Cannabis Culture

The Herb of the Magi: Zoroaster’s Good Narcotic

CANNABIS CULTURE – The traditional faith of Zoroastrianism continues to be a practiced religion at the moment, and its affect on the cosmologies and beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam has lengthy been famous by spiritual students. Nevertheless a subject much less mentioned are historical Zoroastrian references to the shamanic use of potent hashish infusions. Was the Zoroastrian faith a hashish revelation?

The Magi seem to have been acquainted with the narcotic properties of opium, hemp, and different substances; and by lengthy fasts, and the administration of those opiates, induced a state of trance or ecstasy, beneficial to the conception of visions, and the stimulation of accesses of inspiration. They had been accustomed to propitiate the spirits with loud songs and chants, both of triumph or woe, entreaty or indignation.   

-J. Maxwell, Dwellers on the Threshold: Or, Magic and Magicians, (1865)


The identify Magi, from the place we get phrases like, ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ is mostly related to historical Zoroastrianism, an historical Persian faith that will have originated as early as Four,000 years in the past. Arguably the world’s first monotheistic religion, it’s one of many oldest religions nonetheless in existence. It was based by the Prophet Zoroaster, (or Zarathustra), who is believed to have lived and died someday between 1500 BC – 1000 BC (aged 77). A monotheistic prophet like Moses, he modified the polytheistic worship of Mazdaism into the montheistic worship of the one god Ahura Mazda.

The Zoroastriasn texts discuss with a substance variously generally known as bhanga, or in Pahvlavi as mang. Bhanga continues to be utilized in Persia to determine hashish and the associated Indian time period bhang continues to be used for hashish as effectively.

In reference to Zoroastrian expeditions into the world of the afterlife, Shaul Shaked famous that “The preparation of this journey was executed… by administering to the officiant a dose of mang (hemp), blended with wine” (Shaked, 1999). “Zoroaster is usually mentioned to have spiked the haoma with mang, which was in all probability cannabis. It might have extended the intoxication and additional stimulated the creativeness of the drugged man. Of such are the wonders of Heaven” (Oliver, 1994). Within the Zoroastrian story “…the Artak Viraz Namak… Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, the rewards bestowed on the nice, and the punishment awaiting the  sinner are right here described in a imaginative and prescient induced by cannabis” (Campbell, 2000). Referring to this similar account, van Baaren and Hartman additionally famous the hero “imbibes an intoxicant composed of wine and cannabis and after this his physique sleeps for seven days and nights whereas his soul undertakes the journey” (van Baaren & Hartman,1980). 19th century writer James Francis Katherinus Hewitt additionally refers back to the “enlightening prophet drug Bangha (Hashish Indica), the Cannabis by which the Zoroastrian monks had been impressed” (Hewitt, 1901) This was additionally the view of Nyberg (1938), whose work we have now mentioned, and the German Iranist, Geo Widengren (1965), in addition to newer researchers.

The usage of bang/mang within the Zoroastrian interval was strictly prohibited from anybody however probably the most elite members of that society. The secrecy surrounding using bang/mang is probably going largely accountable for a lot of the confusion surrounding the phrases mang and bang. In ‘Quests and Visionary Journeys in Sassanian Iran’, Shaul Shaked notes that using mang (which he noticed as hemp) for visionary quests, “was not a method open to all”:

 It was confined to pick out people, who would have regarded themselves as consultant of the group, and who would then disclose to the others what that they had been privileged to witness. Even for these folks this was not a trivial expertise that could possibly be undertaken casually or simply repeated. Such journeys had been uncommon events, surrounded by grave dangers. The hazard lay in the actual fact that this was the trail trodden by the lifeless, and must be introduced again to life. Sure encounters alongside the best way might put the ability of endurance of the traveler to the check.(Shaked, et al., 1999)

Zoroaster addresses King Vistaspa

The story has it that Zoroaster wandered the countryside for ten years with out successful over the folks to his new spiritual ideas. It was not till he met King Vishtaspa, who transformed to Zoroaster’s faith after ingesting a cup of mang that the Iranian prophet’s beliefs started to take maintain on a large scale. “Vishtaspa used hemp (bhang) to acquire ecstasy: whereas his physique lay asleep, his soul traveled to paradise” (Eliade 1978).  Vishtaspa’s shamanic journey is recorded in Denkird 7.Four.83-6 and Pahlavi Rivayat 48.27-32.  Within the ninth century textual content the Denkird which was derived from a misplaced Avestan supply, when Vishtaspa drank bhang “he turned stard (unconscious) instantly, and so they led his soul to paradise and confirmed him the worth of accepting the Faith”:

