FUCK WHITE COPS, MEXICAN COPS, ASIAN COPS, LATINO COPS, BLACK COPS, MIDDLE EASTERN COPS, WOMEN COPS, CIVIL COPS… FUCK THEM ALL. Even your relative cop who is “nice” and plays basketball with the local kids but does nothing to prevent oppression and brutality, FUCK THEM TOO.
If this offends you then do us both a favor & unfollow me. I don’t associate with boot-lickers or busters
so direct action is not an option available to you. what can you do right now instead?
Be mindful of the content you’re putting on your social media accounts. Stop retweeting/reposting violent images and videos of black people dying. Know that content like this, even with trigger warnings included, can be very emotionally disturbing/distressing and yes, even traumatic, for black people navigating the internet right now.
Report any images and videos you see where protestors’ faces are visible/unblurred, particularly in content surrounding the lootings. Don’t retweet or repost these images and videos. This can be a death sentence.
DONATE, PARTICULARLY TO MINNESOTA-BASED BLACK YOUTH MOVEMENTS / MUTUAL AID FUNDS WHO ARE DOING WORK ON THE GROUND. FOLLOW/BOOST IF YOU CAN’T.
Hieroglyphs in the pyramid of UNAS(c. 2400 bc) at Saqqara.
Unas choose to build his pyramid near the southwest corner of Step Pyramid of DJOSER instead of at Abusir with the majority of the Fifth Dynasty Kings. It is the smallest pyramid from the Old Kingdom, but the finest in terms of bas reliefs.
Inside the pyramid archeologists discovered the oldest known religious text in the world, the Pyramid Texts. Although this is the first time the Pyramid Texts were inscribed inside a pyramid, there is evidence that the texts had been in use since around 3200 BCE. Unas’s pyramid also established the typical plan of the internal chambers for pyramids that would be used throughout the end of the Sixth Dynasty.
Magic in the Arab-Islamic world is a complex issue in nature, and there are as many attempts to define what magic is as people have written about it.
The very word
for magic, siḥr, magic, is formed on the Arabic root ‘
س ح ر
’, this root conveys the meaning of spell, fascination, enchantment and spell. It appears about 60 times in the Qur’an with some of its lexical derivations, being in the suras of Mecca where it appears (or some of its derivatives) with more frequency.
Compared to Meccan period of Revelation, Medina suras contain fewer references to magic, but include the most famous Quranic statement about magic, and it does so through the story of the angels
Hārūt and Mārūt
in the second
and whose base is found in ancient Indo-Iranian traditions (Zoroastrism,
Haurvatat and Ameretat)
The beginning of the verse, namely 2:102, leads us to the times of Solomon, and reads as follows:
’And they followed, [instead] what the demons recited in Solomon’s reign.
It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but the devils, teaching magic to the people and what had been revealed to the angels of Babylon,
Hārūt and Mārūt. But the two angels do not teach anyone unless they say ‘’ we are a test, so don’t be disbelieving [practicing magic]‘
Regardless of the interpretation that can be given to this verse, and that indeed it was interpreted in many ways, it should be considered as the ‘locus classicus’ of Islamic exegesis regarding magic.
What is clear, in any case, is that the Qur’an does not explicitly condemn or prohibit the use of magic anywhere.
At a more practical and popular level we can even observe that in certain verses and even complete
sūrat, such as the last two of the Holy Book, they have often been used for magical and, especially, prophylactic, protective purposes, and we should not fail to mention the extensive literature dedicated in medieval Islam to these ‘magical questions’ such as the first letters of the Qur'an, the names of the
aṣḥāb al-kahf, the “Companions of the Cave” in sūrah
الكهف, ‘al-Kahf’ or the 99 epithets of God.
Now, it is also true that we can find in Islamic orthodoxy a much less favorable judgment about magic and its practitioners, which in general have been considered a major threat to the community of believers.
