The History of 420 in 3 Acts

Waldos on the wall.

ACT ONE
You can trace a line from Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady to Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs to Steve and Dave, who entered San Rafael High School in the late sixties. They were rugged individualists uninspired by the social scene, which centered on athletics and the school’s top jocks, so they decided to create their own fun by embarking on a quest for adventure. The first of these was a visit to a Bay Area research lab developing the very first holographs. Soon, Jeff, Larry and Mark joined the safaris, as these adventures became known.

Every safari started with a sacramental hit of cannabis, followed by the cranking of the tunes, either in the 1966 4-door Chevy Impala with the killer Craig 8-track stereo system, or in Steve’s room, or in one of other sacred spots they shared herb, as getting high was illegal and couldn’t be done in public or around parents. One of their favorite spots was underneath the statue of Louis Pasteur by Benny Bufano, which overlooked the school parking lot. Sacred hymns provided by New Riders of the Purple Sage, Allman Brothers, Poco, Commander Cody, Beatles, The Moonlighters were then employed to lift the vibration higher.

Waldos at the statue of Louis Pasteur.

This crew gravitated to a wall inside the courtyard of San Rafael High, where they’d meet before class and during lunch break to make withering comments about everything around them, and this is where they obtained their name: The Waldos, as well as where they honed their savage wit. You couldn’t smoke pot around school unless it was a one-hitter and done extremely carefully, and even then you risked suspension and your parent’s wrath.

In the fall of 1971 Steve was given a treasure map to an abandoned patch of cannabis on Point Reyes that had been planted by a member of the Coast Guard too scared to return. He wanted some fellow stoners to have the patch, and everybody at San Rafael knew the Waldos were frequent stoners.

“Surely, this is the ultimate safari,” thought Steve. “No more adventurous nor noble quest could be devised by the mind of man.” The Waldos prophetically all agreed to meet at 4:20 PM at the Louis Pasteur Statue to get high, and drive out to Point Reyes to search for the secret patch of weed.  From then on, whenever the Waldos passed each other in the halls, they spontaneously erupted in a salute with the words, “Four Twenty, Louie!” Little did they know how far this ritual would eventually travel, although “Louie” got lost along the way.

For the next ten years, the Waldos went on the most amazing safaris and had the most magical adventures, although they sadly never found that patch. But they always sponsored a big pot party on April 20th, where a ceremonial toke would take place at 4:20 PM. Eventually they started getting married, having families and picking up the sacred pipe less frequently. However, they kept up the safaris.

But soon after the Waldos retired from 420 ceremonies, younger classmen of San Rafael picked up on the magic of numerology and began using the code as a way to evade detection, and some of them started a ritual of congregating on a ridge of Mount Tamalpias with a sunset view of the Pacific on April 20th in order to get high at exactly 4:20 PM as a way to honor the spirit of cannabis. This ritual started with only a few souls, but soon grew to dozens. And that’s when someone got the idea of making a flyer inviting all stoners to the ceremony. Nobody outside Marin even knew that 420 signified pot. But even those gathered at the top of Mt. Tam didn’t have any idea how the code had started. They thought it had something to do with the police.

ACT TWO
I’m often knee-deep before I realize what I stepped into, and that’s how it was with the Cannabis Cup. The idea came to me on the plane, while flying back from the Netherlands after interviewing the founder of the first marijuana seed company, Nevil Shoemakers. The night before, Dave Watson had regaled me with tales of California harvest festivals before C.A.M.P. helicopters forced that scene underground.

Soon, I was back in the Netherlands, organizing the first Cannabis Cup, with a photographer and grow expert. Three seed companies entered, and one of them didn’t even cure their entries but plucked them fresh off the vine.

But when I returned home after that first event, I couldn’t shake a feeling of responsibility. My event demanded a ceremonial framework respecting the true spirit of cannabis and its historical importance and influence.  And that’s how I ended up buying a paperback version of the Rig Veda.

Imagine my surprise when I came across the description of the primary sacrament shared during all ceremonies, a drink called Soma:
“The blind see, the lame walk… he clothes the naked. Soma is a sage and seer inspired by poetry …King of the healing plants.”

I knew Soma was supposed to be a mushroom, something accepted as gospel by the academic community, but in my heart, I instantly realized this had to be a description of cannabis, and there had to be some incredible cover-up going on that dwarfed the cover-up Jack Herer was pushing about the industrial uses and environmental benefits of hemp.

I stepped out of my office to smoke a joint and reflect on these matters, something I had been doing in my office, but had recently departed, as I had moved to a former warehouse in the back of the building, something necessitated by a crackdown on smoking in the front offices. But the crackdown had just been extended to my refuge in the former warehouse, so I was forced into the stairwell.