To enlighten Vishtasp (and educate him)… and that he would attain a excessive submit, everlasting energy, riches and meals, Ohrmazd the Creator despatched on the similar time to the home of Vishtasp the yazat [a lesser divine being]Neryosang with a message urging… Arthavist to provide to drink to Vishtasp the lightened drink that will grant the attention of whomever took it a glimpse on the non secular world… And communicate to Arthavist: ‘Lord Arthavist! Take the good plate, the nicest of all which have been made…  to take, from us, Hom [Haoma] and mang… (Denkird 7.Four.84-86)

Gherardo Gnoli recorded: “bang was… an ingredient of the ‘illuminating drink’… that allowed Wištāsp to see…  the ‘nice thriller.’ This mang ī wištāspān (Pahlavi Vd. 15.14…) was blended with hōm (Dēnkard 7.Four.85) or wine (Pahlavi Rivayat 47.27). It was an integral a part of the ecstatic follow geared toward opening the ‘eye of the soul’ (gyān čašm….)” (Gnoli, 1979). As Widengren defined:

Hemp and wine or hemp and haoma had been blended within the cup that was handed to Vistaspa….. it’s mentioned that Neryosang was despatched forth to let Vistaspa drink ‘the attention of the soul’ with the view up above to the types of existence of the heavenly beings, the illuminating potion due to which Vistaspa noticed the good fortunate splendour and thriller’. The everyday expression gyan casm, ‘eye of the soul’, causes issues right here. One could possibly be tempted to interchange this expression with ‘supply of life’, and this in precise reality is the way it was translated, which in a pure formal philological sense is totally attainable. Nevertheless the expression will be defined by way of two factors within the Denkart, the place, regarding the enlightenment, it’s acknowledged that it’s of two varieties: on the one hand it consists of a view with the attention of the physique, tan casm, however it’s a view with the attention of the soul, gyan casm, which is outlined as ‘the opening of the attention of the soul to acquire data’.‘The attention of the soul’ means introspection. The visionary sight is conveyed to Kavi Vistaspa utilizing a haoma potion blended with hemp. With this his soul can restore to Garodman, [Paradise] to view the heavenly existence. (Widengren, 1965)

An identical reference to the “eye” is discovered within the Indian Aitareya Brahmanam, “When.. the Adhvaryu fingers over … the Soma cup to drink… to the Hotar, he receives it with the… mantra… (By the phrases): ‘It is a good which has data; right here is an effective which has data; in me is an effective which has data; ruler of the attention, shield my eye’ the Hotar drinks Soma from the Maitravaruna graha. (Then he repeats): ‘The attention with the thoughts is known as hither.’” Martin Haug in his translation of this passage, famous “This system resembles very a lot probably the most sacred prayers of the Parsis… which is especially repeated when the Zotar priest (the Hotar of the Brahmans) is ingesting the Homa (Soma) juice…” (Haug, 1863). In relation, in India the ingesting of bhang by devotees continues to be believed to open up the “eye” of Shiva, i.e the “third-eye.”

Though references to using mang are rather more clear minimize and straight ahead within the above accounts, the identification of Zoroaster’s use appears to be fairly veiled. Hellholm and his co-authors make an necessary level of their assertion that “Based on the Bahman Yast, Zoroaster receives from Ahura Mazda the ‘knowledge of omniscience’” which seems to be carefully associated to ingesting the cup of ecstasy: (Hellholm, et al., 1989) A state of affairs on which numerous Iranists have commented. “The visionary receives the divine high quality of omniscience… which is regarded as transmitted in liquid type, as informed in Bahman Yasht” (Johnston, 2004).

And he (Ahura Mazda) put the knowledge of omniscience within the type of water within the hand of Zoroaster and mentioned: “Drink”. And Zoroaster drank from it and he intermingled the knowledge of omniscience with Zoroaster. Seven days and 7 nights Zoroaster was within the knowledge of Ahura Mazda. (Bahman Yast, 11.5-6)

Because the authors of The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism have famous of this passage, “The expression ‘within the type of water’ within the  Bahman Yast to indicate the drink Zoroaster consumed earlier than his imaginative and prescient doesn’t imply that it was water however solely that it was liquid” (McGinn, et al., 2000). As we will see, the ingesting of the “cup of omniscience” by Zoroaster clearly resulted in a equivalent shamanic journey as that attributed to the drinkers of bhanga/mang within the Zoroastrian custom:

After having consumed the “knowledge of omniscience,” Zoroaster sees the seven world continents and he is ready to distinguish the best particulars of people, cattle, and vegetation. That is greatest defined on the belief of a motion in area. In truth, we discover a reference to an otherworldly journey undertaken by Zoroaster in a brief quotation from the sacred custom preserved within the Denkard. Ohrmazd and the beneficient immortals tackle Zoroaster with the next phrases “You’ve gotten come to paradise (garodman); now you recognize the actions which can be executed within the corporeal world and people who can be executed, even in secret” (Dk IX,28:2). (McGinn, et al., 2003)

