Church Cannabis Field Guide

Cannæcclesiastic Steganography

Field Manual

© Feb 7, 2017 by Anne Armstrong and Alan Gordon


Congratulations  --  now, with this field guide in hand,

you can be an instant authority in spotting,

identifying and classifying Catholic church cannabis art.




Jesus and the Woman at the Well, St. Virgil Church, Morris Plains, NJ. Photograph Copyright 2009 Loci B. Lenar


This is no easy skill, because of the veiled nature of United States 1848-1915 Catholic Church Bible story cannabis art.  Most of the art is coded.  This book is your decoder.

Simply put, this stuff has been well hidden from the eyes of those who in previous generations would have destroyed it.  

The hidden cannabis church art genre shows KNH BSM, the Bible’s chief herbal plant remedy, in fresco, stained glass and sculpture, but in veiled, half-hidden fashion following patterns that can be easily unlocked, but only if one knows how.  

The herbal remedy’s role in the Bible, although preserved in Catholic church (“ecclesiastic”) art, is almost always veiled in Bible story art more familiar to us, using a technique called steganographyin which an image is hidden in an picture of purportedly of some other subject.  

For example, in art depicting the familiar image of Jesus speaking in parable to the Samaritan Woman at the Well, we might see cannabis-like foliage conspicuously hiding near Jesus’ bare feet.  To those unfamiliar with the Gospels, it may come as a surprise that KNH BSM is associated with the bare feet of Christ, the Anointed One  --  His foot rub ointments both: contained KNH BSM, according to  the recipe at Exodus 30:23and

were so valuable that a single foot-rub’s worth cost a year’s wages. Let us not kid ourselves  --  nothing smells that sweet in the modern world, not even the most expensive perfumes for the uber-wealthy.  This was the medicine its recipe suggests, and was valuable not just for its scent.



St. Virgil Church, Morris Plains, NJ. Photograph Copyright 2009 Loci B. Lenar used under fair use guidelines


To those who don’t know both the Bible and the appearance of cannabis plants, the stained glass shrubbery near Christ’s feet might look so much like plain rhododendrons that the color variation, not seen on real rhododendrons, goes unnoticed.

The practice of veiling Biblical cannabis in church Bible story art is an ancient one, and can be found throughout Europe and Africa.  Nonetheless, this book is primarily for US audiences, and the examples pictured herein are predominantly from East Coast US Catholic Churches built between 1848 and 1915, after which the first cannabis bans began appearing in the US.

As you learn, in the following pages, how ancient artists, architects and authors pieced together a complex visual language of code and answer, of rose and rosette, of lily and fleur-de-lis, of palm and frond.

The Proof is in the Churches

Cannabis was standard Sacrament until 1915


The Biblical plant balm KNH BSM came back into mainstream modern awareness after the BBC echoed and amplified researcher Chris Bennett’s groundbreaking 1990s publications.  

Bennet’s writings re-discovered for the English speaking world what earlier scholars had once known.  Bennett’s Polish namesake, Sula (Sasha) Benet in 1937 published his own studies on ancient hemp references, over half a century before Bennett’s modern re-awakening, just as the US instituted its first federal ban on the plant.

What neither Benet nor Bennett could reasonably have known, however, was that standard North American Christian worship used and recognized cannabis  --  even as an ingredient of Communion  --  right up until the first US State cannabis bans began around 1915.  The proof was right under our noses, right over our heads, in Christian Bible story art and architecture, but we missed it.

Over the centuries, the natural ebb-and-flo of the humble cannabis hemp plant’s popularity, and that of the folk remedies extracted therefrom, can best be described as oscillating waves of forgetfulness and re-discovery.  

There is some evidence that Europe’s 1848 agricultural revolutions, sweeping across the Continent like wildfire, were crucially related to hemp farming and associated rights, despite historical accounts deliberately omitting hemp production statistics in favor of higher value commodity records more aligned to national economic indicators.  Nonetheless, we also see a wave of hemp-leaning agricultural and medicinal reforms, reaching even into the US, around 1848, all featuring subtle cannabis art rising from oppression and obscurity.  

Prime examples are:

  • the new nation of “Germany,” whose 1848 national art piece, a mythical woman named “Germania,” holds a sword and a cannabis plant in her right hand; and
  • 1845 US East Coast Shaker art, showing the discriminated-against matriarchal Christian sect considered cannabis to be the very Tree of Life itself.




Germania by Phillip Veit, 1848, was painted to commemorate the new Catholic nation of Germany, but the painting was soon banned and censored by the later non-Catholic rulers who established the monarchy of Kaiser Wilhelm.


