Cannabis: The Philosopher’s Stone
Part 5: The Hashish Club
from Green Gold: the Tree of Life, Marijuana in Magic and Religion
by Chris Bennett, Lynn Osburn, and Judy Osburn
(published by Access Unlimited: [email protected])
- The Knights Templar and Cannabis
- Sufi Alchemists and the Grail Myth
- The Alchemist Monk Francois Rabalais
- Medieval Alchemists and Cannabis
- The Hashish Club
- The Hashish Club
European cannabis use remained quite secretive until the advent of the mid nineteenth century group, the elite “Le Club Des Haschischins,” a name inspired by the nickname given to the hashish using Isma’ilis. The club members would gather together once a month costumed with turbans and daggers. “The prince of the Assassins” would go from member to member offering a spoonful of hashish with the statement “This will be taken from your share of paradise.” This elite group included some of the most famous and creative artists and authors of that time (Dumas, Hugo, Gautier, Baudelaire, De Nerval, Balzac, etc.) and was founded by Dr. J. Moreau, an expert on the effects of hashish:
“There are two modes of existence — two modes of life — given to man,” Moreau mused. “The first one results from our communication with the external world, with the universe. The second one is but the reflection of the self and is fed from its own distinct internal sources. The dream is an in-between land where the external life ends and the internal life begins.” With the aid of hashish, he felt that anyone could enter this in-between land at will. — E. Abel, Marihuana: The first Twelve Thousand Years
The published works of the members of the Hashish club are now considered classics. They extol dignity and the freedom of the individual. Most of the members of the Hashish Club were steeped in esoteric knowledge and many of them wrote extensively about hashish. Dumas included in his Count of Monte Cristo an encounter with the hashish-eating Sinbad the sailor, whom he based on Hasan I-Sabah of the Assassins.
Club member Gerard De Nerval (1808–1855) used the word “supernaturalist” to describe what we moderns term “high” in the following excerpt reprinted in The Book of Grass:
And since you have had the prudence to cite one of the sonnets composed in the state of day-dreaming the Germans call “supernaturalist,” you must hear them all; you will find them at the end of the volume. They are hardly more obscure than the metaphysics of Hegel or the “Memorabilia” of Swedenborg, and would lose charm by being explained, if such things were possible.
De Nerval first appeared on the French literary scene with a brilliant translation of Faust. His commentary on it revealed his vast knowledge and experience with the occult. In his classic tale, Journey To The Orient, De Nerval devoted an entire chapter to hashish in the tale of Caliph Hakim, a story set in the tenth century he says was related to him by a Druze Sheik named Saide-Eshayrazy. The tale is about a powerful Moslem, Caliph Hakim, who was in the habit of visiting the city disguised as a commoner. In one of these visits he enters a cavern which is frequented by members of the Sabian faith, and is befriended by a young man, Yousouf, who introduces the reluctant Caliph to hashish, telling him: “This box contains the paradise promised by your prophet and his believers. If you weren’t so scrupulous I could soon put you into the Houris arms without making you pass over the bridge of Alsirat.”
After ingestion of the sacred paste, Caliph Hakim tells his new found friend, “Hashish renders you equal to God.” The two friends in De Nerval’s tale, were said to meet together to enjoy hashish on a number of occasions. And as Journey To The Orient tells us, their experiences included visionary dosages:
When both of them were deeply intoxicated by the hashish something strange occurred: the two friends entered into a certain communion of ideas and impressions. Yousouf imagined that his companion, kicking the earth which wasn’t worthy of his glory, soared up towards the heavens and, taking him by the hand, carried him off into space amidst the whirling stars and glittering marvels of the Milky Way. Pale but crowned by a luminous ring, Saturn increased in size as it approached them, followed by seven moons borne along in the wake of its rapid advance. Then… but who could relate what happened when they had reached this divine home of their dreams? Human language can only reveal experiences conforming to our nature, and we must bear in mind that the two friends conversed together in this celestial dream even the names by which they addressed each other were no longer names which are known on earth.
At the end of the tale, De Nerval is told by his host, Sheik Saide-Eshayrazy, that the teachings of Caliph Hakim were the foundation of the secretive sect to which he belongs, the mysterious Druzes. De Nerval’s contemporary and fellow member of the Hashish Club, Charles Baudelaire, commented on the effects of hashish:
On occasion the personality disappears. That concentration on the external, which is the hallmark of all great poets and master comedians grows and dominates your outlook. You become a wind whipped tree, regaling all nature with your organic music. Now you sweep formless into the immensity of an azure sky. — Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), Les Paradis Atificieals
We know that members of the Haschischins Club in Paris, were aware of Rabelais ’ esoteric reference to cannabis, for one of their most prominent members, Theophile Gautier (1811-1872), made cryptic references to it when describing his hashish visions: “What bizarrely contorted faces. What abdomens huge with Pantagruel ion mockeries. All the Pantagruelion dreams passed through my fantasy.” Gautier also made some very interesting comments on the effects of hashish : “I was in this blessed phase of hashish which Orientals call ‘Kief.’ I could no longer feel my body; the links between mater and spirit were broken; I moved by my will alone in an atmosphere which offered no resistance. In this way I imagine, souls behave in the world which we go after death.”
