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July 2019

Digging Up Drugs

Digging Up Drugs From Past

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Ironically, dealing with drugs is not a modern issue. Drug abuse has been prevalent since ancient times. There are fascinating accounts of early uses (and abuses) of recreational drugs and other natural stimulants from Mesopotamian civilizations (like Babylonian, Sumerian), Mayan periods, from Chinese history, and a plethora of details from Greek and Roman empires. Many well-known historical figures from the past have also been known as ‘drug abusers’.

Drugs have been a big thing since early recorded history and historical evidence, uncovered in last few decades, have shed further light on the extensive social use of opium, coca leaves, psilocybin (shrooms), cannabis and harmala. Sadly, some of these are significant concerns in many countries to this day, despite ‘continuous efforts’ to limit it.

We all know about our own ‘war on drugs’ officially initiated by Richard Nixon in 1971; operations spanning over decades, fought across multiple continents, with and against other authorities in multiple countries, billions spent and a huge number of lives lost. This ‘war on drugs’, which started much earlier than that famous Nixon press-conference, has been an ongoing thing. With so much literature, research papers and investigative pieces, on the subject available online, today, we are not going to ponder much on the recent history in the fight against drug addiction and drug abuse. But we are turning back the clock, to introduce you with many amazing details from ancient times. We are digging up drugs from the Past!

Since the dawn of time, it seems people have been wanting to get high and several research studies and findings support this assertion. Drug abuse was prevalent in almost all ancient civilizations, it dates back to as old as time, and as food and drinks. Early painting and artwork discovered by archeologists, along with fossils of psychoactive plants, found around the world, provide great historical evidence of this drug addiction in antiquity.

Shrooms and Ancient Religions

Artworks unearthed in Africa circa 8,000 BC are the earliest known evidence of ‘magic mushrooms’ or psilocybin. It is believed that these hallucinogenic shrooms were quite popular in the past as well.  These mushrooms were regarded holy in Mayan religion and had a substantial cultural role. Mayan religion associated hallucinations with rituals and sacrifice of the Underworld.

Apart from Mayans, Shamans were also fans of shrooms as they believed their state of mind after having shrooms, connected them to the spirits. There is a whole chunk of historians who are convinced that we have these mushrooms today all thanks to the Shamans and several cultural shifts over the later centuries.

Tobacco As The career Of Prayers

South America is said to be the first place where smoking pipes originated but nicotine has been used since ancient Egyptian times. Several Egyptian mummies are found with traces of nicotine and cocaine which was derived from coca leaves.

Native Americans are known for their use of tobacco. They believed that the smoke from tobacco held the power to carry their prayers to gods. They smoked it to transport their prayers (convenient!). The Native Americans were smoking it even before people of the Old World got to know about it and it became a household name in Europe.

Opium and Alexander the Great

In 3,400 BC, Sumerians were the first to cultivate opium. However, quite a few other ancient civilizations used it, too. It was primarily used for medicinal purposes the same as today and was then abused by some, again the same as today.

There is evidence of Chinese and Romans who used it for recreational purposes. Pipes were invented later and before the advent of pipes, it was taken orally. Soon, it was realized by people from ancient times that the effects of opium are far greater and far worst when they smoke it.

This particular drug has always had the kind of power that can drive civilizations livid. During the 19th century, British and Chinese even fought ‘the opium wars’. The influence of opium over the geopolitics and global political economy was maddening even back then.

Look who made it here, Alexander the Great, surprised? Well, this noble guy was a drunkard, to begin with. He didn’t shy away from opium and introduced the drug quite happily to Persians and Indians.

Opium and Marcus Aurelius

One of the greatest Roman Emperors was a lover of opium. He was a stoic, a philosopher who explains his love for the drug. The facts indicate he needed the drug due to some medical condition and took it every night before bed.

Opium was only available to the higher ranks in the society back then and since Marcus Aurelius was an Emperor, he didn’t have any difficulties.

Herbs and Pot in Pyramid of Ramesses 3

Egyptians were quite familiar with smoking pot but they weren’t restricted to it. Marijuana was also popular as many pharaohs were accustomed to it.

