On Baba Ku

Baba Ku 

Meanwhile, across the border from Persia in neighbouring Afghanistan, hashish aficionados have their own version of Sheik Haidar in the shape of a character called Baba Ku. So striking are the similarities between the stories of Sheikh Haidar and Baba Ku that they probably originate from the same source. Like Haidar, Baba Ku is characterised as a devout Sufi. He is celebrated for first bringing hashish to Afghanistan; he and his followers consumed the drug in prodigious quantities, regarding it as both a divine sacrament and a medicine. Baba Ku is generally acknowledged to be the founding father of cannabis culture in Afghanistan, and he is traditionally depicted as puffing on a giant hubble-bubble pipe. Again paralleling the Haidar legend, on the death of Baba Ku his disciples set up a shrine to him in the town of Balk in northern Afghanistan where they continued to cultivate a plot of cannabis in his memory. Pilgrims to the site were encouraged to smoke it up big time. Indeed, to this day in Afghanistan there are still hashish babas who venerate Baba Ku. Like the sadhus of India, they generally shun possessions other than their stash of hash and lead nomadic lives. However, from time to time they will gather together in smoking fraternities – summoned by a single mournful note blown through a giant conch shell – to fire it up in remembrance of the great Baba Ku. These Afghani hashish babas are some of the most serious smokers on earth and have been known to get through as much as an ounce (28g) per head at a single sitting. Another Islamic country strong on cannabis folklore is Morocco. Although a relative infant in terms of hashish production, the Moroccans have long been renowned for their love of kif – a marijuana and tobacco blend traditionally smoked in pipes. And they too have their patron saint of pot in the form of Sidi Hiri. Yet another Sufi Muslim, Sidi Hiri is said to have originally come to Morocco from Algeria bringing the sacred herb with him. Legend has it that he led a nomadic existence, sleeping rough in caves, wandering round the country, reciting the Koran, getting righteously ripped and turning on the locals to the joys of ganga. 

Found in: Spliffs – Celebration of cannabis culture by Nick Jones. 2003. 

ON ISHTAR

In ancient Sumeria, “Ishtar was held in high esteem as a heavenly monarch,” writes Jeanne Achterberg in Woman as Healer. “Her temples have been found at virtually every level of excavation.” The Ishtar Gate to the inner city of Babylon was one of the ancient wonders of the world. Also called the Queen of Heaven, Ishtar was a compassionate, healing deity. Her medicine kit likely included plant allies: a clay pot likely used for distillation of plant essences into medicines was found at a Sumerian grave site circa 5500 BC. The herb called Sim.Ishara, meaning “aromatic of the Goddess Ishtar,” is equated with the Akkadian qunnabu, or “cannabis,” writes Assyriologist Erica Reiner.
As the land of Sumer became a perpetual battlefield, Ishtar became the goddess of war and destiny, and became more sexualized, even as women were restricted from education and the healing arts.
In mankind’s first written story The Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2000 BC), the cruel king Gilgamesh calls Ishtar a predatory and promiscuous woman, and rebukes her advances, just before taking off with his buddy Enkidu to chop down the great cedar forest. Gilgamesh’s repudiation of Ishtar, some scholars say, signifies a rejection of goddess worship in favor of patriarchy in ancient times. In ancient Babylon, around the spring solstice, people celebrated the resurrection of their god Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother/wife Ishtar (pronounced “Easter” in most Semitic dialects). Flowers, painted eggs, and rabbits were the symbols of the holiday then, as now. Thus the goddess Ishtar resurrects every spring at Easter time, by way of the German goddess Ostara, “the divinity of the radiant dawn,” doubtlessly a reincarnation of Ishtar, who the Babylonians called “the morning star” and “the perfect light.” The biblical heroine Esther is also a descendant of Ishtar.

From: Tokin’ Women A 4000-Year Herstory
by Nola Evangelista (2015)

Image source: The Dryad Forest Nymph Goddess by Emily Balivet