|Two altars found at the Arad shrine on display at The Israel Museum.|
|The shrine as discovered in 1963.|
The discovery lends credence to Polish anthropologist Dr. Sula Benet's 1936 doctoral thesis ''Hashish in Folk Customs and Beliefs,'' which theorized that the biblical incense kaneh bosm, meaning "aromatic cane" was cannabis, mistranslated as "calamus" in the modern bibles. "Taking into account the matriarchal element of Semitic culture, one is led to believe, that Asia Minor was the original point of expansion for both the society based on the Matriarchal circle and the mass use of hashish," Benet wrote.
|Ke(d)eshet, the Egyptian goddess related to Asherah,|
standing on a lion. (British Museum.)
Shards of pottery with the name "Yahweh" have been found at the shrine; his consort was the Goddess Asherah, to whom incense was burned, described (and decried) in the Hebrew Scriptures. "Inscriptions from two locations in southern Palestine seem to indicate that she was also worshiped as the consort of Yahweh." (Britannica.com) Pictorial evidence has also been found.
William G. Dever, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies, Arizona State University and author of Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel makes a strong case for Asherah worship not only at "village shrines" but at state-sanctioned ones at his 2014 Tenenbaum Lecture. Finding representations of females at shrines throughout the region, Dever has concluded that Asherah, also known as "The Lion Lady" and "The Queen of Heaven" is a key figure. A lady between two lions is depicted on a ceremonial object used to offer sacrifices of food or drink, or burn incense, at one shrine, and the Arad shrine housed a small statue of a lion.
The cannabis at the shrine was likely imported as hashish, possibly via the same trade expeditions as frankincense, which Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty in Egypt recorded in the 15th century BCE. Either could have been among the spices the Queen of Sheba brought to King Solomon. Recently, cannabinoid researcher Dr. Esther Shohami and others discovered that burning frankincense has antidepressant effects.
Jeremiah 6:20 says, "For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba, and the kaneh bosm from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, and your sacrifices are not pleasing to Me.” In Jeremiah 44, the women tell the prophet they will continue to burn incense to the Queen of Heaven.
|The Temple of Artemis, as it stood in 350 BCE|
The temple was destroyed in 356 BCE by a man named Herostratus in an act of arson, a crime considered so heinous it prompted the creation of an ineffective damnatio memoriae law forbidding anyone to mention his name, and ultimately making "Herostratus" a metonym for someone who commits a crime in order to become famous. According to legend, the fire that destroyed the temple was set on the day Alexander the Great was born, 21 July 356 BC. It was rebuilt, but by 401 AD it again had been ruined or destroyed.
|Aphrodite, the Greek version of Astarte,|
defaced by a Christian cross.
National Archaeology Museum in Athens.
Emperor Nero took works from the Temple “on loan” and the sanctuary was sacked in 268 A.D. by the Goths. Tradition has it that the archbishop of Constantinople encouraged the local mob to destroy the building in 401, and some of the columns of the temple were reused in building Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Helene Perdicoyianni-Paleologou). St. Augustine encouraged his congregation in Carthage to smash all symbols of paganism as a proclamation from God.
Little by little, we piece together our ancient herstory, how it embraced cannabis, and how it was repressed.
*Eliza Guerra-Doce wrote: Hemp is a dioecious plant, that is, male and female flowers are found in different plants. The main psychoactive compound is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which occurs most abundantly in the female plants (Schultes and Hofmann 1980). The presence of burnt seeds in Pazyryk proves that the Scythians were aware of this, and consequently, they burnt female plants. In 1993, a similar kurgan containing the preserved body of a young woman, known as the Siberian Ice Maiden, was discovered on the Ukok Plateau in the Altai Mountains, and more specifically in “The Pasture of Heaven,” an area used as a burial ground for many centuries. Among the grave goods of this Scythian lady, a small stone dish with burnt seeds was found, but in this case they turned out to be coriander. This is a strong-smelling plant that was probably burnt to cover odors (Polosmak and O’Rear 1994).
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