Many decades earlier, Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote Parzival, a search for the grail. His grail castle is called Monsalvat, which is similar to Montségur and has the same meaning: “safe mountain.”
On April 19th, 2021, at 4:30 PM, a ceremony for peace by Steven Hager and the Seeds of Doubt will premiere on Youtube. Several songs from the film have already been posted on the site. “In Search for the Grail” is the film’s theme song.
Study the Scythians to help navigate the missing history of religion. Their religion was documented by Herodotus, the father of Western history.
Scythians believed god sent them three golden objects: a golden cup, a golden plough, and a golden battle ax.
The cup was too hot too touch, but one day a boy was able to pick it up. His offspring became the royal Scythians, in charge of appointing the Enares, who ran the ceremonies. The family with the plough was put in charge of planting hemp and other crops in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. During the summer, they moved their herds up the mountain fields to graze, and returned to the banks of the Black Sea during the winter. I could write a long time about their customs, even though they had no written language and everything we know comes from Persia or from Greece, in other words, their enemies. The Scythians built and controlled the Silk Road, which meant they were also involved in the slave, drug and spice trades. Silk didn’t appear until millennia later.
When the straits of Bosphorus were first breached, possibly due to a meteor strike, sea water flooded into the Black Sea burying all the towns and villages on the shore, as well as several islands. The survivors move away, some to Turkey, some to Persia, some to Afghanistan. They develop flood myths.
Meanwhile, in Bactria a new avatar emerges, Zoroaster, who is using the Scythian sacraments, and popularizes drinking hot milk mixed with cannabis, which turns out to be the most effective delivery system, both for medicinal and inspirational purposes. Zoroaster is a barefoot holy man, not a warrior like Heracles, the previous avatar. He carries a magic stick instead of a magic sword. He saves the tribe through feats of magic, not through feats of strength.
The first Zoroastrian king of Persia (Cyrus the Great) defeats the corrupt Babylonian empire and replaces it with a more enlightened form of government. He frees the Jews enslaved by Babylon and says, “Take this money and go back to Jerusalem and rebuild your temple and write down the history of your tribe.”
Naturally, they create a new avatar to update Abraham, named Moses, who is a composite of Zoroaster and Cyrus. Like Zoroaster, Moses goes to the top of “smokey” mountain and comes back with god’s rules after conversing with a burning bush. Like Cyrus, Moses was a foundling whose real identity was kept hidden.
Alexander the Great’s father becomes the first to defeat the Scythians in battle, opening the way for his son to march across the Silk Road and conquer Bactria. Meanwhile a new avatar emerged in India and became popular in Bactria. His name was Buddha. The great pantheons of Indian, Greek, Egyptian and Persian gods had been rejected by Zoroaster, who created the first monotheistic religion, but Buddha creates the first “no gods” religion in which your fate is ruled by karma, not by whims of some god.
Alexander embraces Buddhism before he dies and for centuries afterwards the entire Middle East becomes Buddhist with a Greek flavor. Judea borders the Greco-Buddhist empire, and soon the most advanced Jews are working on a new avatar, inspired by Buddha. Stories and scrolls are written to celebrate this new movement, which is vegetarian and seeks to stop the slaughter of birds and animals inside the temple.
This is a small, tiny movement, but one that troubles Rome, so they send one of their citizens to persecute these new Christians causing trouble in the temple, interfering with the slaughter of animals and birds, which makes a lot of profit (and Rome gets a cut).
The persecutor is unable to wipe out the movement, so he joins it and becomes its biggest influencer after the movement’s leader, James, is thrown off a tower and murdered. Thus ends any talk of vegetarianism.
Two hundred years later, a boy is born of a Christian father and Zoroastrian mother in Persia, and develops unique theories on religion at a young age, amazing the Magi while only 12. He successfully merges all religion to end war, and becomes a hunted man in return. He is such a vegetarian he won’t eat roots, only freely fallen fruits, nuts and vegetables. Lured out of safe haven in India he is skinned alive and decapitated for the crime of trying to end war. His murder makes him famous worldwide and the mercenary army of Rome begins flocking to his religion in droves, reading the bible he wrote by himself in his own unique calligraphy. He was the greatest portrait painter of his time. His temples spread over the world, until it got so big, Rome got worried again.