Ramesses III was one of them because signs of pot have been discovered inside his tomb. It is believed that the generation of Ramesses III discovered the medical advantages of cannabis and used it effectively for sore eyes.

Ancient nations were very fond and respectable of magic and prophecies. The ones who claimed to be prophets of sorts were highly honored by the people. However, the evidence shows foulness and cheating, even in antiquity, as most of these respected men were stoned. The oracles sold were drug-induced mirages. The drugs were all herbal mostly.

Marijuana In China

In China, around 2700 BC, cannabis was first used as a recreational drug but other herbs have been there for more time such as Blue Lotus. The effects of Blue Lotus are even found in The Odyssey by Homer where he described it as, “robbing of any willpower”.

Medical marijuana was first used in China under Emperor Shennong around 2700 BC. He encouraged farmers to grow cannabis for industrial purposes. It was used to combat rheumatism and gout. His name, without a surprise, is translated as ‘Divine Farmer’. However, he is more like a mythical creature since his presence hasn’t been 100% confirmed.

Conclusion

The discoveries and evidence from the past, show that it is innate human nature to find escape in hallucinogens and physic drugs. Drug abuse has been a part of most of our history, some did it under the flag of religion while others called it magic.

Whatever they named it, the fact remains that the same drug abuse has been prevalent since ancient civilizations.

Aliens As Humans

Aliens As Humans; Unfolding A Brazilian Religion

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Will you believe if we tell you aliens are for real and not only for real, they are even living among us on earth? It is absurd if you think about it scientifically but will it be still unbelievable if one’s religion has faith in it?

Religions have long been known to make people believe in things that they may not even consider if not for religion. This even created the bloodiest conflicts of history. One’s beliefs are the most beloved possession for them but every religion’s followers seem bloodthirsty of other religions. Same is happening with the members of Sunrise Valley in Brazil.

There is a religion whose followers believe themselves to be the incarnations of extraterrestrial beings.

Almost an hour outside Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, lies a Valley of the Dawn also called Sunrise Valley. The people living here are following a relatively new religion. The valley was established in 1959. Its founder was a mother of four children, Neiva Chaves Zelaya who is now known as Aunt Neiva.

The beginning

She worked as a truck driver when Brasilia was under construction until suddenly she started experiencing physic episodes. In the beginning, she had no idea what is happening to her but later she realized (how factors unknown) that these physic episodes are actually visits from spirits of aliens.

She declared later that she was guided by “Father White Arrow”, whose original name is Pai Seta Branca. There are many statues of Father White Arrow now in the Valley and he is believed to be a spirit emissary. His statues resemble with native South Americans.

The Core Belief

According to this religion, missionaries from outside Earth colonized our planet almost 32,000 years ago. They were directed by Pai Seta Branca. The religion challenges the very concept of human evolution by crediting these early aliens for our evolution from earlier species to Homo sapiens.

Pyramids of Egypt, stone megaliths of Easter Island, and technological constructions of Machu Picchu are some of the places or sites, which the members of Valley believe were built by their great extraterrestrial beings.

This religion believes in atoning the karmic debts from past lives through rituals. The believers are convinced that they will be able to manipulate space and time by the advent of the Third Millennium.

How it is Received

It is one of the fastest-growing religions in Brazil as it claimed to have 800,000 followers and 600 temples around the globe. Despite the fact that it is gaining followers throughout the world, it has not been received enthusiastically (just like any other new religion). The older and more powerful religions in Brazil, with Christianity in the lead, denounce it and label it as a cult. It is not new for whenever there has been a new system of beliefs or even a deviation from the prominent religions, the followers have given a tough time. The evangelicals are trying their best for conversions of the members of Valley.

Religion and Intolerance

Basically religious intolerance sprouts from religious manipulation. For religiously intolerant people beliefs of others are not important. They see beliefs other than theirs as false, blasphemous, offensive, and in some extreme cases worthy of incarceration.