The recently appointed news editor was there, along with a member of the Cannabis Action Network from the Bay Area who was dropping off a flyer. There was also some hippie dude I didn’t know who proceeded to pull out a stash of whippets and he began inhaling them in rapid succession. The news editor asked when he was going to share, and he said, “Sorry, I only have my dose and nothing more.”

I fired my joint, while the dude from CAN showed me a flyer that had been circulated at a Grateful Dead show in Oakland. “Check this out,” he said. “It’s really silly.”

Pythagoreans greet the sunrise.

I don’t have immense satori moments often, but I’d been time traveling through the Vedas for hours and still had a foot in distant past, so when I saw that crude flyer asking people to come to the sunset-view ridge of Mt. Tam at 4:20 PM on April 20th, it assumed Biblical proportions in my mind, and I expressed these feelings instantly, because this was surely a sign, and something that could be employed to give deeper meaning to my Cannabis Cup ceremony. But for those not into numerology or the study of secret societies, this sort of thinking is silliness with no meaning. Some people “got” 420 and used the magic to enhance their experience and legitimize pot in ceremony, while for others, it remained a funny excuse to light up and nothing more.

I told my staff that day I intended to use the code to build a case for spiritual rights under the Constitution. “This ceremony manifested spontaneously, and is evidence of the power of cannabis to create ceremony and culture,” I said. “We’re going to make this a big part of the Cannabis Cup and the Freedom Fighters.”

Later on, I was crushed to discover the news editor had run a joke item about the flyer, failing to even mention my pledge to deploy the code as a fulcrum for legalization. No matter, John Holmstrom, editor of the Hemp 100 page knew exactly what I was doing and from that day a mention of 420 was on every Hemp 100, and that page had a fanatical following.

Certainly Chef RA, Jack Herer, Rodger Belknap, Thom Harris, and Linda Noel “got” 420. They were the shock troops in the hemp legalization movement, who helped me found the Freedom Fighters, the first national hemp legalization group. For many years we drove to rallies in a magic bus (a new one each year as they were always breaking down). We hosted free campgrounds, with free kitchens, and published a free newsletter. Back then, the rallies were all held at precisely high noon, a trend that would continue for well over a decade. But the Freedom Fighters always held council at 4:20 PM, passed a feather and plotted how to best legalize in our lifetime. Just as every year, one of the Freedom Fighters was selected by open council to attend the Cannabis Cup as a celebrity judge.

I hadn’t been to any Cups since the first one. But in 1993, I held the first 420 council at a Cannabis Cup. In truth, it was a clumsy ceremony, as no one but me had any idea what 420 represented, including Jack Herer. Some people will claim 420 was already widespread within the Grateful Dead community in the 1980s, but that is not true. It was known to teenagers who lived in Marin County in the later part of the decade and was on the way out when High Times began promoting it.

At the 7th Cup, the 420 ceremony blossomed and became epic and stayed that way for the next 15 years or at least until High Times booted me out of the event. Most of the chiefs of cannabis in Amsterdam attended that 420 ceremony and spoke from their hearts. Eagle Bill was a major force elevating those ceremonies and it could not have happened like it did without him. I ran into Bill on my way to open the Pax Party House on opening day, and noticed he carried a hand-carved staff. I asked if he would like to be the ceremonial high priest and use his staff in place of a feather. The impact of this request on Eagle Bill was profound. To say Eagle Bill “got” 420 would be a vast understatement, as he rapidly elevated to become the primary guiding spirit of the event.

I was arranging everything around the afternoon 420, but the crew got so devoted they began doing 420 AM ceremonies, and these rapidly became the most legendary parties at the Cup, held in the Quentin lobby after the awards show. Everyone collected mass selfies under a clock at exactly 4:20.

In 1995, Vancouver got credit for staging the first April 20th 420 ceremony outside Marin County. Marc Emery, Dana Rozek, Cindy Lassu and Ian Hunter had a hand in manifesting this event, although Marc was initially opposed to the concept. It continues today as the longest-running April 20th ceremony in North America.

In 1998 I staged the first New York City 420 celebration on April 20th at Wetlands featuring The Cannabis Cup Band. In later years, the band held an April 20th celebration on board a boat that traveled around Manhattan island. (I wouldn’t stage another public 420 event on April 20th until 2017, when the Temple Dragon Band did a free performance in Tomkins Square Park in the East Village.)

In 1999, Debby Goldsberry staged the first major 420 event in the Bay Area in Golden Gate Park, although it turned into a one-off. However, the already established free 420 gathering on hippie hill continues to this day. The Mt. Tam sunset ridge ceremony was shut down in 1990. Without the efforts of High Times, 420 likely would have died out in the early 90s.