That’s when Constantine embraces a small cult designed to give comfort to the poor, and transforms it into an imperial juggernaut to take over the world. Many elements of Mani’s life are incorporated into the story of Jesus.
Not a single temple, bible, nor painting of Mani’s survives the great Inquisition, although pockets survive in modified form, like the Cathars in France. Eventually the Pope will order them all slaughtered to stop the spread of Mani’s dualism.
Mani had been healing the blind and lame, not with magic, but with the original oil of Moses, a mixture of cannabis resin suspended in olive oil with some spices, and a tad of opium and ephedra if available.
Rome disappears Mani and disappears cannabis at the same time. The Scythian holy grail, which was about the substance inside the cup, is transformed into the Christian Eucharist.
Johanna Harcourt-Smith was 26-years-old when she met Timothy Leary. After Leary turned informant, she was branded a CIA-honeypot by Allen Ginsberg and shunned by just about everyone. For a time, most of the counterculture turned on Leary and his acid queen.
The primary person Leary ratted out was a lawyer named Michael Kennedy who’d engineered Leary’s prison escape through the terrorist Weather Underground. Leary was only told they “were political people,” not that they were terrorist bombers responsible for the death of a San Francisco policeman. The Weather Underground sought to use Leary as a publicity tool by sending him to Algeria to live with Eldridge Cleaver. They wanted to replay the film Algeria, which documented the success of a terrorist Islamic-Marxist revolution led by downtrodden Muslims, who had no rights in French Algeria. Hundreds of thousands died in their fight for independence, and the Weather Underground was envisioning a similar scenario in the USA, except led by middle-class teenagers. The real mission, however, was driving the left violent in order to marginalize and isolate it from the mainstream.
In 1969, Leary successfully legalized cannabis for a brief moment when he appealed a pot conviction all the way to the Supreme Court and won, so the antiquated 1937 Marijuana Tax Act had to be swiftly replaced by the Controlled Substances Act, which broadened the reign of terror on medicinal plants.
In 1987, when I arrived at High Times the entire editorial staff had recently been fired over the Christmas holidays. The magazine was teetering on insolvency and circulation had cratered. The advertising base consisted of two companies selling lookalike pills obviously intended to be sold as real on the blackmarket. Caffeine was likely the primary ingredient. The magazine had recently relocated to save money on rent, and the files that survived were in a shambles. There were no photo files, and no manuscript log for unsolicited articles. All unsolicited material disappeared into a black hole. The publisher was an accountant who kept the magazine running by cutting expenses. But the publisher turned out to be a puppet for lawyer Kennedy.
Tom Forcade had created a trust to gift the company to loyal employees in the event of his demise, but when Kennedy learned of this, he immediately engineered a trip to the bank vault where the document was stored, and wrote his name on the list of trustees, while promising to serve as “protecter” of the agreement.
Soon Tom was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and Kennedy conspiring with Tom’s widow and family, including Tom’s lawyer uncle, the author of the trust. He was a former tank commander in WWII who’d been recruited into military intelligence. Employees began exiting en mass, mostly through sudden firings, but some because the thrill was gone. High Times became a treacherous environment run like an intelligence operation, where information was on a need-to-know basis.
Since the counterculture media had died or been co-opted by the 1980s, being put in charge of a nationally-distributed magazine represented a huge opportunity and I had no problem turning the financial situation around instantly just by upgrading the magazine’s content and focusing on celebrating the remaining counterculture, which included the Grateful Dead followers and Rainbow Family. One day A. Craig Copetus, one of the original High Times employees, visited the office. He seemed surprised to hear Kennedy had taken control. “Right before he died, Tom held a meeting and told us not to let Kennedy get control,” said Copetus. Obviously, Tom had second thoughts about that trip to the bank vault.
I sent a letter to Kennedy outlining my plans for creating universal, non-violent ceremonies that would focus on ending the drug war. I was already doing these cannabis-infused ceremonies in Amsterdam as part of the Cannabis Cup, as well as filming them, and felt a class-action lawsuit could be successfully mounted to protect hippies from persecution by claiming pot was a legitimate sacrament. To bolster these claims, I’d been accumulating evidence Zoroastrianism, the foundation for Judaism and Christianity, had originated as a cannabis cult, and the smoking bush of Moses was a reference to the inspirational power of cannabis. Despite offering a splendid opportunity for Kennedy to double-pay himself and get tremendous publicity for himself (and for the magazine), and increase sales, and especially because it would save countless thousands from jail and financial ruin, Kennedy never responded to the letter.
