Tridib’s journeys have taken him far and wide, his experiences multi-dimensional and transformative have been about unearthing the hidden deeper meaning of life and exploring his purpose on this planet. One love affair that has always been ongoing has been his romance with Mary Jane a.k.a ganja a.k.a marijuana a.k.a weed, or whatever one chooses to call it. Not just from a recreational perspective but also from a spiritual and healing traditional medicinal perspective. Tridib’s foray into plant medicine, took him to the land of the Rastafarians, Jamaica.
Tridib has always intuitively known that the problems of the world are because we as humans have come so far from natures ways and are in disharmony with it. Traditional healing techniques are about restoring the balance and hence the harmony with one’s natural roots. The Rastafarian religion for one believes in natural living and the natural balance of things. The use of the “herb” has always had a divine place in their religion and used ceremonially and considered special because of its restorative and healing properties.
The Rastafarian movement started in the 1930s largely among the disenfranchised Afro-Jamaicans as a reaction against colonial oppression and was influenced by back to the roots ideology. The movement developed after several Protestant Christian clergymen, most notably Leonard Howell, proclaimed that Haile Selassie’s crowning as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 fulfilled a Biblical prophecy. The movement gained prominence through the popularity of Rasta-Reggae musicians like Bob Marley.
The Rasta religion embraces mysticism in getting to know Jah or God directly and hence reducing the distance between humanity and divinity. Their central figure is the Haile Selassie of Ethiopia the sovereign who was crowned in 1930 and is considered to be the fulfillment of the prophesy in the book of Daniel. The religion borrows its tenets from the bible but differs in their understanding of the teachings and the general belief is that modern day Christianity is a misinterpretation and perversion of the original teachings through narrow political interests.
The Rastas for example believe that the original Bible was written in stone in Amharic. The believe that the true meaning of the bible was distorted through manipulation by those seeking to deny black Africans their history. They regard the bible to be “cryptographic” (another reference to Blockchain Technology!) with hidden meaning than can be revealed through intuition and meditation and in communion with the God within.
Most rastas share the fundamental principles of “love of God and love of your neighbor”and they believe that in order to undertake any act, one has to consult Jah within. The believe in living naturally in accordance with nature’s law. It endorses the idea of Africa being the natural abode of black Africans where they are allowed to be themselves on a physical, emotional and intellectual level. The concepts central in their belied are Babylon and Zion. Babylon gets its origins from the Bible which speaks of the imprisoned Israelites within Babylon. The oppressive, racist social structures of Western though and influence were hence equated to Babylon.
Rastas refer to their cultural and religious practices as “livity”. Rastafari does not place emphasis on hierarchical structures. It has no professional priesthood, with Rastas believing that there is no need for a priest to act as mediator between the worshipper and divinity. It nevertheless has “elders”, an honorific title bestowed upon those with a good reputation among the community. Although respected figures, they do not necessarily have administrative functions or responsibilities. When they do oversee ritual meetings, they are often responsible for helping to interpret current events in terms of Biblical scripture. Elders often communicate with each other through a network to plan movement events and form strategies.
The term “grounding” is used among Rastas to refer to the establishment of relationships between like-minded practitioners. Groundings often take place in a commune or yard, and are presided over by an elder. The elder is charged with keeping discipline and can ban individuals from attending. The number of participants can range from a handful to several hundred. Activities that take place at groundings include the playing of drums, chanting, the singing of hymns, and the recitation of poetry. Cannabis, known as ganja, is often smoked. Most groundings contain only men, although some Rasta women have established their own all-female grounding circles.
One of the central activities at groundings is “reasoning“. This is a discussion among assembled Rastas about the religion’s principles and their relevance to current events. These discussions are supposed to be non-combative, although attendees can point out the fallacies in any arguments presented. Those assembled inform each other about the revelations that they have received through meditation and dream. Each contributor is supposed to push the boundaries of understanding until the entire group has gained greater insight into the topic under discussion. In meeting together with like-minded individuals, reasoning helps Rastas to reassure one another of the correctness of their beliefs. Rastafari meetings are opened and closed with prayers. These involve supplication of God, the supplication for the hungry, sick, and infants, and calls for the destruction of the Rastas’ enemies, and then close with statements of adoration.
