It is most likely the seeds described
by Herodotus were seeded buds, and that the charred seeds found by archeologists
are what was left over from the burnt buds.
Proving the Myth
Herodotus' ancient records of the Scythian hemp rites
were once believed to be mythical, but they were verified in 1929, with the
discovery of a Scythian tomb in Pazyryk, Western Altai, by Professor S. I.
Rudenko. As cannabis expert Ernest Abel explains in
Marihuana, the First
Digging into some ancient
ruins near the Altai Mountains on the border between Siberia and Outer
Mongolia, Rudenko found a trench about 160 feet square and about 20 feet deep.
On the perimeter of the trench were the skeletons of a number of horses.
Inside the trench was the embalmed body of a man and a bronze cauldron filled
with burnt marihuana seeds!
Clearing the site further, Rudenko
also found some shirts woven from hemp fibre and some metal censors designed
for inhaling smoke which did not appear to be connected with any religious
rite. To Rudenko, the evidence suggested that inhalation of smoldering
marihuana seeds occurred not only in religious context, but also as an
everyday activity in which Scythian women participated alongside the men.
describes the cauldrons found at these Scythian burial sites as follows:
These cauldrons varied in
size from quite small examples to others weighing as much as 75 pounds. An
overwhelming majority have a solid base, shaped like a truncated cone, around
which the fire was heaped. The upper section is a hemispherical bowl... with
handles (shaped like animals) fixed to the rim opposite each other... at
Pazyryk, small cauldrons filled with stones and hemp seeds were found standing
beneath leather or felt tentlets with three or six supports.
It is known that sacrifices took place
with the death of a Scythian king, as the physical evidence collected by
archeologists can attest to. For 40 days after the death of a king, the mourners
would travel the country conducting the king's dead body through the lands he
had ruled in life. After this the body was taken to a tomb for burial, where a
massive sacrifice took place, not only of horses, but of humans as well. The
king's wives, cupbearers and principal servants were destined to join him,
willingly or not, in the afterworld.
The Great Goddess
Two extraordinary rugs were also found in the frozen
Scythian tombs. One rug had a border frieze with a repeated composition of a
horseman approaching the great goddess Tabiti-Hestia, the patroness of fire and
beasts. She is depicted as holding the "Tree of Life" in one hand and raising
the other in welcome.
Tabiti-Hestia is the only deity who
figures in Scythian art. Considering the barbaric nature of these people it is
interesting that she is a female, but perhaps really not all that surprising, as
many of the peaceful goddesses became more fierce in the transition from
matriarchy to patriarchy.
The Woman's Book of Myths and
Secrets, Barbara Walker writes about the Scythian religion.
The only deity shown in
Scythian art was the Great Goddess, whom the Greeks called Artemis, or Hestia
or Gaea (The Earth)... Scythians were governed by Priestess-Queens, usually
buried alone in richly furnished Kurgans (queen graves)...
The moon-sickle used in mythical
castrations of God was a Scythian weapon. A long-handled form therefore came
to be called a scythe, and was assigned to the Grim Reaper, who was originally
Rhea Kronia [the old crone] in the guise of Mother Time, or Death- the Earth
who devoured her own children. Scythian women apparently used such weapons in
battle as well as religious ceremonies and agriculture.
The Scythian Queens
One thing that differentiates the tombs of royal
Scythian queens from that of the kings is the complete lack of brutal
In the 1994 November issue of High
Times, staff reporter Bill Weinberg reported on a more recent Scythian
The newest find is from the
remote Altai mountains of Siberia- specifically, from the archeological dig at
Ukok, near where the borders of Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan meet.
Russian scientists found the 2,000-year-old mummified remains of a Scythian
queen elegantly laid out in white silk alongside horse harnesses, a mirror,
dishes- and a small ceremonial container of cannabis. The July 13 New York
Times report on the find says archeologists believe Scythian pot "was smoked
for pleasure and used in pagan rituals..."
The Enigmatic Enaries
Cannabis was not only used by the Scythians for
relaxation and ceremonies for the dead. These ancient nomads had a class of
shaman-magicians called the Enaries. These were ancient transvestites who
uttered prophecies in high pitched voices. This at first sounds bizarre, but was
actually a very common trait among shamans world wide. The Scythians believed
that these people, who had characteristics of both sexes, were somehow also
living in both worlds, and could travel between the two.
Of the groups directly influenced by the Scythian use
of cannabis, probably the most notable would be the red-haired, fair-skinned