It can be cruel and history is full of murders on this basis. It can even affect the society to a larger extent than being an individual matter. Intolerance has been fed to the masses by the system. They have used manipulation as a tool for many reasons, such as:

  • Desire to control
  • Power
  • Money
  • Silence opposition

However, the followers of Valley are paying no heed to any of this and they are continuously attempting to recruit more people. Valley members refer to themselves as mediums as they consider they are the newest form of incarnation; they call themselves Jaguars.

Some Interesting Things to Know

Flying saucers are a mystery to many of us but these people, they believe in flying saucers. This religion is a mixture of several practices from Afro-Brazilian religions, syncretism, mysticism, Christianity, ancient Egyptian beliefs and Spiritism.

Upon entering Sunrise Valley, the first impression feels like entering into some parallel world. Members can be seen wearing vibrant costumes. It gives away the effect of a sorcery world. You may be taken aback if you see a lady in green robes with stars sparkling on her outfit but here it is quite normal.

Roman saints, Indian chiefs, Afro-Brazilian orixas, Roman legionnaires, and several others were also re-casted as avatars if this new alien religion is considered. It dissolves the limits of nation, race, time, and place. If this religion is to be believed, then individual adherents are nothing and this whole world is a part of some cosmic drama.

End Note

Well, many are taking this religion as a threat because it negates what they have known and believed all their life. It is not about the contradictions of this new fait with existing religions and science, it is more about acceptance and allowing the freedom to choose.

Fortune Hunters

Damsels As Fortune Hunters Who Distressed The Governments

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What do you imagine when you hear ‘pirates’? One-eyed leather masked, bandanna wearing, thickly kohl eyes, beads around the neck, and probably a mustache and a beard bearing man, right? Now, this piece of writing is especially for you it will change your perspective and the next time you’ll hear someone say ‘pirate’ you may be able to take it as a gender-neutral term (which it is!).

Lioness of Brittany

In the midst of French and English war which took 100 years to end, there was a man named Olivier III de Clisson. He had a wife and five children, a happy family. He supported Edward 3 of England in the war. It was considered an act of treason by some and he was tried in the court by Philip VI of England and other noblemen.

Although he switched sides in 1342 and fought with France to defend Brittany the suspicions about his loyalty never faded. Olivier III de Clisson was found guilty and was hung, his head was chopped off to display at the post in order to make sure people see and learn. Charles de Blois was the one who fired up this trial even when Clisson fought by his side.

This is, however, not his story. This is a story of his wife Jeanne de Clisson, known as the Lioness of Brittany. When news of her husband’s execution reached Jeanne she was enraged and sworn revenge against both Charles de Blois and King Philip.

Full of vengeance, Jeanne raised a small army of men loyal to her. She funded her cause by selling off land remained to her after her husband. Her first attack was planned against the pro-French forces in Brittany. Then, when land became hostile for her she bought three warships and took to sea.

She was not only an enraged widow, she was a mastermind who knew how to play with the mind. She painted her warships black and their sails red. It worked well to intimidate her enemies. Due to the color, her warships are known as the ‘black feet’ in history.

She patrolled the English Channel hunting for a French ship. Soon she became the symbol of terror for French ships. Her wrath was gigantic against the ships owned by King Phillip and other French nobles. She was violent in her assault and her men were equally brutal.

When any French ship was captured, the entire crew was massacred. Her army used to spare one or two men from the entire crew only to carry the news that she has been successful again.

She fought for thirteen years and became a known name in the history of pirates. Finally, after thirteen years of battling, she found love again, remarried and embrace a quiet and peaceful life.

The Terror Of South China

It is a tale of a girl who with her courage and strength rose from rags to riches. This is not just a story of a girl who became rich, this story teaches about empowerment that comes from within. Ching Shih born in the Chinese province, Guangdong. She was not born with a silver spoon and was bound in circumstances that forced her to choose prostitution as a profession.

In 1801 pirate Zhèng Yi fell in love with her. Now, there are several theories about how they met but in the end, they got married eventually. Zhèng Yi had a fleet known as ‘red flag fleet’ which became the dynasty of Ching Shih. Their courtship was short and ended with the death of Zhèng Yi after six years only.