The first known historical reference to the phenomena known as the “contact high” also occurred at a meeting of the Hashish Club. The contact high is said to transpire when a person becomes high by simply being in the presence of a group of people who have consumed the herb. The Hashish Club incident took place when a woman was overcome with a peculiar feeling while serving coffee to this group of powerful personalities after they had ingested Dr. Moreau’s emerald green hashish paste. She dropped her tray of drinks, and ran out of the room. Later she was calmed by her co-workers.
Another experimenter with this mysterious herb was the Belgium poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891), who penned the following poem while under the influence of hashish :
The Time of Assassins
Oh my Good! Oh my Ideal! Atrocious fanfare which does not make me lose my balance! Fantastic prop! Hurrah for the wonderful work and the marvelous body; for this initiation! It began amidst the laughter of children and it will end there too.
This poison will remain in our veins, even when — the fanfare shifting its tone — we shall have returned to the old lack of harmony.
But now let us — so worthy of these tortures — fervently recall the superhuman promise made to our body and soul at their creation. Let us recall this promise — this madness! Elegance, Science, Violence!
To us promise was made that the Tree of Knowledge should be buried in the shade, that tyrannical respectabilities should be deported in order that our pure love should be indulged.
It began with certain aversions, and ended — we being unable to grasp eternity at the moment — with a confusion of perfumes, laughter of children, discretion of slaves, austerity of virgins, dread of earthly things and beings — holy be ye held by the memory of that evening!
It began with every sort of boorishness; it ended with angels of flame and ice. Little evening of intoxication, blessed be you! Rule and method, we are your champions!
We do not forget how last night you glorified each one of us, young and old. We have faith in your poison. We know how to sacrifice our entire life every day.
The time of Assassins is here!
The famed 19th century Russian born mystic, world traveler, feminist, Theosophical Society co-founder, and author of occult classics Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, Helena Petrova Blavatsky (1831-1891) is also reputed to have been a user of cannabis:
She [Blavatsky] wrote, sometimes under the influence of hashish, several books filled with esoteric lore, which owed a great deal to Hindu and Buddhist systems of thought, and brought to public awareness in the West such concepts as karma, prana, kundalini, yoga and reincarnation.” — Benjamin Walker, Tantrism: Its Secret Principles and Practices
A.L. Rawson, a close friend of Blavatsky for over forty years, stated concerning her relationship with cannabis:
She had tried hasheesh in Cairo with success, and she again indulged in it in this city under the care of myself and Dr. Edward Sutton Smith, who had had a large experience with the drug among his patients at Mount Lebanon, Syria. She said: “Hasheesh multiplies one’s life a thousandfold. My experiences are as real as if they were ordinary events of actual life. Ah! I have the explanation. It is a recollection of my former existences, my previous incarnations. It is a wonderful drug and it clears up profound mystery.”
Ronald K. Siegel, Ph.D. mentions other scientifically conducted 19th century experiments with hashish in his book Intoxication:
While Gautier and his literary colleagues were exploring the romances of these feelings, another small group of Frenchmen was using dosages of hashish ten times greater to follow the soul’s ecstatic journey out of the body into the spiritual world. Under the tutelage of psychopharmacologist Louis-Alphonse Cahagnet, these subjects documented visions of death and the afterlife, experiences identical to those known as “near-death experience.” The prototypical experience started with the user being pulled out of time into sacred stillness. A feeling of peace and well-being captured the soul as it separated from the body, then flung it into a bright moment of supreme happiness. Some subjects find it impossible to describe all that happens; others describe a panoramic review of their lives, encounters with departed spirits, celestial music, and profound visions and thoughts. Geometrically sculpted images introduce themes of cosmic importance. The forms parade across the mind’s eye so fast that the cherubs melt into gargoyles, then a crypt of one’s own body. The blue geometric forms become towering cathedrals filled with the white light of the Universal Being. The visions evaporated.
A similar out-of-body account from around the same period is given by a Lord Dunsany:
It was about the time that I got the hashish from the gypsy, who had a quantity he did not want. It takes one literally out of oneself. It is like wings. You swoop over distant countries and into other worlds. Once I found out the secret of the universe. I have forgotten what it was, but I know that the Creator does not take Creation seriously, for I remember he sat in Space with all His work in front of him and laughed. I have seen incredible things in fearful worlds. As it is your imagination that takes you there, so it is only by your imagination can you get back. Once out in the aether I met a battered, prowling spirit, that had belonged to a man whom drugs had killed a hundred years ago; and he led me into a region that I had never imagined; and we parted in anger beyond the Pleiades, and I could not imagine my way back. And I met a huge gray shape that was the spirit of some great people, perhaps of a whole star, and I besought it to show me the way home, and it halted beside me like a sudden wind and pointed, and, speaking quite softly, asked me if I discerned a certain tiny light, and I saw a far star faintly, and then it said to me, “That is the Solar System,” and strode tremendously on. And somehow I imagined my way back, and only just in time, for my body was already stiffening in a chair in my room; and the fire had gone out and everything was cold, and I had to move each finger one by one, and there were pins and needles in them, and dreadful pains in the nails, which began to thaw; and at last I could move one arm, and reached a bell, and for a long time no one came because everyone was in bed. But at last a man appeared, and that got a doctor; and he said it was hashish poisoning, but it would have been all right if I hadn’t met that battered prowling spirit.