The 9th-century traditionalist and scholar
Tirmidhī, author of one of the
six canonical collections in Sunni Islam, states, for example: ‘’The punishment for the magician is death by the sword’’. This type of condemnation was repeated for centuries by the vast majority of jurists and theologians who warned against the dangers of the
siḥr, just as in the Christian Middle Ages magicians, sorcerers and witches were regularly accused, persecuted, sent to prison or executed.
Practitioners of magic, in general, were accused of
that is, having brought heretical innovations, a very serious reproach according to Muslim orthodoxy., And yet, it can be affirmed that the majority of jurists and theologians, even the more traditional, they made an effort to distinguish between the different categories of magic, whose main objective in doing so was to have the intention of separating the allowed resources from the forbidden ones.
According to Toufic Fahd: ‘’ What is allowed is natural magic, known as white [positive] magic, which includes, among other enchantments, imaginary and hallucinatory phenomena produced by natural means, based on properties not connected with religion; psychic phenomena materialized by the use of filters and amulets activated by means of absorption or fumigation of powders and greases.
The practice of this magic is tolerated insofar as it does not cause harm to others. But when the magician influences nature in order to do damage, he exercises forbidden magic. This involves resorting to demonic inspiration, dark [negative] magic (…)’
In this field there has always been a huge gap between the theoretical views on magic professed by jurists and traditionalists of the Middle Ages on the one hand, and on the other hand, real practices, since they have been carried out continuously until nowadays by magicians, sorcerers and talisman specialists in many parts of
Dār al-Islam. This can be explained by the divergence of views even among the best qualified representatives of legal theory, thus the 13th-century Andalusian author, Abû 'Abdallâh al-Qurtubi, who amply commented on the famous Qur'anic passage from
Hārūt and Mārūt, is known for adopting a much more tolerant and conciliatory position than its predecessors.
Another important reason must be in the many healing virtues that many of these practices should have. Legal theory of magic could be seen as a threat or danger to believers, but as long as they did not transgress the limits of the forbidden, a local magician with great esoteric knowledge was highly respected for his ability to contribute to the well-being of his neighbors.
Thus, a more or less complete vision of the materials and practices related to magic in the medieval Arab-Islamic world would require dealing with disciplines or concepts as diverse as amulets, talismans, illusionism, spells, magic squares, onomatomancy, dream interpretation and astrology, to name a few.
One of the most informative sources we have about magic in the Arab-Islamic world is
مقدّمة ابن خلدون
The Muqaddimah, by the fourteenth-century historian Ibn Khaldūn. In his Muqaddimah or
leaves us an exceptionally detailed account of magic and talismans.
Defined as ‘’The sciences that show how human souls can be prepared to exert an influence on the elements, either without any help or with the help of celestial forces’’
Speaking of souls who have magical abilities,
states that there are three levels:
‘’The former exercises its influence merely through the power of the mind, without any instrument or help. This is what philosophers call
The second exerts its influence with the help of the nature of the spheres and the elements, or with the help of the numbers.They are called talismans, ‘tilasmat’. It is a lower grade than the first group.The third group exerts its influence on the powers of the imagination (…) is what philosophers call prestidigitation’’. This group, prestidigitation, phantasmagoria and illusionism, isn’t considered real by Ibn
Khaldūn, so no further mention will be made of it.
What the text seems to mean is that the highest level of magic is the only one that should be called sihr, and that it is reserved for those capable of resorting to supernatural powers without any instrument or intermediary.
As for the other level of magic, which implies the existence of a medium or intermediary to carry it out, it generally corresponds to theurgy and natural magic, since supernatural power is not required.
A particular form of natural magic is that of talismans,
'tilasm’, from the ancient Greek
τέλεσμα, religious rite, payment, in which inscriptions normally with astrological meaning are used as amulets to protect someone or some community against dangers such as manifestations understood as a result of the evil eye.