Tree of Life, or Blazing Tree, 1845, by Shaker artist Hannah Cohoon,

Showing palmate leaves and buds with red pistils,

inspired by a series of visions in Hancock MA.


In an era before internet or any reliable quick means of data transmission, no one but the wealthiest individuals had any chance of, in one lifetime, learning enough scripture, hagiography, taxonomy, medicine and botany to piece it all together.  Nonetheless, some individuals opted to forego their birthright of parties and fancy dress balls, automatic high military and social rank, gambling, drink and excess, and instead, joined the ranks of monks, nuns, and scholars who did something more lasting with their time.

Among the US Churches showing cannabis Bible art, we see several distinct architectural forms deployed, in common, across vast geographic distances and eras of construction.  

The similarity of cannabis church art coding spanning two continents and hundreds of years (to say nothing of the vast distances even in the US over which the art forms are seen using shared forms and styles) is likely due to an ancient pair of secret societies predating even the free masons, called the “Collegia Artificium,” or, in English, the Artifice Colleges.  

According to publicly available masonic literature, free masonry itself emerged from the 2 Artifice Colleges, Roman and Greek, when the furtive pair infiltrated England with 2 key members (St. Alfred and St. Athelstan) whose job it was to construct castles and cathedrals despite overt Church suspicion of their work.

The modern reflection of the love-hate relationship between the Church and the Artifice Colleges can still be seen today  --  for example Pope Francis recently expelled active freemasons(offshoots of the Colleges) from the Knights of Malta Catholic Order.  

Catholicism has a total formal ban on free masonry, punishable by automatic Excommunication which only the Pope may absolve  --  and yet US Catholic churches frequently display overt masonic architectural markings.  These markings are often found only in out-of-the-way places, and often near Biblical KNH BSM art, but send a resounding message that however the Church may feel about their order, it was the masons who constructed the very buildings in which the Church gave Communion.  

Future publications will feature masonic cannabis church art, and some of it can be seen illustrating our earlier book about Biblical KNH BSM.

Whether or not masons are responsible for the standard architectural botanical designs gracing our nation’s churches and government buildings, architectural botanicals have certainly evolved into standard forms copied routinely, and, as the following pages will show, those standard forms, with which we are all familiar, are just cannabis, right under our noses for all these years.

In order to properly spot cannabis church art, a good knowledge of the Bible is helpful, if for no other reason than to know which Bible story or character is shown in a given piece of art.  Additionally, at least a crude basic knowledge of the fundamentals of Biblical cannabis is recommended.

With those tools in place, spotting church cannabis is easy.  When not overt, it can be found hidden using a variety of Biblical veiling techniques.


Rose, Lily, Palm & Thyrsus

Rose & Rosette, Lily &  Fleur-de-lis:
Roman vs. Greek schools of the Artifice Colleges


As will be graphically demonstrated in the following chapters, the 2 Artifice Colleges, Roman and Greek, making up the Collegia Artificium, each had their own distinct style of hiding Biblical cannabis art.  

One of the two Colleges hid Biblical cannabis art as background or framing decoration around a graphic Bible story, and the other College told the cannabis Bible story overtly, but replaced KNH BSM in the narrative picture with another plant species, indicated by scripture as an appropriate decoy plant so that it could be decoded or explained with reference to scripture itself.  

The two best botanical examples of the twin Colleges’ approaches can be seen in the case of the rose (and the decorative rosette used in architecture), and the lily (and its fleur-de-lis form).


The Fleur-de-lis and the Lily 


The fleur-de-lis is one of Western architecture’s most copied images, and yet its origin is so shrouded in mystery that the decoding of its “true” meaning has played a key role in popular fictional Bible code-themed modern day conspiracy mystery action thriller novels such as The DaVinci Code. 


In fact, the 
fleur-de-lis was originally just a way for Artifice College artists and architects to furtively refer to Biblical KNH BSM  --  even though the design has been copied decoratively by the unwitting with such regularity that it became trite through over-use.  The proof of such a claim is a readily evident in antique Bible art.

This design can be shown by Church Bible and Hagiographic (Saintly) art to be a mere silhouette of an emerging, curled cannabis top.  The silhouette form is rarely if at all used in overt Biblical or Saintly narrative art, and instead is more often seen as decorative framing around art that tells a KNH BSM Bible story without showing it.




Fleur-de-lis detail from St. Augustine botanical decorative border, Hawkesyard Dominican Priory, Armitage, Staffordshire. Photo: “Lawrence OP” at Lawrence OP Flickr Account


Tiny stained glass cannabis fleur-de-lis 80 feet in the air, Holy Cross, Boston MA


Image of St, Helena, source unknown, showing cannabis leaves forming

fleur-de-lis silhouettes, with faint purple cannabis leaves in the background.