Dusany’s experience of seeing the Creator laughing over Creation is somewhat echoed in the following comments made by another Englishman, Aleister Crowley , who was also known to experiment with visionary doses of hashish :
If creation did possess an aim, (it does not) it were only to make hash of that most “high” and that most holy game, Shemhamphorash! — Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies (1913)
British mountain climber, magician and cabalist, Aleister Crowley , (1875-1947), was influenced by the experiences recorded in the writings that came out of Paris’s Hashish Club, as well as those of Rabelais . In fact Crowley paid the highest homage to Rabelais, taking his magical word, “Thelema,” and law, “Do as thou wilt,” from Rabelais’ Gargantua. Crowley ’s writings show he was also more than familiar with the powerful mystic properties available in hemp :
Through the ages we found this one constant story. Stripped of its local chronological accidents, it usually came to this — the writer would tell of a young man, a seeker after hidden Wisdom, who, in one circumstance or another, meets an adept; who, after sundry ordeals, obtains from the said adept, for good or ill, a certain mysterious drug or potion, with the result (at least) of opening the gate of the other world. This potion was identified with the Elixir Vitae of the physical Alchemists, or one of their “tinctures” most likely the “white tincture” which transforms the base metal (normal perception of life) to silver (poetic conception). — A. Crowley, “Psychology of Hashish”
Crowley felt he had found this substance in hashish, and went on to state in “The Psychology of Hashish:”
…if not the Tree of Life, at least of that other Tree, double and sinister and deadly…. Nay! for I am of the serpent’s party; Knowledge is good, be the price what it may. Such little fruit, then, as I may have culled from her autumnal breast (mere unripe berries, I confess!) I hasten to offer to my friends. And lest the austerity of such a goddess be profaned by the least vestige of adornment I make haste to divest myself of whatever gold or jewelry of speech I may possess, to advance, my left breast bare, without timidity or rashness, into her temple, my hoped reward the lamb’s skin of a clean heart, the badge of simple truthfulness and apron of Innocence. In order to keep this paper within limits, I may premise that the preparation and properties of Cannabis indica can be studied in the proper pharmaceutical treatises, though, as this drug is more potent psychologically than physically, all strictly medical accounts of it, so far as I am aware, have been hitherto both meager and misleading. Deeper and clearer is the information to be gained from the brilliant studies by Baudelaire , unsurpassed for insight and impartiality, and Ludlow, tainted by admiration of de Quincey and the sentimentalists…. This was my hypothesis: Perhaps hashish is the drug which “loosens the girders of the soul,” but is in itself neither good nor bad. Perhaps, as Baudelaire thinks, “it merely exaggerates and distorts the natural man and his mood of the moment.” The whole of Ludlow’s wonderful introspection seemed to me to fortify this suggestion. Well, then, let me see whether by first exalting myself mystically and continuing my invocations while the drug dissolved the matrix of my diamond Soul, that diamond might not manifest limpid and sparkling, a radiance “not of the Sun, nor the Moon, nor the Stars;” and then, of course, I remembered that this ceremonial intoxication constitutes the supreme ritual of all religions. — A. Crowley, “The Psychology of Hashish”
Crowley had what he felt was his most transformational experience while under the influences of hashish. He referred to this alternately as the “Vision of the Star Sponge” and the “Vision of Pasequay.” In the vision Crowley became a star in space amidst other stars, and it is from this vision that he took as one of his most famous maxims “Every man and woman is a star.”
For a period of about thirty years after “The Psychology of Hashish” there were only a few scattered references to hashish in Crowley ’s writings, but he often referred readers to that 1907 essay. In 1920 he commented, “The action of hashish is as varied as life itself and seems to be determined almost entirely by the will or mood of the ‘assassin,’ and that within the hedges of his mental and moral form. I can get fantastic visions, or power of mind-analysis, or spiritual exaltation, or sexual excitement of various kinds, or ravenous hunger, or vigor of imagination, whichever I please, absolutely at will, on a minute dose of the Parke-Davis extract. This is simply because I have discovered the theory and perfected the practice of the instrument.”
Crowley initiate d famed science fiction writer H.G. Wells into the mysteries of hashish , and philosopher and psychedelic pioneer Aldous Huxley into the visionary experience of peyote in a Berlin hotel room.
