Aleister Crowley, Francois Rabelais and the Herb of Thelema
CANNABIS CULTURE – Aleister Crowley is a well known 19th-20th century magician, Francois Rabelais was a 16th century monk, remembered largely for his well known work of satire Gargantua and Pantagruel, what could these two and cannabis have in common?
Possibly the most intriguing renaissance figure involved with the history of cannabis was the 16th century Monk, Alchemist and Bachelor of Medicine, Francois Rabelais, (1494-1553). Rabelais is best known for his hilarious epic adventure Gargantua and Pantagruel. A bold and bawdy satirical tale of two Giants, Gargantua, and his son Pantagruel, the book is equal parts philosophy, sex and fart jokes, slapstick humour, along with outright heresy and a generous a dash of arcane knowledge. As one biographer noted “His large book is a giant-jest uttered by a giant-intellect” (Cochrane, 1843). His mockeries of so much that the church deemed holy “led eminent critics to regard Rabelais as a Papefigue, one who gives the Pope the finger” (Marshall/Zegura 2004). The 19th century literary critic Alphonse de Lamartine was less kind and saw Rabelais as a “poisonous, fetid mushroom born in the dunghill of the medieval cloister, the defrocked monks pig who regaled himself in his dirty sty and loved to