The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Sunday, May 27, 2007

tinyana: the mysteries of hysteries in histories.

So, looking over this whole piece of work, it becomes clear to me what's missing.

I actually answered very few of the questions I raised here, so i'm just going to take a minute to wrap a few up.

What happened to Marijuana in history?

I apologize for my ignorance of the Arab/Islamic history of Marijuana. No real description of the evolution and devolution of Cannabis culture in Israel and Jerusalem is going to be whole without that detail, of the last two thousand years of history. It's a problem with Israel, the two thousand middle years of her life are blurred over in the Jewish folk memory, and while that isn't something inherently shameful, it is a bit dishonest and regrettable, especially if I'm trying to uncover a hidden history.

I tried in my early days in Jerusalem to find out about the Morrocan and Yemenite religious jewish cannabis tradition, and was always a little heart broken at how unseriously pious oriental Jewish Mystics who DID smoke hashish would take the substance itself.

I think much of this is because of the internal dissonance that jewish mystics and mysticsm sometimes have about the world that gives them their revelations. There's so many trips in the Bible, Talmud and onwards about rejecting foriegn influence, even as much as there is about accepting and even embracing the gifts of the G-d in exile, as in Jeremiah, and the Babylonian Talmud.

But the repatriation of Israel might be responsible for fucking up our heads about this, the cultural confusion about What's Jewish in Morrocan Jewish Tradition and What's Morrocan, even as both are threatened, ridiculed, and consequently jealously defended as sacred norms.

But even in Morroco, the "serious" and straight people wouldn't smoke hash, and even in the Islamic world, it was very criminalized and repressed, the devils hash. Why?

My journeys in Israel have been limited by my language skills and affinity groups, but there's a few important groups that I feel like I need to deal with to look at the mystery of how/why Marijuna was demonized and criminalized, and what this has to do with the mystery of civilization, and the emerging fringe cultures of Israel and beyond?

When was marijuana first criminalized?

My history sense is mythic more than factual; such is the nature of growing up in a tradition that describes giants and half divine monsters as part of the historical narrative. I will not apologize for this, nor do I consider it inauthentic. History and the world are weird, I don't know how things worked and what happened, all I can relate too is my family's cosmic descriptions. I can reject or re-understand the myths however I want, and share my understandings with whoever else is dealing with a similar paradigm. I am happy to surrender the specificity of these myths under the revelation of more, lets say, objective truths and discoveries, yay for the clarifications about What Could Have Happened! This is something I want to call a kind of Mythic Evolutionsim, where a creationist and archaic narrative is allowed to be confronted by the emerging scientific paradigm, and though it does not reject what it used to know and think about what was and what is, it is able to grow and re-understand itself in the face of all the new discoveries.

Which is pretty much the way Jewish communal scholarship has worked in the periods where "enlightenment" (that is, surrender to a wider population's perceptions) was not imposed, but allowed to gently sink in as the world we were around would seem to advance beyond us.

This is what happened in the Sephardic/Arab world, where scientists and philosophers like Avicenna and Averroes were taken very seriously by Religious Jewish Scholars and Doctors (like the Rambam), their works, translated into Hebrew before anyone bothered to translate them into Latin.

Of course, mysticsm and science were less differentiated back then. Science was less concerned with liberation from religious paradigms than working around and with them. How do you know that you're really free from your parents? it's safe to come back to their house, even accpet their advice without being quieted or destroyed through it.

All that said, it's clear to me that the cradle of life is something called by the ancients of my tradition the Garden of Eden, and that's where the earliest strains of Cannabis, if not all vegetation and humanity, originate, by definition.

Ah, but where is the Garden of Eden? The placement descritption of it in the Bible is physically imposible, somewhere floating above and below these different rivers, meeting in the place where none of them intersect. Josh Lauffer brings down the midrash that all vegetation is still nourished from it, all the waters that feed anything still come from it, making it a mythically really place, not unlike Santa's workshop in the North Pole--- all those toys really do come from the same place, on some profound and true level-- Christmas really does happen, and the fountain of all the good in the world might as well have a name.

There's much historical question by those official and proffessional speculators of history, where did Cannabis come from?
My cultural chauvinist impulse is to say the Jordan river valley, and there isn't really any damning proof saying for sure otherwise, so I could totally rest on that mythic delusion for as long as I want, until some clearer truth proof comes along. THAT SAID, Chinese texts and pottery have the earliest recorded mentions of it. This is one of the two thoroughest histories i've found on the internet:

It is not yet clear where cannabis was first cultivated.

Perhaps the people of Central Asia did so themselves –
we must not be led to too readily assume that it must have been the more 'advanced' Chinese who would necessarily have preceded their more 'backward' Central Asian neighbours of the great steppes in using
and subsequently cultivating hemp
as either a fibre plant
or a drug.

Central Asia, a vast land of deserts, steppes and oases is, despite its name, usually seen as of marginal historical influence,
a kind of cultural vacuum
between the great civilisations of China to the east,
India to the south
and the Middle East to its west.
Yet, very early on, thriving trade routes passed through the region and these became known as the Silk Roads, on account of the importance of Chinese silk for both Muslim and Western merchants.

It is known to archaeologists that Central Asia was an important center
for the transmission of new discoveries and religious ideas from prehistoric times onwards.

The hemp plant,
being of major technological importance as a fibre
and being one of the most influential psychoactive plants in human culture,
was most likely a key trade item
from a very early date.

The anthropologist Weston La Barre was of the opinion that cannabis use goes as far back as the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) period
as part of a religio-shamanic complex.

the use of the plant had already spread across an area stretching from Romania to China,
secondly south to India and on to south-east Asia,
and last, and certainly not least,
to western Asia, from where it diffused to Africa, Europe and eventually the Americas.

Somehow, Marijuana came to Egypt, Israel, etc. As mentioned before, the Hebrew word "bisamim Rosh" to describe the spices in the sacred annointing oil, implies a certain universal preciousness, spices known and sought in every country, in every culture.

The history of when Cannabis is tolerated is very interesting to me.

It was a big controversy in Islam, back and forth, is Cannabis harram or not?

Everybody (well, except for rabbeinu Hafiz and his chevre) knows: Wine is Harram in Islam, because it intoxicates. So it's a question: what's called intoxication, and what's called clarity?

(Yeah, I know, I said it was finished, and it is: there's just an old Chassidic tradition of tagging on the surplus manuscripts at the end of a book. It's called "Tinyana," an aramaic term literally meaning: "we learned it somewhere." I'm just supplementing, filling out the gaps... ok? ok.)