Most, although not all, Western occultists who have taken a favorable attitude towards the use of consciousness-altering drugs have been influenced by Aleister Crowley. Crowley’s favorite hallucinogen was mescal, which he claimed to have introduced to Europe; certainly he included it amongst the ingredients of the ‘loving cup’ he administered to the participants in the ‘Rites of Eleusis’ which he celebrated in Edwardian London, while one of Crowley ’s former disciples — almost certainly the only man who had both played first-class Country Cricket and evoked the god Thoth-Hermes to visible appearance — told me that, in pre-Hitler Berlin, Crowley gave mescal to amongst others, the youthful Aldous Huxley. There is no record of Crowley ever having used Amanita muscaria , fly agaric, but there is some slight evidence that he may have known of its consciousness-altering properties. The evidence in question is one of Crowley ’s paintings, used as the frontispiece of Vol. III, of his magazine The Equinox. In the background of the painting is portrayed an ecstatic woman dancer; in the foreground stands a dead tree, from a branch of which a corpse is suspended by the neck — a common symbol of the transition from one state of conscious to another. From behind the tree peers a grinning nature spirit, standing guard over what are quite clearly both the common and the rarer gold varieties of Amanita. The spirit has been given the features of C.G. Jones, a chemist and student of pharmacology who introduced Crowley to the Golden Dawn. It seems at least possible that the implication of this is that Jones had known of the properties of Amanita and had introduced Crowley to them. Unfortunately there are no extant records of Crowley’s drug experiments during the years 1898 to 1911, when the two men were closely associated. If Jones had been a participant in these experiments, as was, quite certainly, Alan Bennett of the golden Dawn, it is possible that his curiosity concerning hallucinogens had been aroused by his reading of alchemical and magical literature, of which he was a dedicated student — there are passages in such works as The Magus (1801) and Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum (1652) which I think refer to processes designed to extract hallucinogens from plant and animal substances. — Francis King, The Origins of Tantra, Drugs and Western Occultism
It was not until the late nineteen thirties and the completion of his books The Book of Wisdom or Folly and The Book of Thoth – the Tarot of the Egyptian’s, that Crowley again wrote at length on hashish. A piece entitled “De Herbo Sanctisimo Aribico, The Most Holy Grass of the Arabs,” appears in both these books. In The Book of Thoth this poetic and cabalistic essay appears on page 123 (there is a Cabalistic joke there).
The Kabala , also called the Qabala and Cabala , is a complicated esoteric Judaic book of symbolism dealing with the creation and evolution of humanity. The Kabalists believed they were the holders of knowledge that explained spirit’s descent and involution into matter, and subsequently it’s key for evolution and release. For its basis the Kabala has a symbol called “the tree of life,” consisting of ten circles referred to as the ten Sephiroth. (One of the sephiroth, knowledge , is the invisible sephirah and is not pictured in diagrams.) The Sephiroth are said to represent objective emanations of God and points for the aspirant to aim for. They are connected by 22 paths that are the subjective connections between the Sephiroth. These paths refer to the states of mind that connect the Sephiroth. Everything in creation is thought to be emanations from the ten different Sephiroth. Each Sephiroth has a color, planet, metal, perfume, plant, etc., in the language of the Cabala a word describing any emanation from a single sephiroth, can be exchanged with another word to hide the meaning from the uninitiated, an adept must acquire the ability to break this code of classifications to understand the hidden meaning of the text. A single word in a Cabalistic document can tell a whole story. In an article that originally appeared in the July, 1981, issue of High Times, “Cabala : Tasting the Forbidden Fruit of the Tree of Life,” author Robert Anton Wilson comments on the similarities between cannabis and the cabalistic method of thought:
“Cabala , like dope, is a deliberate attempt to overthrow the linear left brain and allow the contents of the holistic right brain to flood the field of consciousness. When you are walking down the street and every license plate seem part of a continuous message — one endless narrative — you are thinking like a very advanced theoretical Cabalist. (Or else you are stoned out of your gourd.)”
In the paragraph directly above “De Herbo Sanctisimo Aribico, The Most Holy Grass of the Arabs” in The Book of Thoth by Crowley, there is an anagram, Alcofribas Nasier, which rewritten spells Francois Rabelais . The following piece of esoterica, which we have taken from the beginning of this classic occult essay is steeped in the language of the Cabala.
Recall, O my Son, the Fable of the Hebrews, which they brought from the city Babylon, how Nebuchadnezzar the great king, being afflicted in Spirit, did depart from among men for seven years space, eating grass as doth an Ox. Now this Ox is the letter Aleph, and is that Atu of Thoth whose number is Zero, and whose Name is Maat, Truth or Maut, the Vulture, the All-Mother, being an image of our lady Nuit, but also it is called the fool, who is Parsifal “der reine Thor,” and so refereth to him that walketh in the way of the Tao. Also he is Harpocrates, the child Horus walking upon the Lion and the Dragon; that is, he is in unity with his own secret nature. O my Son, yester Eve came the Spirit upon me that I also should eat the Grass of the Arabians, and by the virtue of the Bewitchment thereof behold that which might be appointed for the Enlightenment of mine Eyes. Now then of this may I not speak, seeing that it involveth the Mystery of the Transcending of Time, so that in One hour of our Terrestrial Measure did I gather the Harvest of an Aeon, and in ten lives I could not declare it.…A man must first be an Initiate , and established in our Law, before he may use this method. For it is an Implication of our Secret Enlightenment, concerning the Universe and how its Nature is utterly Perfection. — A. Crowley, “On the Most Holy Grass of the Arabs.”
