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Le Club des Hashischins: How Hash & Hallucination Dazzled Western Culture

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Le Club des Hashischins
PHOTO | Le Club des Hachichins
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When Napoleon Bonaparte’s army arrived at the great pyramids in Egypt, they were met by a fleet of 10,000 soldiers on horseback. Sometimes described as a mad man, Bonaparte is famous for his exhaustive crusades into foreign lands with superior militaries and home advantage. In the mid-1790s, Bonaparte had already defeated Austrian armies against the odds on behalf of his country. After claiming new territory for the French government, Bonaparte set his sights on Egypt.

The goal of the French invasion in Egypt was to disrupt the trade routes of a dreaded rival, the British. While the French achieved a degree of success in their Egyptian military endeavors, the nation’s expansion into the East sparked a new, oft undiscussed cultural shift back home — Napoleon’s crusade introduced 19th-century France to psychedelic drugs.

A Forbidden Herb at Le Club des Hachichins

According to Robert Clarke and Mark Merlin, authors of Cannabis Evolution and Ethnobotany, archeological researchers estimate that the use of hashish in Egypt dates back to the 12 century C.E. In its early days, archeologists suggest that hashish was most often eaten, with its active chemicals absorbed underneath the tongue and digested when swallowed. If historical records prove accurate, the cannabis paste was cheaper than other substances and was unrestricted by Islamic religious authorities at the time.

As such, hashish consumption rose in popularity until the 20th century, inspiring feelings of euphoria, provoking a meditative state of mind, and promoting sociality. The herb was particularly popular among the lower classes, who arguably consumed it as a more economical alternative to alcohol or opium. When French soldiers arrived on the scene, they were quick to introduce themselves to such a pleasant and unique social custom, much to the dismay of Bonaparte. For the first time in the modern history of France, cannabis was banned.

In October of 1800, Bonaparte issued a decree to his troops:

“It is forbidden in all of Egypt to use certain Moslem beverages made with hashish or likewise to inhale the smoke from seeds of hashish. Habitual drinkers and smokers of this plant lose their reason and are victims of violent delirium which is the lot of those who give themselves full to excesses of all sorts.”

Unfortunately for the General, however, the ban was a lost cause. The march into Egypt opened the first doors to the cannabis drug trade in France, and it was the educated elite that warmly welcomed the intoxicating herb into their social and intellectual lives. The primary attraction? Hallucinations.

Hash Eating Hallucinations

Without television or the radio, Victorian-era elites resorted to more unusual forms of entertainment. For prominent French writers, artists, and scientists of the time, that entertainment came in the form of a hash-eating club. Attended by famous names like Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Charles Baudelaire, Le Club des Hachichins was formed in 1844. Writers and artists attended out of creative curiosity, while at least one doctor attended to study mental illness and drug-induced mental alterations.

Inspired by new imports from Egypt, the group famously mixed hashish into coffee, along with pistachio, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sugar, and other flavorful spices. The end result was, apparently, downright hallucinogenic. After consuming a lump of hashish rumored to be the size of an adult thumb, writer, journalist, and philosopher Théophile Gautier reports spiraling into a world filled with visionary creatures, ones which had only previously come to life in the visual arts.

“An enigmatic personage suddenly appeared before me,” writes Gautier in Le Club des Hachichins. “His nose was bent like the beak of a bird, his green eyes, which he wiped frequently with a large handkerchief, were encircled with three brown rings, and caught in the knot of a high white starched collar was a visiting card which read: Daucus-Carota, du Pot d’or….. (a reference to the fairytale writing of E.T.A. Hoffmann).”

“Little by little,” he continues, “the salon was filled with extraordinary figures, such as are found only in the etchings of Callot or the aquatints of Goya; a pêle-mêle of rags and tatters, bestial and human shapes.”

These visions, it seems, continued into Gautier’s dreams. According to a 1974 paper by Harry Cockerham, during the hash eater’s dreams, senses seem to blur into one another — a synesthesia that confuses taste, color, scent, and sound. Gautier writes in a local newspaper: “I had the most bizarre dreams: I heard flowers singing, I saw blue, green, and red musical phrases which smelled of vanilla.”

And yet, not all effects of hashish were frightening. In fact, Gautier articulated that the herbal concoction was far superior to alcohol. “I could no longer feel my body,” he writes in Le Club des Haschichins, “the bonds of mater and spirit were loosened […] I imagine this is how souls must be in the world of essences […] I understood, then, the pleasure felt by spirits and angels moving in the ethereal regions.”

Exploration Persists

After observing Le Club des Hachichins for several years, Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau, an influential figure in modern psychology, reported in his several-hundred-page investigation Hashish and Mental Illness, “I saw in [cannabis] a mean of effectively combatting the fixed ideas of depressives, disrupting the chain of their ideas, of unfocusing their attention on such and such a subject.”

They say history repeats itself. With cannabis, this common aphorism is proven true again and again. In 1800, cannabis products were banned by Bonaparte. Yet, the desire to explore the mind and test the boundaries of consciousness was too appealing for soldiers and civilians alike.

This same desire to explore persists today, despite decades of tension between policymakers hoping to control, and spirited wanders breaking laws to find freedom of mind.

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Psychonauts Celebrate Magic Mushroom Day

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Magic Mushrooms Day

September 20 is Magic Mushroom Day. Similarly to stoners celebrating 4/20 and 7/10, and LSD enthusiasts celebrating 4/19, entheogenic communities around the world celebrate the psychedelic renaissance on 9/20.

The concept was coined in 2015 when Nicholas Reville, a mushroom advocate from Providence, Rhode Island, declared September 20 as an “educational day of action,” apparently citing the spirit of 4/20 as an opportunity to talk about psilocybin reform, regulations and, of course, rejoice in the magic of psychedelics.