Cannabis leaf fleur-de-lis, Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston MA





Details from two images of St. Athanasius, showing the transformation from cannabis into  fleur-de-lis.  Photo: Sant’Atanasio di Alessandria, Historia Arianorum ad Monachos, nn. 52.3-52.4, in PG 25, col. 755B-756C

But why was the lily name used to hide the cannabis silhouette called the fleur-de-lis?

The answer is simple: lilies were used in the Bible itself as a code for cannabis, and the code is unlocked by Jesus Christ’s famous quote:

“Consider the lily, which can be neither worked, nor spun as a textile, nor provides seed for the birds, yet is grown just for its sweetness.” 

Jesus was the “Anointed One” or “Christos,” so He knew very well that one Anointing Oil ingredient  --  KNH BSM  -- was

  1. 1. plant whose seed is fiercely desired by wild birds; and
  1. 2. standard textile crop  --  since, after all, the Bible describes hemp, called KNH or kaneh in Hebrew, as a textile crop which was so standard that the Biblical word for standard, canon, shares the same origin.

KNH BSM or hemp plant, too, was pretty and smelled sweet, and yet still was more than that  --  if the lily was valuable enough to grow just for its beauty and sweet smell, what then of a crop which was just as pretty and fragrant, but which could be spun and which did feed the birds?  

Jesus, the Anointed One, spoke of hemp, in parable, and the Artifice College knows this, and has been shrouding Biblical cannabis art that way ever since.  Often, where the Bible indicates cannabis should be found, we see church art showing lilies there.  For example, nowhere in the Bible does it say that an angel brought lilies to Mary.  Nonetheless, Annunciation art constantly depicts an angel, either bearing lilies or bearing a staff with lilies potted nearby, while a dove swoops overhead.  Every single Annunciation story art has those features, every time, without fail, even though the story itself never mentions lilies.  This is a clue.  


Below are but a few of the myriad renditions of this scene.  The original versions of the story, while they do not  contain lilies, do contain cannabis, brought to Mary by an angel.  


Annunciations always feature Gabriel, lilies and dove  --  but the lily was not in the story.



             St. Mary’s, Newport RI                        Holy Ghost, Federal Hill, Providence RI  



                St. Joseph, Providence RI               unknown source with lily and “palm”



The Blessed Mother with herbal crown, flanked by both fleur-de-lis  and lily flowers penetrating a crown decorated by fleur-de-lis.

For example, we often see Catholic Church art depicting scenes from apocryphal Biblical texts, such as the Protovangelicum Jacobi, or Infancy Gospel of James.  In that ancient text, it is written that Mary was raised at the Temple as a child, and “fed as a dove, by the hand of an angel” (8:2).  

Doves, as Mary’s Son Jesus later taught us, do not eat lily seeds, and nor did Mary eat lilies.  Nonetheless, an angel was said to have fed Mary as a dove, and a dove is always pictured when the angel bears lilies to Mary. It is a code for cannabis, and, for those who needed a clue, there is the fleur-de-lis.  

Both doves and Mary ate hemp seed, according to the Infancy Gospel and the Artifice College,though.  Doves do prefer hemp seed to any other food where it is available, but it is also a veritable manna for humans, too  --  it is rich in a perfect blend of Omega oils 3,6, and 9, and is densely packed with protein and amino acids.  A person could literally thrive eating little more than hemp seed.  




St. Joseph, flanked by free masons’ tools (compass and square) with lilies, holding a staff blooming with lilies. St. Francis of Assisi Church, Peace Dale, Wakefield RI


The Rose and the Rosette

Aside from the fleur-de-lis, architecture’s most common botanical feature is the rosette, which typically is formed by a round flower bud viewed from directly above, surrounded by 3 or 4 leaves, sometimes more.  In fact, this design in its classical form rarely looks like an actual rose, but does look like a cannabis flower viewed from directly overhead.  


Author’s 2014-2016 cannabis photos compared to Cathedral stained glass “rosettes” (credits on larger images below)

Many churches boldly show the cannabis leaves in the design, while others use mere silhouettes.

As with the lily, the rose is a code for cannabis, with its own scriptural “unlocking proof.”  

Understanding the Bible stories’ “unlocking proofs” for rose-as-cannabis will be made easier by viewing the following collection of Cathedral cannabis rosettes.