Crowley stated in the above paragraph, “a man must first be an Initiate , and established in our Law, before he may use this method.” Crowley is here referring to initiation into the A\A\, a secret group whose members seem to have a symbiotic relationship with the more famous “Order Templar Orientis,” of which he was appointed sovereign head of all English speaking Order activities upon his initiation in 1912, and then worldwide Frater Superior in 1922. The OTO and the A\A\ claim to be in possession of secret knowledge dating back to the time of the medieval Templar Knights, who like Francois Rabelais , were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. It has also been stated in official OTO documents either written by, or under the supervision of Crowley , that the OTO was founded by Mansur El Hallaj, a medieval Sufi Saint. The secrets held by the OTO are of such importance, it is said that new members being initiate d into the group have a knife placed to their throats with a dire warning regarding the revealing of them.
Kenneth Grant, one of Crowley ’s successors in the OTO stated in his book The Magical Revival that Crowley identified the heart of his magical current with one particular Star. In Occult tradition, this is “the sun behind the sun,” the hidden God, the star Sirius. The same star that has been tied to the Egyptian, African, and Zoroastrian cannabis traditions. (Interestingly the modern ‘high’ occultist, Robert Anton Wilson, has also pointed to the star Sirius as the source of his inspiration.)
Further cryptic references to cannabis can be found in Crowley ‘s “Liber VII, The Book of Lapis Lazuli.” Crowley wrote that this inspired work was “…the Birth Words of a Master of the Temple.” In chapter two of “The Book of Lapis Lazuli,” Crowley wrote: I am Gargantuan great; yon galaxy is but the smoke-ring of mine incense; Burn Thou Strange herbs, O God!
The strong influence of Rabelais writings and philosophy on Crowley ‘s work has already been discussed and considering the name of the giant Pantagruel ’s father was Gargantua, which in turn is the root word for Gargantuan, Crowley ’s use of the word is obviously done in tribute to the great Pantagruelionist. Crowley stated about “Liber VII, The Book of Lapis Lazuli” that the use of the Roman numeral VII in the title “Refers to the 7 chapters and to the fact that the number 7 is peculiarly suitable to the subject of the Book.” He begins chapter VII of the said book with:
By the burning of the incense was the Word revealed, and by the distant drug.
O meal and honey and Oil! O beautiful flag of the moon, that she hangs out in the center of bliss!
These loosen the swathings of the corpse; these unbind the feet of Osiris, so that the flaming God may rage through the firmament with his fantastic spear.
One comes to understand from the above passage and Crowley ’s statement: “This was my hypothesis: perhaps hashish is the drug which ‘loosens the girders of the soul…’” along with his use of the term Gargantuan, that the incense he referred to was a preparation of hemp.
The Sufi Attar’s cryptic style in the “Conference of Birds” is said to have inspired the “Green Language,” a cryptic code used in a number of alchemical writings. Not surprisingly Fulcanelli, a man considered by some to be the last of the master Alchemists, referred to the European Alchemists as “Street-Arabs,” and he used the Green Language in his writings.
Aleister Crowley had a deep interest in both alchemy and Arabian thought. Compare this cryptic excerpt from his essay The Psychology of Hashish : “harnessing to our triumphal car the white eagle and the Green Lion we voyage at our ease upon the Path of the Chameleon,” with the following statement by Fulcanelli: “it is called the philosopher’s egg and the green lion.” Fulcanelli quotes the fifthteenth century alchemist, Sir George Ripley: “The Philosophers call it the Green Lion. It is the medium or means of joining the tinctures between the sun and moon.” Fulcanelli also calls this same substance green vitriol, Herb of Saturn, and the Vegetable Stone and quotes Arnold of Villanova to explain the reason for so many names: “Our waters take the name of the leaves of all trees, of the trees themselves, and of everything green in color, in order to mislead the foolish.” An early 15th century manuscript Le Tres Precieux don de Dieu, shows “a glass matrass, half filed with green liquid, and adds that the whole art is based on the acquisition of this single green lion and that its very name indicates its colour.” Remember Fulcanelli was familiar with Rabelais’ cabalistic style, and probably knew his references were to hemp .
According to legend Fulcanelli gave his alchemical manuscript to his apprentice, Canseliet, before disappearing to complete the final stages of the “great work,” meaning he was on the verge of achieving the Philosopher’s Stone. Canseliet is said to have had it published as his master requested, and then went on to attempt creation of the Philosopher’s Stone himself, an act he never accomplished. Canseliet claimed Fulcanelli contacted him many years after he had disappeared. Canseliet said that he was surprised to find his master remarkably younger in appearance than when he had last seen him some years before. The legends surrounding the mysterious Fulcanelli are still alive to this day.