ACT THREE
Even though High Times became the magazine success story of the 90’s and the Freedom Fighters spearheaded the return of the rallies, re-igniting the sleeping marijuana movement, success only seemed to bring problems for me, as I was soon forced to disband the Freedom Fighters and there were constant pressures to shut down the Cup as well, or at least remove my supervision. I moved home to concentrate on events and how to document them for posterity as I felt there was something important in these 420 ceremonies. At the time, I was primarily interested in building up WHEE! as the premiere cannabis event in North America.

I’d been trying for years to get Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters over to the Cannabis Cup, and had lured Mountain Girl when she was poor and adventurous, but at one point realized if I wanted to do a ceremony with Kesey, it was going to have to happen in his backyard, and that’s what happened. The first year (1997) we had over 300 vendors and 20,000 attendees.

Of course the Pranksters “got” 420 immediately, and the reason the code suddenly began skyrocketing through the Grateful Dead scene was threefold: first, Rainbow Family and Dead Family were basically the same thing and the Freedom Fighters and 420 had acquired a huge presence at Rainbow; second, Jack Herer and Chef RA “got” 420 and they became influential figures and spread the code; and three, and probably most important, the Pranksters “got” 420, and began actively pushing it. And Kesey was the most influential person in the Dead scene after Jerry Garcia.

One day, I got an email from Mike, the travel agent of the Cannabis Cup, who had been made producer of the event with me directing the ceremonies. He forwarded a message from Steve in San Francisco who claimed to have started 420 with his friends in 1971. The part that caught my attention was Steve wasn’t seeking money, he just wanted 420Tours.com to know the real story. He was writing to the Cannabis Cup travel package website because Mike had put up a forum for posting 420 Cannabis Cup stories, and this website drew the attention of the Waldos, who had been following the spread of 420 across America with much mirth and amazement.

By 2002, head shops in the Bay Area were stuffed with 420-t-shirts, buttons, hats, posters, and various other memorabilia. The code has become a well-known secret inside cannabis culture and been written about in High Times and celebrated as the central ceremony in the Cannabis Cup and WHEE!, the two biggest and most influential cannabis-themed events at the time (if you don’t count Kumba Mela). Still, however, outside the Bay Area, the code remained an enigma, even to most stoners.

I ended up flying out to San Francisco and meeting the Waldos and holding epic ceremonies with them for days, all of which were captured on video, as were my 420 ceremonies with the Pranksters and the elders of the Rainbow Family. In fact, whenever I get together with Pranksters, Waldos or Rainbow Elders, the same magic improvisational energy always emerges, along with an overwhelming desire to have fun. I never doubted the Waldo’s story, and read the truth in their hearts before I examined their documents. But the powers-that-be at High Times never trusted me, and the publisher spread the story I was suppressing competing tales on the origins of 420 because the Waldos were my friends, implying it all a massive hoodwink on my part.

I also began a college lecture tour in 1995, debating Curtis Sliwa for five years, and then the former head of the New York DEA for additional 14, and “Heads versus Feds” traveled to over 300 colleges and universities over 19 years and I videotaped hundreds of debates as well as collecting local TV news coverage. The event became one of the most popular college lectures of the decade, producing standing-room-only audiences in multi-thousand seat theaters. The debate was so lop-sided I had to coach Bob on which points he should ditch and which ones were my weakest. Our carefully crafted performance was stuffed with stand-up comedy interspersed with moments of high drama, and instead of polarizing the audience, we drew them closer together. By the end most everyone agreed cannabis was not for kids, and should be respected, not abused, but it was also not a crime worth destroying lives over. We always had a line of medical marijuana users asking questions, some of whom were Vietnam Vets begging Bob for compassion, and he provided it.

There were also hostile attacks on Bob that required my immediate tamping down. Whenever Black Belt Bob felt obliged to invite an abuser to engage in a more physical confrontation, I knew it was time for me to jump out with, “Don’t blame the cops…they don’t make the laws! They are trapped in this nightmare just like we are.”

One of my central points for legalization was prescription medications posed far more danger than cannabis, and eventually we would see tremendous devastation from over-prescription of legal drugs, something that quickly became all-too-true.

I told college kids not to intoxicate, but concentrate on their education although I did provide dispensation for one day only. On April 20, at 4:20 PM if they held a circle of hands, and a moment of silence for world peace, it was okay to partake of the peace culture sacrament. Nowhere was this embraced more ardently than Boulder, Colorado, which is why for a brief time, Colorado grabbed the center of gravity on 420.

