The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

secret origin

Enough theology: Let me tell y'all the story of Jerusalem's one and only Million Marijuna March, how it succeeded, and why it failed.

I had been a relatively militant Ganja activist in New York for some time before I came to Israel. I was active with New York's Cures Not Wars throughout high school,
studying the secret and ongoing history of Yippie! activism and the science behind How Pot Works, along with Just How Bad Heroin Is, and such. CNW remains one of the best countercultural refuges in NYC, along with one of the few reliably consistant ones. From the building at 9 Bleeker that was once the headquarters of Yippie international, the international annual marches for the liberation of cannabis are organized and promoted. 200 cities and counting, with more every year, it was a fun place to come and hang out. Initially, I would only go for the sunday meetings, then, once I felt safe being around more, it was pretty much where I'd go after school, to voluteer in whatever way they'd have me. Dana Beal, who essencially is Cures Not Wars, is in my eyes the most under appreciated soldier fighting back against the drug war, probably because of his confrontational style and mad-on intolerance for ego-games and bullshit.

A refreshing change of pace from the uptight revolutionary communist ethos that I had previously associated with political activism, It was there that I learned how to organize a rally, how easy and how difficult it ultimately would be.

It's really easy, because unlike most causes, you really don't need to work too hard to convince folk to get into it, unless they have a professional career at risk or something. Kids love a party, for a cause they pretty universally support, and even getting local dealer friends to help donate money for the thing was cake.

It's really difficult because, well, no one was really helping me too much. The Aleh Yarok people in Tel Aviv had their own march to organize, and didn't really need anyone in Jerusalem to do any kind of an event per se, and they had enough stoner causes trying to bum money off them, whatever. Plus, I wasn't really living anywhere. Based in the dorms of a tiny one room Yeshiva, given a bed in a room with alternating crazy old men, somewhat reformed thieves, and super-anal ba'al Tshuvas, there was kinda nowhere for me to do anything. I had a fantasy that Aleh Yarok, Israel's afformentioned marijuana reform party, owned property in Jerusalem that they could spot me for an office, yeah right.

And so, from nowhere, with like nothing, I went to "work."

The Million marijuana march is traditionally on the first saturday in may. Problem for I, because the sabbath day you shall do no labor. My vision for the march included music being jammed out by local musicos, along with, like, a mega phone or something. Couldn't do this thing on Shabbos, and risk being responsible for encouraging joint smoking on the day of rest, certainly not. So how about Saturday night?

Sounds good. There's a park behind the center of town called "independance park" sounds perfect! Later I would learn it has/had a reputation for really sketchy sexual activity late at night, whatever, it free, open, public, and easily accessible from town. Meet there after shabbos for rally and whatever.

Now, the most important part: The aesthetic and promotion. Some time earlier, like, back in the day in high school, just as i was becoming really passionate about the redemptive powers of cannabis, I was in Shul as they were returning the Torah to the ark sabbath morning. One of the few very dramtic moments of the service in your average orthodox shul is both the taking of the Torah out of the ark, with some lovely invocations of the chazan to the ark, taking out the Torah, and telling the congragation that God is One and so one, before they respond in kind, followed by him, very awefully, walking the law down to de' people, going around so both the men and the women can embrace the crowned and bejeweled scroll followed by the Rabbi and the president of the shul on his walk.

Get close to the ark, and notice the mystery of the design on the curtain. Ostensibly made to imitate the curtains in the Holy Temple, there are a few common patterns in most synagogues: Lions, with their tongues sticking out, on either side. Leafy plants, somewhere in the middle, flanking the Tablets with the 10 commandments on 'em. Above the Tablets, usually a magnificent crown. In my synagogue, growing up, the crown had a seven leafed plant sitting above the crown.

In Jerusalem, by the western wall, almost all the curtains over all the arks have two letter initials on them. Khaf on the left side, Thuf on the right. Ostensibly short for "Kheter Torah," the Crown of Guidance, in hebrew numerology Khaf is twenty, and Thuf is four hundred.

ha, ha, ha.

weird, huh? Sealed in front of the holiest arks in the world is the number
that stoners all joke about.

The returning of the Torah Scrolls to the ark is done with equal fanfare and dedication, after the reading of the weekly portion, after the Rabbi's speech, with a solemn and passionate song:

A Tree of Life she is
and we are strengthened by her
and all her paths
are peace

whoa. I thought one sabbath, that sounds... familiar.

Bring us close to her
oh-h-h Lord
close to her and back we'll come
Make new!
Make new our days!
Make new our days, like from the very begining!