Ching Shih was involved in the matters of business and finance from the beginning which was highly uncommon back in those times. The fleet grew from 200 ships to 600 plus ships in six years and there were 50 to 70 thousand pirates in the fleet.

After her husband died, she had only two choices; to take charge or to go back to prostitution. She chose the first one and stayed on board. She became one of the most rigid pirate lords and launched several taxes and laws for her men. Every loot had to be registered before distribution. The ship from the fleet which looted would keep 20% and the rest would be added in the collective fund.

She was extremely strict when it came to unfaithfulness and rape. These two crimes had no tolerance and a pirate was executed if guilty. However, they were allowed to marry female captives. Apart from the ones which were married to pirates, other female captives were released unscathed.

Her fleet was color-coded; the first ship always had red flag then there were yellow, green, black, blue, and white (in no particular order). This color-coded fleet became popular for the severity of laws it had for its own pirates. Disloyal and other criminals would face violent punishments such as quartering and flogging.

According to some, she was a smuggler of opium while others stress that she restricted herself to looting, taxing the coastal villagers, and robbing. She became undefeatable, from British to Portuguese to Chinese all naval ships lost to the red flag fleet. She was known as the ‘terror of South China’.

Her reign over the sea became too much to bear for Chinese authorities and they offered amnesty to the pirates only in hopes to free the sea from Ching Shih. However, the second in command of red flag fleet, Chang Pao was met with a deadlock in conversation with an official over the reserves of loot. The female terror once more took charge and struck a successful deal, she was allowed to keep all her loot.

The Chinese government wanted to pirate to kneel down in front of the officials but to make Ching Shih kneel down an official had to witness the marriage of Ching Shih and Chang Pao. The marriage also officially ended her career and she resorts to a calmer life as an owner of a gambling house.

Ancient World

Magic and Gender Roles in Ancient World

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For most of us, when we hear the word ‘magic’ we think of sparkling wands and rabbits coming out of hats. In reality, however, these are mere tricks used to entertain people. Magic is not something that people practice to entertain nor is it a stunt that the public would laugh at or enjoy.

The word ‘magique’ crept into English dictionary from French in the late 1300s. Majority of the definitions of this practice revolve around a single notion that it uses natural forces that are hidden otherwise.

Dark magic was practiced even in the ancient times but truth and lies are often mingled when it comes to history. It is difficult to unravel the complete truth since so much time has passed and the intentional secrecy around some facts makes it even tougher.

Historians from the 19th and 20th century were glorifying the Greeks and Romans so much that they deliberately kept their ugly truths very low-key. Anything contrasting their idealized view of these two civilizations was very efficiently brushed under the carpet.

One of the practices by Romans and Greeks that were intentionally never openly talked about was magic. The practice was widespread in the ancient Mediterranean but it was smartly skipped out. Today, however despite the forced discreetness, it is a legitimate area of study. The study of ancient magic practice reveals deep and dark secrets related to culture and social practices woven into ancient belief systems.

Magic was treated exactly in the same way as it is today; it was banned, punished, and was considered a taboo, even in ancient times, but it thrived no matter what! Historic findings show that the government or authorities ignored the power it held back then (despite condemning it).

 

Role of Women

 

Since women were destined to have a passive role in these ancient civilizations; there is far fewer evidence of them actively pursuing enchantments. Lack of evidence for women brought men into the limelight and it became one of the major reasons that magic has been hushed out by historians.

Roman and Greek men are glorified so much for their athletics and power games that there was no way for historians to think of them succumbing to magic. Men from both civilizations were depicted as warriors and knights in shiny armors which took away the realness from them to some extent.

 

Prevalence of Violence

 

Another noticeable thing in these spells is the language used. The spells are brutal and vehement and lack any sense of remorse. In the modern world, the words used are nightmarish, for instance, the spell inscribed on the tablet found with Louvre-doll.

It reads:

“Lead Ptolemais, whom Aias bore, the daughter of Horigenes, to me. Prevent her from eating and drinking until she comes to me, Sarapammon, whom Area bore, and do not allow her to have experience with another man, except me alone. Drag her by her hair, by her guts, until she does not stand aloof from me … and until I hold her obedient for the whole time of my life, loving me, desiring me, and telling me what she is thinking.”