At every debate I invited Bob to attend the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, all expenses paid so he could try cannabis for the first time. Bob always declined and the repartee that followed produced the biggest laughs of the night. (Many decades later, after Bob developed back problems his doctor recommended cannabis. Bob tried it and it worked, so he wrote a mea culpa for the media.)

I also urged students to have a peace ceremony at 4:20 on April 20th, while urging moderation, reminding them “the less you do, the higher you get,” and ended each debate with a plea for the creation of a local student-run legalization group, and urged students to hold annual events on April 20th, and have local bands play to raise money for the chapter.  I promised if they made that group and held that 420 ceremony, I would return some day to celebrate with them.

According to Allen St. Pierre, former head of NORML: “Without Hager, I don’t think there’s any way that this interesting numerology would have crept deep into American culture and commerce.” But he remains the lone cannabis influencer who acknowledges my contribution.

One of the earliest schools we traveled to for the Heads versus Feds debate was Boulder, Colorado, and that school soon started a 420 ceremony that got so big the University had to shut down the entire school on April 20th just to try and stop it. And that’s how Denver got the center of gravity on 420 for a few years. My agent booking the debate always booked April 20 first every year, which meant I could never attend any 420 ceremonies on 420 except my own.

I’ve long supported the position 420 is a tool for legitimizing cannabis as the sacrament of peace. I was never in favor of students doing breakfast dabs on exam days. I knew some students get overly attracted to intoxication early in life, and it holds them back, but on the other hand, I never believed anyone should go to jail, lose a student loan, or custody of their kids over cannabis. Limited experimentation can be beneficial to some teens. I suggested using 4:20 PM as a guide for an appropriate hour for the adult population to hold cannabis ceremonies away from the children. I also granted dispensation to the students for one day annually, provided they attended a peace circle while imbibing.

Sadly, in 2016 that former news editor posted a story about how he “discovered 420” that failed to mention me at all. He then told a Huff Post reporter that I had nothing to do with promoting 420, and that the code took off on its own, as if my events and ceremonies had zero to do with what happened. This same person denied the story of the Waldos for years and had always pointedly refused to participate in my ceremony at the office.

The biggest fallacy today (spread mostly by that same person) is the code was spread through the Grateful Dead. Even Wikipedia falsely makes this claim as if the Waldo’s parents gave the code to the Dead who spread it to their followers. In fact, the Dead never mentioned 420 all through the 1990s. Meanwhile, every High Times magazine for decades was pushing 420 on the Hemp 100. That is where most Deadheads picked it up. That and the hundreds of college lectures I was doing across the country urging people to celebrate the sacrament of peace culture.

I’m hoping some who see this will “get” 420, and take their consumption to a higher level on the magic day rather than just as an excuse to get intoxicated. Only then will we be able to forge a culture worthy of being handed down to future generations. If you treat the plant with respect, there can be magic, but for those who partake without wisdom and become too attached too early in life, it mostly becomes a very expensive habit. The other thing I’ve learned is that if you want to have a true counterculture ceremony, everyone must be invited, which means the ceremony has to welcome everyone and can’t just be about stoners getting high and nothing else.

Last year to celebrate the holiday, I posted a 420 ceremony on Youtube. Check it out and learn some history on peace culture.

 

The 44th Anniversary of 420

One fine fall day in 1971, an enlightened group of high school students at San Rafael High School in Marin County invented 420 as a secret code for cannabis. These Waldos were the younger generation of the Merry Pranksters, and I say that because both groups manifested an immense amount of creative energy, and continue to do so, and 420 was just a tiny piece of their contributions. Someday a book or film on the Waldos will be made that brings their story to life, because their 420 ceremony is now as big (or bigger) on the astral plain as the Prankster’s Magic Bus, which means 420 is approaching Wizard-of-Oz like significance in the universal group mind.
Like the Pranksters, the Waldos were sacred clowns who invested fun into all their adventures, and both used cannabis as a tool to elevate those energies. There are lots of lessons to be learned, but the most important is the necessity to band together in groups to pass through life’s ceremonies. Both the Waldos and Pranksters had strong harmony that keeps them unified to this day. You can’t manifest culture on your own, it has to be done in groups. You’ll also notice both the Pranksters and the Waldo’s have a zen-like appreciation for living-in-the-moment, and injecting theatricality into daily life to invest it with deeper meaning.
I organized 420 ceremonies for a long time before I discovered the Waldos, and when I finally flew out to meet them, I ended up jamming and playing with them for days. In fact, It was very similar to what happens when Ken Babbs and I get together. Someday I hope we can bring all my jam buddies across the world together for an epic 420 jam session.
This was actually my first year in a long time celebrating 420 in New York City. I took the afternoon boat ride around Manhattan with the original Cannabis Cup Band on Saturday. It was an epic experience and I got to share some thoughts about cannabis and spirituality, and we lit the seven candles. We could use a daily 420 boat ride like this because it sells out instantly.

