Religions have used cannabis in their practices and traditions for thousands of years and the plant is mentioned in various sacred texts from around the world. Just as Catholics use wine as a sacrament to represent the blood of Christ, other organized religions consider the cannabis plant to be sacred, sometimes passing a chillum around in the same manner. Zoroastrians from Persia, Rastafaris from Jamaica, and Hindu Sadhus in India all integrate the holy plant into their spiritual beliefs and traditions. For rastafarians, marijuana was believed to have been growing wild at King Soloman’s grave and is a source of wisdom that provides a sacred connection to the divine. Sadhus smoke hash or create a cannabis drink called bhang, which is used during religious gatherings and holidays. They similarly believe that the plant strengthens their connection to the gods, particularly Shiva.
Organized religion in the traditional sense isn’t the right fit for everyone and spirituality does not just refer to these major religions. In contrast, spirituality is a divine connection to something much bigger than ourselves. This can be a powerful connection to the universal human experience, feeling seamlessly integrated with the earth or nature, or being overwhelmed with love, unity, and a sense of belonging during meditation. Ganja can add to any spiritual practice, whether you have a spiritual encounter that’s all your own, or use it to guide you and develop your spirituality in a traditional religion.
Wellness is the wellbeing of an individual at the holistic level. It encompasses various aspects of the mind, body, and spirit, which can include everything from mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, societal, social, and sexual aspects. All of these are interdependent and if any one element is off balance or neglected, it affects your overall health and wellness. In the end, spirituality is an integral part of overall health and wellbeing and should be looked after with as much importance as our physical and mental health.
Stated simply, it is a sudden realization, awareness, or understanding of the universe and it’s connection to life itself. This may or may not include awareness of a higher power. Spiritual awakening often coincides with a sudden shift in consciousness, which ultimately changes the way a person views and lives their life. Famous author Deepak Chopra, explains this realization as “the lifting of the veil of ignorance or avidya, which in Sanskrit means ‘incorrect understanding.’ This ignorance shrouds your true nature and keeps you operating in the dark of lower levels of consciousness. This is a state of not knowing what you don’t know.” Chopra also notes the need for spiritual wellness, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Many people are filled with a sense of fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and stress related to COVID-19 which negatively impacts the soul.
Marijuana can help leverage a spiritual encounter by deepening the experience or igniting an awakening. Rupert Sheldrake, an author and expert in parapsychology smoked potent marijuana for the first time in the mountains of India and immediately had a higher experience. “I was blasted into this altered state of consciousness in the midst of the Himalayas with a stream flowing down and a Sadhu in orange robes. It was all utterly exotic. I had this incredible experience of mind opening. Open to the sky, the earth, the mountains. I was a part of nature, connected to everything. It was a real revelation for me.”
There has been a rise of more traditional cannabis-focused religions such as Cannamaste, The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana, the International Church of Cannabis in Colorado, and The First Cannabis Church of Florida, among others. Followers of The International Church of Cannabis uses “the sacred flower to reveal the best version of self, discover a creative voice and enrich our community with the fruits of that creativity.” A creed focused on creativity, but still very similar to other religions that are searching for a stronger connection to the divine.
Most people who combine cannabis and spiritual practices agree that it’s important to define and refine your relationship with the plant to unlock its full potential. Ganja is said to amplify the psyche as well as physical, emotional, and mental energies, but that can be inhibited if the user builds up a tolerance, so it’s best to use pot sparingly if you want to achieve a powerful spiritual experience. This way you will have a sharper, deeper encounter each time. Both rituals and intention setting make the plant more meaningful.
Looking at cannabis from a spiritual and wellness perspective may be just what you’ve been missing. With all the stressors of 2020, turning towards cannabis for an elevated spiritual experience may change your way of life for the better, even after the pandemic is a thing of the past.