While most people see Marijuana as a drug that people use to get high, or as a medicine that can ease pain and prevent ailments from occurring, it wasn’t always like that. Marijuana has had many uses as herbal medicine throughout history, along with hemp being used as rope or fiber.
Different civilizations would use hemp seeds for food, and the fiber for clothing, paper, and rope. While the early stages of cannabis have very low levels of THC (the chemical that causes the high effect) it wasn’t long before people discovered the other properties that marijuana could bring.
But Marijuana has had one large impact on an area not many people would have thought of. Religion and spirituality have been greatly impacted by the use of marijuana and both religions of the past and the present have used marijuana in their rituals and practices. Here are some of the best spiritual uses of Marijuana in a religious context, as well as what religions still use the herb in their rituals today.
Early Uses In Asia
The hemp plant was first used in China in 2737 BCE, and hemp was what the Chinese were known for. It was mostly used as a medical plant by the Emperor, who would brew it into teas and cure various ailments with it. It was also used in a spiritual context, and it was said that eating too many hemp seeds at once would cause the user to see demons and dark spirits.
However, small doses over time would allow the user to better connect with their gods and spirits, lightening the body. The Taoist religion would use cannabis in their religion for spiritual purposes, burning it in their censers to help them achieve immortality. China was the hub for hemp until the Mongols invaded and burned most of the hemp fields during their incursion into China.
Going Into Egypt and Greece
Cannabis was used by the goddess of Wisdom, Seshat, and the Goddess of War, Bastet. Both of these goddesses have been shown in paintings to have a cannabis leaf on their heads. In 1550 BCE, the first ancient Egyptian medical text was written, called the Ebers Papyrus. In the text, many hemp-based formulas were used to deal with depression and pain.
It was also thought that the worshippers of Seshat and Bastet used Cannabis to become closer to their goddesses during rituals. Ancient Greeks would burn marijuana-based incense for their spiritual ceremonies, using the vapors to ward off spirits and evil, and one of the very first Greek botanists mentions a psychoactive plant in his works.
The botanist, named Theophrastus, talked about a plant called dendromalache, which was used in shrines and was even used by the oracles when they spoke to the Gods.
Down In India
India has used cannabis in an entheogenic state and is still using it in the present day. It was believed to have been created by Shiva, in the religion of Hinduism, and cannabis and Hinduism are deeply tied together. Cannabis is said to have a guardian angel hiding in the leaves which gives people happiness and liberation.
Shiva was also stated to have drunk Bhang, which is an edible cannabis drink to focus his power. The drink is consumed during Hindu festivals as well, however, the religion states that it does need to be consumed wisely with all of the proper rituals followed. Otherwise, it is a foolish endeavor.
The Native Americans
Many native tribes in America have not only used cannabis for its medical properties to reduce pain, but they also believe that smoking it can act as a spiritual conduit. They use it during ceremonies to enhance their visions and move their souls. Additionally, they believe that smoking together will bring peace on earth, an act known as ‘sharing the pipe.
The Rastas of Jamaica
They don’t just use the drug to get high, but they also to bring themselves closer to God. Cannabis is the corner of the Rastafan Tradition, and they burn and smoke Cannabis to rid themselves of all of the negative energy that they accumulate. They see the cannabis plant as the tree of life and believe that it can heal all of their ills.
They use it to experience peace, community, and spirituality, not just for its pleasurable effects.
The Entheogenic Cannabis Use
Cannabis has been used as a spiritual conduit by pagan and shamanic cultures for thousands of years. It has filled the role of a conduit to the gods, an aphrodisiac, a way to open the mind, and much more. Most of the time Cannabis has been used to help people ask the tough questions and ponder both religious and philosophy-based questions. It has also been used to grant access to the subconscious mind and to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
Cannabis in India
Going back to India for a bit, there isn’t a better example of what Cannabis and spirituality look like. The green plant is connected to Shiva, who created it from a drop of elixir from his own body. It was believed that the gods gave cannabis to humans so they would receive delight and sexual desires, as well as lose fear. Cannabis is consumed whenever Shiva is to be honored, and there are three types of cannabis used in the subcontinent.
