Ijo Pona

In Hebrew The Word For Hash Also Means Incense…

…. but, did Jesus inhale?

Both the Gnostic and Book of Revelation references to the incense mention it being related to the Saints, possibly indicating those who used the holy incense felt it provided them with some sort of kinship with those members of their faith who had used it before them in a similar spirit. In some mysterious and subtle way, when we burn cannabis with a certain spiritual focus and specific symbols in mind, we are able to tap into a memory that goes far beyond our personal experience. 

In relation to this it is interesting to note the words of Dr Robert de Ropp, who wrote of an initiate’s experience with cannabis that “unlocked the doors of memory, a memory that can be as impersonal as the memory of the race, linking him to the great patterns of living forms, green plants and fungi, invertebrates and vertebrates. Against so expansive a back ground personal memories appeared trivial”(de Ropp 1968). De Ropp considered cannabis sacred (de Ropp, 1974), and had a keen interest in Gnostic scriptures (de Ropp, 1988). Similarly, Shaivite scholar Alain Danielou wrote that “Some plants are, by their very nature, connected with what are called spirits or gods. They embody certain aspects of the divine [and] serve as a means of contact [with it]” (Danielou, 1984/92). The same sensibility is reflected Dr Rupert Sheldrake’s profound new scientific model, “Morphic Resonance,” which describes the human DNA molecule as being a receiver for the “human being signal,” which contains not only the necessary genetic information needed for the creation and maintenance of the material body but also contains a record of all accumulated human knowledge and experience (Sheldrake 1984). 

Sheldrake goes onto suggest, using the psilocybin mushroom as an example, that the previous users of such a substance may have left a resonance in the morphic field surrounding its vibration that could be tuned into by later users. When one considers the extensive religious use of cannabis throughout the ages by a variety of cultures, and the modern Renaissance surrounding the plant, Sheldrake’s theory becomes more than plausible.


Cannabis can be claimed as a true religion, springing from the instinctual recognition of cannabis as sacrament, as the Tree of Life. Consider the case of the African Bashilenge, who after becoming acquainted with cannabis sometime during the nineteenth century, began using it sacramentally, and convinced other tribes to join them in their sacred smoke. This Holy communion lead them to put away their weapons, and rename their land “Lubuku,” meaning “Friendship”, greeting “each other with the expression ‘Moio’, meaning both ‘hemp’ and ‘life’”(Benet 1975). Consider the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica, where independently, black descendants of slaves who had began using marijuana likely from an influence of Indian migrant workers, intuitively began to apply its use to a Biblical tradition, long acknowledging the sacred plant as the Tree of Life, and ‘burning bush’, sharing it as a Eucharist in a chillum-Chalice in order to awaken the “I” spirit that is common in us all. 

The Scythians High Plains Drifters 
The sorcerers of these Thracian tribes were known to have burned female cannabis flowers (and other psychoactive plants) as a mystical incense to induce trances. Their special talents were attributed to the “magical heat” produced from burning the cannabis and other herbs, believing that the plants dissolved in the flames, then reassembled themselves inside the person who inhaled the vapors. 

It could well be that in later times the cannabis smoke had somewhat mellowed the Scythians, and their spiritual leaders directed them towards becoming a more civilized people. The ancient Greek historian Ephorus wrote in the fourth century BC that the Scythians ‘feed on mares milk and excel all men in justice’. His comments were followed in the first century BC by Strabo, who wrote that ‘we regard the Scythians as the most just of men and the least prone to mischief, as also far more
frugal and independent of others than we are.’ 

The Scythian Queens 

Like the Scythian shamans, the Thracians used cannabis in a similar manner. Dr Sumach explains in A Treasury of Hashish that: The sorcerers of these Thracian tribes were known to have burned female cannabis flowers (and other psychoactive plants) as a mystical incense to induce trances. Their special talents were attributed to the “magical heat” produced from burning the cannabis and other herbs, believing that the plants dissolved in the flames, then reassembled themselves inside the person who inhaled the vapors.