“9/20 was chosen because it is at the beginning of autumn, when mushrooms are most plentiful; because it is close to the equinox, representing a change in direction; and because it echoes 4/20 and the successful movement for marijuana decriminalization and legalization,” said Reville in an interview with Rolling Stone.

Magic Mushrooms: The Next “Green” Wave?

Interest around the benefits and effects of psilocybin, the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has been steadily growing over the last number of years, with legalization closely following.

In May 2019, Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin. Oakland soon followed with its own law in June that same year, decriminalizing plant and fungi psychedelics.

At the last election in 2020, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin with Measure 109 for mental health treatment in supervised settings.

At the same time, the District of Columbia decriminalize the use of magic mushrooms and other psychedelic substances with the passage of Initiative 81.

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Peep the Pepsi x Dapper Dan Football Watching Capsule Collection

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Pepsi x Dapper Dan
Photos | Courtesy of Pepsi

Pepsi has partnered with Harlem-based designer and streetwear legend, Dapper Dan, to create The Pepsi x Dapper Dan Football Watching Capsule Collection.

As part of the Pepsi “Made for Football Watching” NFL campaign, the iconic collaboration brings the football fan apparel game to the next level with this limited-edition capsule collection created for fans to show up in style, no matter where they’re watching.

The Pepsi x Dapper Dan Football Watching Capsule Collection features fashion-forward football-watching pieces including a lounger, hoodie, bucket hat, and custom-patterned Pepsi can to ensure fans are fitted and geared up for every touchdown, sack and fumble.

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Power & Collaboration Are the Name of the Game at WEIC Women’s Leadership Summit

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Power & Collaboration WEiC
PHOTO | Tinnakorn

In 2019 women held 37% of senior level positions in cannabis. Alarmingly, less than 8% of CEOs are women and only 38% of all positions in cannabis are held by women. This statistic and much more will be the topic of discussion at the Women Empowered In Cannabis (WEIC) Power & Collaboration summit on July 21, 2021, from 10 am PST – 5 pm PST.

The one day summit is WEIC’s first virtual Women’s Leadership Summit and will address the rapid loss of female leadership and power in cannabis and question how the community can address and stop this trend.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build an industry from the ground up that is inclusive, diverse and just, and yet women are losing ground at a distressing rate,” said Kyra Reed, WEIC founder and CEO. “The summit is designed to help women elevate our voices and establish real power in the global cannabis market.”

Power & Collaboration WEiC

Meet the Speakers

The Women’s Leadership Summit: Power and Collaboration brings together a diverse group of influential women. This virtual summit offers opportunities for women to learn and interact with each other, irrespective of their location.

Andrea Brooks, Founder and CEO – Sava; Annie Holman, Founder and CEO – The Galley; Christine De La Rosa – The People’s Ecosystem; Kate Lynch, SVP Marketing – Curaleaf; Khadijah Adams – Girl Get that Money; Franny Tacy, Founder and CEO – Franny’s Farmacy; Helen Gomez Andrews, Co-founder and CEO – The High End; Katie Pringle, Co-founder – Marigold Marketing; Kendra Losee, Founder and CEO – Mota Marketing; Lelehnia DuBois – The Humboldt Grace; Dr. Lola Ohonba, WCI Health, Clinical Pharmacist, Certified Medical Cannabis Specialist – WCI; Mara Gordon, Founder and TEDx speaker – Aunt Zelda’s; Mskindness Rivera; Nancy Whiteman, CEO – Wana Brands; Rosie Mattio, Founder and CEO – MATTIO Communications; Scheril Murray Power, Cannabis and Agricultural Attorney – Doumar Allsworth Laystrom Voigt Wachs Adair & Dishowitz LLP; Susan Soares, Founder and CEO – The State of Cannabis; Tiffany Yarde; Valda Coryat, CMO – Trulieve

Nancy Whiteman, Wana Brands CEO

“Pursuing inclusion and diversity in business is not just a way to encourage goodwill. It is a strategic business decision that can literally make or break a company. This is not a wishful, feel-good attempt to make news or have people speak well of the industry. It is truly how we survive — and maybe how we change the world a little bit.” – Nancy Whiteman, Wana Brands CEO

Mara Gordon – Founder Aunt Zelda’s

“This quote from the late Helen Keller says it all – ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.'” – Mara Gordon – Founder Aunt Zelda’s

Dr. Lola Ohonba PHARM.D.

“Women are the “Pillar” of the world but are being left behind in major sectors of our economy especially after the pandemic. It’s time for us to come together as one to claim our spot at the decision-making table!” – Dr. Lola Ohonba PHARM.D.

Chrystal Ortiz – CEO/Founder Herb & Market Humboldt, High Water Farm

“It is well known that women are more than good enough to run companies. We need to recognize if we are good enough to do the work, we are good enough to own the work. We need to empower one another, create financial opportunities and invest in each other to become owners and make sure there are women in the C-suite of the companies we work with. This is why.” – Chrystal Ortiz – CEO/Founder Herb & Market Humboldt, High Water Farm

Power & Collaboration Event Topics

The day’s schedule will be broken into ten categories:

  • Keynote: EXECUTIVES: How to Use Power in Leadership
  • Keynote: MESSAGING: Developing a POWER message for women in cannabis
  • Keynote: FINANCE: Women, Money & Power
  • Panel: CULTIVATION: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: MANUFACTURING: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: SCIENCE & RESEARCH: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: RETAIL: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: INTERNATIONAL: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: CBD: Power & Collaboration
  • Panel: HEMP: Power & Collaboration

Join the all-day live virtual conference on July 21, 2021, at 10 am PST / 1 pm EST – 5 pm PST / 8 pm EST

Don’t miss this incredible event! Register here to attend.

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