What Kennedy did instead is launch a series of campaigns to have me fired. A series of publishers were installed, all instructed to “start looking for a new editor.” Attempts were made to kill the Cannabis Cup, but I managed to offload that to Michael Esterson for a licensing fee. The agreement also kept videotaping alive as Esterson agreed to cover that cost. But as soon as the WHEE! festival became profitable, and Mountain Girl agreed to move the festival to her estate, Kennedy summoned me to his office, where he unexpectedly declared WHEE was dead. Kennedy informed me it was a huge waste of time and resources. Bolstering this lie required support from the publisher, who was Mike Edison at the time, who would soon be fired, and who later write a revenge memoir branding me as incompetent. Apparently, among my many crimes was believing the assassinations of the 1960s deserved further investigation, and that a group of teens from Marin had invented 420.
The next year, the trust dissolved and Trans High Corporation gifted to the employees. I was given some token shares along with a handful of other real employees, but Kennedy and Tom’s family held the majority. Kennedy moved into the High Times office and began running the operation into the ground. Meanwhile, I could never comprehend why Kennedy was so angry with me all the time since I’d been making him millions and sales sank without me at the helm. He was living on billionaires row on Central Park South, his summer residence was an ocean-front property in the Yale enclave in the Hamptons, and he also had a winter home in Palm Beach, as well as an estate in Ireland. I was a single dad living hand-to-mouth with two kids with a disabled wife to support at a different location, and just eking by thanks to the debates I was doing on college campuses against the former head of the New York DEA.
One day, I was summoned to Kennedy’s office where he introduced me to Buffalo Mailer, Norman Mailer’s son. Kennedy wanted Buffalo to provide some young energy to the aging editorial staff, so he was being installed as Executive Editor and I needed to introduce him to staff as if it was my idea.
The following day, I was again summoned to Kennedy’s office upon arrival in the morning, where a shame-faced Mailer held a copy of a just-released New York magazine, which contained an interview with Richard Stratton where he announced his next project: running High Times. Kennedy had made a secret deal with Stratton and Mailer was Stratton’s stalking horse. I felt sorry for Mailer, for allowing himself to be dragged into participating in a slimy hoodwink. At the editorial meeting later that morning where Mailer announced the real situation to the staff, only Natasha shed tears for me. The others were already angling for elevation on the masthead.
I was moved out of the office so as not to interfere with the transition. I could never understand why nobody wanted my participation as I’d always thought of magazines as a team effort, and the goal was assembling the best possible staff. My investigative journalism had been a significant part of the magazine’s success, so why wouldn’t that continue? Instead, my contribution was limited to a 500-word monthly column, for which I was paid a steadily dwindling salary.
One day I got an email from Johanna saying she wanted to talk. I’d believed the stories about her being a CIA agent, but I was having second thoughts about that, as well as the truth concerning Kennedy’s participation in the Weather Underground. I knew Bill Ayers remained a close friend since I’d recently edited Kennedy’s adopted daughter’s wedding video.
I soon began formulating my alternative history of the 1960s, in which Tim Leary and Charlie Manson are manipulated pawns deployed to de-tooth the counterculture. Knowing I was on treacherous ground, I sent an email to Kennedy requesting permission to interview Johanna. Strangely, I got a response right away, and it contained an emotional plea not to because the memories remained an open wound. That email was nothing like any other email I ever received from Kennedy. It wasn’t like him to show weakness.
Johanna died recently from breast cancer, but she was able to finally get her story out. She’d watched Wormwood on Netflix and felt compelled to contact the filmmaker, who’d instantly agreed to interview her. During the film, it becomes apparent Johanna felt she was being manipulated into Leary’s orbit and it was through surveillance on her that the CIA was keeping tabs on Leary. But she’d never been a knowing participant. And I believe this is the way a lot of intel operations work. Few have any clue to the unseen strings or who the puppet masters might be.