Marijuana: Shamanic Tool of Ancient Cultures  

Worshipers of Shiva traditionally offer their ganja to Shiva before smoking, but what about followers of Krishna? Krishna generally does not accept ganja offerings, although He clearly states that He is the healing essence of all herbs. In ancient India, the temple incense was infused with hashish so worshipers could inhale the sacred smoke and experience love of God. Although hash incense is no longer available, Krishna worshipers offer ganja smoke to Krishna’s brother, Balarama, and receive the Lord’s blessings.

Mantra for offering ganja to Balarama: Baladev Baladev Hara Hara Ganja.

As readers of my Blog may be aware, I suffer from Schizophrenia – this means that I find it incredibly difficult to consume this Eucharist. I abstain. I have not always abstained – this may be the very reason why my symptoms manifest as such – but all I want is a public enquiry into this plant.

I figure it is taken even though it is currently illegal (due to the munitions act of WWI). We should look into legalising it to take it out of the hands of criminals. It’s use has become so prolific that smoking a joint at a party has almost become a rite of passage for British teenagers.

Even though my folks were teenagers in the 1960′s, they equate smoking a cannabis cigarette with jacking up on Heroin. It is almost impossible to have a sensible conversation about it with them.

So, The Nasty Party (Conservatives), can we have a Scientific Enquiry …..?


Incense As An Anti-Depressive

In 2008 (I procrastinate), a paper appeared in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.  I have whittled down the paper so my whole Blog is not spammy:

Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses.

“In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity,” said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research study’s co-authors. “We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”

To determine incense’s psychoactive effects, the researchers administered incensole acetate to mice. They found that the compound significantly affected areas in brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs. Specifically, incensole acetate activated a protein called TRPV3, which is present in mammalian brains and also known to play a role in the perception of warmth of the skin. When mice bred without this protein were exposed to incensole acetate, the compound had no effect on their brains.

“Perhaps Marx wasn’t too wrong when he called religion the opium of the people: morphine comes from poppies, cannabinoids from marijuana, and LSD from mushrooms; each of these has been used in one or another religious ceremony.” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology. The discovery of how incensole acetate, purified from frankincense, works on specific targets in the brain should also help us understand diseases of the nervous system. This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion–burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!”

According to the National Institutes of Health, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15–44, affecting approximately 14.8 million American adults. A less severe form of depression, dysthymic disorder, affects approximately 3.3 million American adults. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults, and frequently co-occur with depressive disorders.

Why My Room Is Messy

All our lives, we’ve been told to “be organised.” Organization has always been pegged as a direct key to success.

Whether at home, school or DJing, organisation is something that has been instilled in everyone pretty much from birth. On the other hand, being messy has been equally condemned and made to be a quick path to failure. And, honestly, no rebuttal could say otherwise. I mean, what good can come from being disorganised, right? Perhaps more than you might think. More recent studies, conducted by the University of Minnesota last year, provide us with a new side of the debate. The pro-messy one.

There has always been this sort of “urban legend” that has floated around modern society deeming people with messy desks as having a high affinity for creative reasoning. Frankly, I initially thought that people with “messy desks” had to be creative, out of necessity, to survive outside the boundaries of organisation. Last week’s take home test, still undone, in one corner. A page from last month’s Playboy ripped out and crumpled next to the bottle of cocoa butter in the other. Empty Stella cans distributed across the surface, like a battlefield.

Your desk is a mess. Then again, it’s your mess, and thus, it feels very in-control. When you habitually fail to put things in their designated place, you’re bound to get creative figuring out ways to make everything, I don’t know, fit. And fit comfortably.

While it might look completely random to strangers, a lot of times, a person’s mess is very methodical – with respect to himself.

Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs, from the University of Minnesota, who set out to debunk this urban legend, didn’t confine her study to solely the desk. No, Vohs, clearly a creative mind, chose to think outside the desk. She just sounds messy. The creative kind of messy.

Using a paradigm consisting of one messy room and one tidy room, and a series of trials, Vohs concluded that messy rooms provoke more creative thinking – and provided scientific evidence!

The next question is, what exactly constitutes “creative thinking,” and how will your pig sty of a room help?