How to plan a 420 ceremony

Funny how many seem antagonistic to ceremonies. Just mention the word and a shiver goes up their back. They don’t realize ceremonies are a part of their life. Magic and spirituality move through us all naturally, and it doesn’t matter what names you put on anything, everything that ever happened keeps happening over and over.
Ceremonies have purposes, as well as flavors, and you can surf any vibration you want. Most family/tribal ceremonies unify the family/tribe and raise spirits. In order to unify, everyone needs to meditate on a single vibration for some brief instant. In a healthy family, the vibration being channeled is most often love.
Ever notice how the words “I love you” are magic? And how difficult to say sometimes. Sharing love energy is a ceremony. But then sharing anything is a ceremony.
Did you know there’s a love ceremony handed down for over 10,000 years intact, one that carries zero dogma and seeks only to harmonize participants? To outsiders, it may seem strange and can be mistaken for some cult brainwashing tool, but I guarantee this ancient ceremony works as well as any I’ve ever run across. It’s called the OM circle.
When your fight/flight response is activated, your emergency energy system turns on, and that jolt of energy has a tendency to overwhelm your brain, resulting in unproductive panic behavior. In that state you can easily freeze, or make the worst decision possible. Mental states are telepathic and create energy waves that can be felt and amplified, which is why panic spreads through a crowd fast as wind-whipped fire.
Fear is the basis of all mind control, and when a sorcerer wants to cast a spell, creating a panic and guiding that vibration wherever he wants is the primary device at his disposal. A scapegoat will be manufactured, tortured in public and then executed, followed by free grog for all. This is the way dark magic has worked for millennium.
Modern media has put most of the population on the edge of fight/flight mode through extreme levels of violence programming. And you won’t find much solace from this vibration in the conspiracy community, where fear levels are tweaked even higher.
Ten thousand years ago, the use of a certain sacramental plant spread like a wild-fire across most of the globe, from Europe to India to China. Enormous temples were built in the honor of this plant. But they weren’t just temples, they were the greatest hospitals and healing centers of their time. The plant was mixed with hot milk and spices and served to treat all afflictions, and became known as the king of healing plants, creator of magic and immortality, the tree of life.
It was the birth of a great age of enlightenment and coincided with the creation of most of our great religions. At the time this plant arrived, all things had long been considered to have spirit energies, and temples were built to countless gods and goddesses, but the message this plant conveyed concerned a Great Spirit that connected All Things.
But some dark sorcerer made the plant that caused the awakening a scapegoat. It was a clever campaign, executed in stages over a great expanse of time. The plant’s ceremonial powers virtually disappeared for 2,000 years, while the spiritual cultures it birthed were corrupted: false priests installed, new dogmas created. All trace of the plant was removed from all texts, a ploy not entirely successful, so deep was this plant woven into the fabric of these cultures.
In the 1880s, the plant’s magic ceremonial powers were rediscovered in New Orleans by African slaves owned by French planters who’d recently escaped the Haitian Revolution. These slaves invited Natives and others to join their ceremonies and soon created the most influential cultural movement of any time. However, no sooner did this movement appear, than governments moved to squash it, using persecution of the plant as the hammer to achieve their goal.
In the 1960s, surfers in California discovered the plant, and it led them on a sacred journey back to the plant’s original origins. When they returned from Afghanistan, they brought the ancient OM circle used at those original healing temples that once dotted the landscape from India to Iran. It is also the best method for dispelling panic and turning off fight/flight mode. And thus I believe it can also be an important tool to help deprogram the mind control memes being run today. It can also be an great tool to heal PTSD, which can create a near-constant fight/flight mode.
So when people ask me to prescribe 420 ceremonies, I must confess the OM is the greatest harmonization ritual I know, and I think it works through a triangulation of touch, sound and telepathy.
But wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to see a hundred thousand voices erupt in an OM in Denver some day?

Please Remember Rainbow Farm on April 20th

On Labor Day week-end, 2001, President George Bush was attending a Teamster Rally in Michigan, the first President to attend such an event and in his usual jovial, cocky mood. He spoke about his wife being on the tour with him, which he thought was a great idea. It was typical G.W., all mom, flag and apple pie.
A photo from the rally hit the national news and was published everywhere, showing a Arab-looking child holding an American flag looking up at Bush. When I wrote about the importance of 420 being a ceremony for peace, Brian MucCullough reminded me to light some candles for Tom and Rollie of Rainbow Farm, who were just a few miles away that day about to be assassinated by American soldiers.
Tom and Rollie were gay biker dudes when I met them, and really into weed and throwing massive parties. They showed up at the Cannabis Cup and got pulled into the Temple Dragon Crew and fell in love with the ceremonies. It changed their lives.
Next thing I knew, they were throwing major ceremonies on their immense property in Michigan and invited me to come all-expenses-paid as a ceremonial chief and do 420 Peace Ceremonies, just like the one I’m doing in New Jersey at the Piscataway Hempfest on April 5th.
They called their property Rainbow Farm and licensed the WHEE! from High Times one year and spent a fortune bringing in the Cannabis Cup Band and other acts. But that was their last big event and it broke the bank. They could have survived, only their survival plan involved growing weed in the basement of their home, and once they got ratted-out and lost custody of Rollie’s son, they both went insane because they were loving and devoted parents who doted on the boy.
I was in Woodstock all that week and weekend, and didn’t return to New York City until the following Tuesday. I stopped off at B&H to pick up some video tape for my camera and the clerk told me: “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” Of course, I was thinking it must be some little prop plane. I continued to work on my motorcycle and by the time I got upstairs, the office was all abuzz and one tower was burning. I went to my office, where I discovered a string of voice messages on my phone.
I wish I’d taped those messages, because it’s the last time I heard Tom or Rollie’s voice. They called to let me know they were making a last stand, and wanted it to be a huge media event like Waco to draw attention to the War on Marijuana, and they needed me to be the spearhead in this attack. Only they didn’t have my Woodstock number, only my office. The messages got more and more frantic, and it pained me I was never able to contact them because I looked online and immediately discovered they were both already dead.
Tom was shot in the head by a sniper he never saw from a great distance. Rollie set the house on fire the next day and got shot in the neck as he exited the burning structure. Police or soldiers hand-cuffed him, then kicked the testicles out of his scrotum. When they delivered his corpse to the coroner, Rollie was still wearing their handcuffs.
But I didn’t know any of this yet, only that they were both dead, and that I might have had a chance to talk them out of this crazy idea that something good might happen for the cannabis legalization movement from them committing suicide by cop.
So that’s why I’ll be lighting candles for Tom and Rollie of Rainbow Farm on April 20th and I hope you do to.
And when I went to the roof after listening to those heartbreaking messages, I watched a giant pillar of smoke blowing towards Brooklyn, and the main thought in my mind was how this was going to obliterate all news of Tom and Rollie’s death. And that’s exactly what happened. You think maybe it was planned that way? I mean, there was no reason for the police and soldiers to storm the property so quick. They could have negotiated for days with no violence, especially since they had the son as a bargaining tool, and both men were desperate to have some contact. But then, that would have allowed Tom and Rollie to turn it into a giant media event, which is what they were wanting and expecting.
It sure felt like there was some angry rush to execute these two loving men who just wanted to devote their lives to cannabis legalization because it was the right thing to do and they loved the spirit of the plant. And somehow they knew if they got it done quick, something really big was coming down the pike to wash it all away.

Executions on the rise around the world….

Execution_of_Beatrice_Cenci_cph,3b31319Last year saw a 15% rise in executions around the world, although these stats from Amnesty International do not include China, which kills more people than all the other countries combined, so the figures are not really indicative of the total scope of violence.
Thirty-nine people were executed in the USA alone, putting us fifth on the list of barbaric states, of which only 22 are left on earth. All but one of our executions was done by lethal injection, which involves a sedative, followed by a paralyzing agent and then a heart stopper. (In recent history, the most executions occurred when Bill Clinton was President. Although remembered as somewhat compassionate, as Paul Krassner pointed out on Abakus the other day, Clinton stopped off to view the execution of a mentally damaged person on the way to his own own coronation, which is a really bizarre way to start a major ceremony unless, of course, it’s the dark side you’re worshipping.)
Here are the top five in order of kills: China (unknown); Iran (369); Iraq (160); Saudi Arabia (79); United States (39). Probably the most horrifying execution last year was Iranian peace poet Hashem Shaabani, hanged after five months of torture in which he was made to confess to many outrageous lies when his real crime was producing a peace festival and publishing poems critical of the ruling regime.
I believe 420 should be a ceremony of peace, simply because pot is the sacrament of peace culture and always has been, which is why you find spiritual cultures attached to it whenever you find the plant. If you make 420 about getting stoned, that leaves out all the people who no longer wish to get intoxicated, or who have a problem with intoxication. But if you make 420 about peace and respecting non-violence, then everyone is invited to attend.
JohnGriggsAltarViolence has been on the decline in most of the civilized world for centuries, but in the USA we have a problem with it. And we also have a lot of victims suffering from PTSD, most of whom do not have access to the best possible medicine for that disorder, which, of course, is cannabis. But when you hold ceremonies of peace, they help heal that PTSD. This is the spiritual-medicine connection Western science has been slow to pick up on. And you don’t have to be a victim of violent crime or even a soldier returning from the front to have PTSD. You can get it from playing violent video games and watching violent media content all day long for months, while popping ritalin and Prozac.
So when you think about your 420 ceremony this year, why not have a moment of silence for the thousands of people executed last year, and maybe put out a prayer the last 22 barbaric nations on earth will surrender the practice of murdering their own citizens? And maybe even another prayer that a future generation will emerge to turn against all the violence programming that’s been fed to our kids for the last fifty years.


