Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How The Irish Invented Slang (for Marijuana)

We all know that the Irish saved civilization (or so says the bestselling book by Thomas Cahill). Now comes the book, How the Irish Invented Slang, by Daniel Cassidy, who postulates that many slang words for which even the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) can't name the origin were in fact based on Gaelic.

After a friend died and left behind his Irish dictionary, Cassidy took his wife's advice and learned a word from it every night, soon noticing how similar the pronunciations were to slang words.

Flipping through the book in a bookstore (yes, they still exist), I came upon the word "Gage," the term by which Louis Armstrong so lovingly referred to marijuana. Cassidy proposed the word comes from the Gaelic word "Gaid," pronounced gad, gadge or gaj, and meaning twisted twigs, rope, or hemp.

That Armstrong would have picked up on this slang fits with Cassidy's matches for jazz terms with Irish ones, including "Jazz" itself, another word the OED has no clue about. Jazz is the phonetic spelling of the Irish and Gaelic word "teas," meaning "heat, passion, excitement, and highest temperature," Cassidy asserts.
Seen at  Linnaea's Café,
San Luis Obispo, CA

Another slang term Cassidy connects to Irish is Hep or Hip, which is thought by some to come from opium smokers who sat on one hip. But its meaning "well-informed, knowledgeable, wise, in-the-know; smart, stylish" could some from a simple contraction of the Irish word "aibi," pronounced h-ab ("mature, quick, clever").

Grouch, which Chico Marx said related to a "grouch bag" in which the Marx Brothers carried marijuana, is also possibly from Irish origin, via the word "Craite" (tormented, troubled, vexed, pained; annoyed).

And finally "Dude," what stoners like to call each other, can be traced to the Irish "Dud" (pronounced "dood") meaning a foolish-looking fellow; a clown. See: How The Irish Invented Dudes. 

Also read about Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, William Butler Yeats, and hashish. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kardashian Spouse Enters Iboga Treatment Facility

Scott Disick, who has understandable issues with reality as the Reality-TV spouse of Kourtney Kardashian, has entered rehab of an unusual type, according to TMZ: he's gone to a facility in Costa Rica that uses the psychedelic plant Iboga in its treatment.

I remember when two hippies showed up at a drug policy conference years ago, to talk about their efforts to get Ibogaine (extracted from the Iboga plant) imported as a treatment for heroin addiction. They'd hit upon the idea while sitting around with a bunch of friends, talking about the most intense drug they'd tried in the 60s. "It must have been Ibogaine," one of them said, "because I never went back to heroin after that."As they described it, during the first eight hours of an Ibogaine trip you re-live your past, in the second eight hours you see your present, and in the last eight hours you rewrite your future. Read more about Ibogaine therapy.

Disick's problem seems to be mainly with alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson was dosed with the hallucinogen belladonna at Towns Hospital in 1933, leading to the revelation that enabled him to quit drinking. In his autobiography Pass It On, Wilson's description of the experience sounds psychedelic: "Suddenly, my room blazed with an indescribably white light. I was seized with an ecstasy beyond description." Wilson tried LSD in the 1950s (when it was still legal) under a doctor's supervision. He enthusiastically explored LSD's clinical use to treat alcoholism, encouraging his wife Lois to also try it. The organization Wilson founded ultimately objected and buried the research, much like the Catholic church left out the sacrament kykeon in its communion ceremonies, leaving only the meaningless vestiges. A new book reveals that today's AA works for less than 10% of its members, and is harmful to the others.

The Joe Rogan show recently featured an Iboga experience. 

Last August, Keeping up with the Kardashians showed Kris's mother M.J., who has cancer, taking some marijuana-laced gummy bears to help her appetite, and talking Kris into trying some for her neck pain. The two ladies are munching out and giggling it up until "Mr. Buzzkill" (Bruce Jenner) shows up.

In 2013, three Karsashians (Kim, Khloe and Kourtney) signed an open letter to President Obama calling for an end to the injustice of the war on drugs, along with 175 fellow entertainers, civil rights leaders, members of the faith community, business leaders and athletes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Heart's Wilson Sisters Rock (and Roll)

UPDATE 2/20: Ann Wilson recently posted a vintage picture of her with a joint to her Facebook page under the headline, "Here's to Friday." 

Ann and Nancy Wilson, who with the band Heart made songs like "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man" rites of passage for my generation of women (and beyond), are Culture Magazine's latest cool coup interview for their March issue.

Come on home, girl
He said with a smile
You don't have to love me yet
Let's get high awhile
But try to understand
Try to understand
Try, try, try to understand
He's a magic man

Asked if the Seattle-based sisters were advocates for medical marijuana like fellow Culture Cover Girls Lily Tomlin, Melissa Etheridge, Margaret Cho, and Roseanne Barr, Ann replied:

"We think it should be legal in every state in the country! It’s obviously less dangerous and harmful than alcohol, and it has many good uses for people, especially people who are very ill, but also for people who suffer from anxiety, insomnia, or pain of different types. It’s just strange to me that we’re still even talking about it."

Along with 20 million others, you've probably seen the video of the Wilsons' performance of "Stairway To Heaven" accompanied by full choir and orchestra at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. Sing it, sistas.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Goddess Magu, the Hemp Maiden

UPDATE 10/15: Magu is included in the new book Tokin' Women: A 4000-Year Herstory.

Deep researcher Steven Hager posted an interesting Wikipedia page this morning regarding Magu (Chinese: 麻姑), a Taoist xian ("inspired sage," "ecstatic") whose name means Hemp Maiden or Goddess.

Magu’s name combines the Chinese character MA – which derives from a Zhou Dynasty ideograph showing plants drying in a shed – with GU, a kinship term for a woman also used in religious titles like Priestess. It’s been proposed that the name is related to the Old Persian word “magus” (magician, magi).

Ma Gu is often depicted flying on a crane, riding a deer or holding peaches or wine (symbols of longevity). She is associated with the elixir of life and is the protector of females. Before becoming immortal she freed slaves who were working for her evil father. She is often pictured on birthday cards in China, where cannabis has been continuously cultivated since Neolithic times, and the saying, "When you see a deer you know Ma Gu is near," is common. Magu Wine is made in Jianchang and Linchuan. Her harvest festival, when cannabis is traditionally gathered, celebrates the time “when the world was green.”

Magu is called Mago in Korea and Mako in Japan, where a saying “Magu scratches the itch” harkens to her long, crane-like fingernails. Several early folktales from Sichuan province associate Magu with caves, and one describes a shaman who invoked her. She is said to have ascended to immortality at Magu Shan ("Magu Mountain") in Nancheng. A second Magu Mountain is located in Jianchang county.

Magu was also goddess of Shandong's sacred Mount Tai, where cannabis "was supposed to be gathered on the seventh day of the seventh month," wrote Joseph Needham in Science and Civilization in China (1959). Needham wrote, “there is much reason for thinking that the ancient Taoists experimented systematically with hallucinogenic smokes…at all events the incense-burner remained the centre of changes and transformations….” The (ca. 570 CE) Daoist encyclopedia records that cannabis was added into ritual censers. 

A modern Taoist sect called the Way of Infinite Harmony worships Magu and advocates for the religious use of cannabis (but its Wiki page was just deleted).