A web page guide from Arda Viraf’s journey from the after life

As famous above, Hellholm and his co-authors relate that the revered Iranist Geo Widengren, in his German language version Die Religionen Irans (1965) believed that point out of mang was suppressed within the above accounts by later Zoroastrian spiritual writers, which might clarify a variety of the confusion on the matter. An announcement which left this researcher with the duty of finding a replica of Widengren’s German language guide Die Religionen Irans, after which buying translations of the related passages, a few of that are reproduced beneath:

…[In] the Phalavi-apocalypse Bahman Yast…it’s recounted – and we’re transferring right here inside a sphere of Avestan traditions – that Zarathustra assimilated the so known as ‘rationality of omniscience’ by way of ingesting water. Furthermore it’s recounted that, in doing this, the ‘rationality of omniscience’ was blended with Zarathustra and this remained for seven days and nights within the cause of Ahura Mazda.

A very powerful factor about this description is that Zarathustra, in accordance with a longtime Avestan custom, adopted an intoxication approach, to place himself in to a trance, throughout which he lies in deep sleep for seven days and nights. In Pahlavi at this level, the time period for this deep sleep is xvamn; this can be a ‘trendy’ improvement of the Avestan phrase xvafna. It could due to this fact be assumed that the unique Avestan custom even used the time period xvafna right here. (Widengren 1965)

This state of xvafna was the core of each the Haoma and the mang expertise. As Eliade defined, “…haoma is wealthy in xverenah, the sacred fluid, directly igneous, luminous and spermatic. Ahura Mazda is preeminently the possessor of xvarenah, however this ‘flame’ additionally springs from the brow of Mithra and like a photo voltaic gentle emanates from the heads of sovereigns.” (Eliade, 1978).  Referring to Zoroaster’s ingestion of the “cup of omniscience” Widengren wrote that in “a trance much like that of the deep sleep, xvafna> xvamn, Zarathustra skilled his visions and heard the divine phrases of Ahura Mazda. It was in all probability additionally customary within the eldest congregations to induce this trance with a narcotic potion. This method of intoxication presumably has Indo-Iranian ancestry, as a result of it’s documented in India as effectively.” (Widengren, 1965)

…[T]he custom preserved within the Bahman Yt. doesn’t point out the hemp potion as a bodily ecstatic substance but it surely clearly considerations a potion, which Zarathustra partook of. It’s attainable that the later Pahlavi custom thus blurred the unique character of the potion, that it solely states pat ap-karpfrac xvart  – ‘within the type of water…he swallowed it’. Behind this transition from wine and hemp in AVN II 29 ff. to water within the Bahman Yt., one can effectively assume numerous tendencies of the Sassanids period….

….Now this description in Bahman Yast is nonetheless constant in some respects with two different visionary narratives. One account is discovered within the Pahlavi Rivayats to Datastan i Denik, the place it’s informed, how Zarathustra’s guardian, Kavi Vistaspa, obtains wine blended with a narcotic [mang] from the messenger of the gods, Neryosang. Vistaspa instantly turns into unconscious and his soul is escorted to Garodman, the paradise.

This account bases itself in the meantime on an older model which we discover within the Denkart. This Denkart textual content will be proved as an adaptation of a lacking Avestan unique as a result of exegetical glosses, the quotes from the Avesta in addition to the dear terminology. This unique model reveals a number of discrepancies: firstly the cup, which Vistaspa is handed, incorporates on this case hom ut mang, being haoma and hemp. (Widengren, 1965)

Widengren felt that primarily based on this related Avestan account of Vistaspa ingesting Haoma blended with hemp, and attaining an identical mystical expertise to that of Zoroaster within the Bahaman Yast, the account of Zoroaster ingesting water within the Bahman Yast, was primarily based on an earlier Avestan custom which concerned the partaking of mang and later accounts had been edited throughout the Sassanian interval to cover this reality.

The Avestan and the Pahlavian references to Vistaspa ingesting mang are pivotal in figuring out Zoroaster’s personal use of hemp as described within the ‘censored’ account recorded within the Bahman Yast.