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New Children’s Prayer

newprayerfixHere’s a little tip on how to manifest peace magic. A lot of the best magic starts with the kids. A good example would be the children’s poem, “Hush-a-bye Baby,” which was a coded message for an uprising against King James I, who was suspected of smuggling a new born baby into his palace so he could pawn it off as his newly birthed offspring (when, in fact, he could bear no fruit). “The cradle will fall” was a reference to this child not being recognized as being of proper royal blood.

When I was a kid, we were taught a very strange poem to say every night before bed. In my usual fashion of improvisational ritual theater, I’ve changed the words a bit in order to place them more in line with my understanding of the sacred vibrations that run through all things.

I encourage parents to introduce this prayer to their kids as a means of dealing with some of the worst of the terror being manufactured today, some of which may even be created to condition us to accept a complete surrender of the Bill of Rights. I think this prayer is a positive step in the right direction and should be translated into every language and spread around the globe as quickly as possible.

Gunshots at Marijuana Rally

How sad the Denver rally was marred by violence and instead of a message of peace, the global news is now reporting: “gunshots at marijuana rally.” For me, this is a great tragedy.

Abby from Daily Beast called me on 4/19 and interviewed me for over an hour. She seemed fascinated by my history of spiritual use of cannabis, although I cautioned her there was a pretty intense filter in the national media on any of this info, and if she planned to write about it, be prepared for censorship from on high. She laughed off that idea, but strangely, her story has yet to appear.

The Denver rally began ten years ago, one of the first large mass April 20th events. Now we have so many. In 1990 I discovered an annual ritual was taking place near the top of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. At the time, I was reading about Soma and had decided the story invented by Gordon Wasson that Soma was a mushroom was false, and Soma was actually cannabis, just like it was obvious to me cannabis was manifesting real ceremony and ritual in Marin, headquarters of the hippie counterculture after the Haight was over-run with undercovers, violence, hard drugs and nasty ops. From 1995 until 2003, the center of energy on spreading 420 ceremonies was the Cannabis Cup, especially the Temple Dragon Crew, who were so fanatical about honoring 420 they did it twice every day, at 4:20 PM and 4:20 AM. Having a picture taken at the Quentin hotel lobby under the clock at 4:20 AM was one of the biggest 420 ceremonies around for years before the rest of the world picked up on it.

That’s why I could never understand why Steve Bloom, who actually appears in some of those early 420 photos at the Quentin lobby, tells people High Times, the Cannabis Cup, and me in particular, “had nothing to do with spreading 420?” After having spent 30 years trying to get the spiritual rights issues around cannabis recognized, and then have that entire life’s campaign dismissed by someone who actually saw the thing assembled is saddening. But then Bloom voluntarily quit High Times when I was brought back the third time, just because he couldn’t work under me again. So I understand where the vibes are coming from.

Mike Edison on wikipedia claims I pushed the Waldo’s story and took 420 to “cult-like extremes.” That is really hilarious. Yes, I organized events around 420, and at 4:20 PM, I would sometimes ask the assembled multitudes to form a circle, hold hands, and OM for world peace. That’s a traditional hippie ceremony begun in North America by The Brotherhood of Eternal Love on the West Coast and Allen Ginsberg on the East Coast. I believed holding these ceremonies was proof of spiritual culture and could be used to bring a court case to the Supreme Court, which had always refused to hear the religious rights case on cannabis.

Like I was telling Abby from Daily Beast, I found out about marijuana by reading On the Road, and the key moment in that stream of consciousness is a spiritual moment in Mexico provided by a few hits of marijuana. That book sent my generation looking for marijuana because we wanted to have a spiritual moment like that, especially since all of us had recently lost our religions and needed something real and honest we could plug into.

