This is the story of how the cannabis community culturally appropriated and co-opted an entire holiday from millennia old spiritual practices.
There are many stories of the beginning of 4/20, the holiday celebrated around the world yearly by marijuana enthusiasts. There are also many people or groups that claim to have been the mastermind behind it’s origins. However the true beginnings go back much further than any of these claims, as we shall explore.
The Scythian group of ancient peoples originated near the Mediterranean and worked their way up into what is today the Ukraine and Russia, bringing with them their beloved cannabis and paving the way for its entry into the rest of northern Europe.
To understand the origins of 4/20 we must look at the Scythian Zodiac calendar. It was comprised of 12 animals cycled throughout an 84 day astrological cycle. The twentieth day in this cycle occurs on a Saturday and corresponds with the zodiac sign Rabbit. It is also the day before the last day of a quarter, which were days for sacrifice and celebration.
As part of the holiday ceremonies for zodiac quarters the day before would be spent fasting, from both food and cannabis. And since it was the first fast of the cycle, fasting days preceding quarterly holidays were also generally referred to as 4/20. Meaning that a group that was instrumental in spreading cannabis across the world did not use the plant themselves on that day.
Like most ideas which were co-opted by modern western culture, the meaning of 4/20 has been turned upside down. In the same way the Christians absorbed Easter into their religion, subverting the fertility rite into an ascension fable (life vs. death), modern cannabis users have absorbed the 4/20 tradition into their own and turned it’s meaning from fasting to feasting.
This illustrates clearly how values have changed over time from ideas about conservation to ideas about consumption. The appropriation of 4/20 is yet another cautionary tale of the appetite to conquer and consume having replaced older values about harmony and respect.
So put down your pipe and enjoy the fast from worldly things while you meditate on your place among the Gods and rest up. Tomorrow we shall sacrifice livestock.