…[W]e have to appreciate that the beforehand quoted Pahlavi textual content Bahma Yt, the place Zarathustra’s ecstasy along with his visionary experiences is described, bases itself on Avestan materials, and in precise reality predominantly on the lacking Stutkar Nask. It might probably due to this fact be topic to little question that the Avestan custom additionally knew Zarathustra as a real ecstatic. (Widengren,1965)

Arda Ziraf specified by a state of revelation

Accounts of Zoroaster’s shamanic flights are recorded in: Bahman Yasht Four.1-66, 5.1-10, 6.1-13, 7.1-39, Eight.1-Eight, 9.1-Eight; Bundahishn 34.Four-5; Denkard Eight.Eight.22-59, 9.6, 10.11, 14.13. The suggestion that there was a connection between the mang and Haoma consumed by Vishtasp and the ‘water’ by Zoroaster has been famous by quite a lot of students. “Since sauma [blended with mang]was the means by which Ohrmazd introduced such imaginative and prescient to Zoroaster’s champion, Wishtasp, [Vistaspa] there is no such thing as a cause to doubt that sauma [and mang]would even have been the means whereby Zoroaster (who as a zaotar consumed sauma in Yasna rites) additionally noticed into menog existence [spiritual realm]and drew from it his data of Ohrmazd and his revelation” (Flattery and Schwartz, 1989).

Historical texts such because the Avesta present proof hemp was used within the Iranian world… to supply ecstatic states of thoughts. Zarathustra himself used this system to nourish his mystique. On this he was imitating his protector, King Vishtasp, who acquired from the gods the cup with narcotic components, “haoma and hemp.” Because of this “illuminating beverage” the possessed may “open the attention of the soul to acquire data”—in different phrases, he skilled hallucinations and an intoxication that was definitely actual, although thought-about as magico-religious. The king thought he was on this method escaping his physique and sending his soul to journey in paradise. However the descriptions of the place or way of thinking in query as being stuffed with “illumination” are typical of the visions skilled by the patron of cannabis, together with a sleep like trance which obliges him to lie down. (Charriere, 1979)

Nevertheless, it could appear after the establishment of the Moslem interval, when Zoroastrians had been both pressured out of Persia or pressured to transform to Islam, the ritual use of hashish within the faith declined and finally appears to have gone underground. Though there’s proof that some use was nonetheless in play throughout the reign of the Sassanian King Khusraw Parvēz (57—628) and in “Azerbaijan, a former centre of the Zoroastrian faith and homeland of the cannabis- utilizing Scythians, medieval manuscripts additionally document using wine infused with a mix of hashish, opium and henbane” (Dannaway, Piper & Webster, 2007).  It’s usually seen that via these channels  using hashish was adopted by the extra mystical branches of Islam. From what I’ve seen within the modern-day,  any point out of the religions historical hashish use to practising mainstream Zoroastrians is met with disbelief and  disdain.

The title, Magi, has been used for over 2,500 years in reference to Zoroastrianism. Within the Hellenic interval, when the Greeks had been assimilating a lot of different cultures traditions, whether or not precisely or not, the mysterious rites of Zoroastrians, turned related to all the pieces from astrology, to necromancy, and the time period ‘magi’ started its transition to changing into our trendy phrases ‘magic’, and the practitioners of this, ‘magicians’.  This affiliation between  ‘magic’ and occult rites and practices, was significantly revitalized within the Medieval interval, after which ahead, the place Zoroaster was usually thought-about the creator of magic. As Encyclopedia Iranica has famous:

Most distinguished European students of magic of the early trendy interval devoted not less than one transient passage to the supposed inventor of that self-discipline. Right here, it could suffice to say the names of authors comparable to Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim (1486-1535), Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), Giambattista Della Porta (ca. 1535-1615), Jean Bodin (1530-96), Gabriel Naudé (1600-53), and Eliphas Lévi (1810-75). Opposite to the authors talked about within the earlier part, most of those authors… had been in favor of a ‘pure’, or ‘pure’, model of magic that was fastidiously distinguished from its ‘demonic’ department. Correspondingly, Zoroaster got here to be considered a sensible man, who would know concerning the secrets and techniques of nature and heaven. (Stausberg, 2005)

Zoroaster additionally seems often within the writings of later occultists, comparable to Blavatsky, Paschal Beverly Randolph,  Crowley, and others.  Various occasions in his writings, Crowley borrowed a phrase from The Chaldæan Oracles of Zoroaster, “The girders of the Soul, which give her respiration, are straightforward to be unloosed” (Westcott, 1895) in reference to the results of hashish resin; “Maybe cannabis is the drug which ‘loosens the girders of the soul’.’’ (Crowley, 1909).*

It also needs to be famous that the voyages of those Zoroastrian psychonauts, might have influenced each Jewish and Christian cosmologies, with their voyages to Heaven and Hell, in addition to tales of an Apocalyptic like finish occasions.

Tailored from Liber 420 & Hashish and the Soma Resolution.


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