Johanna had become promiscuous at age 15, and a parade of powerful people connected to arms trafficking and illegal drugs soon became her friends and lovers. She became part of the Rolling Stones jet-setting entourage. At 26, she was likely nearing the end of a glamorous career as swinging super hottie, when Aleister Crowley devotee Anita Pallenberg (who’d inspired the Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” phase), told her to look up Leary because he was available and hiding out in Switzerland.
At their first meeting Leary pulled out Crowley Tarot deck.
I was disappointed the film never delved into whether Johanna could have been sold by her mother to the CIA as an MK/Ultra sex slave. She’d had a raging libido from the age of 15, and typically held at least eight males under her command at all times. The reason Wormwood resonated so deeply could have been because her role as an acid queen was ordained.
The sad truth about Leary is he was half-visionary and half-huckster. His first book on the psychedelic experience was based around the Tibetan Book of the Dead, magic incantations intended to lead the dying to nirvana, basically the same hoodwink MI6 operative Somerset Maugham deployed in the Razor’s Edge, in which the secrets of the universe are located in Eastern philosophies. Imagine leading people from India or China to adopt Catholicism as the true faith. Enlightenment is not like climbing a mountain. You don’t reach the top and become released from temporal bondage. There is no nirvana, no heaven, no hell, no eternal soul. You’re just replacing one Santa Claus story with another. The real secret to magic and religion is it only works on believers.
Strangely, the Weather Underground celebrated the Manson murders, and held Charlie up as a counterculture hero for “killing pigs.” They also celebrated Sirhan Sirhan for the same reason. Both Leary and Manson were held in isolation at the same prison, but their cells strangely located next door, allowing them to communicate.
“They took you off the streets so I could continue your work,” said Manson.
The ancient Persians considered Balkh the “mother of all cities,” which may be why something heavy went down 5,000 years ago. Balkh was the largest, richest and most important oasis on the road connecting China and India to Europe. In fact, the trail split not far from the city’s immense walls, the southern route tailing off towards the Khyber Pass, while the northern led into the Hindu Kush to Kashgar.
Just as in Sumer, Turkey and Egypt, irrigation methods soon created immense gardens and orchards to support a growing population, and most crops were planted safely inside the city walls. Priests were placed in charge of water and seed distribution, as well as prayers and divinations for a good harvest.
One day there appeared a prophet in the city who instigated a major shift in cosmology. Up until his arrival, it had been assumed the universe was dominated by a vast multitude of greater and lesser spiritual energies, and each community had been free to make up their own pantheons.
When he first appeared on the scene, Zoroaster was a very controversial figure. He apparently accused some of the priests of practicing the dark arts and claimed their magic was fraudulent. It’s strange how today Zoroaster is known as “the first magician,” when, in fact, he seems to have gotten his start by exposing fake magic. During this time, an evil eye accusation could result in an execution. So if a priest accused you of giving someone the evil eye to explain why disaster had befallen them, you were pretty much a lost cause. I’m speculating here, but I believe Zoroaster may have put an end to such superstition.
One thing for sure, Zoroaster obliterated the ancient pantheons that had stood for millennia, replacing them with two forces, one good, and the other evil. It’s gone down in history as the origin of monotheism, even though in practice there were many lesser spirits in play. The other important contribution was the creation of a epic hero involved in seeking enlightenment, which supplemented the prior epic hero involved in feats of heroic strength. It was the first time a philosopher/scientist/astrologer emerged to replace the warrior avatars.
A number of epic hymns were written to celebrate Zoroaster’s quest for enlightenment. Some even attribute the first half dozen to Zoroaster himself. In a nutshell, he went to the top of smokey mountain, communicated with a magic plant, and came back down with the good god’s official rule book.
One day, a new young king of Balkh decided this new prophet Zoroaster was onto something heavy. And that’s when fire temples began sprouting all along the Silk Road serving a mixture of cannabis and milk with spices. This was Zoroaster’s Eucharist for healing the blind and lame, as well as curing depression, a magic staircase to the mind of the good god.
Known as soma in India, haoma in Persia, and shuma in China, the medicine helped transform Zoroaster into becoming the most famous prophet of his time. And, of course, after his death, magical stories about him increased and rapidly erased any human figure. This is the natural trajectory any mythic figure must undergo simply because people want to take their religion with a heavy dose of enchantment. So the debunker of fake magic became the world’s greatest magician.
