spiritual life of humanity for more than a quarter of a century. He is co-author of Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion (1995); Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible (2001); and author of Cannabis and the Soma Solution (2010); and Liber 420: Cannabis, Magickal herbs and the Occult (2018) . He has also contributed chapters on the the historical role of cannabis in spiritual practices in books such as The Pot Book (2010), Entheogens and the Development of Culture (2013), Seeking the Sacred with Psychoactive Substances (2014), One Toke Closer to God (2017), Cannabis and Spirituality (2016) and Psychedelics Reimagined (1999). Bennett’s research has received international attention from the BBC , Guardian, Sunday Times, Washington Post, Vice and other media sources. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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