Several centuries before Ibn Khaldoun, in the introduction to the
“Epistle to Magic”, the
إخوان الصفا Ikhwān Al-Ṣafā, that is, the Brothers of
Purity, give the following definition of sihr: “You must know, brother,
that the essence of magic and its reality is everything through which
the intellects are bewitched and everything that souls give themselves
through speeches and actions that produce amazement, submission,
attention, listening, consent, obedience or acceptance ”
was the name adopted by a group of medieval Muslim scholars, who
wrote an unparalleled encyclopedia at the time inside or outside the
Islamic world. This takes the form of a corpus with approximately fifty
epistles, where each one was dedicated to a type of knowledge, organized
so that a suitably qualified person could advance through the noble
sciences to the most ineffable wisdom. Who the
were and where
they lived is a question that is still debated, although it is
increasingly clear that they were Neoplatonic philosophers who must have
had some affinity with Ismailism.
The definition of
magic was taken by the Andalusian author of the
Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm, the
Purpose of the Sage, a celestial magic treatise that would exert
enormous influence in the West during the Renaissance, becoming known as
Picatrix and inspiring thinkers and scholars, like Cornelius Agrippa.
because of this Latin adaptation known as Picatrix that the authorship
and another treatise on alchemy, titled Rutbat al-ḥakīm, the Degree of the Wise, have been a problem until relatively
recently, when in 1996 it was demonstrated that the author of the Purpose of
the Wise was, in fact,
Maslama Ibn Qāsim al-Qurṭubī, who traveled to the
East in the first half of the 10th century, moreover, there are reasons
to believe that Maslama is also the scholar who introduced the
encyclopedic corpus of the
in al-Andalus for the first
is presented as a curious grimoire that, in addition to describing highly elaborate forms of rituals in which the spirits of the planets and other celestial beings are invoked, is striking for the extreme heterogeneity of its sources, most they are clearly oriental. The sources for this compilation appear to have been largely Arabic translations and texts of the Ismailism, Sabaism, astrology, alchemy, magic, and Hermeticism produced in the Middle East between the 9th and 10th centuries.
Another very important aspect of magic in the Arab-Islamic world was the magical interpretation of the Qur’an words and letters as sciences normally called
‘Sīmiyā‘, from the Greek
σημεία, sign, symbol.
The so called science of letters, believed to have originated from the
al-Jafr, a Shi’ite divination system based on onomatomancy that inevitably reminds us of Qabbalah, that was developed later. This science of letters quickly developed three overlapping currents: a mystical, a philosophical, and an alchemical one.
For many medieval scholars who were interested in the science of letters, speech has not only an epistemological value, but an ontological value. That is, the words and therefore the letters not only provide information about things, but also reflect their inner nature, that is, their name reflects their being. Some thinkers went even further and affirmed that the name of things is not only a reflection, but its own nature, therefore, knowing its name is the same as knowing the thing itself.
This concept prompted medieval thinkers to develop systems of language analysis, classifying letters in different ways and according to various criteria.
The best known is the classification of letters according to the four elements: of the 28 letters of the Arabic Abjad, 7 belong to fire, 7 to air, 7 to water and 7 to earth, and which in turn, had certain elemental properties: 7 are warm, 7 are dry, 7 are cold and 7 are humid.
One of the most refined and sophisticated systems of analysis of things through names is found in the corpus of texts attributed to the alchemist
Jābir ibn Hayyān, known in Europe for his latinized name, Geber. He postulated that since the names of things reflect their nature, it might be possible to know the exact composition of a thing in terms of elements and their properties thanks to its name. This method, called
ilm al-mīzān, was the first step for Geber’s Elixir Theory.
The religious side of the science of letters developed in two forms,
asmāʾu llāhi lḥusnā
asmāʾu llāhi lḥusnā, literally the Most Beautiful Names of God, are the 99 divine names, an Islamic tradition that attributes 99 names to God, which are the 99 ways to describe the different aspects of God. The opening of the
sūrat, or the huruf muqatta’a, are mysterious letters or isolated groups of them found in the early 29
sūrat of the Qur’an.