Creative thinking, in its purest form, is thinking outside the lines of “conventional” reasoning. When considering this, it should be no huge shock that messy rooms containing possessions misplaced from their “conventional” locations would promote creativity.

I suppose if you prefer to “lay,” and I use that term very loosely, your clean clothes on the floor of your bedroom, when the empty dresser is only a few feet away – you’re certainly thinking outside the lines of conventional reasoning. And that same concept could be applied to more abstract conception.

Consider this from Albert Einstein, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”

Obviously, Einstein’s desk looked like a spiteful ex-girlfriend had a mission to destroy his workspace, and executed it rather successfully. Yet, there’s no denying Einstein’s creativity.

Einstein wasn’t alone. Mark Twain, too, had a cluttered desk. Perhaps even more cluttered than that of Albert Einstein. Mark Twain was one of the most imaginative minds of his generation.

If the likes of Einstein and Mark Twain don’t catch the attention of Generation-Y, I give you Steve Jobs. No wonder he invented iBooks, it’s clear he had trouble maintaining his real life ones. His desk, and office alike, were f*cking disasters. I suppose this just added to his brilliance.

So what does this mean to you? Trash your desks, trash your rooms and hope for a touch of genius? Not exactly. The relationship between messiness and creativity is by no means causal. Being messy won’t find you waking up one morning more creative.

The two are, however, correlated. If you are “messy by nature,” perhaps finding a healthy medium between your usual mess and that urgency to clean, is optimal. By curbing your sloppy desk, room or tendencies, – keep in mind – you might also be curbing your overall creative tendencies.

Ultimately, the only way for you gauge the effectiveness of your mess-induced creativity is to go out and experiment for yourself. So, go ahead, make it rain with all your important files and paperwork, toss your clean clothes across the room, have a blast. See what you come up with, after.


Procrastinations Of The Blog

Things here, at Ijo Pona HQ, are moving apace.

I have applied to study Music Production in York and will hear by the end of next week if I have been selected. They asked me to submit a track for them to listen to – so that they know roughly the level I am coming into the course at. It really was difficult. I have quite a back catalogue and selecting just one track was quite tricky. Anyway, I went with A Poem For Kathryn

They actually said the they like it! This was fantastic news! It is the first time I have shared any of my music with somebody that is not an acquaintance and they liked it – they were ” … very impressed …”

Should I get on the course I will endeavour to try and get the best grades possible. However, this is if I get on the course! I bombed the English & Maths tests (I used to teach English!) and there is a question of Finance. Mature students (aged 25+) would have to pay £3,500 per year to study there. As readers of this blog will be aware, I cannot afford that as I am in receipt of Disability Benefits because my Dr. will not let me work.

However, it all sounded very promising, I was offered extra help in class due to the fact that I float off and have a blank, vacant expression on my face for most of the time. The tutors were very welcoming. I saw them play, in their band – Barcode Zebra, at The Blues Bar the previous Sunday and they seemed quite chuffed. I will write a comment at the bottom of this Blog entry to tell you if I have been accepted ……

We talked about a selection of their Alumni – Max, Andy & Eliott – and were impressed I knew some of the current and previous students.

I preparation of acceptance (I am really hoping) I have built a surround sound (5.1) monitoring system for my desktop iMac. The tutors said that if I get on the course, the centre of study would hold experimental nights in City Screen Cinema in York. This would give a chance to get the Tidswell Noise Collective playing there and also hopefully do a gig in surround sound! My monitor setup comprises of a ROLAND EDIROL UA 101 High Speed USB capture device, a Pioneer VSX D512 Surround Sound Amp and Speakers (2 x Tannoy Mercury V1i, 2 x Wharfdale 7.1 and a cheap Canon thingymajink that is just acting as the centre speaker behind my mac.

Alln Smyth helped with the install and I cannot praise him enough – I was pulling my hair out over the matter as I am unfamiliar with the technology. Alln came over (he lives near by) and calmly offered advice and equipment to solve the issue. FIVE STARS!

As Albion Sleeps – The Prayer Of Arthur Gauntlet



Well, I Gave Up On That Idea ….

