Exploring the Connections Between Cannabis and Spirituality
Throughout his book “Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorer’s Guide to An Ancient Plant Spirit Ally” (Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 2017) editor Stephen Gray explores the many ways throughout history that this plant has been used by humans. In his estimation, “while truly ancient fossil records are lacking, scientific inference suggest that the Cannabaceae lineage at have appeared as early as thirty-four million years ago.” (p. 2) Hence, cannabis has been around well before Homo sapiens first appeared on the earth around 2.8 million years ago.
In his essay “Thots on Pot,” Jeremy Wolff reflects on the interactions between humans and cannabis. “Cannabis is our oldest friend and teacher, our ally on this Earth. As food, fiber, and pharmacy, its uses parallel human needs. Pot and people evolved together, as reflected in our endo-cannabinoid system, a body-wide network of cannabis Ike molecules that promote homeostasis at every level of biological life, ‘sub-cellular to the organism, to the community and beyond.'” (p. 192-193)
Cannabis and Spirituality in History
An article posted on Herb.co titled “Cannabis and Enlightenment” offer this concise history of cannabis and spirituality.
“The use of cannabis can be dated back to 2000 BC when the ancient central and south Asian populations used it to view reality from a different perspective by altering one’s state of mind. Shamans believed that the cannabis plant contained ‘frequencies’ that could allow for consumers to learn new ways of thinking and being—along with teaching oneness, inhibition, communion, acceptance, letting go and the effortlessness of being. Many other religions and cultures, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism, have used cannabis in their spiritual teachings and, more specifically, in meditation.” In addition to some of the religions listed above, Gray’s book references Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism as other religions with an ancient history of incorporating cannabis and spirituality.
Also included in this book are stories of more contemporary practitioners such as THC Ministry. They are exploring the relationship between cannabis and spirituality. These modern day ministries were launched after the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 that made cannabis illegal at the federal level. So, these ministries have had an outlaw presence where they’ve had to operate outside of the mainstream culture from their inception.
Cannabis and Spirituality Practices
In describing the different practices where one can infuse cannabis with spirituality, Gray starts with a discussion of meditation. This conversation begins with suggestions for how cannabis can help achieve a sense of stillness and centering. Then the discussion evolves to taking cannabis while in a meditative state so one can attain a heightened elevated state of consciousness. Also, several practioners note how ganga yoga can heighten one’s senses while doing yoga. This is especially true when engaging in more meditative and relaxing forms of yoga such as restorative yoga. Along those lines, consuming cannabis as part of music and dance ceremonies can assist in elevating the experience of connecting to the music through the physicality of dance. In addition, cannabis can be a tool for those seeking to open up and deepen their creative channels.
A few of the authors spoke about the sacred aspects of growing cannabis. From seed to harvest, treating the cannabis plant with empathy and intention can lead to a greater sense of spirituality between the plant and the user. A sense of union can happen when one grows the cannabis they will then eventually consume.
Consuming Cannabis with Conscious Intent
Prior to consuming cannabis, one must decide what one wishes to experience. Several authors in Gray’s book offer suggestions for how to pick the cannabis strains that can produce the spiritual effects one desires like relaxation, enlightenment, focus, a psychedelic experience, and so on.
Those who wish to heighten their sense of spirituality with cannabis should be aware that cannabis will impact everyone differently. Herb.co describes this disparity between individuals as “‘vibrations’: frequencies that are unique to you and interact uniquely with the mental effects of cannabis. These vibrations are heavily tied to your conscious and subconscious thoughts, and similarly linked with personality type.” Each person will have a different experience with the plant. Also, every individual strain will produce a slightly different reaction depending on the person’s unique psychological makeup.
In his book, Gray recounts a conversation he had with a Native American elder as they were discussing a missions statement he was drafting for a Plant Spirit Medicine Conference that was being held in British Columbia. She replied, “Ultimately this is not about the medicines, it’s about the urgent need for humanity to reconnect, to reconnect to who we truly are and our relatedness to all.”