The Prophet did not give any explanation on this and it gave rise to many speculations.
As it has been said, since letters have an ontological value, they not only allow us to know things, but also act on them through their names. This idea gave rise to the magic of letters, one of the broadest fields of the so-called science of letters.
The most famous figure in letter magic is undoubtedly,
Shihab al-Din Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Yusuf al-Buni al-Maliki al-ifriqi, Ahmad al-Buni, who died in the early 13th century. This scholar is credited with a whole series of magical treatises that had a profound influence on magic in the Arab-Islamic world, not only in the academic world, but also, and perhaps mainly, at popular level.
However, recent studies have pointed out that the most famous and influential work attributed to Buni, the
كتاب شمس المعارف ولطائف العوارف
Shams al-Ma'arif wa Lata'if al-'Awarif, the Great Sun of Gnosis, is actually an apocryphal compilation. This treatise is a great synthesis of theoretical knowledge about the magic of letters. The letters themselves are considered as spiritual beings, linked to angels and through which it is possible to act on spiritual entities by their means, even to restrict the angels themselves.
To get a better idea of magic ramifications in the Arab-Islamic world, there is probably no better example than the seventeenth-century Turkish compiler and encyclopedist Hajji Khalifa, also known as
“Kashf al-ẓunūn ’ un asāmī al-kutub wa-al-funūn
Opinion’s Scrutiny of the Names of Books and the Sciences’, includes under the title “siḥr” an astonishing variety of 14 disciplines among which divination, natural magic, properties of The Most Beautiful Names, of the numbers and of certain invocations, sympathetic magic, demonic conjuration, the enchantments, the evocation of spirits from the corporeal beings, invocation of the spirits of the planets, phylacteries, amulets, talismans, filters, the art of artifacts creation, the art of discovering frauds in conjurations, conjuring, and medicinal plants and herbs and their properties.
de Callataÿ,G. and Halflants, B.,
On Magic: An Arabic critical edition and English translation of Epistle 52,
OUP/Institute of Ismaili Studies(2011).
Magic and Divination in Early Islam,
Ashgate Publishing Group
Fahd, T., La divination arabe. Etudes religieuses, sociologiques et folkloriques sur le milieu natif de l'Islam. Leiden, Brill (1966).
_________, <<sihr>>. Encyclopedia of Islam. et al C.E. Bosworth, 2nd ed. vol. 9, Leiden, Brill, pp. 567-571 (1997).
“Bāṭinism in Al-Andalus. Maslama b. Qāsim al-Qurṭubī, Author of the
'Rutbat al- Ḥakīm’ and the 'Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm (Picatrix)’” en: Studia Islamica, N.º 84 (1996).
Maslama al-Mayriti, Picatrix, Madrid, Editora Nacional (1982).
Khaldūn, al-Muqaddima. Introducción a la Historia Universal, ed. Almuzara, Córdoba (2008).
The Qur'an: English translation and Parallel Arabic text (M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, tr.),
Oxford University Press (2010)
El Corán, (Julio Cortés, tr.) (6ª ED.) Herder (2000).
Davies, O., Grimoires: A History of Magic Books, Oxford University Press, (2009).
Hamès, C. (dir.). Coran et Talismans. Textes et practiques magiques en milieu musulman. Paris, Karthala (2007).
Regourd, A.; Lory, P., ‘‘Sciences occultes et Islam’‘, in Bulletin d’Études Orientales, tome XLIV (1992).
Gril, D., La science des lettres. A: Le illuminations de la Mecque. Anthologie. et al. Michel Chodkiewicz. (Spiritualités viantes; 150). Paris, Albin Michel (1997).
Lory, P., La science des lettres en Islam. Esprit de Lettre, Dervy (2004).
Marquet, Y., La philosophie des alchimistes et l’alchemie des philosophes: Jabir Ibn Hayyan et ‘’les Frères de la Puretè’’. Paris, Maisonneuve et Larose (1988).
