Marijuana Shamanism Part 2

A 2,700 year old body was recently discovered by a team of archaeologists working in northwestern China. Significant to this find was the accompanying 1.7 pounds of marijuana found with the corpse. Researchers have theorized that the individual was likely a shaman of the ancient Gushi culture of the region. The find represents the oldest "stash" of the plant ever found, and also perhaps the oldest evidence that marijuana was used ritually for healing in our past. From the article:
The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly "cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China.

The 18 researchers, most of them based in China, subjected the cannabis to a battery of tests, including carbon dating and genetic analysis. Scientists also tried to germinate 100 of the seeds found in the cache, without success.

The marijuana was found to have a relatively high content of THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, but the sample was too old to determine a precise percentage.

Researchers also could not determine whether the cannabis was smoked or ingested, as there were no pipes or other clues in the tomb of the shaman, who was about 45 years old.
This apparent ritual usage of the extremely popular plant has largely been lost with the passage of time. However, such usage remains a vestige of the human psyche, as many people engaging in the illegal use seek such traditions to incorporate into their lives and use of the plant. 

I was Born a Unicorn...

Here's something a bit amusing to round out our days of thanks-giving. Created by an anthropologist friend and her school teacher husband, it will certainly make you chuckle. Take time to read the quotes, as they are from actual anti-unicorn message boards. Who would have thought? 

Music courtesy of the Unicorns.

Fighting Terrorism with Facebook

The US State Department announced plans on Monday to promote online youth groups as a new and powerful way to fight crime, political oppression and terrorism.

Drawing inspiration from a movement against FARC rebels in Colombia, the State Department is joining forces with Facebook, Google, MTV, Howcast and others in New York City next week to get the "ball rolling."

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Source: The Raw Story

Food, Finance & Climate

Vandana Shiva's article on ZSpace, "Food, Finance & Climate: Triple Crisis, A Three-Fold Opportunity," explores the interconnectedness of the financial, food and climate crises and of their solutions.
The financial crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis have common roots, an economy based on debt - debt to nature, debt of farmers, debt of citizens. It is an economy ruled by fictions - the fiction of a corporation as a legal person, the fiction of derivatives and futures and collateral debt obligations, the fiction that corporations like Monsanto "invent" seed which is their "intellectual property", the fiction that soil fertility comes from fertilizer factories and the fiction that food as a commodity can nourish and feed people.
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Virginity Pacts: Saving the Amazon Rainforest

Returning to Resurgence Magazine once again, this time to the latest issue, which focused on food, we find this uplifting news about the Amazon, reported by Paul Kingsnorth:

SAVING THE AMAZON – the world’s largest rainforest – from destruction is a crucial challenge for humanity. It is a challenge that so far we have not risen to; an area the size of Belgium is still disappearing every year, as farmers, ranchers and loggers push ever further into what was once virgin forest.

So two recent pieces of good news from the forest should be celebrated as, in both cases, those responsible for the forest’s destruction have agreed to suspend their activities. Firstly, an ongoing moratorium on the purchase of soybeans from rainforest lands deforested after 2006 has been so successful that it has been extended until 2009. Soya farming is a growing cause of Amazon deforestation, and the moratorium, agreed to by the Brazilian Vegetable Oils Industry Association (which accounts for 94% of Brazil’s soya production), has been successful in preventing more rainforest land from falling to soya farmers.

At the same time another agreement with industry – this time with the loggers – looks set to help the forest too. The Amazon State of Pará, which is the source of 45% of Brazilian Amazon’s sawed timber and is notorious for high rates of illegal logging, has agreed with Brazil’s environment ministry and representatives of the logging industry to ban trade in illegal timber and timber from deforestation. Greenpeace Brazil says the new pact “will benefit local communities and promote legal and sustainable logging activities”. If both agreements work, there may yet be hope for the future of the Brazilian Amazon.
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Of Plants and Words: Biological and Linguistic Diversity

In their September/October issue, Resurgence Magazine focused on "Indigenous Intelligence: Diverse Solutions for the 21st Century." One article focused on biological and linguistic diversity: "A Word of Difference," by Maurice Calder. Calder asks whether the extinction of languages (an estimated 90% in 100 years) matters outside academic circles. "The answers to this question are complex and, in today’s world, become intermeshed with the political development of society, particularly since the rise of the nation-state;" writes Calder. "It is no accident that there are fewer languages spoken today in Europe, the place where the nation-state originated, than for example in just one African country: Nigeria."
GENERALLY SPEAKING, IT is noticeable how much in common there is between biological and linguistic diversity: the number of varieties are concentrated in similar places, and more ominously the activities of a few species or languages can have negative consequences. Just as, for example, the cane toad introduced into Australia is inexorably spreading and wiping out local fauna, and monocultures of Eurasian origin such as wheat, barley and cattle are replacing a profusion of local species, so languages such as English, Spanish and Chinese are expanding at the expense of local dialects and languages. The disappearance of hundreds of species of fish, birds and other forms of life along with their names and related knowledge of their habitat and behaviour represents a huge loss to science at precisely the time when we need most urgently to manage local ecosystems more effectively.
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Peruvian Shamans on the U.S. Elections

A very interesting video was posted by the BBC a few days before the U.S. presidential elections. It shows a group of shamans on the beach in Lima, Peru holding a ritual involving large pictures of Obama and McCain, along with a number of other ritual objects. A reported 9 out of 11 of the shamans participating were in favor of Obama winning the election. Yet more evidence that magic still works...

