Since times predating written history, humans, other animals, and birds, have gathered and utilized the highly nutritious seeds of what is known in modern terms as Cannabis, Hemp, or better known today as Marijuana.
In the Avestan Language cannabis is , which means Haoma. It is also know by many other names in other languages. In very early times, in one of the most ancient of languages3, it was known as Hao ma. Hao having the meaning of "good" and Ma being the chinese word for "hemp"!
In modern Chinese it is depicted by the pictographs for Huo Ma and the seed known as Huo Ma Ren or "Fire Hemp Seed", from it's spicy flavor when mixed with the plant as it would have originally been used.
Long before irrigation canals there were some that realized by looking to the east for the heliacal rising or "heavenly sign" of "the bright and morning star", known as SOTHIS to the Egyptians, Tishtar to Zoroastrians, and to us in modern times as Sirius, that when this sign was visible in the morning sky with the rising sun and moon all in place, it marked the season to SOW THIS STONE, of the fruit, and nature would do the watering. This could be viewed as fulfilling the symbolic nature of "Alpha and Omega" that which in the "beginning" was a seed would grow into a plant that in the "end" would give back the seed from which it began. When this plant that caused human to sit back and ponder deeper thoughts giving cognizance of the plant being capable of being planted, harvested, and stored in a dry location (i.e. cave). From this point forward humans had more time for other endeavors, to be creative, and societies emerged.
In the fall the seedy tops of the plant were cut off and bundled up by the women, whom were known to have been the ones to have gathered root. and herbs.A certain number of tops would be tied together with a spindly branch of the plant and then put before a fire to dry. There was a precise distance they would be kept so as not to cook or crack the seeds but close enough to quickly dry the bundles out.
These bundles known as Baresma (Berries of Ma, is Chinese for hemp) could then be stored for use until the next harvest season.
Daily the Baresma would be brought out and pounded with water to release the nutrients of the seed and plant matter into the water. This pulverized slurry was then placed in a filtering vessel with a hole in the bottom where a bowl would be placed beneath to catch the liquid, a greenish-yellow milk, where one cup could supply all of the dietary needs of a person satisfying their hunger for at least a day. The Haoma had to be prepared on a regular basis because like cows milk it will turn rancid. After setting for a day or two it separates into 3 parts with the flour settling to the bottom and oil floating to the top of the water, the third part that separates the other two.
In February 1938 Popular Mechanics ran an article declaring new innovations with a Hemp Decortating Machine would once again make hemp competitive calling it the "New Billion Dollar Crop", detailing it's ancient history, and relatively obscure usefulness which few today recall.
Today even more products could be produced and in fact are. Composite building materials, from 2x4 framing material to fiberboard for floors, walls, and roofing material, to Hempcrete for building lightweight, fire retardant structures. This plant, it's fiber, and oil bearing seed which caused societies to advance, just as stated in the Avesta, has caused some debate amongst researchers over the last couple of hundred years as to the true identity of Haoma. Russian Archaeologist Victor I. Sarianidi discovered evidence in the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex dating between the second and third millennium B.C. that clearly points to Hemp as the most likely candidate to solve the Soma-Haoma Problem. He submitted his findings in the Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 'EJVS' Vol. 9, Issue 1d, May 5,2003. However, his findings have not been widely accepted because most researchers do not want to include Hemp, Marijuana, as a candidate because it is considered a recreational drug (*1). This ignores the Truth of anciently recorded historical use of Hemp to the point of blinding those researchers to several important facts revealed in their researches.
Today most Scholars agree it is not a fermented drink because there is not enough time in the preparation ceremonies, described in ancient text, for fermentation to take place, yet C.C. Bakels believes the evidence shows a cereal which would require fermenting.
(SEE Note 2. below)
Researchers that discount Hemp as a viable candidate for Haoma should become more familiar with the seeds of Hemp as there are varieties with very small seeds and then there are effects of nature that can produce a crop of smaller then normal seeds at full maturity. Also without seeds remaining in the samples one does not know if the seeds had reached maturity and if not they would be very small. The totality of facts required to identify Haoma with any certainty show this to be an improper identity of seed imprints found at Margiana. As well as the other leading candidates alone or as mixtures. Ephedra, Poppies, Mushrooms, Syrian Rue, nor any other candidate besides Hemp meets all textually and orally identified properties. To positively identify Haoma the simplest of the following properties must be met: 1. The Avesta defines it as a single plant not a mixture of plants. 2. It provides nutrition, it is a food. 3. It has Healing properties. 4. It has mild Psychoactive properties, provoking thought or visions. 5. It provides material for garments, i.e. "sacred girdle", "Kusti". 6. It grows in the mountains, valleys, gorges, along rivers and streams. 7. It has been called a tree, shrub, bush, "grass", cane, and reed. 8. It is oderfarious "Sweet smelling good growth of the lord"
From the text of the Avestan "Hom Yasht" (Marijuana Hymn) Yasna 9-11, dedicated to Haoma and it's sacredness, it seems apparent that the ancients had cognizance of the healing properties provided by this drink. Modern science has shown the psychoactive principle (THC) of Haoma is not only responsible for the Homeostatic Balance of the Human body (Note 2.), it is also a "gram positive antibiotic" which is capable of killing the streptococci virus responsible for pneumonia, strep throat and scarlet fever.THC is oil soluble so it would easily be emulsified with the milk and pass through the strainer embodied in the Haoma Sacrament and the mild psychoactive properties would produce "enlightening" "visions" or "good thoughts" producing "good words" and or "good deeds" in answer to questions they may not have otherwise pondered.
The video below speaks with Victor Sardini at his digs in the Kara Kum desert and about the discovery of the ancient Haoma.
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*1. Local picture used is a scaled down version of original Fig.3. Summary Table. (cache) from May 2003 volume 9 issue 1d (cache) from the Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies at the EJVS project. (cache)
*2. Dr. Robert Melamede (cache), Microbiologist, Molecular Geneticist, Head of University of Colorado Biology Dept., has held a lifelong interest in "Life" and "Aging". He is also Professor of a course "Endocannabinoids and Medical Marijuana" (cache)