This is a weird one so I can add more details if you want, but: how much does Egyptian literature address metacognition like introspection and self-awareness? I was reading about a theory of consciousness called the "bicameral mind" and the author cites as evidence the fact that no surviving Greek literature until about 3,000 years ago talks about these states of mind - but some versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh do, and they're older. What does Egyptian lit have to say on the matter?
Listen my own mind is full of pink bows and hormones right now so I’m probably not able to do this as much justice as I should - although having familiarised myself with this particular theory of consciousness I don’t particularly want to either -, but read Discourse Between a Man and His Ba. You should be able to find translations of that relatively easily, if not let me know - if I put a link in here, Tumblr will hide the post. Man and His Ba quite clearly shows the Egyptian ability for metacognition, even if it doesnt definitively address it. There are no known philosophical texts from Egypt, so you’d be hard-pressed to find anything of the sort in Egyptian lit that directly talks about the awareness of thought processes in the philosophical sense you’re looking for.
Since Egyptian lit doesn’t necessarily have anything to say on bicameralism theory directly, allow me: Holy crap what a load of bull. It’s othering, seeks to diminish ancient peoples as well as all forms of religion, tries to claim that the bronze age collapse was because humans suddenly became self-aware when they weren’t before, and has zero basis in neuropsychiatric fact.
One of my many issues with Jaynes’ theory is that he only seems to consider religious texts and divine mythology, ignoring all other available texts, because he very desperately wants to prove that all religion is hallucination. In the case of Egypt, these are texts like wisdom texts and negative confessions, both of which display theory of mind and introspection. Somewhat more tangentially, medical texts - which show their ability to reason and form empirical theory based on observation. They considered the heart the seat of all thought instead of the brain, but in that, they realised thoughts came from within themselves and were not “a god giving commands”. Wisdom texts detail proper behaviour, which requires knowing that you yourself are responsible for your thoughts & actions instead of some disembodied voice. Negative confessions, same deal - deciding you need a heart scarab just so you don’t fuck up your chances of getting into the afterlife, requires introspection.
But yeah. Man and His Ba is closest to the kind of lit you want!
Do you know anything about Egyptian attitudes on love and courtship?
We actually don’t. There’s very little evidence for Egyptian views on interpersonal relationships because they didn’t write it down, being illiterate and all. We have one surviving love charm from the Pharaonic period, but whether this is indicative of a popular trend in amongst the populace? We’ll never know.
You are Amun, the Lord of Silence, who comes to the poor man’s call, when I call you in my distress, you come to rescue me to give encouragement to the one who is unfortunate, to rescue me from tethers. Although the servant is predisposed to do evil, the Lord is ready to forgive. The Lord of Thebes is not infuriated all day long, his anger passes in a moment, nothing remains in him. His breath returns to us full of mercy, Amun returns on his breeze
Extracted from Nebra Stela (Berlin 20337), Ramessid Period.
Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Even before the Nile Valley were unified, at a time when the use of copper was still rudimentary, we found surprisingly small objects made of iron in Egypt. But where did this pre-Iron Age iron come from?
In an analysis carried out on iron beads from the Egyptian predynastic period from the Naqada II (also known as Al-Gerzeh culture. From c. 3500 up to c. 3200 BCE) deposit, a composition of 92.5% iron, and 7.5% nickel was detected. The high percentage of nickel is very similar to that of ferric meteorites from outer space, which usually contain between 5 and 26% of said element. In telluric or terrestrial iron, however, except in very specific veins, it is usual not to find high levels of nickel, so differentiating telluric from meteoric iron is easy.
In ancient Egypt, meteoric iron was known as
bjꜣ n pt
“iron from sky”, a fascinating name, since it probably implies having observed the entry of a meteor into the atmosphere and the collection of one or more of its fragments after the impact.
The observation of meteorite falls is a completely unusual event, although many cases occur during the year throughout the planet. Thus, it is calculated that the impact rate of meteorites of more than 10 grams of weight per year is one for every 2,590 km2, and meteorites of more than one meter in diameter are calculated to have an impact rate on the planet of one by year. However, the undoubted use of meteoric iron by Egyptians or other peoples makes it equally evident that the location of siderite specimens should not be as strange as the observation of their fall.
In the Pyramid Texts several passages inform us of the belief that the bones of the deceased pharaoh, in the celestial sphere, were made of iron (meteoric). Thus, in PT 2051 it is said: “the bones of the king are of iron and the members of the king are the imperishable stars”.
Besides, as indicated in the Pyramid Texts, in the very important funeral ceremony of the opening of the mouth, instruments in the form of adze were made, characterized by being made at their end with meteoric iron. In PT 13 it is said: “I open your mouth for you with the adze of Wepawet, with the iron adze that opens the mouth of the gods.” The Adze of Wepawet is represented in the Dendera planisphere, more than 2,200 years after this text.
In another sentence of the Pyramid Texts (PT 13-14) it is said: “Horus has opened the king’s mouth (…) with the iron that comes from Seth, with the iron adze that opens the mouth of the gods”. Seth, let’s remember, is represented in the Egyptian sky by means of the Meskhetiu constellation, since the bull’s leg (another way to recognize the Big Dipper in Egyptian astronomy) is his. Plutarch’s comment, in De Iside et Osiride, is not by chance: “They also call (the Egyptians) the magnet stone bone of Horus, while the iron receives the name of Bone of Typhon, as Manetho affirms ”
The Egyptians, who used the netjerti, two adzes, for this ceremony also saw in the sky, in our Big and Little Dipper, the form of these instruments. Such was its importance that the two holes of Pharaoh Djeser’s serdab in Saqqara are oriented (for its time) precisely towards the stars Dubhe and Kochab, which would represent the meteoric iron tip of the adzes instrument.
The interesting question, in any case, is to see how in ancient Egyptian beliefs iron was linked to the celestial sphere in the same way that in the term
bjꜣ n pt (iron from the sky) the extraterrestrial origin of this material was recognized.
Roth, A. M, Fingers, Stars, and the ‘Opening of the Mouth’: The Nature and Function of the nṯrwj-blades. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 79 (1993), pp. 57-79
Massimiliano Franci, Astronomia egizia, Introduzione alle conoscenze astronomiche dell'antico Egitto, Edarc, Firenze (2010)
Belmonte Avilés, J. A, Pirámides, templos y estrellas. Astronomía y arqueología del Antiguo Egipto, Crítica (2012)
It has been said of incense that “its aroma unconsciously stimulate the mind by imitating sexual pheromones” (DM Stoddart,The Scented Ape. Biology and culture of human smell, University of Tasmania, 1990: 261) Some incenses were prepared to exercise a certain effect on the spirit. It was widely believed among philosophers and men of science that some incenses possessed disturbing properties of mind and spirit. Such seems to have been the case of the Kyphi, a psychoactive compound that was used in rites and ceremonies and is mentioned in the Egyptian magic papyri of the Hellenistic era. It is cited by Pedanius Dioscorides (De mat. Med., I, 23) and Plutarch (De Iside et Osiride) Tells us about him in more detail:
“Kyphi is a perfume whose mixture is made up of sixteen species of substances: honey, wine, raisins, sedge, resin, myrrh, rosewood, seseli; mastic, tar, fragrant reed, yellowberry, and, in addition to all that, giant and dwarf juniper (because you already know that there are two species), cardamom and calamus are added. These various ingredients are not mixed at random, but, according to formulas indicated in the holy books, which are read to those who prepare this perfume as they mix the substances that compose it. As for the number sixteen, it seems to have been adopted on purpose, since it is the square and the only one among all whose figure, having all its sides equal, offers a perimeter equal to its area, although this property certainly does not matter to the expected effect. But, since most of these mixed substances have aromatic virtue, a soft and salty breath emerges from them. Under its influences, the state of the air changes, and the body, soft and pleasantly bathed by its emanations, falls into sleep, acquiring an evocative disposition.
