Article by Chris Bennett, Cannabis Culture
Many people are now familiar with the idea that the ancient Jews used cannabis, under the names Kaneh and Kaneh Bosm, in their anointing oils and incenses.
However, few are aware that at least two religious scholars, more than a century apart and from different nationalities have independently suggested that the Prophet Ezra, considered by many as the final editor of the Old Testament texts, consumed cannabis infused wine….
Ezra was born in Babylon, and was among the Jews returned during the reign of Darius, a Persian king, that many historians have suggested was the son of Vishtapa, a figure of Persian royalty who was said to have been initiated by Zoroaster, a Persian prophet, with a cannabis infusion! “Vishtaspa used hemp (bhang) to obtain ecstasy: while his body lay asleep, his soul traveled to paradise” (Eliade 1978). (Vishtaspa’s shamanic journey is recorded in Denkird 7.4.83-6 and Pahlavi Rivayat 48.27-32).
“Hemp and wine or hemp and haoma were mixed in the cup that was passed to Vistaspa….. it… was sent forth to let Vistaspa drink ‘the eye of the soul’ with the view up above to the forms of existence of the heavenly beings, the illuminating potion thanks to which Vistaspa saw the great lucky splendour and mystery’…it is a view with the eye of the soul, gyan casm, which is defined as ‘the opening of the eye of the soul to obtain knowledge’.‘The eye of the soul’ means introspection. The visionary sight is conveyed to Kavi Vistaspa using a haoma potion mixed with hemp. With this his soul can repair to Garodman, [Paradise] to view the heavenly existence.” (Widengren, 1965)