Today's rambling is a bit brief.
Perhaps you read my recent thoughts on sobriety. If you didn't, you should check out the recent article about that here, in which I describe what it actually means to be “sober”; the fascinating history of the use of psychedelics and plant medicines in Judaism, Christianity, and other religions; where cannabis fits in and whether it is the equivalent of being drunk on booze, what God and the Bible say about “altered states of consciousness,” and much more.
Anyways, as a part of that article, I discussed the fascinating blends of oil and incense (also known as the Ketoret) that the Levite priests would burn in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, and explored the potentially psychedelic or consciousness-altering potential of those mixes.
For example, Exodus 30:23-24 says:
“Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane (in other translations, this would be called kaneh-bosm and also sweet calamus, and was most likely cannabis), and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil.”
And Exodus 30:34-35 says:
God says to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy.”
The Talmud (a central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law) adds to the ingredient list for the incense a few additional plants and herbs, including saffron, cassia, cinnamon, mastic, costus, spikenard, and agarwood. Go read the article to learn all the science and physiology behind why these would have been extremely potent blends for causing significant neurotransmitter and neurochemical shifts in the brain that would most likely have produced a noticeable mind-altering effect that could have resulted in more deep or enhanced communication with God.
Anyways, at the time of that writing, I hadn't actually tried these blends for myself. After all, who has piles of frankincense, myrrh, mastic, spikenard, agarwood, and the like just sitting around in their pantry?
But in the past few weeks, I had the chance to hunt down both the incense blend and the oil from, in this case, a small company in Port Angeles, Washington that actually replicates these type of Biblical recipes in their entirety. The only compound not included, for legality reasons, was any THC derived from cannabis. So I proceeded to purchase both the holy incense and the anointing oil, along with a charcoal incense burner, which is apparently the best way to burn the incense.
Then, three nights ago, when my sons were at a sleepover at their friend's house, my wife Jessa and I brought the incense burner, oil, and incense, along with a cannabis vape pen, into the sauna—which is probably the smallest enclosed space in our house where the smoke from the incense could become highly concentrated.
We then proceeded to do the following:
-Rubbed about two quarter-size portions of the anointing oil over the carotid arteries on either side of our neck, and on the temples behind the eyes.
-Lit the charcoal until it became quite hot (approximately three minutes under the flame) and then placed about a half teaspoon of the incense powder on it.
-Took a hit on the vape pen, but a very small hit, mind you—definitely nowhere near the amount necessary to get one high or stoned.
-Closed our eyes and began deep breathing, meditation, and eventually, prayer—all while smoke filled the sauna.
What happened next was one of the craziest plant medicine experiences I've ever had.
My third eye began dazzling with bright flashes of light and color, as though the DMT molecule floodgates had opened as wide as they would have had I done, say, an hour of holotropic breathwork, or a hit of DMT itself.
The inside of my hands and feet felt as though they quadrupled in size, and my entire body felt light, expansive, and very much “open,” as though I were on high doses of a heart opener such as MDMA.
My wife and I attempted to look into each other's eyes and talk together about what we were experiencing but felt instead an overwhelming sensation to simply close our eyes and slip into a deep meditation, combined with voicing prayers of gratefulness and worship to God.
I felt an intense sensation of simultaneous openness, gratefulness and happiness, along with a deep desire to connect to the Divine.
Mind you, this was at about 7 pm, and though we both had to slip out of the sauna after about thirty minutes to go finish our day's duties, neither of us had any inkling of an appetite and felt quite uneasy about eating. Furthermore, we were still feeling the effects of the blend well into the night, including when I woke up at midnight to use the restroom.
As a matter of fact, had I known the potency of this unique combination, I would have carved out an entire day of fasting, meditation, and prayer, and begun a protocol like this at perhaps eight or nine o'clock in the morning.
My ultimate takeaway after this profound experience is this: God is the Creator. He knows every plant, herb, fruit, vegetable, tree, and shrub He placed upon this planet in intimate detail, and also knows how to expertly combine any of them for very impressive effects. In this case, He appears to have given Moses instructions for how to make incense and oil that, when combined and applied in the proper set and setting, elevate one's state of consciousness into a dimension that is absolutely perfect for speaking to Him, listening to Him and deepening one's personal connection to Him.
…that's what happened.
And like I mentioned, now that I understand the power of this blend, the next time I'm going to approach a session like this with a bit more forethought and planning—and will also report back to you after I do. In the meantime, has anyone else tried the incense and oil from the book of Exodus? Do you have thoughts, comments, or feedback about this, or the accompanying article on sobriety that sent me down this path in the first place? Leave your musings below. I read them all.