The afflictions and vehemence produced by daily worries are weakened like loosening ties, dissipating without the help of drunkenness to receive daydreams, they are polished and burnished like a mirror. The effect obtained is as purifying as the Pythagoreans achieved by pressing the lyre, before giving themselves up to sleep, thus appeasing and channeling the instinctive and passionate element of their soul. Indeed, the fragrant substances many times revived the fading feeling, and many were also the times that, with their softness, calmed and calmed those who absorbed them by dissolving them in their bodies. The effect caused was similar to that of which some doctors tell us when they affirm that the dream comes when the exhalations of the food extend like climbing around the intestines, when it seems that they are groped gently, determining something similar to a delicate tickling. The Egyptian Kyphi it is also served as a concoction and as a mixture. They drink it to purify themselves internally and use it as a mixture because of its laxative virtue.”
The psychoactive ingredient in Kyphi is none other than juniper oil, especially Juniperus oxycedrus, which contains an essence similar to tanacetol, with great stimulating and psychoactive potential. Tanacenol, also called thujol, is the main oil component of northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and red cedar (Thuja plicata) and is also found in common chrysanthemum (Tanacetum vulgare) or atanasia. Any repertoire of botanical pharmacology will tell us that it is also known as thujol, thuyol, absinthol, thuyone, tanacetol, and tanacetona, making it part of the essential oils of wormwood or artemisia and juniper juniper (Juniperus thurifera). In high doses it is a powerful hallucinogen. Many of the incenses made in the Near East and used in ecstatic celebrations or divination rituals contained, among its ingredients, cedar oil.
In a meticulous and well-documented work that has generally gone largely unnoticed by scholars of entheogens, Godbey (1930: 217 ff) highlighted, almost eighty years ago, the narcotic effect of incenses throughout the next East that he attributed, after studying ancient texts and ethnographic evidence, to the fact that in its composition there were plant extracts such as opium poppy, cannabis, or wormwood, known in some places with the nickname of “santonica”, the plant sammu-ilu that appears in the Akkadian texts of magic and witchcraft, and that used in very small doses produces sensory paralysis, loss of vision and memory, and terrifying hallucinations, while in higher doses it is a powerful poison that can cause death.
It was the plant used by the Greeks in the worship of Artemis-Hekate, from where the name of the genus comes. It was used as a sacred poison in certain religious ordals of the East. Apuleius affirmed that his fumigations drove away demons and some doctors, such as Areteus of Cappadocia, prescribed it against melancholy. Dioscorides himself (De mat, med., III, 129) compares a variety of wormwood or artemisia with divine ambrosia. In later Europe it is a magical plant associated with Saint John’s Eve. According to this same author, another component of incenses was the oil of white cedar, whose effects are very similar, and which was considered a sacred tree in many parts of the ancient Orient. Its use was highly developed in the Mesopotamian pharmacopoeia (G. Contenau, “Drogues de Canaan, d`amurru et jardins botaniques”, Mélanges Syriens offerts a René Dussaud, vol. 1, Paris, 1939, p. 12.) of the incenses that inspired the oracles of the Baru priests in Babylon and the incenses used by the Canaanites and other peoples of the near ancient East.
In this sense, the words of K. Nielsen (Incense in Ancient Israel, Leiden, 1986, p. 30) are highly illustrative: “The fragrance of incense works like a drug which ensures the favorable disposition of the gods towards man. It makes them give positive oracles, it makes them forgive sins. The fragrance of incense purifies the mind of the gods as well as the mind of the man. It is the perfect medium for establishing communication between the divine and the human sphere. “On the other hand, it seems that part of the opposition of the prophets of Yahweh to the incenses used in the Canaanite cults of the” high places “may come from their adversity towards its narcotic effects.