World Meeting of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity

From The New York Times comes a report of Venezuela's 8th Annual "World Meeting of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity," which was held in Caracas in October. Perhaps biased in its reporting (note the author's tone here: "Mr. Gajurel joined some 200 other leftist thinkers from around the world who convened here for a few days in October to discuss transitions toward socialism, even as many people in advanced Western countries were losing sleep over the spreading financial crisis of global capitalism."), the article nevertheless gives a glimpse of this meeting of the minds:

"In hotel corridors where oilmen in business suits once hatched deals over glasses of whiskey, delegates in Birkenstocks and guayaberas discussed Marx and Antonio Gramsci, the leftist Italian writer. Such meetings have become a staple of life in Caracas, with Mr. Chávez’s government flush, at least for now, with petrodollars that can be used to attract sympathetic members of the chattering classes the world over.

Officials here have organized international encounters for philosophers, women’s rights advocates, the government spokesmen of nonaligned countries, poets and, in September, specialists in body painting." Continue reading >>>

Battles of the Forgotten War on Drugs

From the Christian Science Monitor comes a nice article detailing some of the changes occurring in Latin American policy regarding the U.S. War on Drugs. 

Bolivia has given US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers three months to leave the country – claiming that agents were stirring up political strife in the deeply divided nation.
This fall, Ecuadorians voted yes to a new Constitution that calls for the closure by next year of one of the most important US operations in its war against drugs.
And for the fourth year in a row, Venezuela was singled out by President Bush – as was Bolivia for the first time – for having "failed demonstrably" in antidrug cooperation.
The US has long had a presence in Latin America to stem the northward drug flow; Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia are the world's largest cocaine producers. The US still boasts strong partnerships with many countries, such as Colombia and Mexico. But in others, particularly those led by leftists who have risen in collective condemnation of Washington, leaders are increasingly severing ties.
Their push for more self-determination could represent an opportunity to improve a strategy seen by many as a failure, says Kathryn Ledebur, director of the Andean Information Network in Bolivia. 
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The Marijuana Wars

We here at Recycled Minds made a deliberate decision to avoid posting or sharing things about the presidential election in the U.S. - why you may ask? It was our way of protesting politics as usual - as incredible amounts of money were spent on election campaigns, and candidate's rhetoric evolved into the typical pandering to certain demographics until the ultimate message became garbled and unclear. After watching Obama's victory speech, it became clear that he has returned to his original message of change, and that this election could prove to be one of the most important in the history of the country. 
With that, we would like to share a different victory of sorts: one that coincided with that of Obama's - some major wins for marijuana reform laws. The Drug War mongers are back on their heels, and lets hope that continues on - to their complete fall into the abyss. Some coverage of the victories was posted on Alternet and the Drug War Chronicle. These share the news and explain why it remains so important to change these laws.  

From Alternet: 

On Tuesday, largely under the radar of the pundits and political chattering classes, voters dealt what may be a fatal blow to America's longest-running and least-discussed war -- the war on marijuana.

Michigan voters made their state the 13th to allow the medical use of marijuana by a whopping 63 percent to 37 percent, the largest margin ever for a medical marijuana initiative. And by 65 percent to 35 percent, Massachusetts voters decriminalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, replacing arrests, legal fees, court appearances, the possibility of jail and a lifelong criminal record with a $100 fine, much like a traffic ticket, that can be paid through the mail.

What makes these results so amazing is that they followed the most intensive anti-marijuana campaign by federal officials since the days of "Reefer Madness." Marijuana arrests have been setting all-time records year after year, reaching the point where one American is arrested on marijuana charges every 36 seconds. More Americans are arrested each year for marijuana possession -- not sales or trafficking, just possession -- than for all violent crimes combined.

Shamanism in the Popular Imagination

Breaking from recycled minds tradition for a moment here, I am posting a headlining article on Yahoo! news from this morning. Reason being: assuming that Yahoo! caters to popular news readers, what is behind the popular attraction of shamanism? Why did this article, which announces the discovery of the "earliest known shaman grave site," make headlines?

LONDON (Reuters) – An ancient grave unearthed in modern-day Israel containing 50 tortoise shells, a human foot and body parts from numerous animals is likely one of the earliest known shaman burial sites, researchers said on Monday. Read More >>