II. Sage of Culture & Humanity
- The first religion to use hemp was Taoism, the Chinese belief system dating to 4th century BC. Believers of Taoism used hemp as ritual incense to eliminate selfish desire with the hope of achieving a state of naturalness. Taoists also believed that hemp could assist in divination or the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown through supernatural means. Hemp was also used by Tao priests and Shaman to communicate with the spirits of good and evil.
- Hemp was also used in the Hinduism religion. The Hindu’s believed hemp to be one of five sacred plants and that it had a guardian angel in its leaves. Hindu’s believed that hemp was a source of joy and happiness and the liberator for humans to eliminate fear and delight the senses. Hindu’s believe that the god Shiva created hemp from his body to purify the elixir of life. Hindu’s use three types of cannabis extractions for religious purposes: bhang; a milky drink made from the cannabis leaves and buds, charas; a type of hash made from resin and ganja; the raw herbs that are smoked. During Hindu religious festivals, bhang milk is consumed in order to cleanse and purify the body and is considered a holy act.
- Buddhism is another religion that uses hemp for its religion. Buddhism was first established by Gautama Buddha in 5th century BC. It has been said that he lived on nothing else but one hemp seed per day in his path towards enlightenment. The Buddha is occasionally depicted holding cannabis leaves. During Buddhist ceremonies and prayer, cannabis was consumed to heighten awareness and serve as an aid for meditation.
- According to the Greek historian Herodotus, cannabis was used during religious ceremonies; hemp incense was burned over makeshift tripods during the ceremony. Worshippers would inhale the hemp smoke for ritualistic purposes and used cannabis incense during funerals to ward off evil spirits.
- Paganism believers used hemp as well and believed that Freyja, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility was contained in the plant. Freyja, contained feminine energy. Paganists believed that eating the plant would allow Freyja’s essence to enter their body. The plant was used during spiritual and fertility rituals and hemp clothes and seeds were viewed by paganism as a gift to the dead. Harvesting cannabis was viewed as a means for celebration.
- Cannabis was also used in spiritual ceremonies the Rastafarian religion. This religion was developed in Jamaica during the 1930s. The Rastafarian belief is that cannabis heightens consciousness, increases pleasure in life, relaxes and gets rid of negative energies. Despite coming under scrutiny in the later 20th Century, it took a very lengthy legal battle that resulted in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to establish that using cannabis for religious reasons was legal under US law.
- A few believe that cannabis was used in the times of the Old Testament. During the time of Moses, some say the burning bush he discovered was a cannabis bush and that the holy oil that Moses made from the bush contained cannabis oil among various other ingredients.