Did you know Israel is a world leader in medical cannabis research? As it turns out Delta 9-THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, was isolated for the first time in 1964, by Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. They analyzed the residue from an ancient holy balm (Shemen Afarshimon) and spiced incense (Ha Ketoret), used in the Holy of Holies (Beit HaMikdash), by the “Most High Priest” when approaching the Ark of the Covenant. This discovery validates most biblical authorities who identify “kaneh bosem,” as one of sacred herbs Moses used to make this holy balm and incense. Who knew cannabis had such rich cultural and religious roots?
“Kaneh bosom” is first mentioned in the Hebrew Old Testament, when in Exodus 30:22-33, Moses is told by God (YHWH) to anoint the main tent (tabernacle) with a blend of oils, containing “kaneh bosem” (cannabis), later mistranslated as calamus in the Greek version. This plant-based balm (Shemen Afarshimon) would forevermore designate holy things from ordinary things.
The original 4 ingredients were to be myrrh, cinnamon, kaneh-bosem, cassia and olive oil; much later another version included 11 spices. This formula was considered so sacred, that if anyone misused it they would be driven away or possibly killed. The fragrance of this ancient incense (Ha Ketoret) was said to be so powerful that as it was being prepared, one could smell it as far away as Jericho, 12 miles to the north of Qumran. It appears these ancient shaman priests preferred kind skunk bud in their mix.
Close inspection of the Old Testament tells us God (YHWH), “came to Moses out of the midst of the cloud” and this cloud came from smoke produced by the ritual burning of incense (Ha Ketoret). Truth is Moses wasn’t the only one to practice capturing the smoke of medicinal herbs in a tent. The ancient Scythians, Semites and Israelites were all in close association, adapting many cultural similarities. Many cultures report conjuring intuitive visions and divine revelations from sacred plants, whether applied topically, inhaled or ingested.
Many experts agree plants play a vital role in the development of medicine and the awakening of consciousness. How ancient people shared these higher cognitive experiences and whether plants acted as catalysts for authentic spiritual awakening or genuine creative insights are not for us to judge, we simply lack sufficient information.
However, leading researchers are discovering the inter-relationship between our DNA molecules and the immediate environment, from subtle energy fields and nutrients, to the influence of the plant kingdom, are considerably deeper than we first suspected.
Bottom line is we still evolve and awaken in relation to our direct experience with this same environment. What if it turns out that, “setting apart,” the sacred and holy things from the ordinary, is the major key to unlocking our deeper, more personal spiritual evolution? You can decide that for yourself, all I can say for sure is, at least now we know why they called them “Most High Priest!”
~ The Botanical Guru