In this regard, the writing by Benny Shanon (”Biblical Entheogens: a Speculative Hypothesis“, Time and Mind: The Journal of Archeology Consciousness and Culture, Volume 1, 1, 2008, pp. 68 ff.) Regarding the incense employed in the Temple of Jerusalem:
"The next case is that of the incense employed in the Temple of Jerusalem (the ktoret, also known as ktoret ha-samim, the incense of drugs). This incense contained a series of ingredients, the identity of most not known to us today. Its recipe was held secret, known only to one priestly family, and with the destruction of the Temple it was lost. The ktoret was used daily in regular temple services, but only once a year was it offered inside the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum of the Temple. This was done alone, by the High Priest, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. The Talmud narrates that there was a danger the High Priest might not return sound and well, and that therefore a ch ain of fine gold was attached to his robe trailing outside forothers to monitor his well-being. Drawing on a phonological similarity of the word “ktoret” and the Hebrew word for “connectivity,” the Zohar, the great Qabbalistic text, explains that the ktoret established a connection between God and Man …
For quite some time now, it has been suggested that the term ‘cannabis’ is a cognate of the Hebrew term knei bosem, which means fragrant reeds and is indicated as one of the ingredients of the sacred incense employed first in the tabernacle and later in the two temples of Jerusalem … Yet another curious piece of information is encountered in the writings of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius who mentions that on the miter of the Jewish High Priest there was a golden image of the plant Hyoscyamus. This plant is known to be highly psychoactive.”
According to a recent study by researchers at John Hopkins University and the University of Jerusalem, Boswellia resin, one of the common ingredients of the most famous and widespread of all known incenses (frankincense), is psychoactive and causes several effects on the brain such as relieving anxiety and depression, facilitating spiritual exaltation (A. Moussaieff et al., “Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TrpV3 channels in the brain”, The FASEB Journal, 22, 2008, pp. 3024-3034). Goldwork, also recently published in the journal Neuropsychobiology, states that the smell of frankincense can improve cortical activities and inhibit treatment function of the motor response (M. Iijima et al., “Effects of Incense on Brain Function: Evaluation Using Electroencephalograms and Event-Related Potentials”, Neuropsychobiology 2009, 59, pp. 80-86).
Also in the form of perfumes and mists, preparations with somniferous, narcotic, and even hallucinogenic effects could be administered. Dioscorides (De mat. Med., I, 54, 2 and I, 58, 2) already pointed out the somnolent qualities of the scent of saffron and the perfume made with amaracino (Origanum maiorana). Apuleius himself states that certain perfumes can cause a hypnosis-like state to the point of ecstasy:
“Although I must believe Plato when he assures that between the gods and men there are certain divine powers, which serve as intermediaries, by their nature and by the place they occupy, and that such powers govern all manifestations of divination and Miracles performed by magicians. Furthermore, I am intimately convinced that the human soul, especially if it is the pure soul of a child, can, thanks to the attraction exerted by certain songs, or by the unnerving effect of certain perfumes. , reach a state of hypnosis and plunge into ecstasy, to the point of forgetting the surrounding reality. In such a state, having lost the notion of the body in which it resides, it can regain its primitive essence and return to its nature, which without hesitation she is immortal and divine, and thus, immersed in a kind of dream, is capable of foreshadowing the future” (Apology, 43, 2.)
Also in his famous work The Golden Ass, Apuleius alludes to certain soporific vapors that the sorceresses of Thessaly used to cause a deep hypnotic sleep:
"While the guardian you see here was watching over my corpse with all its insight and attention, some old witches tried to snatch my remains; for this purpose they disguised themselves many times and always in vain; not being able to circumvent the activity and vigilance of the guardian, as As a last resort they spread a soporific mist over him, burying him in a deep sleep. Then they began to call me by my name and they didn’t stop screaming until my stiff body and my frozen limbs with lazy effort, began to obey by magic. , this man you see here, was alive, and, dead, he only had the dream. But, as he was my namesake, when hearing his name, without realizing the case, he got up and, advancing like a ghost, he went to hit the door of the room.” (Metamorphosis, II, 30.)