There’s also been a lot of hoodwinking going on about when he really lived. Lately, there’s even been an attempt to date Zoroaster after Moses, when, in fact, Moses was obviously based on Zoroaster because it was the first Zoroastrian king of Persia (Cyrus the Great) who defeated the corrupt Babylonian empire and freed the Jews. Not only did Cyrus free the Jews, he gave them funds and instructions to rebuild Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. This all happened before the Jews had a written language, and in gratitude, Moses was fashioned as the Jewish Zoroaster, and most of the cosmology lifted right out of the Avesta.
And, of course, in short order, something heavy went down in Jerusalem.
It’s unfortunate how little video footage got captured during the first Whee! festival outside Eugene, Oregon. The entire adventure had begun as my plot to establish a Weed Woodstock. (Although, in truth, the original was funded almost entirely by weed money, and the event helped cement Woodstock as a weed distribution center.)
I remember taking the trustees to lunch at some five-star restaurant and saying, “You have to be committed to a new event for five years, because that’s how long it may take to break even.” But I assured them after five years, my Whee! fest would be as big if not bigger than Woodstock. And I believed this because the event was promoted as a prayer for world peace, a serious non-denominational ceremony recognizing cannabis as the sacrament of peace culture.
Of course, Whee! exploded immediately, drawing 20,000 to the event, most of whom got in for free and were fed free by a non-stop crew kitchen, and anyone could volunteer to be crew.
After the OM circle, someone handed a bottle of whiskey to Felipe and said he was done with this. Felipe and I did a bunch of powerful ceremonies together, and that was certainly one of the best.
But the day after the event ended, we invited the Pranksters to our motel room to celebrate and eat pizza. Only Ken Babbs showed up, and this is what transpired. The next day, we went to see Kesey, and he introduced me to non-linear video editing, just going prosumer. I had been a devoted follower of improvisational ritual theater as practiced by the Pranksters, and took this direction very seriously, devoting the rest of my life to capturing video of the ceremonies I was staging. Sure glad I kept these memories, and if you want to know what Hager ceremonies look and feel like, this will clue you in.
As soon as I got back to New York, the trustees informed me that Whee! had been a financial failure. Although I knew that was a lie. Through immense efforts I manage to resurrect one more Whee! at the same site the next year before my precious Whee! ceremony was cast to the winds, and thus ended my longstanding campaign for the recognition of spiritual rights for cannabis users.
Tom Forcade had multiple film projects in the works when he committed suicide. He’d recently bought controlling interest of a smuggling project, and went to show a rough cut to Robert Evans in Hollywood. Forcade had just paid an editor to whip the chaotic footage into a story. He put a lot of effort into trying to make sense of that footage, some of which involved footage of a real smuggling operation, but Evans sadly told him the edit still wasn’t working.
Apparently, Forcade’s moves into Hollywood contributed to two things: cocaine and guns. According to Gabrielle Schang, Forcade didn’t carry a pistol until after being introduced around Hollywood. He’d been a dealer and distributor and magazine publisher, but was also branching into smuggling and film at the same time. His most precious documentary project involved filming the Sex Pistols historic tour of America. Forcade bought a plane and sent Jack Combs on a mission. He never recovered from Jack’s fatal crash at the end of that ill-fated mission. And that also ended any High Times forays into the film world until I arrived.
Before coming to High Times, I’d launched a moderately successful film project called Beat Street, and never lost sight of expanding my efforts into the world of film and video. When prosumer equipment finally reached the realms of the masses, I began documenting everything, quickly evolving into the most video-centric magazine editor on the national stage. I shot thousands of hours of footage, and often assembled 7-person crews to do four-camera edits with live switching of my major events. All this was working towards the creation of a counterculture television network.
The first project I pitched to the trustees was a Chef Ra travel guide to Jamaica. I was creating an entire galaxy of High Times stars and Ra was intended to be one of the brightest.
Imagine my surprise when the trustees tell me they are putting up thousands of dollars to make the Chef Ra film. That was the good news. The bad news was the project was being given to the aspiring filmmaker son of the head trustee. I didn’t get to play any role in the film until the end. They spent a week in Jamaica and shot a lot of random footage and needed Ra to help work it into a story.
