For a long time now cannabis has been highly stigmatized as a schedule 1 drug by the federal government and citizens of the world alike. Now, as many states have begun to consider the plant recreational those who have been using the miracle herb as a spiritual teacher and healer can begin to speak out about their experiences in hopes of helping others access the mysticism of the plant.
At this point many might think, we’ve been getting high since we were 15 and I haven’t become any more spiritual? That is because this wasn’t the aim in using cannabis for this generation. Setting an intention before enjoying any type of cannabis will withdraw the spiritual teacher from the plant and can create a metaphysically sacred experience. The key to transforming the experience of “getting high” into one of ethereal meaning lies with setting an intention for the sesh.
The History of Cannabis as a Spiritual Teacher
In the ancient Eastern world cannabis was regarded as a valuable tool by many respected individuals across various cultures. Japanese Shinto culture has long used cannabis to drive away evil spirits. Shinto belief relies that purity and evil cannot exist alongside each other so they crafted small sticks made with hemp fibers called the gohei. In religious and formal ceremonies practitioners often wore hemp robes and the gohei was waved in front of people to purify them and their space. Similarly the ancient Iranian people regarded cannabis as the “good narcotic”, referring to the plant in the Venidad in a story where two mortals were sent to the heavens where they drank a cup of bhang. With this intoxicating cup they were shown the highest mysteries of the universe. They also relayed that hemp smoke was also known to cause “shamanic ecstasy”.
The prophet of Islam Mohammed prohibited the use of alcohol strictly while placing no restrictions on the consumption of cannabis. Medieval Arab doctors called cannabis kannab and Muslims have often referred to the herb as “the Holy Plant”. Sufis and Muslim mystics utilized hashish to appreciate the nature of Allah and stimulate their mystical consciousness. The deeply spiritual Sufi people believed that cannabis delivered deep insight into oneself which helps open the mind to a spiritual awakening. Chinese culture regarded cannabis as a “liberator of sin” and were taught hemp cultivation in 28th century BC by Shen Yung, the father of Chinese medicine. Taoists in 1st Century AD China added hemp to their incense as a means to reaching immortality reporting a mystic exaltation.
Within Southern Central Africa cannabis has long been held as a sacred plant that holds the complete universal protection. The famous religion of Rastafarianism, established in the late 1920’s, is heavily influenced by African culture and the use of cannabis to introspectively awaken oneself to the teachings of God. Rastafarians believe that smoking ganja will burn corruption out of the human heart while also being a solid symbol of peace and friendship. They are also the most modern spiritual sect that still utilizes cannabis as a vehicle to understanding our human relationship with a higher power. For centuries cannabis was used as a pathway to a relationship with a spiritual realm, so why is it that now cannabis is simply a party stimulant often compared to alcohol?
Setting Intention is the Key
The reason that we are so focused on the mind-altering party effects of cannabis and not the mind-expanding spiritual effects is because we are living in a sick society. Cannabis is now recreational in many states because politicians have realized there is profit to gain from the plant, but in this shift I fear that we are losing the beautifully medicinal power of the healing herb. Cultural influences of cannabis movies and other relevant pop culture have reflected a message of what a stoner is onto the plant which makes most assume that cannabis is just for the lazy video gamer eating cheetos in his mother’s basement. This has pretty much made the door to spiritual awakening for those that don’t have an innate ability to partake in an intentional session like the door to the Kingdom Under the Mountain in The Hobbit.
The truth is that even those who sometimes get super baked and lock themselves to the couch for a couple of hours were capable of utilizing that sesh to reach an enlightened state. History shows that cannabis has been a strong tool for spiritual leaders across the Eastern world, so what is the difference? Well, before smoking we must infuse the session with intention, invite the spirit realm into the cannabis before partaking. An interview published on Erowid cites the analogy that cannabis is much like driving a car. When we get in the car, the engine is running but that doesn’t necessarily dictate where we’re going; this is the same concept as spiritually medicating with cannabis. Although we’ve inhaled the powerful smoke or vapors and started our engines, where we go with that high is up to our own minds. The root to all spiritual endeavors is already embedded within our own minds, waiting for us to access it. When we’re smoking, if our intention is to simply feel some specific feeling then that is what the plant will give to us. However, if we can set an intention for that session of spiritual awakening and visions into ourselves then we can access a side of the plant that has been dead from our generation for many years, and in turn perhaps we’ll be able to heal a wounded culture.
Have you experimented with cannabis in a spiritual way? I find it beneficial in my connection to Shiva through yoga practice and my ability to quiet the mind in my meditation practice. What is your experience?