While cannabis has occupied a prominent place in American culture for decades, it has primarily served as a form of entertainment and relaxation. We enjoy cannabis in much the same way some people enjoy alcohol.
In recent years, cannabis has expanded its use in medicine. Cannabis is a pain reliever, appetite stimulant, anti-epileptic, and more. This gradual change has broadened the appeal of cannabis and transformed it from the subject of propaganda films to a broadly supported substance. The acceptance of cannabis as medicine may presage its renewed value as a spiritual substance.
Spiritual history of cannabis
The use of cannabis dates far into the distant past. Siberian mummies from more than 2,000 years ago have been discovered with weed in their pockets; something archaeologists suspect was used for ritual purposes. In India, cannabis has been used to enter meditative states since at least 1,500 B.C. The value of cannabis as a way to engage in altered mental states seems to stretch back as far as history goes.
One of the most famous examples of cannabis use in spiritual contexts is the Sufi Muslim use of hashish. Hashish is a byproduct of marijuana flower, which is made by heating and pressing the trichomes from the flower. While most sects of Islam do not permit the use of intoxicants like cannabis, some small groups of Sufis use it to enter trance-like or meditative states.
Another Muslim group, the Nizari, is famously associated with hashish and their combat prowess. Called hashishin, they are purportedly the origin of the word assassin, though not all scholars agree. Interested in trying hashish for yourself? Try our pollen press and make your own!
Today, cannabis is incorporated in religious movements like Rastafarianism. While cannabis is not required to participate in the religion, it is commonly used and considered a sacrament. Rastafari adherents use a water pipe called a chalice to smoke cannabis, which they believe allows them to grow closer to Jah (God). Rastafari frequently cite verses from the Bible to show God’s approval of cannabis. They may also claim that its use is part of a spiritual tradition that extends back to ancient Ethiopia.
Weed isn’t just a way to enjoy cereal and cartoons. Plants and herbs used for spiritual purposes are called entheogens and include cacti, fungi, vines, and more. While the exact plant may vary widely, entheogens are united in their use as a way to access spiritual modalities. Using herb smoke in ceremonies is common in spiritual traditions throughout the world, including Christianity. While some use incense to simply perfume the air, using cannabis as an incense allows us to meditate more profoundly and contemplate more devotedly.
The reason cannabis is used so widely is that it is a robust plant that can open users to new ways of thinking and unique experiences. For people who are inclined toward spirituality, this is a tool that allows them to explore inner realities. The use of marijuana can heighten all kinds of experiences, including spiritual experiences.
How can I use cannabis more spiritually?
Cannabis used in spiritual settings can be understood best as a form of prayer. It is used thoughtfully and intentionally. Why am I smoking this joint? What am I hoping to get out of it? Many choose to use the effects of cannabis to meditate until its effects wear off.
You may find value in attaching a form of ritual to your spiritual use of cannabis. This could include a prayer that you say while filling your cannabis grinder. You could write your intention down on a wrapper and literally let your intention go up in smoke. You could ritualistically bathe or listen to spiritual music. Whatever you do, it helps to approach it thoughtfully, and with respect for the substance you’re using and whatever spiritual tradition you choose to follow. The more effort you put in, the greater the reward.
Many users who approach cannabis spiritually find that they can use it as a daily form of prayer and study. As they spend time with the flower, they learn more about who they are, how to live with joy, and how to bring joy to others. This includes smoking in social settings, not just alone. Spirituality is generally a way to bring people together, so don’t be afraid to invite others into your spiritual smoke sesh. You can discuss your spiritual ideas with each other while smoking out.
Not only does this bring you and your friends together, but it adds a new dynamic to smoking that goes beyond the superficial. While we love smoking and stupid TV as much as the next person, it’s satisfying to have a serious conversation once in a while. Even stoners have to contemplate the meaning of life. Using a spiritual approach to cannabis helps us do that.