The largest groundings were known as “groundations” or “grounations” in the 1950s, although they were subsequently re-termed “Nyabinghi Issemblies”. The term “Nyabinghi” is adopted from the name of a mythical African queen. Nyabinghi Issemblies are often held on dates associated with Ethiopia and Haile Selassie. These include Ethiopian Christmas (7 January), the day on which Haile Selassie visited Jamaica (21 April), Selassie’s birthday (23 July), Ethiopian New Year (11 September), and Selassie’s coronation day (2 November). Some Rastas also organise Nyabinghi Issemblies to mark Jamaica’s Emancipation Day (1 August) and Marcus Garvey‘s birthday (17 August).
Nyabinghi Issemblies typically take place in rural areas, being situated in the open air or in temporary structures—known as “temples” or “tabernacles”—specifically constructed for the purpose. Any elder seeking to sponsor a Nyabinghi Issembly must have approval from other elders and requires the adequate resources to organise such an event. The assembly usually lasts between three and seven days. During the daytime, attendees engage in food preparation, ganja smoking, and reasoning, while at night they focus on drumming and dancing around bonfires. Nyabinghi Issemblies often attract Rastas from a wide area, including from different countries. They establish and maintain a sense of solidarity among the Rasta community and cultivate a feeling of collective belonging. Unlike in many other religions, rites of passage play no role in Rastafari; on death, various Rastas have been given Christian funerals by their relatives, as there are no established Rasta funeral rites.
The principal ritual of Rastafari is the smoking of ganja, also known as marijuana or cannabis. Among the names that Rastas give to the plant are callie, Iley, “the herb”, “the holy herb”, “the grass”, and “the weed”. Cannabis is usually smoked during groundings, although some practitioners also smoke it informally in other contexts. Some Rastas smoke it almost all of the time, something other practitioners regard as excessive, and many practitioners also ingest cannabis in a tea, as a spice in cooking, and as an ingredient in medicine. However, not all Rastas use ganja; abstainers explain that they have already achieved a higher level of consciousness and thus do not require it.
Tridib traveled to Jamaica in the company of Steve DeAngelo to gain knowledge and understanding of Rasta spiritual practices, life and values as underpinned in his own spiritual journey or awakening. Steve DeAngelo is a pioneering cannabis entrepreneur, activist, author, and on-screen personality. He co-founded several iconic cannabis businesses and organizations: Harborside, one of the first six dispensaries licensed in the US; Steep Hill Laboratory, the first dedicated cannabis lab; the Arc View Group, the first cannabis investment firm; and the National Cannabis Industry Association, the industry’s first trade association. He currently serves as Chairman Emeritus of Harborside Inc, a vertically integrated California cannabis company.
Steve’s creative projects include a book,The Cannabis Manifesto; a Discovery Channel mini-series, Weed Wars; and a new weekly show, Ask Steve DeAngelo, on greenflowermedia.com. He was a lead organizer and fundraiser for I-59, Washington DC’s medical cannabis initiative; and is most famous for his successful litigation against the Department of Justice, which halted DOJ’s last-ditch 2011 campaign to shut down California’s medical cannabis dispensaries.
He writes in one of his articles- “Like the Walls of Jericho, all around the world cannabis laws are tumbling down. More and more people are using cannabis, and using it more openly, but there is still a great deal of confusion about the plant and the role it should play in our lives—even in the minds of those who consume it regularly, and embrace it enthusiastically. Some see cannabis as an intoxicant with varying levels of danger; other people view the plant as a medicine and some believe it to be a spiritual sacrament. After a decade of directly serving and caring for medical cannabis patients, I’ve come to think of it as a wellness product.”
In recognition of these pioneering accomplishments, in 2015, former Speaker of the California Assembly and Mayor of San Francisco, the Hon. Willie L Brown called Steve the “Father of the legal Cannabis Industry.”
During that time Tridib had the overarching realization that his involvement with blockchain and crypto could revolutionize the cannabis industry as we know it. From that time on he resolved to work at creating a decentralized ecosystem for legal cannabis trade and means of funding such projects and initiatives.
He is currently working to create a green fund, and cannabis coin to fund initiatives in the space.