Does Cannabis Fuel Wm. Shakespeare’s Writing? Many like him were and still are inspired by the plant

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Several years ago, when the web overheated with speculation as to whether William Shakespeare smoked weed or not, Sonnet 53 comes to mind: “What is your substance, what are you made of / May millions of strange shadows hang over you.” In fact, the reference to millions of strange shadows might even suggest that the bard may have consumed something even a little stronger.

So what started the ‘tongue of rumor? [on which] continual slanders ride ”about Shakespeare?

It was modern forensic medicine, a science class the bard would have probably relished.

South African anthropologist Francis Thackeray actually dug up Shakespeare’s garden in Stratford-upon-Avon and took a good look at the writer’s pipes. Thackeray’s conclusion? Of the 24 pipe fragments examined, eight tested positive for 17th century cannabis residue and two of them contained definitive evidence for the presence of Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves.

Hemp, one of the earliest known clothing fibers in history, was widely used to produce paper, rope, and clothing during Shakespeare’s time. And, since cannabis use dates back to ancient times, according to historian Herodotus, it should come as no surprise that a prodigious writer like Shakespeare could put a little of the plant in a pipe for him to eat while he was drinking. ‘He composes.

Another clue

Although the astronomer Copernicus had already published his then revolutionary book, On the revolutions of the celestial spheres, long before Shakespeare’s birth in 1564, the bard multitude of references to astrology and cosmology led many readers to conclude that he was very science aware and also quite, well, heady.

When Cassius, in “Julius Caesar”, speaks out against superstitions, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are subordinates”, surely many Elizabethan eyebrows were raised. lifted. Elizabethan astrologers tended to believe that stars and planets could predict the future, linking astrology to the supernatural rather than science. While Shakespeare, who believed in science, referred to astrology to illuminate the features of his characters.

So, did cannabis fuel Shakespeare’s genius?

Thackeray’s findings, many argue, raise the question of whether Shakespeare’s plays were performed in a smoky haze and whether he was stoned when he wrote them.

We’ll never know for sure, but it’s fun to speculate. There are many references which can be taken as descriptions of an altered consciousness in one’s 37 plays and 154 sonnets, so dust off your Shakespeare volumes and take a look.

What other writers participated to enhance their creativity?

Maya Angélou (1928-2014) noted she used cannabis regularly in her later years as a therapy that generates creativity. “From a natural stiffness, I melted into a smiling tolerance. Walking the streets became a great adventure, eating my mom’s huge dinners opulent entertainment, and playing with my son was heartbreaking hilarity. For the first time, life amused me “, wrote Angelou in his autobiography”Come together in my name. “

Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005), in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, the iconic “gonzo” reporter described himself driving with a “car full of marijuana and his head full of acid.”

Victor Hugo (1802-1885), author of “Le Bossu de Notre-Dame” and “Les Misérables”, regularly met his colleagues at a hash-eating club in a Parisian cafe where they consumed a cannabis-infused paste made from pistachios and honey.

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), “The Flowers of Evil” (“Les Fleurs du Mal”), was part of Hugo’s hashish-eating club. We must thank the French poet for the first canna literature, including “The hashish poem,”An essay reflecting on the very different effects of alcohol and cannabis on the body.

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), founding member of the hashish eaters club, included an ode to cannabis in his novel “the count of Monte Cristo“, Where one of the characters exclaims:” When you return to this mundane sphere of your visionary world, you would seem to leave a Neapolitan spring for a Lapp winter – to leave paradise for earth – paradise for hell ! Taste the hash, my guest – taste the hash! “

A list of prominent modern writers who use or have used cannabis includes Stephen King, the late Jack Kerouac, Carl Sagan, Norman Mailer, William S. Burroughs, Susan Sontag and Allen Ginsberg.


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