Sound is often understood as generally having a privileged role in the production and modulation of fear, activating instinctive responses, triggering an evolutionary functional nervousness.
The power of sound to instill dread was well known to the heavily outnumbered Maroons, the tribal nation turned guerrilla fighters who claimed a number of astounding victories in their asymmetric conflict with the English colonialists in Jamaica during the
late eighteenth century.
The abeng, a fashioned cow horn, had two uses: by slave holders to call the slaves to the cane fields and a “traditional form of communication among the communities, warning them and sending messages across difficult terrain.”
The Maroons used the abeng in tandem with their other special techniques—drum communication, the ambush, and camouflage—in order to outwit the British: “They embedded themselves in leaves and vines and melted into the surrounding bushes. The
British repeatedly walked into clearings where their surroundings would suddenly come
alive and close in on them.”
The abeng, as a system of communication, produced signals “reproducing the pitch and rhythmic patterns of a fairly small vocabulary of Twi words, from their mother language, in most cases called Kromantin (Maroon spelling) after the Ghanaian port from which many slave ancestors were shipped.”
Sentries stationed outside the villages would use the different pitches to communicate the British approach, the extent of the weapons they carried, and their path. But the abeng also had another affective function: to scare the British with its “hideous and terrible” dislocated tones, sometimes managing to repel the invaders with sound itself. Gradually, as the British learned to assign a cause to its shrieking, high- pitched sound, their terror of Maroon ambush only intensified.
Found in 1738: Bad Vibrations, from:
SONIC WARFARE Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear, by Steve Goodman.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2010.
Humanity Evolved with Cannabis
Sea squirts are marine organisms that shared a common ancestor with vertebrates (animals, reptiles, birds, fish, etc.) 55 million years ago. These primitive animals have a precursor to the human heart. And they have an endocannabinoid system, producing naturally occurring cannabinoids like other animals. According to NORML, “By comparing the genetics of cannabinoid receptors in different species, scientists estimate that the endocannabinoid system evolved in primitive animals over 600 million years ago.”
Mind-altering plant and fungal medicines grow in every habitable place on earth. Chimps eat over a dozen species of plants for medicinal purposes. Large groups of them have been known to walk long distances to get to these medicinal plants, which scientists later discovered do things like kill parasites, fungi, and viruses. In fact, whole classes of compounds for human use have been formulated as a direct result of watching our wild cousins. Evidence from all over the world shows animals in the wild using psychoactive plants and mushrooms.
Early humans would naturally observe and learn from the animals around them, and, being animals themselves, would also be drawn to various forms of plant medicine. Modern anthropologists studying hunter-gatherer tribes found that they have an encyclopedic knowledge of local flora and fauna. The fungi, plants, and animals that they formed a special connection with were integrated into primitive spiritual rituals, rituals that would later evolve into yoga, for example.
Cannabis is known to be one of humanity’s earliest agricultural crops, having evolved between 6 and 34 million years ago. The exact time and place of first contact is still debated: some scientists point toward central Asia and others identify Europe during the last Ice Age. The herb entered the archaeological record of Asia and eastern Europe at about the same time, between about 12,500 and 10,000 years ago. A recent review of cannabis archaeological data links an intensification of cannabis use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the dawn of the Bronze Age, about 5,000 years ago.
Humans used both nonpsychoactive hemp and the more medicinal cannabis version of the plant for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it was first used for food, as it was for other animals, then as medicine, and later as an intoxicant to enter an altered state as part of spiritual rituals. At some point we began making rope and textiles from its fiber, and those ropes may have been instrumental in the domestication of the horse.
Charred seeds have been found inside the burial mounds dating back to 3,000 BCE, and the oldest cannabis archaeological relic in existence is a piece of hemp cloth from 10,000 years ago.
Found in: Chapter 4. THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS AND YOGA, from:
Ganja Yoga: A Practical Guide to Conscious Relaxation, Soothing Pain Relief, and Enlightened Self-Discovery , by Dee Dussault, 2017.