The Ontology of the Partnership Model at Cannabis Expo Montreal
After returning from the opening party of Montreal’s first Cannabis Expo, I dreamt of discovering Terence McKenna’s 1993 classic, Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution in a used bookstore for $6.
The number six signifies the hieros gamos. This was a clue to a crucial connection. While McKenna doesn’t use this term, in his introduction he credits his breakthrough to the “partnership model” revisioning of Riane Eisler’s international 1987 bestseller “The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future.”
Of all the pandemic plant intoxicants inhabiting the earth, cannabis is second only to mushrooms in its promotion of the social values and sensory ratios that typified the original partnership societies. How else are we to explain the unrelenting persecution of cannabis use in the face of overwhelming evidence that, of all the intoxicants ever used, cannabis is among the most benign? Its social consequences are negligible compared with those of alcohol. Cannabis is anathema to the dominator culture because it deconditions or decouples users from accepted values. Because of its subliminally psychedelic effect, cannabis, when pursued as a lifestyle, places a person in intuitive contact with less goal-oriented and less competitive behavior patterns. For these reasons marijuana is unwelcome in the modern office environment… — Terence McKenna
The Montreal Cannabis Expo revealed McKenna to be quite the prophet, for all sorts of partnerships were sought at Place Bonaventure October 26–27.
The thousands of names by which cannabis is known in hundreds of languages are testament not only to its cultural history and ubiquity but also its power to move the language-making faculty of the poetic soul. Kunubu it is called in an Assyrian letter tentatively dated 685 B.C.; a hundred years later it is referred to as kannapu, the root of the Greek and Latin cannabis. It is bang, beng, and bbnj; it is ganja, gangika, and ganga. Asa to the Japanese is dagga to the Hottentots; it is also keif and keef and kerp and ma. — Terence McKenna
There was no actual cannabis permitted at the Expo; we had to be content with photographic images, designs, accessories and shimmering bongs as ontological objects of the male-female partnering in “jolly green goddess worship.”
The spectacular display of glass BONGS certainly displayed the Ontology of partnership in the phallic Male stem with the Female bowl!
American slang alone contains a prodigious number of words for cannabis. Even before 1940, before it was a part of mainstream white culture, cannabis was known as muggles, mooter, reefer, greefa, gri ffo, Mary Warner, Mary Weaver, Mary Jane, Indian hay, loco weed, love weed, joy smoke, giggle smoke, bambalacha, mohasky, mu, and moocah. Such terms were the mantras of an experientially oriented underclass religion that worshiped a jolly green goddess. — Terence McKenna
Outpourings of style and esthetically managed personal display are usually anathema to the nuts-and-bolts mentality of dominator cultures. In dominator cultures without any living traditions of use of plants that dissolve social conditioning, such displays are usually felt to be the prerogative of women. Men who focus on such concerns are often assumed to be homosexuals-that is, they are not following the accepted canons of male behavior within the dominator model….
Indeed, the physiological evidence presented by Srinivasan Reddy of PhytoteQ Innovations reveals that THC has the effect on the body as the Kundalini, in opening the Chakras via the spinal chord. This creates not only topical facilitators, but the need for grounding via edibles!
The longer hair lengths for men seen with the rise of marijuana use in the United States in the 1960s were a textbook case of an influx of apparently feminine values accompanying the use of a boundary-dissolving plant. The hysterical reaction to such a minor adjustment in folkways revealed the insecurity and sense of danger felt by the male ego in the presence of any factor that might tend to restore the importance of partnership in human affairs. — Terence McKenna
In this context, it is interesting to note that cannabis occurs in both a male and a female form. And it is the identification, care, and propagation of the female of the species that is the total concern of the grower interested in the narcotic power of the plant. This is because the resin is the exclusive product of the female plant. Not only do males not produce a usable drug, but if the pollen from male plants reaches females, the females will begin to “set” seed and will cease their production of resin. It is thus a kind of happy coincidence that the subjective effects of ingesting cannabis and the care and attention needed to produce a good resin strain both conspire to accentuate values that are oriented toward honoring and preserving the feminine. — Terence McKenna
There was the big distinction to be made between the healing properties of CBD found in the male seeding hemp plant, which has been available through prescription, and THC, the psychoactive component of the drug, which is the gift of the female marijuana plant.
In our culture, private drug taking is viewed as dubious; solitary drug use is viewed as positively morbid; and, indeed, all introspection is seen this way. The Archaic model for use of psychoactive plants, including cannabis, is quite the opposite. Ritual, isolation, and sensory deprivation are the techniques used by the Archaic shaman seeking to journey in the world of the spirits and ancestors. There is no doubt that cannabis is trivialized as a commodity and is degraded by the designation “recreational drug,” but there is also no doubt that when used occasionally in a context of ritual and culturally reinforced expectation of a transformation of consciousness, cannabis is capable of nearly the full spectrum of psychedelic effects associated with hallucinogens.
— Terance McKenna
Yet, whatever the purported ingredients, the containers at the Expo were all empty!
All the fancy logos, brand names and packaging on display in the Expo arrived to the show, just a week after legalization in Canada, with the positive expectation that cannabis will be legally approved (in other forms than flower and oil) before there is an opportunity for the conservatives to enter power next fall.
Despite all the pressures brought against it, cannabis use rose until today cannabis may well be America’s single largest agricultural product. This is one of the most persistent aspects of the great paradigm shift that I am here calling the Archaic Revival. It indicates that the innate drive to restore the psychological balance typifying the partnership society, once it finds a suitable vehicle, is not easily deterred. Everything about cannabis that makes it inimical to contemporary bourgeois values endears it to the Archaic Revival. It diminishes the power of ego, has a mitigating effect on competitiveness, causes one to question authority, and reinforces the notion of the merely relative importance of social values.
In fact, the lead role that Canadian. women are taking in defining the sociology around legalization is impressive, as revealed by…
“This is the beginning of the development of products. They will begin to move to the upper core of pharmaceutical standards….We are literally in a situation today where the exact same genetic is sitting in the SQDC (the government retail outlet) and the licensed producers… We must think about the future of Cannabis in science and ask ourselves what we want to see…” — Jenn Larry
And there was the revolutionary product line making physical the literal partnership exploration of the Third Realm of the Hieros Gamos…
The other favorite booth was constructed of a male-female partnership…
Indeed, McKennap as prophet has proved to be instigator of the current paradigm shift in which the values radically shift into the honoring of the ever-present icon of the Hieros Gamos attuned with the natural cycles of nature and the cosmos!
Hebert’s story is a living Mythology confirming McKenna’s prophecy:
No other drug can compete with cannabis for its ability to satisfy the innate yearnings for Archaic boundary dissolution and yet leave intact the structures of ordinary society. If every alcoholic were a pothead, if every crack user were a pothead, if every smoker smoked only cannabis, the social consequences of the “drug problem” would be transformed. Yet, as a society we are not ready to discuss the possibility of self-managed addictions and the possibility of intelligently choosing the plants we ally ourselves to. In time, and perhaps out of desperation, this will come.
Dr. (Shiva) Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a cultural critic based in Montreal.
All quotes from Terence McKenna in this article are from “Food of the Gods”.
All photos published here from Montreal’s Cannabis Expo were taken by Lisa Paul Streitfeld with permission of participants.