                  Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston MA                            Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Baltimore MD


Detail from St. Germaine border, St. Germaine- l’Auxerrois Church



Lamech, from the Ancestors of Christ Windows, Canterbury Cathedral, England, 1178–80. Colored glass and vitreous paint; lead came. Courtesy Dean and Chapter of Canterbury. ANNELISA STEPHANOCTOBER 1, 2013 , The Iris -- Behind the Scenes at the Getty


3-and 4-sided rosettes, Ss. Peter & Paul, Providence RI                Holy Cross, Boston MA


Secret rooms and Bell Tower.



Holy Cross, Boston MA



3-pointed rosettes near cannabis fleur-de-lis, Holy Cross, Boston MA




Suspiciously cannabis-like three-pointed or triangular rosette detail from Jesus picture also featuring lily with cannabis leaves. Ss. Peter and Paul, Washington DC.



Another variation of the rosette places a true rose, with real rose leaves, in the design  --  but then it frames the whole art piece with cannabis leaves in the lower corners, not rose leaves, of the type of leave typically found in rosette designs… this art proves that rosettes are not roses.  Source: Our Lady of Czestochowa, Worcester MA.


Classical rosettes, internet clip art, artists unknown


The “Miraculous Rose” in legend and art is a code for cannabis.

Miraculous healing by Jesus with medicine and roses.  St. Joseph’s Providence RI


Miraculous “roses” and feminine miracles have always travelled hand in hand,  for example

  • St. Thecla was a 2nd century martyr who escaped being torn apart by beasts in the arena when her friends threw the beasts a special calmative herb called “Lady’s Rose,” or “Jerusalem Herb.”
  • Miraculous roses were reported accompanying the Marian apparitions at
  1. Tepeyac, Guadalupe MX        Dec 9, 1531

Special healing “roses” bloomed at a time/place no real roses would grow (where/when cannabis would be ripe), and left a miraculous plant resin image of the Guadalupe Virgin in a plant fiber carrying cloth.

  1. La Salette, FR                 Sept 19, 1846
  1. Lourdes, FR                        Feb 11 1858
  1. Fatima, FR                         Sept 13, 1917

  1. Montichiari, IT                 Dec 8, 1947

The Blessed Mother gave Her name as “Rosa Mystica.”

  1. Lipa, Batangas, PH          Sept 14th 1948
  • Rose miracles are associated with female Saints who illegally nourish the poor, such as St. Casila of Toledo in the 11th century, and Sts. Elizabeth of Hungary and Aragon, respectively, in the 12th century.

St. Mary and St. Joseph with
KNH BSM in background, with doves and roses in foreground.  Roses are not mentioned in this Bible story, but, jut as Jesus taught us that doves do not eat lilies, they also do not eat roses  --  and yet these doves are affixed to the flowers.  St. Charles Boromeo, Providence RI

The Blessed Mother spins textile fibers (not spun from lily, said Jesus) directly under a dove (who doesn’t eat lily seeds, Jesus said), under a Temple oil lamp and a rose.   Holy Ghost, Federal Hill, Providence RI



In one straight line from bottom to top,


(i) rose                 (ii) Yeshuah’s feet         (iii) Mary’s clasped hands,         (iv) Her crown, pieced by green rayed light, and                 (v) a dove.                  Our Lady of Czestachowa, Worcester, MA.




St. Thecla calms savage beasts with “Lady’s Rose” or “Jerusalem Herb.”  National Franciscan Monastery Catacombs, Washington DC.



St. Mary’s, New London CT.  As with many masonic symbols, cannabis art, and, especially combinations thereof, this image could only be seen from the choir loft, back stairwells, or other hard to reach areas.  Such areas as often as not are deliberately renovated-upon, obscuring the image from easy public view.


Palm and Frond


Cannabis leaves are so notoriously palm-like in their appearance that their shape is referred to as palmate.  In church steganography, the palm is often used as camouflage for cannabis.

St. Brigid is associated with the palm, but no palms grew in Ireland at the time. Some call the leaf an oak, but it is of an off height and size. Source. Armagh Cathedral IR, photo by Bernd Beige for About Travel, re-printed under Fair Use guidelines.

Suspicious palms near Mary, Gabriel and dove.  Doves do not eat lilies or palms.  Image: unknown

Note how the leaves over the praying woman’s head are shaped quite differently to the palms leaves farther left.  Source: Ss. Peter and Paul, Providence RI

St. Paul fending off a seizure with “palm fronds”, while green doves (who eat neither lilies, roses nor palms) circle overhead with a green crucifix.  Source:  St. Mary’s, Baltimore MD


The Thyrsus  - its symbolism & meaning

“Thyrsus”.  Source:  Florida Center for Instructional Technology

Displayed under Fair Use guidelines

A strange botanical object closely, resembling cannabis  --  the Thyrsus  -- has long been found in the art and architecture of both Biblical and Classical world (the latter of which first birthed the 2 Artifice Colleges that snuck into the Church).

