The Points Interview: Chris Bennett

For the twenty-first Points Interview, we’re venturing down the road less traveled.  Today’s installment features Chris Bennett’s Cannabis and the Soma Solution (Trine Day, 2010).  In the very first line of the book, Chris makes a sensible observation: “Generally, when discussing the role of cannabis in history, most people’s minds go back to the early Sixties, or at most the reefer madness of the Jazz age…” (p. 1).  Cannabis and the Soma Solution takes the story back–way back, and we’re grateful to Chris for taking some time to discuss the book (you can see more of what he’s been up to here).

Describe your book in terms your mother (or the average mother-in-the-street) could understand.

In the minds of most people, our relationship with “marijuana” or cannabis as it is properly known, only goes back to the Hippy era of the 60s where it fueled a generation of free love seekers and anti-war protesters, but as Cannabis and the Soma Solution Book cover of Cannabis and the Soma Solutionexplains there is a seemingly archaic co-evolutionary relationship mankind has had with cannabis, to the extent that it is thought by some researchers to be humanity’s oldest agricultural crop. As this book documents, one of the most profound areas of influence in this relationship can be found in the ‘religious’ life of man, and where ever cannabis traveled in the ancient world, people seem to have recognized it as a gift from the gods, and utilized it as a shamanic plant that provided a clear form of religious inspiration that inspired poets and prophets a like whether it was burned in Mesopotamian Temples, or consumed in sacred beverages in India and Persia. In regards to the latter, Both the Indian Vedic texts, and their Persian counterpart, the Avesta, both of which derived from an identical earlier more ancient tradition, refer to a sacred beverage, known as Soma in India and Haoma in Persia,  which inspired both their gods and the texts authors, and the ingredients of this liquid sacrament has been a subject of scholarly debate for over a century. 

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