A possible explanation for this enigma may possibly be found in Robert Ambelain’s, Jean-Julien Champagne, alias Fulcanelli: Dossier Fulcanelli. Ambelain collected evidence suggesting the illustrator of Fulcanelli’s Le Mystere des Cathederales, one Jean-Julien Champagne, wrote the book himself and published it under the pseudonym, Fulcanelli. Champagne was well versed in alchemical and occult literature and was known for his elaborate practical jokes.
Interestingly, he was reputed to have had a magical incense , of unknown origin but referred to as the “Incense of the Rosy-Cross.” He was also reputed to have practiced the art of astral projection, a feat long associated in occult traditions with the effects of cannabis.
The famous Irish Poet and Occultist W.B. Yeats (1865–1939), also experimented with hashish . Yeats met, and was influenced heavily by H.B. Blavatsky, as well as being a member of the famous turn of the century occult group the Golden Dawn, which counted among its members Dion Fortune, A.E. Waite and Aleister Crowley . Yeats commented on his experiences with hashish in “The Trembling of the Veil,” (1926):
I take hashish with some followers of the 18th-century mystic Saint Martin. At one in the morning, while we are talking wildly, and some are dancing, there is a tap at the shuttered window; we open it and three ladies enter, the wife of a man of letters who thought to find no one but a confederate, and her husband’s two young sisters whom she brought secretly to some disreputable dance. She is very confused at seeing us, but as she looks from one to another understands that we have taken some drug and laughs; caught in our dream we know vaguely that she is scandalous according to our code and all codes, but smile at her benevolently and laugh.
Yeats was introduced to the writings of the members of the Hashish Club by friend and fellow poet Arthur Symons (1865–1945), who left us the following mystical piece:
Behind the door, beyond the light
Who is it waits there in the night ?
When he has entered he will stand,
imposing with his silent hand
Some silent thing upon the night.
Behold the image of my fear.
O rise not, move not, come not near!
That moment, when you turned your face
A demon seemed to leap through space;
His gesture strangled me with fear.
And yet I am lord of all,
And this brave world magnificent,
Veiled in so variable a mist
It may be rose or amethyst,
Demands me for lord of all !
Who said the world is but a mood
In the eternal thought of God?
I know, real though it seems
The phantom of a hachisch dream
In that insomnia which is God
— Arthur Symons (1865-1945)
Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) was yet another mystic who experimented with hashish. Although little known now, during his lifetime he was quite a famous author of short stories. Blackwood had a vast knowledge of things magick and occult, and often incorporated this information into his fiction books. He stated he had “the absolute conviction that the teachings and the theories in my books were true.”
Blackwood worked his knowledge of hashish into a short story, A Psychical Invasion. The story is about a young writer, who after experimenting with a large dose of cannabis indica extract, finds himself open to the attack of malicious forces that he doesn’t understand. The young writer is forced to contact a mysterious Dr. Silence, the hero of the tale, for help with his paranormal dilemma. Dr. Silence makes the following comments to the young writer regarding his condition:
I only know from what I observe in you, and in its [cannabis’] effects upon myself. You are in a surprising psychical condition. Certain portions of your atmosphere are vibrating at a far greater rate than others. This is the effect of a drug, but of no ordinary drug…If the higher rate of vibrations spread all over, you will become, of course, permanently cognizant of a much larger world than the one you know normally. If, on the other hand, the rapid portion sinks back to the usual rate, you will lose these occasional increased perceptions you now have.
Dr. Silence comments further along in the tale on the “effects of the drug (hashish ) in altering the scale of time and space.”
Another well-known female mystic who gained from her experience with hashish is Alexandra David Neel. In Forbidden Journey author B.M. Foster gave an account of her initiation into hashish ’s mystical powers by a guru known as Sri Ananda Saraswati:
The followers of this popular guru heavily used drugs, particularly North African hashish for the purpose of obtaining visions in astral travel. Here Alexandra, hoping for a revelation, smoked a hash cigarette. She wrote about it in “Sortilege,” although she disguised herself as “a curious young man” and wrote in the third person. The young man saw himself — or rather his astral double — “in the vestibule of his parent’s home at twilight, the vestibule and stairs enveloped in a gloomy light. The phantom voyager was seized by a frightfully oppressive sensation, weakness, an agony both physical and mental.” He feared that once having entered he would be made prisoner, a robot, and a “violent horror” of this fate awoke him from the dream. His — or her — decision could be postponed no longer. “That same evening the young man reached a port where some days later, he left for the Orient.”
George Gurdjieff (1877–1949) the famed Russian Mystic, also experimented with hashish. Gurdjieff gained knowledge of cannabis’ unique effects on the human psyche while spending time studying with a number of Sufi schools and dervish orders, in Persia, eastern Turkey and Bokhara. Gurdjieff used hashish in experiments with some of his pupils to demonstrate the awakening of people’s essences. Gurdjieff, and his “loyal friend of all friends,” Soloviev, studied together under an Isma’ili affiliated Sufi group. During this time Gurdjieff states that Soloviev became an expert in eastern medicine, Tibetan medicine, “and he was also the world’s greatest specialist in the knowledge of opium and hashish on the psyche and organism of man.”
