Yep, Cannabis. Take A Look At This.
Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge and writing, is depicted on a temple in Luxor wearing what some historians say is a cannabis-leaf headdress. (Looks a lot like it to us.)
The mummified and tattooed remains of the Altai Princess — also known as the Siberian Ice Maiden — a 20-something-year-old woman who died of metastatic breast cancer 2,500 years ago, was found buried with cannabis, which she likely took to alleviate her pain. Burial clues suggest she may also have been a shaman; if so, her elevated status might have resulted from her cannabis use, since an altered state was believed to facilitate communication with the spirit world.
According to Diodorus Siculus, a Sicilian-Greek historian, Egyptian women use cannabis to ease sorrow and lift their spirits. (The first Positivi-tea!)
Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician who travels throughout the Roman Empire, reports that cannabis is used to suppress sexual longing. (Our take on this is they must have had to get really, really stoned for this effect to work. In small doses, cannabis is a known aphrodisiac.)
The Egyptians use a cannabis-infused pessary (vaginal suppository) to ease childbirth and uterine pain. (Go Foria!)
Cannabis as a birthing aid is adopted across Europe. German midwives near the end of the Middle Ages advise that following a Caesarean section, mothers are to be wrapped with “a plaster made of three eggs, hemp cloth and Armenian earth.” (Which turns out to have made a type of cast. Ingenious.)
Indian tantric sex practices incorporate cannabis, calling for a mixture of the leaves, fruits and stems to be mixed with milk, water and spices to create an aphrodisiac known as bhang. (This is still available today on the streets of India and will knock your socks off. At least it did for us.)
One Thousand and One Nights, the tales told over 1,001 nights by the legendary Arabic queen, Scheherazade, in order to keep herself alive, describes hashish’s intoxicating and aphrodisiac properties.
Persian women mix the juice of cannabis seeds with herbs to treat migraines and prevent miscarriage.
The Old English Herbarium calls for cannabis mixed with fat to be applied to painful, swollen breasts.
In an era when few women wrote much of anything, Hildegard von Bingen, a brilliant Benedictine abbess in what is now Germany, regularly corresponds with the Pope. Known as Saint Hildegard, she also writes plays and music and produces major works covering everything from theology to medicine. In Physica, she addresses the medical benefits of cannabis, recommending it for headaches and as a poultice to treat wounds. (If her self-reported visions are anything to go by, it seems likely she partook of her own medicine.)
Queen Victoria is said to rely on cannabis to relieve menstrual cramps. Reports suggest she also uses it to counter morning sickness and as an obstetrical anesthetic. (Coming from someone who popped out 9 kids, we reckon she knew what she was talking about.)
Harriet Martineau — an English writer, feminist, abolitionist, social reformer and sociologist (whose descendants include Kate Middleton) — travels to the Middle East. In her memoir, Eastern Life Present and Past, she recounts an experience of enjoying cannabis in a harem: “The poor Jewesses were obliged to decline joining us; for it happened to be Saturday: they must not smoke on the Sabbath. They were naturally much pitied: and some of the young wives did what was possible for them. Drawing in a long breath of smoke, they puffed it forth in the faces of the Jewesses, who opened mouth and nostrils eagerly to receive it. Thus was the Sabbath observed, to shouts of laughter.”
The Monthly Journal of Medical Science of Edinburgh notes that cannabis has a “remarkable power of increasing the force of uterine contraction during labour.”
The plant achieves official medical recognition as a childbirth aid when it is included in the Dispensatory of the United States as a method of inducing contractions.
Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, pens works depicting cannabis use. Her story “Perilous Play” ends with the line, “Heaven bless hashish, if its dreams end like this!” (Their content suggests she may have enjoyed its effects herself.)
Russian virgins turn to cannabis as an aphrodisiac and to ease the anxiety and discomfort of wedding night sex.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recommends cannabis drops for PMS-induced migraines. (Interestingly, just last year it published a statement that cannabis is medicine after reviewing 79 clinical trials.)
Based on her own experience and that of societies that use cannabis, cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead tells the U.S. Senate that cannabis should be legalized. She is lambasted in the press and labeled a “drug fiend.”
Maya Angelou extols the virtues of cannabis in her second memoir, Gather Together In My Name.
Fulla Nayak of India dies at what is believed to be age 125; she attributed her long life to her “ganja” cigars.
Although they hold less than 25% of the leadership roles in corporate America (and less than 5% of CEO positions), women already make up 36% of all executive-level leadership positions in the cannabis industry, including 63% of high-level roles at testing labs. (We’re pleased to be in such good company.)
Fit Pregnancy and Baby publishes an article entitled “Could Weed Be the Next Big Morning Sickness Cure?” Their answer is yes, in moderation.
Kikoko, a company founded by two women in 2014, launches a line of absolutely fabulous teas. Mankind rejoices.
For more on women’s use of cannabis throughout the ages: