soldier smoking
When it comes to how you are being poisoned in the name of health, one of my favourite topics is tobacco.

This will be a long one. Going from the increasing poisoning of tobacco-products by governments and big-tobacco, to the spiritual significance of the plant, some of its healing properties, and the subversion of its spirit.

You probably know that the regular cigarette or tobacco sold in stores has loads of added additives, and the smoking of these products is in no way the same as smoking tobacco by itself. Around 600 different types of additives are identified.

From what I've read, most tobacco products of your well-known brands like Marlboro, Pall Mall, Lucky Strike, Winston, etc., contain between 10 and 50 different additives.

smoking caesar
A list of some of the most common additives: ammonia, cacao, cellulose-fibers, sugar, sorbitol, artificial sweeteners, citric acid, levulinic acid, caffeine, corn oil, glycerol, guar gum, maltodextrin, phosphoric acid, and many others.

But why all these additives? There are many different reasons given by tobacco companies; to make the taste better, to prevent the cigarette from burning as fast, to serve as a filling, to make the tobacco less dry, to make the smoke less harsh.

smoking ad
Often certain bronchodilators are added so that the smoke enters the lungs more easily. Ammonia also serves the function of making the tobacco go to the brain faster.

An added benefit for brands is that they can use all sorts of additives to give more of a specific taste to their cigarette, thus differentiating themselves in the market.

The companies experiment continuously with different combinations of additives to make the taste of their cigarette better and make a more addictive product.

Lucky Strike
I need not remind you that many of these substances are toxins to the human organism, and that very often their effects have not even been studied, let alone what happens when they are burnt and inhaled.

An additional trouble is that this business of additives makes proper studies on the effects of tobacco nearly impossible. If you are smoking tobacco + 50 different chemicals which have never been tested. How are you going to determine what it is precisely that is causing harm?

And if every brand uses different combinations of additives, how can you make sensible claims about the effects of tobacco? There are as much different tobacco's as there are products. There is no 'one' tobacco anymore.

A claim like 'tobacco causes lung cancer' means nothing in the midst of all this confusion.

In my reading this is one reason why nicotine natural to tobacco has been singled out as the boogeyman by all anti-smoking campaigns. They had to, for it is the only constant in all products.

On top of this, most cigarettes nowadays use a filter containing plastic. Yes, the plastic is burnt to a degree and enters your lungs. Protect yourself from the nicotine by inhaling plastic! Sounds logical right.

hit parade
The usage of additives is dark business, and responsible for the fact that as smoking rates have been decreasing over the past 60 years, the risk of dying from cigarette smoke seems to increase. This was the conclusion of a 2014 report by the US surgeon general.

You must think, these evil companies, making cigarettes more addictive for profit! Yes, very much so. But this is what all companies do in a sense. But what makes the business really evil is how the tobacco companies work together with health-ministries around the world...

Why do nearly all cigarettes have a plastic filter today? Well, to make the smoke less harsh and filter out some of the tobacco and tar. The first cigarettes with filter were made in 1925, with the use of crepe paper.

Some companies sold cigarettes with filters since then, but it was very much a rarity, most tobacco still being smoked without a filter. However, in the early 1950s, more and more doctors and scientists were coming out speaking about the health costs of smoking,

linking different diseases of the lungs with smoking, how it irritates the throat, etc. There was a societal and governmental push to make the products less harmful, and the tobacco companies already had a solution. The filter!

They started using it more widely, and by around the 1960s, filtered cigarettes dominated the global market. This is all despite the fact that studies were very much inconclusive at the time.

Some seeming to establish a link between lesser rates of lung diseases and the usage of filters, others not. It is really not clear if they do anything to help you, but what is clear is that most filters contain microplastics that you are sucking into your lungs.

The filter is a great example of how tobacco products are getting more and more dangerous, as a result of the health-scares around tobacco produced by doctors, scientists and governments.

The companies are forced to come up with ways that would make the product less harmful, and to do so they make use of additives or techniques that make the product even more harmful.

Another example is the adding of additives to make cigarettes burn faster. If you have smoked a commercial cigarette you know that it burns up in no time, while a additive-free cigarette takes ages to burn up.

Why do they do this? Well, if the cigarette is done more quickly, you will be inhaling less dangerous tobacco! This is the reasoning given by many companies, literally. See how this works?

The business of additives really blew up around the same time as the filter thing, 1950s-70s, and getting worse as time goes on. Same time as more reports were coming out about the dangers of smoking, cigarettes came to contain more additives. These two things run parallel.

This is the same period when arguably health of general population became worse and worse. Fluoridation of water, high-fructose corn syrup, increasing vegetable oils in diet, usage of DDT and other pesticides, nuclear testing on US soil.

DDT is good for me
SO many different things changed in that period that could account for increasing rates of lung disease. No one is saying inhaling burnt matter 100 times a day is good for you, evidently, But there are a lot of other things that happened in the time period

So, you know this, the problem seems to be solved. You will just stop buying filtered cigarettes and buy rolling tobacco instead.

Not so fast, with most brands, the rolling tobacco's too contain all sorts of additives. Maybe a bit less, but still.

You can see this easily with how the tobacco rolls. Natural tobacco is dry and loose, but nearly all commercial tobacco is quite moist and sticky. Why? Again, for your benefit! to make it easier to roll.

And you won't suck in pieces of tobacco. Better to inhale some burnt sugar and cellulose fibres than to swallow a tobacco leave!

You have to look for the right brand which still sells tobacco without additives. American Spirit, Mohawk, Pueblo, are most known. Or grow your own.

There is of course still the question if the tobacco crop is not grown with certain chemical fertilizers and pesticides etc. But at least you won't have to worry about inhaling burnt sugars.

However, the pesticide question is quite important. Perhaps more than any other industry, there is very little to no regulation concerning pesticides when it comes to tobacco.

American Spirit seems a good bet. The founder, Bill Drake, is very much aware of all these things and has written books on the contamination of tobacco by pesticides etc. One of the few brands that takes these matters into consideration.

natural american spirit
tobacco culture
Drake also has an interesting blog where he writes on these matters. The man has proposed that if governments really cared about the health of their citizens, they should offer free organic cigarettes to all smoking-addicts. You can't say he is wrong.

IF you are going to smoke, do your research or grow your own.

This is where it gets more interesting. In many European countries, it has become quite hard to find any of these additive-free blends in stores. Whereas they used to be widely available only a few years ago. Why?

Well, you know how health-ministries and the SCIENCE sort of agrees that tobacco itself (and specifically nicotine) is THE harmful agent in smoking. You know that this is not true, but that the additives are just as much a danger.

Again, I won't argue that inhaling burnt matter 100 times a time is healthy. But you must be stupid to think that inhaling tobacco is in any case worse than inhaling tobacco + 70 chemicals.

BUT, if you suppose that tobacco (and nicotine) is the danger. Then what is the better product? A blend containing only tobacco, or a blend that contains only little tobacco but mostly synthetic fibers and sugars?

Which blend is going to contain more of the harmful substance? Of course, the additive-free product is going to have more tobacco and nicotine.
And thus, health-ministries systematically push to take these natural products off the shelves. For your health, you know.

On top of this they say that brands advertising products as 'additive-free' or 'organic' is deceptive, because it creates the illusion that they are therefore more healthy. BUT, they still contain tobacco/nicotine (and often much more) and are thus deceiving you!

I think in the US where many of you are from you can still buy for ex. American Spirit in most places, so this might sound strange what I am saying. I am speaking only of the European situation which seems much worse in this regard.

Oh and you already know that in many places tobacco companies aren't allowed to advertise, and the packaging has to be neutral. Only the name of the brand and disgusting pictures of wounds and all that.

smoking warnings
WHO called on all governments to ban advertising and use only plain packaging in 2016.

I need not tell you how the mind influences everything. Convince people they will burn a hole in their throat by smoking and they will. Perhaps the most harmful aspect of smoking today are these packages. No doubt.

Strange story on this, I recall some years ago there was a story of a woman who recognized pictures of her deceased man being used on these packages. She had no idea this was being used. Don't know if really true, but it wouldn't surprise me tbh.

Scary stuff. I think in Europe it is some centralized EU instance that issues these images for usage, where do they get them? By sneaking into hospitals and making pictures of sick people? Perhaps.

However, I won't be speaking too much about the science. I don't know much about this, I am no scientist, and there are better people to educate you on this front. What I consider my role to be here is your tobacco phenomenologist....

tobacco phenomenologist
If you have smoked both commercial grade poisoned cigarettes (or commercial rolling tobacco) and natural additive-free tobacco, you know that there is a difference.

Natural tobacco feels more like a 'clean' smoke, there is certain freshness to the sensation lacking in commercial tobacco. People used to tobacco with additives will often describe natural tobacco as being quite tasteless.

No wonder, for it has no added taste to it. It is less of a bodily sensation, and more of a clean mental energy. Harsher on the throat too. Commercial cigarette you feel more in your mouth. Natural tobacco you feel more in throat

A little bit on the history of tobacco usage now.

As far as we know, tobacco has been used for quite a while. Cultivation sites of the plant have been identified in Mexico dating to 1400-1000BC,. And many native populations of the Americas have been using tobacco traditionally.

using tobacco traditionally
Tobacco has even been found in Egyptian mummies dated around 1000BC, together with coca plant. Establishing a trade connection between the Americas and Egypt, as tobacco was probably not native to Egypt.

With Native populations of the Americas, tobacco is often referred to as the 'Ancient one', and its role is the one of a teacher or a plant to consult.

Before a healer would seek to treat a patient, he would first consult the tobacco plant, which would give him greater insight into the needs of the patient.

It is not so much a medicine, as it is a plant that gives one insight into medicine. In general, tobacco is said to connect one to the great Spirit of the universe, to give one greater clarity and insight.

This is no wonder, as nicotine has been associated with greater focus and insight. There is a reason there is the stereotype of the smoking writer, artist, or the computer programmer nerd high on nicotine-gum, and it isn't just cultural.

stereotype of the smoking writer
In all, tobacco is a very Apollonian plant, associated with reason, problem-solving, clarity, order. It helps one see the order of the universe, and thus one is better able to guide one's actions. It is a plant that carries one upwards, through the head, towards Spirit.

If you smoke (natural) tobacco, you feel this too. It is a sharp and clear sensation in the throat, an immediate activation of the head, and a resulting energy of focus.

With shamanic traditions which use psychedelic substances such as Ayahuasca, the psychedelic journey is often pre-ceded and accompanied throughout by the smoking of tobacco.

shamanic smoker
The shaman will smoke tobacco and blow the smoke on all the participants in the ceremony. The purpose of this is to offer spiritual guidance throughout the Ayahuasca journey.

Ayahuasca has a very earthy, feminine, and Dionysian energy to it. Often referred to as 'mother ayahuasca', connecting one to the Divine Mother, it is a substance of the body, the emotions, and the earth.

Comment: We do not advocate the use of Ayahuasca - though we have noticed the spate of studies in recent years suggesting the use of Psilocybin may be therapeutic under some circumstances.

The more logical energy of the tobacco is thus added to guide one through this chthonic chaos.

Tobacco acts as a mediator between humans and gods, protecting the user from negative energies, and keeping his mind set on the divine order. A spirit to guide one through the chaos of the unconscious.

chaos of the unconscious.
For many peoples in the Amazon region, tobacco has a place in their conception of life. As tobacco is conceived as a masculine energy of fire and air, a 'yang' energy you could say, it is used to balance with the 'yin' aspect of reality.

All life originates from the fertile earth, the divine feminine principle associated with earth and water.

divine feminine principle
To progress from mere biological life to psychical life, this feminine energy must be accompanied by the masculine energy associated with reason, structure, responsibility, and clarity of mind.

masculine energy
In this way, tobacco is important in many original rites of passage, to help youth make the passage from a biologically oriented sensuous life, to the life of reason. Tobacco opens up the soul to the life of spirit.

Fire and air is blown into matter, and man becomes opened up to the transcendent. Immanent life is made into transcendent being. Tobacco connects earth to sky.

There is also the phenomenon of a 'tobacco test' in certain peoples. Youth are made to smoke enormous amounts of tobacco, to see if they are fit to become shamans in the future. If they endure without negative symptoms such as vomiting, they might be fit.

