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The Spirit of Cannabis. Cannabis and its Influence on Spiritual Life Through the Ages.

The Spirit of Cannabis. Cannabis and its Influence on Spiritual Life Through the Ages.

marijuana history heritage. Image of Budda with marijuana plant

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As humanity evolves and our knowledge of the physical body’s connection with mind and spirit unfurls, more and more people are discovering a deep spiritual connection blossoming in the garden of their lives with the use of cannabis. Having been traditionally associated with recreational use and its psychoactive effects, many people are now embracing cannabis as a tool for enhancing spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, and prayer. As the legalization of cannabis continues to spread globally, many individuals are just now starting to explore its potential for use and benefits for spiritual growth and personal development. 

It’s no secret that cannabis has been used for spiritual and medicinal purposes for thousands of years, with historical evidence suggesting its use in various cultures around the world. Before we dive into the current wave of cannabis spirituality, let’s take a look at some of the deep and rich history behind the role that cannabis has played in the evolution and growth of the human spirit. 

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Photo Credit: Scott Von Heldt

Cannabis Spirituality Throughout History 

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.  

– Genesis 1:29 

Some of the earliest records of cannabis being used for medicinal and spiritual purposes came from ancient China, while the Scythians, an ancient Iranian culture, were also known to use cannabis in their spiritual ceremonies. Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BCE, wrote about the Scythians’ use of cannabis in his Histories, describing how they would burn the plant in small tents and inhale the smoke to produce a trance-like state. In India, cannabis has been used in Hindu and Sikh traditions for thousands of years, with Lord Shiva being associated with its use as a means of achieving spiritual enlightenment. 

The ancient Egyptians also used cannabis for medicinal and spiritual purposes, with evidence of its use found in tombs dating back to 2,000 BCE. The plant was considered sacred, and its use was associated with the goddess Seshat, who was believed to be the goddess of wisdom, writing, and measurement. In the Americas, various indigenous cultures have used cannabis for spiritual purposes. For example, the Aztecs used the plant in their religious ceremonies, and it was believed to have healing properties. In South America, the Kaxinawa people of Brazil use cannabis as part of their spiritual practices, ingesting it in the form of tea during their shamanic rituals. In some Native American traditions, cannabis is also used as part of spiritual ceremonies, with some tribes incorporating it into their traditional practices. 

In addition to these ancient cultures, cannabis has been used for spiritual purposes by various mystical traditions throughout history. For example, some Sufi Muslims have used cannabis as a means of achieving a state of heightened spiritual awareness, with some Sufi poets writing about the plant’s mystical properties. Cannabis’ status as a sacred herb remains present in some of the more modern mystical traditions as well. A perfect example is how the use of cannabis has long been a central part of the Rastafarian religion, which originated in Jamaica in the 1930s. Rastafarians consider cannabis to be a sacrament that is used in their religious ceremonies and for personal meditation. 

The ancient mystics who used cannabis for spiritual purposes believed that the plant had the ability to open the mind and facilitate communication with the divine. Much of the belief behind the effects of cannabis on one’s spirit or consciousness is associated with its relation to “entheogens,” which are substances that are believed to facilitate a spiritual experience or mystical revelation. Entheogens are often used in shamanic traditions and other mystical practices, and they are believed to have the ability to open the mind and reveal hidden truths about the universe and the self. 

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Photo Credit: Scott Von Heldt

Benefits of Cannabis for Spiritual Practices 

“One’s condition on marijuana is always existential. One can feel the importance of each moment and how it is changing one. One feels one’s being, one becomes aware of the enormous apparatus of nothingness — the hum of a hi-fi set, the emptiness of a pointless interruption, one becomes aware of the war between each of us, how the nothingness in each of us seeks to attack the being of others, how our being, in turn, is attacked by the nothingness in others.” – Norman Mailer 

Just as cannabis has been used in some indigenous cultures as a tool for accessing the spirit world, some users report profound spiritual experiences and insights when using it as a means to raise their vibration and live life at a higher frequency. Many also use cannabis to aid in the process of self-discovery and personal growth, as it can help to quiet the mind and allow individuals to explore their thoughts and emotions in a deeper way. Using cannabis for spiritual purposes can open one up to a wide range of benefits, including increased creativity, introspection, and a heightened sense of presence and connection to themselves, others, and the universe.  

marijuana history heritage quite
Photo Credit: Scott Von Heldt

Controversies and Risks of Cannabis Use for Spiritual Purposes 

“If the words’ life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.” ― Terence McKenna  

Despite its potential benefits, the use of cannabis for spiritual purposes remains controversial in some spiritual circles. One may argue that it can be a distraction from genuine spiritual growth and that it can be misused or abused. With much spiritual practice revolving around breathwork, there are also concerns about the potential risks associated with using cannabis, particularly when it comes to smoking, as it can block the Nadis or subtle energy centers within the body. Additionally, the long-term effects of cannabis use on brain development and cognitive function are still being studied, with some studies suggesting that heavy cannabis use can negatively affect memory, attention, and motivation. 

Additionally, when diving deeper into self-reflection, working with heavy emotions, or confronting their shadow side, some individuals may experience negative side effects such as paranoia, anxiety, or depression when using cannabis. Therefore, it is highly recommended that any efforts made toward healing past wounds or emotional trauma with the aid of cannabis should be accompanied by the support of an experienced guide or therapist to ensure one stays present to their innermost needs. 

Just as the ancient mystics who used cannabis believed that the plant had the ability to facilitate communication with the divine and achieve a state of heightened consciousness, we are now experiencing more than ever just how profound an effect cannabis can have on not only health and wellness but also on our overall sense of connection with the highest sense of ourselves and the world around us. 

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