Poppy seeds are tasty and non-psychoactive food, as all lovers of buns with poppy seeds can confirm. But if an immature seed box is incised with a blade or simply scratched with a fingernail, then a milk will soon appear, like latex, which, when thickened, turns into a dark brown substance. This material is raw opium. Like the psilocybin fungus growing on cattle litter, ergot growing on rye and other cereals, opium poppy – the main psychoactive plant – developed in close proximity to the source of human food. In the case of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), the psychoactivity and nutritional value of the same plant are two sides of the same coin.
Opium – in one form or another – was at the doctors in service at least since 1600 BC. er One of the Egyptian medical guides of the time prescribed it as a sedative for children – exactly as the Victorian nannies did, giving the children the Godfrey flavored drink with opium to soothe them. Opium — this black sticky gum — was not smoked for most of its history, but dissolved in wine and drank or rolled into a ball and swallowed. Opium as a remedy for pain, for euphoria and, according to widespread rumors, an aphrodisiac, was known in Eurasia a few thousand years ago.
During the decline of the Minoan civilization, which dates back thousands of years, and its religion of the Archaic cult of the Great Mother, the original source of the connection of plant nature to the Goddess was eventually replaced by opium intoxication. Early Minoan texts indicate that the poppy was widely cultivated in Crete and Pylos in the Late Minian era; According to these texts, poppy heads were used as ideograms on payment labels. The indicated quantities of the poppy crop are so large that for some time it was assumed that these numbers refer to the grain, and not to the poppy. This is easy to understand, since Demeter was a goddess of both.
As far as knowledge about poppy was transferred to the Greek mysteries of Demeter on the mainland, in fact, it remains to be seen, especially from those considerations that there is a certain iconographic confusion between the poppy flower and the pomegranate, a plant also associated with the mysteries. Kareni quotes Theocritus.
For the Greeks, Demeter was still the poppy goddess, Holding a sheaf and a poppy in her hands.
The famous illustration from Erich Neumann’s book “The Great Mother” depicts a Goddess next to a hive, holding poppy boxes and ears in her left hand, and her right hand resting on one of the undecorated columns that were central to the Minoan religion of the land (ill. 20). It has rarely happened that so many elements of the Archaic technology of ecstasy so obviously come together. This image is an almost pure allegory of the transformation of the Minoan shamanic spirituality in its late phase. Its mushroom roots symbolize the non-conic column; they are the touchstone of the Goddess, addressed to the promises of poppy and ergotized grain. The beehive introduces the theme of honey, the archetypal image of ecstasy, female sexuality and protection, alternating botanical identities and sacred sacraments.
Poppy and latex opium were known to the ancient Egyptians and are manifested in their funerary art, as well as in the earliest medical papyrus. Different types of poppy were known to Persians; in ancient Greece and other places, the poppy was known as the “tribuler”.
Theophrastus knew him as a means of causing sleep, in 300 BC. e., and his observations repeated Pliny in the I century AD. e., adding thoughts of opium poisoning. The Greeks dedicated the poppy to the goddess of the night Nike, Morpheus – the son of Hypnos and the god of dreams, and Thanatos – the god of death. They brought together all his properties in the deities to which he was offered as an offering. Opium spread throughout the Islamic world after the VII century. It was undoubtedly used to treat dysentery, as well as to alleviate mental anguish.
Although the property of opium to cause addiction was mentioned by Heraclides of Tarent in the III century BC. Oe., it was something that even doctors could not understand for almost 2000 years. We, who grew up with the notion of addiction as a disease, may find it hard to believe that chemical dependence on opiates was neither noted nor described by medical authorities until the beginning of the 17th century. In 1613, Samuel Pürchez remarked about opium that “once consuming it, you will have to continue it on pain of death, although some find a way out, resorting to wine instead”. “Understanding that opium causes addiction is rarely found in that period.”
For the ancient world, opium was a means of bringing sleep and relief of pain. In the last days of the Roman Empire, opium was prescribed, perhaps, excessively. Then, opium consumption almost stopped in Europe for many centuries; Old herbalists from Saxon England mention juice, which is driven from poppies as a remedy for headaches and insomnia, but opium undoubtedly played a rather minor role in the healing equipment of medieval Europe does not contain any signs or special marks for opium. although it contains such notes for hundreds of other substances and materials / Martin Rouland’s Alchemical Lexicon , published in 1612, mentions only the word “ozor” (osoror) as a synonym for opium, and without explanation.