The idea is that if one can endure the enormous dose of tobacco, one is probably also able to endure the higher psychical realms.

What I want to draw attention to is the traditional association of tobacco with the principles of fire and air and the masculine/reasonable principle, as opposed to the feminine principles of matter and water.

It is the spiritual and reasonable principle that comes to infuse the material and psycho-emotional complex. It is mind that enlivens body. "Mothers give, fathers order."

Strength, mental clarity, purification, protection, and access to Spirit. These are the functions of tobacco.

functions of tobacco
Whether you believe in these spiritual significations or not, if you have experience with smoking clean tobacco, you must recognize that these characterizations fit the 'experience' quite well.

What I want to propose is that the poisoning of tobacco by additives etc; has distorted the effects of tobacco to a large degree. Corrupted its spirit.

Tobacco is supposed to be an energy that connects one to the higher realms of the mind, to spirit, and thereby to purify one from excessive association with the material. But it has become in fact a vehicle for attaching one stronger to the material.

The clean and sharp energy of tobacco, purifying the body and activating the tip of the head, has become a soft energy, no longer rising up through the head, but putting one more into body. Not in the sense of positive embodiment, but in the sense of twisted attachment

Tobacco is a 'clean' substance in a sense, and is meant to purify, and activate those aspects of one's being that transcend body. Also cleanses the digestive system, and has anti-parasitic properties. The substance does not so much feed you, as that it cleans you.

It is a plant given by the gods to detox you from excessive attachment to the material realm.

excessive attachment to the material realm.
But with the adding of sugars, synthetic plant fibers, plastics, gums, oils, and what else, the tobacco experience is much different. It is no longer bitter and sharp, but sweet and full. It no longer just activates the brain, but 'feeds' and poisons the body.

It no longer serves to cleanse one from poisonous attachments to matter, but enhances these attachments. This is because allot of more 'food-like' additives have been added; sugars, plant-fibres, etc. It no longer cleans the system, but clogs it up.

In all, tobacco is no longer the principle of air and fire that gives order to the chaos of the material, but has become itself a vehicle of matter to sow even more confusion.
great spirit
No longer a tool to balance material existence with the spiritual, but a tool sow even more imbalance. No longer cleaning you from poisons, but in fact poisoning you.

One could say, that tobacco is no longer just masculine spirit, but has come to include the aspect of the earth to a larger degree. No longer a sacrament to connect one to great spirit, but a substance to sever this connection.

If you have smoked both natural tobacco and tobacco with additives, and you have some awareness of how things affect you, you feel this difference quite clearly.

Natural tobacco is strong energy of order and clarity, very stimulating too. A good hit from strong natural tobacco gives one this strong feeling very much like cocaine, tense in the face. No wonder the coca plant is associated with tobacco, and were found together in the mummy.

tobacco illustration
Like many natural products, their poisoning has made man imbalanced and disconnected from natural equilibrium. In general, it seems this direction is by enhancing the material, chthonic and sensuous aspect of existence, and a forgetting of the reasonable and spiritual.

The great mother is left alone, as great father has left. She begs for Being, but she does not receive it. She grows sickly, distorted, she becomes poisonous

Smoking has long been seen as a practice men engage in. You can see why if you accept the traditional meaning of tobacco as a masculine energy. But with the corruption of tobacco, there is a certain emasculation of the substance taking place.

pipe smoking
Where it is supposed to be something that balances the masculine and feminine by aiding in the strengthening of the first, it has now become a confused energy.

masculine and feminine
In Western parlance, all this is the separation from Logos, in the name of lower reason and 'health'.

OK. Was something different today talking about a plant. Done now. If this interest you I can do more on this. Left a lot out, this is already running too long. On the role tobacco plays in the dialectic between divine feminine and masculine there is more to say for example

I have the unscientific idea that perhaps much addiction to cigarettes is a misguided and unconscious craving for this connection to great Spirit that is lacking in the world.

unconscious craving
But not knowing where else to get it people know no better than to buy pack of ultra gold blueberry pop menthol marlboro glucose syrup

pop menthol marlboro glucose syrup
If you know people who smoke the corrupted commercial tobacco perhaps share this with them.

Fight the poisoning of man!