Historians today believed that for many early cultures cannabis was grown for everyday activities such as food, medicine, textiles, and building materials. Current discoveries are starting to unravel the fact that cannabis may have been used for spiritual purposes such as divining the future, funeral rites, and healing the mind and body.
People have used hemp seed and oil as a food source as early as 6000 B.C.E. in China. Hemp as a food is highly nutritious with protein, fats, calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, and E as well as omega fatty acids. In addition to food, examples of the medicinal use of cannabis were recorded as early as 2737 B.C.E. where a Chinese Emperor by the name of Shen Nung used cannabis as a medicine for the first time in written history. The Roman and Greek cultures were also documented using this plant as medicine.
The earliest recorded use of cannabis by humans was 10,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia where archeologists uncovered a piece of hemp cloth believed to be from an article of clothing. Hemp is lightweight, absorbent, and has three times the tensile strength of cotton which makes it the perfect material for textiles. Historians have found hemp rope that was used to carry pottery in what is now Taiwan about 8000 B.C.E.
The tough fibers were not only great for textiles but for building as well. Around 600 C.E., humans in India built the Ellora Caves using hemp fibers, lime plaster, and clay. Cannabis fibers are more durable than many other fibers and their sticky quality helps form a firm binder. Hemp has a high vapor permeability, repels insects, and regulates humidity, all factors which have helped spare the ancient ruins from degrading.
Along with the textile and construction uses, early humans also used cannabis to seek and facilitate spiritual awakening. Humans have long sought the meaning of life and death; there are many theories surrounding how the use of hallucinogens and other drugs may have helped humans leave their state of mind in order to achieve alternate perceptions and even enlightenment. So how can cannabis get you into a zen-like state?
The two types of cannabis are both beneficial in helping to achieve a meditative state. Cannabis Sativa is known as the energetic type where it could give you a clearer mind and more energetic body. The clear mental effect of cannabis can help you focus your mind and energy. Sometimes the subconscious can keep one from attaining a particular desired mental state; the anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties of Cannabis Indica can relax an overstimulated brain and get bodies into “yoga-ready” mode in minutes.
The evidence of cannabis as a spiritual supplement has been building in recent years. A 2700 year old tomb excavated in the Gobi desert housed a shaman from the Gushi empire. The tomb was filled with artifacts, among them were two large bowls of what researchers thought was coriander. Later it was revealed that the coriander was actually two pounds of cannabis! This cannabis still tested positive for THC, and the size of the seeds along with their color and other characteristics indicate the cannabis came from a cultivated strain. One of the most exciting and intriguing parts of this discovery is the fact that the people who buried the shaman left only the female parts of the cannabis plant which are the only psychotropic parts of the plant (the parts that get you high!). This piece of evidence lead historians to conclude that this ancient civilization used cannabis recreationally. No pipes or other objects were found in the tomb so historians aren’t sure exactly how the cannabis was used.
In the case of the Scythian’s culture that existed around 900 B.C.E. in southern Siberia, we are sure how they used cannabis. About 2400 years ago the first “bong” of solid gold was found in southern Russia. This golden bong was shaped like a vase where cannabis and opium were added to the bottom of the vase and put over hot coals. Soothsayers would inhale fumes from the roasting cannabis and opium which then induced a trance possibly used to divine the future, or seek answers to life’s difficulties. The Scythians were also known to use cannabis during funeral rites; they would erect a tent on poles with a brazier in the middle where they would inhale and bathe in the vapor to celebrate their dead, or even before battle.
The prohibition of cannabis has never been rooted in practicality, fortunately our ability to explore and understand cannabis is only growing. Many civilizations have thrived, in part, thanks to cannabis. Utilizing of the practical nature of the plant, the mental freedom, and spiritual awakening, have all played a significant role in both modern and ancient civilizations. Not only will cannabis be a large part of humanity’s future for fuel and materials, but will hopefully lead to a more connected and mindful human race.
Since 2009, High Country Healing has dedicated their time and energy to creating the best and most effective medicine possible. These stores feature a live grow, visible to patients, where one can directly observe the cultivation of cannabis by hand. This transparency allows patients to see the love and care that goes into their medicine. Visit highcountryhealing.com for more information or call (970) 468-7858 to talk to a professional.