There is hardly an indication of any emotion which can be related to love in such spells. These spells sound like seeking control and domination rather than asking for love. This points out towards the sexuality and gender roles in ancient times.
Since the subjects are mostly females hence, no repentance showed. It clearly is evident that men seeking women to show power and strength. It also shows that females were considered as the objects or possessions and were tried to be persuaded without consent (a tradition that never died).

 

Louvre-Doll

 

The spells which involve doll-making were also popular. These dolls depicted the object of desire which in most of the cases were women (being treated as objects since centuries) who might be unaware or resistant to their admirers. Literature has been found which have instructions on how to make enchanted dolls, what should be said over it, and where and how it should be deposited.

It is a form of sympathetic magic which is an enchantment operating on the lines of ‘like effects like’. When a doll is used in sympathetic magic, spell-caster believes that whatever has been done to the doll physically or psychically, affects the human it is representing in the same way.

The most notorious and well-preserved voodoo doll in antiquity is “Louvre-doll” dating back to 4th century AD. This doll is a female in kneeling position, hand and legs bound, and pierced with thirteen needles. It is made up of unbaked clay and was found in Egypt in a terracotta jar.

This figurine was found, accompanying a spell, inscribed on the lead tablet. The spell refers to a woman named Ptolemais and the one, who cast the spell or paid for it, is referred to as Sarapammon. The spell has been mentioned already and it is enough to get an idea about what value was given to women.

The enchanted text merely shows how badly sarapammon wanted Ptolemais without even considering once about her choices that he was even willing to cause her pain. Like several other discoveries, the ones related to magic also depicts the sad state of women in antiquity.

 

Homosexuality

 

There are two spells in Greek Magical Papyri which relate to the female same-sex desire. One spell dates back to second century AD called the gods Anubis and Hermes to bind Serapis (name of a woman) to Herais (name of another woman, who cast the spell).

The second spell, dated to third or fourth century AD, is again aggressively stating:

“Burn, set on fire, inflame her soul, heart, liver, spirit with love for Sophia, whom Isara bore, she, surrendered like a slave, giving herself and all her possessions to her, because this is the will and command of the great god.”
The same-sex spells cast a light on the desire among women in antiquity but there is no reference to whether these relationships were disregarded or tolerated?

The chances of it being acceptable are meek and maybe, this is the reason that magical help was taken. However, this is very less proof to know how same-sex relationships were looked at. The chauvinistic approach is loud and clear through whatever remains have been unearthed until now.

 

Most Common Magic In Past Civilizations

 

One of the most popular forms of magic were erotic spells. Yes, you read it right! One would think that those power-driven, control freak males would use magical charms to fulfill their hunger to seek greater influence but no! What they used spells for? Erotic love! And to assert their rule over the opposite gender.

There were professional magic practitioners who charged fees for their enchanted services. They used to make magical dolls, which are sometimes referred to as poppets, wrote charms, and even directed curses against love rivals.

 

Evident Male Dominance

 

Most evidence shows men as practitioners of magic and clients. Literature also shows that to practice magic one needs to be literate and women were mostly illiterate and didn’t have free access to any formal education. The sources are scarce when it comes to women in magic. Females were not allowed to roam freely or meet a lot of people which further limited their exposure to magic.

It is another example of the rigid system followed in ancient times where male dominance was applauded and females were given the passive role. Apart from the obvious gender roles many aspects of this secret enchantment business remain unearthed to date.

 

Greek Magical Papyri

 

There is a lot of archeological evidence available to attest the practice of magic in ancient times. Literature and spellbooks have been found from both Greece and
Rome. The Middle East and Egypt were not far behind, the literature dating back to ancient people from these regions, also proved the practice of magic.

There is even a collection of spells compiled from Graeco-Roman Egypt, known as the Greek Magical Papyri. The sources in this collection date back from the second century BC to fifth century AD. The large portion of this spell collection is dedicated to spells of attraction which are directed at, you guessed it!

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