As the regular readers of this blog will be aware – it has been searching for a home for some time. I tried it under various domains – including this one, www.awbackhouse.com and even Tumblr! – but to no avail.

So, in the end, I gave up on hosting the blog as part of my ‘work’ site and have a separate domain for it – HERE!


English Herbalist Productions

After not sleeping for too long, I set about polishing an old domain; www.englishherbalist.co.uk

When we had a gig in Knaresborough, as part of the band The Tidswell Noise Collective, we had to shoot a video to form the backdrop of the set. This was no easy task – it involved nine cameras and a good few people. What I thought would end as a logistical nightmare turned into one of the best evenings I have had this year.

We were filming two cyclists, Jasper & Pete, who had kindly volunteered to pedal back from the wilderness to Harrogate on their bikes. It was up to me and my mates to film them. The equipment ranged from a GoPro on Pete’s head to a DSLR and a LEICA D-LUX 6. I was involved in getting some of the static shots – although towards the end I was in the back of a truck having the cyclists bear down on me.

I do not know how many miles the cyclists covered, but we had hours of footage. Not all of the footage worked out, mind – as I found when cataloguing it.

When back at my parents farm, over the Solstice, I set about editing the video – cack handedly at that. The end result was not that great so the responsibility was passed over to Allan, who did a great job by the time the gig came around.

When we were up on the moors filming, we mentioned that it would be nice to form a collective of sorts and the name Lens Cap Media was banded around. This thought lay dormant in my sub conscious for a while until it was forced to the surface by a sleepless night due to a solar flare / super moon combo. I acted on this ….

Google quickly showed that Lens Cap Media was taken by a wedding videographer in Boston, USA, so I summoned an old domain that I had – www.englishherbalist.co.uk/ and put it to good use. Please-use-this-oh-so-handy-link-here to see what it is all about! I am in the process of inviting all of the people who were out filming for The Tidswell’s to take part – if they join then it would have been a great nights work. If they do not join, well, I will keep the project going myself – it is, after all, a lot of fun!



On December 31, 2020 the Swedish artist Anders Weberg will end his 20 plus years relation with the moving image as a means of creative expression.

After more than 300 films he puts an end with the premiere of what will be the longest film ever made.

Ambiencé is 720 hours long (30 days) and will be shown in its full length on a single occasion syncronised in all the continents of the world and then destroyed.

In the piece Ambiencé space and time is intertwined into a surreal dream-like journey beyond places and is an abstract nonlinear narrative summary of the artist’s time spent with the moving image.

A sort of memoir movie . (Film memoir ) . This in the visual expression that is constantly characterized the work throughout the artists career.

As a small tease until the premiere in 2020 shorter teaser/trailers will be presented at different occasions.
2014 – Short teaser which is 72 minutes long and that has the intent to convey the mood and tempo from the full piece.
2016 – The first short trailer with duration 7 hours 20 minutes.
2018 – Longer trailer with duration 72 hours.

Ambiancé – the 720 hour long film [short 72 min teaser] by Anders Weberg from Anders Weberg on Vimeo.

The above is the 72 minute trailer for the film – It was a roller-coaster!

I do not know if it is because I am having trouble sleeping or not, there were episodes of extremes. I experience intense fear, lust and an altruistic sense of wellbeing during the trailer. Hopefully I will be around where they screen it in Europe in 2020.

Masonic Pie

My  mate, Greg, told me on the walk home to his what the magic wand button does in Pixelmater – here is the result!



Masonic Pie

The Recorded Media From The 4th July 2014 – A Tidswell Gig

This is the recording of a gig we did on 4th July 2014 – as The Tidswell Noise Collective.

The video was shot in the weeks running up to the tour and the music was recorded at ORB Community Arts Project as part of a night of live performance.

Enjoy ….

We had the film showing at the back of the stage, projected onto whitewash. We jammed solidly for the duration of this piece. The video below was shown on the night and the recorded music from the gig was overdubbed by Allan Smyth.

Here is a review of the gig in the local paper -

tidswell newspaper clipping

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