Part 2 of the Story of Ireland covers the period 1100 – 1500 AD
During the 12th century Ireland was ruled by five provincial kings. One of them, Dermot of Lenster, sought an alliance with the Anglo-Norman (English) king Henry II to make himself king of all Ireland. Pope Adrian, who disagreed with the gnostic Irish version of Catholicism, granted permission for Henry to invade.
After Ireland became an English colony, new Anglo-Norman lords claimed the best land for their estates and created an Irish parliament and a judicial system based on English common law. However they held no sway outside the townships and were subject to constant raids by Irish peasants.
After the Black Plague hit Ireland in 1348, many English lords fled back to England and the Gaelic kings regrouped and reclaimed their old estates.
During his reign (1509-1547), Henry VIII made several half-hearted attempts to subdue the Irish lords. His daughter Elizabeth I would engage Sir Walter Raleigh to subdue Ireland by destroying its infrastructure and massacring its civilians.*
Thirty thousand Irish died under Raleigh, many from famine.
Raleigh could not subdue the northern province of Ulster, and which allied with King Phillip of Spain in 1601 in an unsuccessful attempt to retake Ireland from England.
*Ireland was the birthplace of warfare directed against civilians, also known as “total warfare,” “irregular warfare,” or “counterinsurgency.” It was here the practice of scalping and paying bounties for severed heads or scalps was first introduced. For centuries, it has been blamed on Native Americans, but it was initiated by the English in Ireland.
This is a documentary about ancient civilizations’ use of psychodelic plants in religious ceremonies. Unlike his more recent Hidden History of Cannabis, the evidence Rice presents is this film is more circumstantial. Yet in my view, the documentary leaves little doubt that dimethyltryptamine (DMT) containing plants were used in religious ceremonies in ancient Egypt, India, Persia, Greece and possibly ancient Israel.
DMT is the active ingredient in ayahuasca, a psychodelic herb used throughout early South American cultures. It currently shows great promise in the treatment of alcohol and other drug addictions and PTSD (see Ayahuasca and Addiction). It can be smoked or taken by mouth. When taken by mouth, it must be combined with a second herb containing an MAO inhibitor to keep it from being degraded in the gut.
The ancient Egyptians derived DMT from the acacia plant (Acacia nilotica), which they referred to as “The Tree of Life.”
The ancient Hindu Vedas refer to “soma,” an elixir that allegedly enabled practitioners to “commune with God.” Rice believes soma was derived from DMT containing herbs and may be responsible for much of the psychodelic art produced in ancient India. Sacred Zorastrian texts from ancient Persia also refer to “soma.” Ancient Greek texts refer to mystical ceremonies involving similar herbal elixirs.
Rice points to evidence that the “manna” (literally gift from God) provided to Israelites in their flight out of Egypt may actually have been DMT-containing mushrooms. A number of the original gospels describe to Christ offering “mana” to his disciples, though most of them were removed from the Catholic Bible when emperor Constantine banned the Gnostic sects.
The section of the film I found most interesting describes how use of DMT persisted in the rituals of numerous secret societies, including the Freemasons. Although there is no written record of Freemasonry prior to the 17th century, their oral tradition contains accounts of early Masonic rituals involving potions made from the acacia tree.
This documentary traces the medical, textile and spiritual use of cannabis from its first discovery in ancient China. It’s use for 100 different medical conditions is listed in the first Chinese “materia medica” in 2,800 BC. Archeological evidence suggests it was in wide use for cloth, paper and rope for centuries before that. It has long been one of the 50 herbal remedies used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Archeologists believe that Caucasus tribes known as Aryans spread cannabis use to India and Persia along primitive trade routes that pre-dated the Silk Road. In India it was used in Hindu sects devoted to Shiva, in Buddhism and Sikhism. According to legend, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) subsisted on cannabis alone for six years prior to his enlightenment.
In 500 BC, when the Persian empire (Iran) extended from the Indian border to Egypt, it played an essential role in Zororastianism. There is also good evidence Egyptians used it for medicinal purposes 700 years prior to their conquest by Persia (in 552 BC).
Following the unsuccessful Persian attack on Greece (in 492 BC), Greek physicians began using it to treat a variety of medical conditions. Both Pythagoras and Socrates refer to its mind enhancing properties. Cannabis would make its way to Rome by way of Greece.
Use of Cannabis in Judaism and Christianity
Rice also traces how Kaneh Bosm (which English Biblical scholars have mistranslated “calamus”) was used extensively along with frankincense and other psychoactive herbs to anoint ancient Jewish priests. Christ (which means “the anointed one”) used similar holy oils to anoint his twelve disciples. Some scholars believe Kaneh Bosm may have played a role in his healing miracles – due to its medicinal properties. Early gnostic gospels, which were banned by Emperor Constantine in 325 AD, cover the subject far more extensively than the New Testament.
Cannabis was also widely used by Muslim physicians, Sufi sects and by assassins (derived from the word hashish) of the secret 11th century Islamic sect Nizari Ismailis.
Cannabis Spreads to Europe and the New World
Cannabis cultivation spread from Rome to northern Europe via Germanic tribes who used the seeds as a food source. Prior to the conquest of the Americas, Europeans used it mainly as a source of fiber. When the New World tobacco trade made pipe smoking popular in Europe, a growing middle class also began smoking cannabis and opium.
Queen Elizabeth initiated the legal requirement that the North American colonies grow hemp to help supply the British Navy with rope and sails. Shakespeare, James Madison and James Monroe all smoked it, and Washington used it for toothache.
During the 18th century, it became widely available in various patent medicines – until the American Medical Association began a state-by-state campaign to ban it. Its ready availability and effectiveness for pain relief posed a major threat to the fledgling medical profession.
The advent of alcohol Prohibition in 1919, caused a surge in the use of cannabis, which was still legal surged.
The Corporate Conspiracy to Suppress Hemp Production
In 1936, a corporate conspiracy to suppress hemp production in favor of wood fiber and synthetic fibers (see The Politics of Hemp) would lead to the controversial 1936 Marijuana Tax Act.
Psychodelic guru Timothy O’Leary would initiate the first legal challenge to the Act, leading a federal court to overturn it in 1969. Nixon’s response was to ban cannabis altogether, under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.