A well known pupil of Gurdjief, P.D. Ouspensky, recorded that Gurdjief told him:
The “man-machine” with whom everything depends upon external influences, with whom everything happens, who is now one, the next moment another, and the next moment a third, has no future of any kind; he is buried and that is all. Dust returns to dust. This applies to him. In order to be able to speak of any kind of future life there must be a certain crystallization, a certain fusion of man’s inner qualities, a certain independence of external influences. If there is anything in man able to resist external influences, then this very thing itself may be able to resist the death of the physical body.
Gurdjief told his students that the immortilization of man was not a quality inherent from birth, but that it was one that had to be learned. As author Kenneth Raynor Johnson noted:
He said that the three most commonly known systems aimed at attaining this quality were:
The Way of the Fakir, involving long and painful torture of the body. But this way left the emotional and intellectual faculties underdeveloped, along with physical considerations, in developing the physical will.
The Way of the Monk—the way of faith, fasting, meditation, and the focus of strong religious feeling and self-sacrifice. But in this method, while his feelings may be consecrated in a unity, the physical body and the reasoning faculties are neglected.
The Way of the Yogi: the way of knowledge , of mind. But even the Yogi leaves his body and emotions improperly developed.
Gurdjieff, therefore, postulated a Fourth Way, which he also called the Way of the Sly Man. It consisted of working simultaneously on the body, mind and emotions. It did not require the withdrawal from society of the other three systems. On the Fourth Way, the aspirant should do nothing he did not understand — except on a experimental basis under the guidance of a teacher. Gurdjief said: “A man who follows the fourth way knows quite definitely what substances he needs for his aims and that these substances can be produced within the body by a month of physical suffering, by a week of emotional strain, or by a day of mental exercises — and also, that they can be introduced into the organism from without if it is known how to do it. And so, instead of spending a whole day in exercises like the yogi, a week in prayer like the monk, or a month in self-torture like the fakir, he simply prepares and swallows a little pill which contains all the substances he wants and, in this way, without loss of time, he obtains the required result.” — Kenneth Rayner Johnson, The Fulcanelli Phenomenon
Today, we find the spirit of alchemy still alive, in the works of scholars like Alexander and Ann Shulgin, Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Albert Hofmann, Richard Evans Schultes, Terence McKenna, Stanislof Grof, Nina Grabioa, Suszanne Budapest and many, many others. Also, as the great Francois Rabelais predicted almost 500 years earlier, the use of cannabis has led to the rediscovery of religious use of powerful psychedelics and the artful (alchemical) manufacture of even more powerful entheogenic potions. And heaven storming is once again a very real possibility available to more people than ever before, leading to a whole new slant on the saying of the prohibitionists that “marijuana leads to stronger drugs.”
Now as the second millennium dominated by the Christian-state mentality nears its end the techno-religion of Science reigns supreme; God is the stuff of Sunday school prayers while Science has become the mythological cosmic problem solver. It has been written in the twentieth century that “God is dead.” If that is true then God has joined the gods and goddesses in the Underworld; all awaiting rebirth into the techno-universe where even cultural evolution is too slow. For there the Awakened apply science to religion creating a virtual New Hyperborea home to the gods and goddesses of cyberspace: Algorithm, Fractle, Floating Point, Pixel and Others. Though religion seems to change with human cultural evolution through the millennia, the Great Mystery at the edge of Beginnings and Endings remains to inspire us as it did our distant ancestors at the Great Awakening of human Religious Experience.
Magic is the function of the Mysterious
Mysterious is the Way of the Unknown
Unknown is the Seed of Infinity
Infinity is the Embryo of unfolding Chaos
Chaos to function is Magic
— Lynn Osburn
 In the Koran, the bridge of Alsirat is the one leading from Hell to Heaven.
 The modern day Theosophical society denies hashish had any great influence on Blavatsky’s life, admitting she may have experimented with it in her youth, but that is about the extent of it. But a number of well known authors, such as Benjamin Walker and the much respected English writer Colin Wilson, thought her use of cannabis was relevant enough to have commented on it. The Theosophists point to a couple of negative comments towards hashish Blavatsky made near the end of her life when her health had deteriorated from chain-smoking cigarettes, and found herself unhappily surrounded by scandal. Many people have blamed a substance for their own personal downfall, and marijuana makes just as good a scapegoat as any. As many of us have experienced, few seem as self-righteous as the reformed addict. The Theosophists also challenge the legitimacy of A.L. Rawson, suggesting his claims are suspect. The fact is that A.L. Rawson was one of a few life-long friends Blavatsky had, and she herself attested to the validity of his character. In Isis Unveiled Blavatsky makes the following comments concerning her good friend and associate A.L. Rawson: “Outside the East we have met one initiate (and one only), who, for some reasons best known to himself, does not make a secret of his initiation into the Brotherhood of Lebanon. It is the learned traveler and artist, Professor A.L. Rawson, of New York City. This gentleman has passed many years in the East, four times visited Palestine, and has traveled to Mecca. It is safe to say that he has a priceless store of facts about the beginnings of the Christian Church, which none but one who has had free access to repositories closed against the ordinary traveler could have collected.” Blavatsky goes on to quote Rawson concerning his initiation into a sect claiming secret knowledge concerning the roots of Christianity, the Druzes of Mount Lebanon. Edward Burman stated the following concerning the Druzes in The Assassins: “Their [the Druzes] faith makes them many ways the closest of the breakaway sects of Isma’ilism to the Assassins.” In his Journey to the Orient, De Nerval comments to the Druze sheik, “The Druze have been compared to the Pythagoreans, the Essenes, and the Gnostics, while some scholars claim that the Knights Templar exploited many of your ideas, and that the Rosicrucians and Freemasons have done the same today.”