The Thyrus is almost always found in 1 of 2 distinct forms: 

  1. A single bud on a staff (usually on non-Christian Greco-Roman Thyrsi); or


Type 1 Greco-Roman (Classical) Thyrsi without leaves
Dance of the Maenads, Roman copy of the original Greek. Prado Museum

  1. A stalk with fruit and cannabis-like leaves up the stalk, with a big floral bud atop the whole arrangement (as is usually the case in Biblical art).  


Type 2 (Biblical) Thyrsi.  Source:  unknown

The Biblical form is undoubtedly based on the magical Rod of Aaron, viewed as supernatural (miraculous) proof of his Priesthood’s validity when it, unlike any other sort of plant, produced flowers, foliage and fruit all at one time --  like cannabis normally does. 

A similar sprouting rod occurs in the story of St. Joseph’s betrothal to the child Temple Priestess Mary, to pass the time until she was old enough for marriage  --   God’s choice of the elderly Joseph to protect the child was marked by Joseph’s staff alone budding, among all the elders’ staves.   

Below are more pictures of Thyrsi.  See if you can tell whether they are Biblical or Classical.






Pope Francis recently changed his ancestral Coat of Arms Thyrsus, which used to be a grape cluster.


Some Vatican officials are engaged in a cover-up of the Pope’s Thyrsus, and are claiming it is, and always was, spikenard, but they previously listed it as grapes  --  they changed their story.  Why?  Recently, some US Catholic officials have begun fighting over the symbol, its meaning, and how to display it, and this will be the subject of future publications.



The miraculous 16th century image of Our lady of Guadalupe, associated with mystical healing roses which were off season (for roses, but not for cannabis).  Although Her image was not made by the hand of Man, the floral print of Her dress contains what appear to be cannabis-leaf Thyrsi with both male and female cannabis flowers.  Many Christian Saints are depicted in robes with Thyrsi hidden within.

Decorative Thyrsi surround the heads of Saints Fabian and Sebastian





Thyrsi hidden in the festive clothing of wedding guests at “Cana”
Source: St. Mary, Newport RI

Advanced Cannabis Steganography:

Confusing Passion Flowers, Almonds, and Grapes


Details from art in Cathedral of Sts. Peter & Paul, Providence RI

Almonds and grapes both have palmate leaves similar to cannabis, and both appear in Biblical contexts, and both can confuse Biblical KNH BSM art hunters.  Likewise, passionflower has long been associated with Christ, and appears often in Bible art.

Remember, the dove is your friend  --  the dove’s favorite food is cannabis seed, so much that doves will nest in seeded cannabis wherever they can.  Doves do not eat lilies (Jesus said), nor roses, grapes, passion flowers nor almonds, so if you see a palmate plant with doves near it, you probably found what you were looking for.

Doves do not eat or nest in palms, but they love hemp.

National Basilica Shrine to the Blessed Mother, Wash DC

The ceiling of St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City shows a dove, over 100 ft in the air, surrounded by various palmate plant species not eaten by doves.


If the first image is grape leaf, then what is the second image?



Passionflower, right?  Not so fast  --  Stations of the Cross, commissioned by architect Charles Patrick Keeley, achieved their hyper-realistic cloth and fabric folds by using authentic cannabis hemp cloth, soaked in alabaster.  St, Mary, Newport RI.

In the City of Providence, in RI, can be found the Cathedral of Saints. Peter and Paul.  This Cathedral, more than any other we have found in the US, contains one steganographic cannabis example after another, deploying grapes, passionflowers, nard, palms and other plants to hide cannabis in plain sight.  We have enjoyed countless hours of de-coding its pictures, which tempt viewers by interchanging the leaves of grape, passionflower, palm and cannabis so freely that the point becomes clear  --  all of those plants are codes for cannabis.



We hope you have enjoyed this field guide to identifying hidden Biblical cannabis art.  Now that you know what to look for, you can go out into your community’s churches and be the first to re-discover these treats.  Finding one is every bit as thrilling as, during early childhood, finding a bright Easter Egg in the lawn.  

Please, when photographing this art, be ultra-respectful of those engaged in prayer.  Every US Catholic Church published its Mass schedule online, and photography can often be done just before or after, but some Priests, if asked politely, will open a Church for the faithful even during off-hours.  Have fun, be safe, and God Bless you.

St. Charles Boromeo, Wooncocket RI, showing cannabis leaf rosette and fleur-de-lis