During this crucial time, when the counterculture was re-discovering the sacrament of peace culture, what happens? A major op is launched by Gordon Wasson to declare the magic mushroom as the key to spirituality. And he heads off down to Mexico to take mushrooms with a shaman and it ends up on the cover of Life magazine. Suddenly, it’s all about mushrooms again. This is obviously the same op Wasson pulled on Soma. Could it be possible that when the Roman empire took control of Christianity, which up until then had been a poor people’s religion based on world peace, and when Constantine put that cross on his army’s shields, he also switched up the sacraments? The poor people got alcohol, while the priests got mushrooms maybe but the cannabis became strictly forbidden because cannabis manifests peace culture, and the Roman empire was never about peace.

After I attended my first Rainbow Gathering and stood in a circle OMing for peace with 15,000 people, my mind was blown and I realized if only we had more ceremonies like this, we might actually get some positive energy going in this direction. So I organized a lot of peace circles for the next 30 years and tried to teach the youth about hippie magic. But I live in New York City, where hippies are not really very popular, and the minute I started manifesting these ceremonies, I was branded “a cult leader” by people that wanted to take my job. Where is my army of zombie robots and why aren’t they carrying me around in a sedan chair feeding me grapes all day? In fact, I never tried to organize a cult or anything close and I have zero dogma to push, only a desire to spread peace energy to help heal all the hate, but of course, this is dangerous, or at least lame and stupid, eh?

The Real Story of 420

It’s always fun waiting to see how the media is going to spin the annual 420 story.

After I investigated the Waldos, I came back to announce they were the real deal and the publisher of High Times went into high gear discounting that notion and acting like I was deluded.  A couple people started crowing about how the Waldos were frauds.

The real story of 420 is not about who found the flyer, who invented it, or who gets credit for anything. The real story of 420 is about celebrating the path of non-violence. Don’t be fooled into thinking marijuana is about getting high and/or making money, although that is as far as many people get with the plant. No, there is something much stronger, much deeper, much more intense going on around cannabis because it is the true sacrament of peace culture and always has been.

Vast Global Conspiracy Finally Unveiled?

A vast global conspiracy has been ongoing on for the past seven years, according to Steven Hager, founder of the Cannabis Cup and the first person to organize 420 ceremonies outside Marin County, starting in 1990.

According to Hager, a secret group he created at the 8th Cannabis Cup, known as The Temple Dragon Crew has been secretly plotting world peace intensively now for seven years. During ceremonies, the crew deploys their signature seven rainbow-colored candles decorated with magic sigils, a new rainbow menorah they hope to establish as a symbol for world peace. These dragons are dedicated to stopping hate, bigotry and violence with peace magic.

For years, this crew has worked in secret, appearing only briefly for ceremonies at major counterculture events, but now apparently, anyone can become a Temple Dragon. “Yes, says Hager, we have moved our ceremonies to Aspen, Colorado, as part of Abakus magazine and the Grand Lodge of the Pot Illuminati. Our flower Cup is in late December and the Munchie Cup in May.”

Stay tuned to see if the Temple Dragon Crew’s ambitious plans can defeat the black magic of the sorcerers who manifest war for profit by manipulating religions.

When will world peace finally break out? The Temple Dragons are certainly praying world peace comes sooner than later.

Introducing SMT: Stoner Mean Time

People sometimes ask me why I put so much emphasis on Mt. Tamalpais as the spiritual home of 420.

When our ancient tribal ancestors went to the top of the magic mountain, it was a vision quest to discover themselves. Going up is always a good thing, it’s when you feel yourself sinking down you have to be careful.

The Waldos started 420 in 1971, and organized many ceremonies on April 20th for years, and I’m sure they still do. But after over a decade, spontaneous gatherings erupted at the summit of Mt. Tam on April 20th at 4:20 pm that had nothing to do with the Waldos. When I heard about these gatherings, I made 420 the central ceremony of all my events like the Cannabis Cup and Whee!, as well as part of my daily life. So you have to understand Mt. Tam plays a key symbolic role in the story of 420.

This revelation actually occurred to me because I needed to figure out a way to get all the MCC operators to turn on and tune up to the same frequency at the same time, so we can see if that well-focused telepathic energy, strategically placed around the globe, can jump start world peace. Ever since I created the prototype MCC almost three weeks ago, I’ve been manifesting a tremendous amount of creative energy, maybe you can tell?

There are a lot of frequencies (flavors) available and they tune into different chakras. Like if you want to blast your AC/DC, or Metallica, that’s cool, but understand that’s the red candle you are dealing with. I like to think of that not as your base or root, but as your ID deep inside your brain. When manifesting those energies, it’s easy to fly off the road, so enjoy the ride, but be advised there are different frequencies higher up the spiritual ladder that are just as fun and a lot more enlightening.

So let’s all have a great 420 this year and I hope everyone tunes into SMT and celebrates 420 on Mt. Tam together as a global 420 ceremony we can all join in on.