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 Steve Bloom is going to spin his annual 420 story. Bloom likes to take credit for “discovering” 420 because he published a flyer in 1990 in High Times. But there’s always this mysterious 5-year gap in Bloom’s accounts. I was investigating the history of Soma when Bloom showed up at the office with that flyer for a gathering on Mt. Tam on April 20th at 4:20 that he’d been handed at a Grateful Dead show in Oakland. Bloom laughed at how silly it seemed and published a small blip in the news section making fun of it.

I had a much different reaction. Channeling the Rig Veda, I instantly announced this gathering on Mt Tamalpais was proof of the spiritual powers of cannabis and its ability to manifest real ritual and ceremony. Not only that, I instantly made 4:20 pm a daily ritual for myself, and began re-tooling the Cannabis Cup and Whee! festivals around 4:20 as the central ceremony. I was trying to build a case for the religious use of cannabis and I wanted to videotape and document those ceremonies as proof of that connection. And I have all that documentation intact.

Now Bloom watched all this go down for years and never once got involved with these 420 rituals, just poo-poohed the whole thing like a big joke. He watched the Cannabis Cup spread 420 around the globe during this time and saw myself and Stephen Gaskin deliver many 420 sermons to the uneducated masses, waking them up to the power of peace. Today Boom will tell you 420 spread through the Grateful Dead scene, which is not true. It spread through the teenagers of Marin county, some of whom had gone across the bay to Oakland to recruit comrades for their annual mountain-top ceremony, an event that only lasted a few years before police presence shut it down.

When I investigated the Waldos, the true creators of the 420 code, I came back to announce they were the real deal, and, of course, Bloom went into high gear discounting that notion and acting like I was deluded. Finally, he did cave in and admit the Waldos created 420 a few years back, but then last year, he backtracked once again and claimed it was actually another person from their high school, a tall tale told by a prankster and backed by zero evidence, while the Waldos have maintained a large stack of verifiable documents, including post-marked letters? A few months ago, Bloom was positively crowing about how the Waldos were frauds and he had finally uncovered “the real story.”

So, at the start of 420 week, what does Bloom say now: “Thirty-two years after I stumbled onto the 420 phenomenon, I really could care less who started it. Better off left shrouded in mystery, it makes for a good stoner bedtime story.”

I’d say he’s backed off that lame story, but he’s still not close to the truth, because the Waldod’s did invent 420, a reality Bloom has always had a hard time swallowing, probably only because I was the first to assert it and that would somehow, in his mind, steal his 420 spotlight?

The real story about this year’s 420 is about the people who organized those original Mt. Tam ceremonies, because the Waldos had no hand in these. And wouldn’t you know, one of them happens to have become altar master of the Temple Dragon Crew. This shaman will be returning to Mount Tamalpais in one week bearing the seven sacred candles of peace, which will be lit at 4:20 PM as an OM circle forms.

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 that this is our peace culture and shared by all of us who want to walk a path of non-violence. Don’t be fooled into thinking marijuana is only 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. And peace culture is a much truer emanation of the universal energies than anything those black magician masters of war running the Federal Reserve can dream up.

More thoughts on 420

I was contacted today by a reporter working on an article on the history of 420. I’m happy to help any researchers interested in this topic. There’s a big difference between using the word “420” as a code, and organizing a ceremony. The idea of 420 ceremonies really spread around the world primarily through the Cannabis Cup, which was attended by influential stoners from around the world. Below are some of the questions I was asked, and the answers I gave.

I have the HT edition with the flyer and in bold it states “Get together with your friends and smoke pot hardcore.”

HT didn’t publish the flyer, they published Bloom’s selective excerpts from the flyer. The purpose of the flyer was to attract people to an annual ceremony on Mt. Tam.

It’s abridged? I didn’t know that.

I saw the entire flyer. It was for a ceremony on Mt. Tam. At the time I was researching Soma and the Sakka culture, and shouted out “THIS IS IMPORTANT!” Bloom thought it was ridiculous. He wouldn’t even participate in my 420 ceremonies, which I began that very day. The most important thing to realize about counterculture ceremonies is they are always rooted in improvisation. The Waldos were masters of improvisation. But the Waldos did not create the Mt. Tam ceremony. That was created by the kids in their high school who came later on, their younger brothers and sisters created that ceremony, but it stayed on Mt. Tam and never moved…until the Cannabis Cup. Bloom started his campaign to write me out of the history of 420 last year. When he published his current story, I’d finally had enough. He was there, he knows the truth. He also knows that he resisted everything I was doing all along the way.

I guess he’s passionate about crediting the Deadheads.

Jack Herer was a lifelong Deadhead and sold most of his books on Dead Tour. Jack’s first 420 ceremony was at the Cannabis Cup.

I think Wavy-Gravy’s ‘eternity’ comment puts it in the longest term perspective. It’s his way of saying “so what?”

You can pick any form of spirituality, it all works. The secret, however, is that you have to believe. I wrapped my deepest beliefs around 420 from the moment I became aware of it. I remain very close with the Waldos, who deserve a place in history alongside the Merry Pranksters. The Temple Dragons should get more credit for spreading 420, especially Rocker T. So what? So what, Merry Pranksters? So what, Congo Square? So what, cannabis spirituality? There’s something deeper going on here than just having a party, that’s what. I was the first person to announce cannabis was Soma of the Rig Veda, at least in North America to my knowledge. It was during my investigations of the historical use of cannabis that I became aware of 420. Bloom handed me the flyer. He then wrote a story about how silly the whole thing was, after I already told him I was going to reorganize my spiritual beliefs and events around the concept of 420. Thousands of people came through these events for ten years. Yet today, Bloom asserts the ceremonies I created did nothing to spread 420? The people involved know better. I’m not trying to take credit for 420, and I’ve made it clear what I think 420 should be about: “A day of peace in the drug war,” but after Jack Herer died, in wishes with Jack’s family, I asked people to also remember Jack on that day. But if you are going to write the true history of 420, please never forget the Temple Dragon Crew!

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420 Disinfo Exposed

Steve Bloom continues his selective and self-serving history of 420. In his latest missive, Bloom says: “In 1996, a person calling himself Steve Waldo contacted High Times claiming he and five friends had coined the term while they all attended San Rafael High School in Marin Country north of San Francisco in the early 1970s. So High Times named the Waldos the founders of 420.”

In truth, Steve Waldo contacted the 420 Tours website, not High Times. I’d just recently resigned as editor-in-chief of the magazine so I could concentrate on building events and shooting video and had spent six years promoting 420 ceremonies at the High Times office, at the Cannabis Cup, and at the Whee! festivals I created. Bloom never participated in any of these 420 ceremonies and told everyone my “theory” about the Waldo’s inventing 420 was untrue. For many years Bloom insisted the Waldos were liars. All this was well documented in Mike Edison’s slimy book that details his conflicts with the High Times staff.

But the worst piece of disinfo promoted by Bloom is the idea that I had nothing to do with spreading 420 ceremonies around the world, when, in fact, I was the first person to announce that 420 was evidence of the spiritual powers of cannabis. Until I began organizing 420 ceremonies, the only 420 ceremony being held was in Marin County. Bloom claims that Deadheads created 420 ceremonies, which is not true. It was students at San Rafael High School that organized the first 420 ceremonies. The Waldos were fans of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, not “Deadheads.”