That’s not the best way to make a great documentary and it showed in the final product. But it remains the best portrait of Jim Wilson we have, and since Jim co-wrote the script used to stitch the scenes together, it carries his creativity and compassion.
Modern life is evolving so fast it’s hard to imagine the vibes going down 30 years ago. Which is why it’s so entertaining to check out a documentary I produced early in the 1990s titled Let Freedom Ring: the Origins of the Hemp Movement. It came out just after my discovery of 420, but three years after I’d created the Freedom Fighters with the help of Rodger Belknap of West Virginia, who quickly became our organization’s chief funder and spiritual advisor.
The Freedom Fighters went from a handful of High Times staffers to the biggest cannabis legalization group in the world in two years, while the Ann Arbor Hash Bash went from a dozen hardcore devotees to many thousands cramming the diag at the University of Michigan. Marching into rallies in our Freedom Fighter outfits was the ritual that helped galvanize a national movement.
Shortly after the film was released, however, Rodger was railroaded into jail, while High Times forced me to disband the group, allegedly because NORML was unhappy about the competition, which seemed weird since our newsletter had been recognizing and supporting NORML chapters from inception, and many Freedom Fighter state groups were also affiliated with NORML, including the chapter in Boston that created the Boston Freedom Rally.
Our big campaign was bringing activists together for major rallies. We organized free campgrounds with free food and a free bus ride to the rally. When Rodger asked me what was needed for the organization, I told him we needed a school bus and council tipi. Within a few weeks we had both and took off for the Rainbow Gathering in Ocala, Florida, where I flew a High Times flag and nobody cared.
Magic, religion and fear are the foundations of mind control and always have been. The oldest power centers on earth are the major religions. But this is a slowly shifting landscape, which is why intelligence agencies have always had interest in occult influencers like Aleister Crowley and Helena Blavatsky, and why intel manufactures New Age cults like Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple. This is nothing new. It’s possible the Church of Latter Day Saints was the Illuminati response to a wave of anti-Mason sentiment sweeping the country after the murder of Captain Morgan, who had revealed Masonry was a secret British plot.
After WWII, Dr. Andrija Puharich emerged as the Army’s foremost expert on magic mushrooms, seances, and all things occult. Puharich championed an Israeli magician named Uri Geller as the world’s foremost psychic. Reportedly, Geller’s psychic abilities had been taught to him by aliens. Before LSD became the CIA’s mind-drug of choice, Puharich had been investigating whether magic mushrooms might serve that same function.
Puharich was having secret meetings with high-ranking officers from the Pentagon, CIA and Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) at Fort Detrick, the heart of MK/Ultra, the CIA’s most closely guarded secret. Puharich was also organizing seances for the super rich. Most of this remains classified, the files sealed forever or just disappeared like most of MK/Ultra.
The spoon bending trick was an obvious scam from day one. If Geller really had telekinesis, why not reveal multiple proofs, and not stick with metal spoons, something easily rigged with some deft slight-of-hand? Hard to fathom how Geller achieved such fame with such a lame trick, certainly the CIA’s influence over the media was vital to his epic rise to fame. Faking psychic powers is standard ops for occult influencers, and Blavatsky and Crowley come to mind in this regard.
In 2013, a filmmaker from England released a documentary claiming Geller was working for national security all along. My instant thought was: is MI6 behind this film in order to bilk profits from an old operation? Otherwise, why would some of the biggest newspapers in England be promoting this conspiracy film?
One wonders how much money Geller was paid by various intelligence agencies over the years. Expect to see a Hollywood feature soon, a follow-up to the staring-at-goats flick that was so successful, which had been the first peek onto psychic weirdness at the highest level of the Pentagon.
“We use footage from the CIA-funded film record,” said the filmmaker, “and then track stories about Uri’s involvement in events ranging from the Israeli commando raid on Entebbe through to his participation in the search for Osama bin Laden, with a mysterious sidebar as a federal agent for the Mexican government. Forty years of psychic operations…Someone well positioned to know suggests that rather than being shut down in 1995, the use of psychic operatives by the US government and military has merely gone deeper black. If that’s the case, then perhaps Geller still works in the shadows.”
The Temple Dragons, the original crew that ran the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam for 25 years, reformed for a few hours in NYC for a funeral for their participation in the event they created.