At the time, the major innovation that marijuna was bringing inot my life was very much that: restoring my soul to feelings and an experience of play that i had not known since toddlerhood, a renewal of soul to this very elementary place of pure being that i had fallen from through years of education and struggle with controling myself.

I would later on that really good Torah could do that to me too, without grass. And for that matter, really great meditative and athletic experiences too. But at the time, it was pretty surprising. surely, which ever sage wrote that song had been in smoke once too, and wanted me to know the secret.

And so, an image came to mind, some years later, at the peak of my Kabbalistic education. The tree of life is a euphemism for, amongst other things, the Kabbalistic map of creation and relationship, the steps from pure undiluted being, through different stages of relating to an-other, until the other is all that is, and all the dialectics in between. An Image came to mind. In lieu of Tablets, a Tree of Life glyph juxtaposed inside a cannabis leaf, corresponding sephiroth in all the right places. the two lions on the sides, and the crown above, surrounded by the words, in hebrew and english "Kannabis Kabbalah!" This would be the flier, and also the tee-shirts, and the neighborhood graffiti if i could get a stencil made right. I had an artist friend shape it out, make a flier with the time and place and, a few stencils with supportive lines from bible and later writings, and went to work.

Noted graffiti slogans, with a simplified cannabis-tree-of-life logo alongside each one, in green hebrew ashurite script, include:

exodus 30:12 (and get said to moses, get yourself some head spices)
Rashi on " (head spices = important)
genesis 1:27 (I give unto you ALL the seed bearing herbs for your consumption)
proverbs 3:18 (A Tree of Life she is, and we are strengthened through her)

That last one was written by King Solomon, incidently. Ha, ha, ha.

Sidenote on the rastafarian tradition of the Ganja growing on King Solomon's grave, and it's relationship to Jewish Midrash... King Solomon is the only old testament figure associated with cannabis in Rasta culture, which I think is connected to lines like these, and the gift of Spice (Bosem) given Shlomo by the queen of Sheba upon his success at impressing her. Spice, better than there ever was, I think it says.

Anyone wanna look that up for me?

Anyhow, I had a pretty solid march set up, as much two weeks before. Flyers went out, with pretty good response. Musicians lined up included the American Rabbi of my Yeshiva, who will remain nameless, along with a few other guys (first mistake: not getting very specific commitments) and speakers besides me, were gonna include Moish Geller doing Havdalah and, well, anyone else who wanted to say anything.

Mistake two, and Moishe caught me on this early. Imagine exactly what you want to hapen way before hand, an then play it by ear, not the other way around, he said.
The week before the march my girlfriend broke up with me, hitting me really suddenly and hard. I was in this very pious and faithful state of mind before, and was so shooken up by the dumpage, that I lost focus for a week just to wander the desert and cope a little bit. When I came back, ready to march, there just happened to be a ganja drought.

ut oh.

No herb at the cannabis march? whatever, probably safer that way. Maybe less fun, but...

When the night came, Me and Moishe took a cab down to the site, to meet up with some other friends in town who were gonna help set up. We get to the spot, and... it's dark. We set up some candles in cut open soda bottles very haf assedly, and set them around. we had maybe fifteen people at this point, some heping set up, and some asking, "hey. when's it gonna start?"

And some how, I just lost it. I really had nothing to say. we had no instruments or grass. Moishe asked fro permision to take off, as "the vibe" was "too weird." I smiled and sent him off and stood around with some friends for a while, until it hit me that i really had no idea what i was doing.

So i left, after like an hour and a half. we had around a hundred kids around town wandering about, in and near, and i just passed on word that it was already over. One friend of mine did have some dutch grass, which he smoked me out with once we came back to town. Defeated, and somehow OK, I went home to think about it.

Now, looking back, I realize that my only realest faliure was to have a coherent message. I didn't do much of a march for years afterwards for lack of a specific thing I was saying. I don't think it's gonna be a problem this year.

This is the announcement: Marijuna march Jerusalem is ON this year, location and details yet to be released. I'm thinking the 15th of Iyar, the month of healibng, where R' Nachman says that all the herbs and grasses touched by it's moon will have special healing powers... still working out the details. wanna help? volunteer? play? deal? call 0545 344 859, and leave a message, we'll work something out. I have some ideas, and no girfriend who can possibly distact me as of yet, and maybe a more coherent message to give over...

Tell the people.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4:40 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:24 PM

 
Anonymous tiferet-green-paths said...

Ay bro, looks like this blog has been dead for a minute. You ever color all the paths to tiferet green? Looks like a cannabis leaf. I have it on wikipedia right now, but they might take it down soon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Kabbalistic_tree_of_life_plus_hemp.png

Gods Love.

7:08 AM

 

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