There’s a long passage in Exodus explaining how Moses made it through forty days in the desert while on the edge of starvation. Through the power of the Lord, a new food was delivered magically to Moses called manna.
The descriptions of this food are poetic and symbolic and somewhat contradictory. Apparently, manna was all things to all people, and tasted like honey to kids, and meat to adults, and bread to the elderly. Terrence McKenna was the first to theorize manna was a mushroom. When is the last time you heard someone surviving on mushrooms because it’s well known that the Russian peasants survived on cannabis seed in times of famine for millennia.
First, there was no exodus out of Egypt. That was a revenge fantasy created while Jews were slaves in Babylon. If there had been a massive exodus, the physical evidence would have been discovered long ago. The exodus is never mentioned in Egyptian history, which is quite extensive. In Babylon where the exodus story was created, the Zoroastrians ruled, and Moses was a Jewish update on Zoroaster. The reason you add magical elements to these stories is to provide the necessary sense of enchantment needed to penetrate the psyche. The evolution of religion was a complex process that built new layers on top of older concepts. At some point, cannabis was removed from almost all the religions, after serving as the principle sacrament for over a thousand years. And when cannabis was removed from the Bible, they couldn’t eradicate all references as the burning bush and holy anointing oil all had to be referenced. But they were able to completely obscure the first line of defense in times of famine.
In the 1990s archaeologists discovered a kilo of cannabis flowers inside a 2,500 year-old burial tomb in the Tarim Basin in northwest China. Clothing in the tomb was woolen and flax, and the rope and baskets were fashioned out of leather, not hemp. This means the plant was being harvested for medicinal purposes only.
Wu is the Chinese term for medicine man, and symbolized by a cross, usually worn on the forehead. The earliest Chinese shamans were mostly women who employed hu ma as their primary medicine. Hu ma is a reference to cannabis indica, introduced to the Chinese by the Sakas who arrived via the Silk Road. Cannabis oil was known as yu ma.
The word “cannabis” originated with the Sakas around the Black Sea and may have been their word for “hemp,” but it was in China that hemp paper was first produced. The technology took a long time to finally reach Europe. The term for cannabis in Chinese is “ma,” and it was most likely in China where the momentous discovery was first made one could activate the power of cannabis by mixing flowers with hot milk, running the mixture through a sieve, and then drinking the liquid.
In China this concoction became known as shuma; while in India it was called soma; and in Persia, hoama. The words “magi, magician, shaman” all have their root in the Chinese “ma.” So why wouldn’t “manna” be a reference to this same ma?
Since a wide variety of cultures have employed hemp seed to survive famine over millennia, it’s hard to understand why this scenario doesn’t even appear on Wikipedia as an explanation for manna. In my version, the seeded plants are just starting to sprout small, white immature seeds that are best picked early when the morning dew is still upon them so they are full of moisture. They can be eaten raw or pounded into wafers like bread and baked. Moses tells everyone to pick only what they want to eat today. Apparently baked manna did not keep well and attracted vermin. But he also told them to put away a small sample of the seeds to show their ancestors, to let them know what kept the tribe alive in an hour of need.
31 The people called the special food “manna.” It was like small white coriander seeds and tasted like thin cakes made with honey. 32 Moses told the people what the Lord said: “Save a basket of this food for your descendants. Then they can see the food that I gave to you in the desert when I took you out of Egypt.”