 From The Connoisseur’s Handbook of Marijuana, W.D. Drake, 1971.
 The Shemhamphorash refers to the 72 syllables that Moses is reputed to have used to produce his “magick.”
 A popular pharmaceutical preparation of cannabis extract in Crowley’s day.
 “The Dope, Sex and Magick of Aleister Crowley,” David Dalton, High Times Greatest Hits, St. Martin‘s Press, 1994, p. 50.
 High Times, July, 1981, reprinted in High Times Greatest Hits: Twenty Years of Smoke in Your Face, (St. Martin’s Press, 1994).
 Parsifal is the hero of the Grail myth.
 Referring to sacred occult formula of Isis-Osiris-Horus, and the Aeon of Horus, of which we are still in the infancy.
 James Wasserman, Art and Symbols of the Occult.
 R. A. Wilson, Cosmic Trigger.
 Unfortunately, it may be that the OTO has fallen from a group of high initiates into another debased cult. Tom Lyttle, editor of Psychedelic Monographs and Essays, commented on his former involvement with this modern Masonic group:
“I still know people in that trip, but I lost interest a long time ago. They tended to attract just as many psychopaths and bizaros as real inspired people. For example at the time I was involved one of the higher members was their ‘inspector general’ named Jim Greb, who was involved with the Luciferian Society and the American Nazi Party. The head of the order at the time was a retired Army Major named Grady McMurty (Hymenaeus Alpha) who was a drunk and was selling the highest degrees and initiations for blow-jobs. The head of the lodge I was involved with was a cocaine dealer and has since served several prison terms. A lot of spiritual juvenile delinquents basically.” There is a more strict observance to pure, non-drug practices as of 1993…that incudes getting a drug element OUT.” (From an interview in Crash Collisions, 1993.)
 “Lapis lazuli was the blue heaven stone prized for its power to give rebirth.” (B. Walker, The Woman’s Encyclopedia Of Myths And Secrets).
 Liber VII Liber Liberi Vel Lapidis Lazuli, Adumbratio Kabbalae AEgyptiorum Sub Figura VII, reprinted in The Holy Books of Thelema (Samuel Weiser, Inc).
 From “The Psychology of Hashish.”
 Fulcanelli, Le Mystere des Cathederales.
 Idid p. 145.
 Les Cahier de la Tour Saint-Jacques, No. 9, Paris, 1962, excerpts and synopsis reprinted in The Fulcanelli Phenomenon, Kenneth Rayner Johnson.
 “Champagne once persuaded a naive young follower that the first essential step in alchemy was to stock a plentiful supply of coal, in readiness for when the furnace was lit and had to be kept burning over a long period. Goaded on by Champagne, the poor youth heaved sack after sack of the stuff up to his room, until there was scarcely room to lie down and sleep. Then, when it was time to apply the fire to his proposed operation, Champagne took the youth aside and seriously advised him not only was the search for the Philosopher’s Stone a dangerous quest, but an utterly vain one — leaving the student almost cramped out of his quarters by his massive supply of coal and, no doubt, well out of pocket.” (Kenneth Rayner Johnson, The Fulcanelli Phenomenon, recounting a story told by an associate of Champagne’s, named Boucher.)
 In Techniques of High Magic (Destiny Books, 1976) authors Francis King and Stephen Skinner list the following Astral projection ointment popularized in the 1890’s: Lanolin—5 ounces; Hashish—1 ounce; Hemp flowers—1 handful; Poppy flowers—1 handful; Hallebore—1/2 handful.
 The leader of the Golden Dawn, MacGregor Mathers, took Crowley to court in an attempt to prevent him from publishing the secrets of the order, which Crowley later released through the many books he wrote.
 Reprinted in The Hashish Club, Peter Haining.
 G. Gurdjieff, Meetings With Remarkable Men.
 P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, (Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1950), reprinted in The Fulcanelli Phenomenon.
 Originally published in P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1950)
 Term used by G.R.S Mead in 1900 to describe Gnostic mysticism.
 Of course the prohibitionists group the physically addicting wholeness inhibitors like cocaine, speed and heroin along with the potent wholeness enhancing psychedelic entheogens like LSD, mescaline and psilocybin — often the legal sanctions for possession of small amounts of psychedelics are more severe than penalties for possessing addictive wholeness inhibiting drugs.