In a time not long ago, a particular plant held the highest esteem among certain populations around our globe. It was commonplace for residents of the Gausdal valley in the nineteenth century to lift their hats in greeting to the cannabis (hemp) plants growing in the fields as they passed by. The plant was known to house what is called a vættr, a spirit of nature that should be treated with respect.
The cloth made from hemp was associated with both ‘the beginning’ and ‘the end’ due to it’s use at both times in a person’s life on this world, being the cloth first wrapped around a newborn infant as well as the last cloth a person is wrapped in upon their passing, according to Norwegian folklore.
While some evidence has been found indicating hemp use in the pre-Christian era, there has been a lot more evidence of hemp growth by the Vikings around the years 650-850. Excavations have revealed remnants of hemp and flax clothing, as well as rope, from this time period, and pollen samples have been rediscovered, after being forgotten since the 1940’s, demonstrating that hemp was in the area several hundred years prior to their latest discoveries, though in what capacity is unknown at this point.
The hemp plant is also closely associated with the Norse deity, Freya, who is also one of the more prominent goddesses in Norse mythology. Associated with passion, love, fertility, and fine possessions, Freya also presides over the afterlife realm Folkvang, whose inhabitants she chooses from the warriors who have been killed in battle.
Unfortunately, these glorious stories of the reverence of hemp in Norway had become all but forgotten, and even legislated against, in the mid 20th century. As the ocean-fairing fleets shrunk, so did the demand for hemp fiber. Shortly after the Second World War, there were no registered hemp cultivators in the country.
And with questionable motives, laws were passed in 1964, creating a new class of criminals: those who grew or possessed cannabis, including hemp. As of the time of this publication, importation of any product containing any trace of THC, including many products derived from non-psychoactive hemp, are not allowed.
We would like to see this unfounded, spiteful ban lifted! Contact the local leaders in your country and demand access to hemp derived products. Here is a link to the Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food’s website: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/lmd/id627/.