Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis

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9781442271913: Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis

One of the most important relationships that human beings have with plants is changing our consciousness--consider the plants that give us coffee, tea, chocolate, and nicotine. Sacred Bliss challenges traditional attitudes about cannabis by tracing its essential role in the spiritual and curative traditions of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas from prehistory to the present day. In highlighting the continued use of cannabis around the globe, Sacred Bliss offers compelling evidence of cannabis as an entheogen used for thousands of years to evoke peak-experiences, or moments of expanded perception or spiritual awareness.

Today, the growing utilization of medical cannabis to alleviate the pain and symptoms of physical illness raises the possibility of using cannabis to treat the mind along with the body. By engaging sacred and secular texts from around the world, Sacred Bliss demonstrates that throughout religious history, cannabis has offered access to increased imagination and creativity, heightened perspective and insight, and deeper levels of thought.

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About the Author:

Mark S. Ferrara is an associate professor of English at State University of New York. He is the author of several books, including Palace of Ashes: China and the Decline of American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press).

Review:

Ferrara examines how cannabis has informed the history of religions, tracing this history geographically to show the ways that Indians, Middle Easterners, Chinese, Africans, and Native Americans have variously incorporated cannabis as a psychoactive, medicinal, or textile plant throughout most of human history. In addition to Rastafarians, religious users include Zoroastrian mystics, Muslim Sufis, and Native American shamans, who relied on the drug to achieve experiences that blurred distinctions between self and other. Casting such experiences as central to religious expression, Ferrara suggests that cannabis can provide mystical experiences for many who cannot achieve them otherwise. He provides significant context to understanding the religious traditions he discusses, a helpful move to ensure that cannabis appears as an ancillary rather than central component. His final chapter on the Euro-American literary connection to cannabis feels slightly out of place, but shows that experimentation with the substance has a long history in the West. The work remains mostly analytic, but his afterword moves slightly toward arguing for increased legalization of cannabis. After laying out the history of potential spiritual benefits, this convincing conclusion provides a quiet rationale for more openness and a return to cannabis use as a spiritual practice. (Publishers Weekly)

The history of marijuana usage stretches far back beyond the era of hippies or reggae fans. According to this book, humans have been consuming cannabis for various reasons since their earliest days. Far from being recreational, though, cannabis has been used in religions all across history and all around the world to dissolve the boundaries between the self and the divine and open the mind to ecstatic experiences. The author describes cannabis use from every continent and throughout most religions.... [I]t’s undeniable that worshippers have been using it for centuries. Ferrara urges abandoning marijuana fears and advocates for cannabis’ potential as a bringer of 'peak experiences,' which he speculates might lead to a kinder, more peaceful society. (Booklist)

As it turns out, the hippies were right. More than a recreational drug, more than a tonic for physical ills, marijuana has always been medicine for the spirit. Mark Ferrara's Sacred Bliss is far and away the best available study of the drug’s neglected spiritual history. I recommend it highly. (John Charles Chasteen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of Getting High: Marijuana through the Ages)

With scholarly acumen and attunement to the pulses of social evolution, Mark Ferrara guides us through centuries of respectful cannabis use within diverse world religions, and he thoughtfully explores its potential to contribute to the spiritual awakening so urgently needed in the early twenty-first century. This book is a critical, invaluable, and timely "missing link" in the literature on marijuana and on how certain non-ordinary states of awareness may contribute to psychological and spiritual development. (William A. Richards, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, author of Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences)

This book offers a concise, accessible history of the diverse spiritual contexts cannabis has occupied for millennia, from the ancient Indus Valley to the U.S. today. Many cultures have valued the plant as a pathway to heightened creativity and deeper self-awareness. Ferrara argues that knowledge of its spiritual history can help people who partake nowadays find greater meaning and insight in their experiences. (Chris Duvall, University of New Mexico)

Ferrara takes us on a lucid, provocative, and engaging journey, demonstrating how cannabis has been used—over thousands of years and in an astonishing array of cultural settings—to open the mind to a realm of consciousness beyond the boundaries of the ego. This meticulously researched book will be of interest to anyone curious about how human beings have sought to discover a sacred dimension of reality in the midst of ordinary life. Readers will find here an entirely new perspective on the current debate over the pharmaceutical and recreational value of marijuana. (C. W. Huntington, Jr., Hartwick College, author of Maya: A Novel)

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Book Description ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. One of the most important relationships that human beings have with plants is changing our consciousness-consider the plants that give us coffee, tea, chocolate, and nicotine. Sacred Bliss challenges traditional attitudes about cannabis by tracing its essential role in the spiritual and curative traditions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas from prehistory to the present day. In highlighting the continued use of cannabis around the globe, Sacred Bliss offers compelling evidence of cannabis as an entheogen used for thousands of years to evoke peak-experiences, or moments of expanded perception or spiritual awareness. Today, the growing utilization of medical cannabis to alleviate the pain and symptoms of physical illness raises the possibility of using cannabis to treat the mind along with the body. By engaging sacred and secular texts from around the world, Sacred Bliss demonstrates that throughout religious history, cannabis has offered access to increased imagination and creativity, heightened perspective and insight, and deeper levels of thought. Bookseller Inventory # AAU9781442271913

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Book Description ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. One of the most important relationships that human beings have with plants is changing our consciousness-consider the plants that give us coffee, tea, chocolate, and nicotine. Sacred Bliss challenges traditional attitudes about cannabis by tracing its essential role in the spiritual and curative traditions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas from prehistory to the present day. In highlighting the continued use of cannabis around the globe, Sacred Bliss offers compelling evidence of cannabis as an entheogen used for thousands of years to evoke peak-experiences, or moments of expanded perception or spiritual awareness. Today, the growing utilization of medical cannabis to alleviate the pain and symptoms of physical illness raises the possibility of using cannabis to treat the mind along with the body. By engaging sacred and secular texts from around the world, Sacred Bliss demonstrates that throughout religious history, cannabis has offered access to increased imagination and creativity, heightened perspective and insight, and deeper levels of thought. Bookseller Inventory # AAU9781442271913

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