The first is bhang, the edible drink that is used during festivals. The second is ganja, which is smoked, and the third is called charas, which is a wax made from the resin of the plant. Cannabis and spirituality are pretty common in India, and they wouldn’t have their worship without it.
This Supreme Court recognized Religion as one that has many different viewpoints, but some of those points do focus on marijuana usage. The ceremonies of the religion, known as ‘groundings’ are where like-minded worshippers get together, use cannabis. Cannabis is most common at the groundings, and it is considered a sacrament.
They argue that cannabis is inside of the Christan Bible, and they see cannabis as the herb of life that is mentioned in various books of the Bible. They typically roll it up into a joint and pray to God while smoking. They believe that marijuana focuses on inducing feelings of peace and love, as well as personal introspection that allows them to ask and answer the hard questions stated at the gathering.
Cannabis can also be smoked in a pipe and passed around the gathering as well, but they always use it. It wasn’t always this way though, because cannabis was illegal in Jamaica. The first Rastafans smoked the drug to protest this, as well as other rules and regulations. In 2015, the Jamaican Government decriminalized marijuana and legalized it medically.
Other nations followed suit, and Barbados legalized the use of cannabis for Rastafarians and have them land on which to grow it.
Spiritual Uses of Marijuana
Even if you are not religious, Cannabis can be used to expand your consciousness and many people do call it a religious experience. Many individuals and groups are combining the smoking of marijuana with other spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing.
Some people see cannabis smoking as a way to promote self-acceptance. Cannabis can bring the subconscious mind to the forefront of your life and can help you see what you are really feeling. You might get in touch with feelings you have been suppressing, or learn to accept and let go of past failings. It also does a great job of shutting down the voice in your head that is negative and criticizes you, allowing you to flow without any troubles.
They state that since these practices are already spiritual and help mankind get in touch with the divine, that the use of Marijuana only furthers this cause. Many smaller churches and gurus state that marijuana should have a purpose and an intention besides just pleasure and mindless smoking. Instead, there needs to be a clear intention between smoking the plant and doing something else with it, such as a ceremony or ritual.
The preparation and ritual surrounding the cannabis plant are able to enhance how you feel about it, and its effects. By following the same ritual over and over again, you can enhance your connection to the plant. In many rituals you are supposed to use the smoke mindfully, paying attention to how you prepare the weed and also the changes in your outer and inner self.
It’s a very deep experience, much deeper than simply chasing a joint and then desperately seeking a high. Instead, the high feeling is incorporated into the entire process of taking the marijuana, and it is then paired with equally spiritual activity. This could be meditation, chanting a mantra or phrase, or performing yoga or other gentle movements.
A Plant, A Teacher
Cannabis is also being seen as a teacher in the modern era, with many saying there are lessons to be learned from the way cannabis reacts with the world. Lessons to be learned from cannabis include cultivation and plant health, political action, regenerative agriculture, yoga and spirituality, and how to come together as a community.
Other lesions can come in whenever cannabis is consumed before yoga or meditation. As long as you only consume a bit at a time, have the intention to have the cannabis help you, and quiet your mind, then cannabis can teach you its own lessons. Still, you have to consume with intention and not just taking it to take it.
Cannabis can be a very powerful tool in the right hands, but you need to use it both correctly and wisely.
Respecting the Plant
One of the things that nearly every spiritual user of cannabis does is have a deep respect for the plant. Marijuana is powerful, but if you don’t respect it and take too much it can very easily harm you. You might lose control of your body, mind, or both, and then you are no different from the average marijuana user.
Respect marijuana’s power by pacing your usage and having an intention. Often the intention is enough to help limit your usage, and you can figure out what you need from it. If you want a clear mind for meditation, you will probably take just enough to clear your head and no more. If you are looking to connect to a spirit or God, you might take more.
You should also take a look at the different strains of marijuana when performing a spiritual practice. Some strands can potentially knock you out and are perfect to use right before sleep, while other strands are strong enough to make you feel effects, while not strong enough to rob you of your facilities.
Find the strands that help you and stay away from the strands that aren’t giving you what you need. Pretty soon you will know the plant inside and out and will be able to use it as a tool to ensure that you can get the most benefits.
How You Can Use It
Whether you want to get used to using marijuana for your religious ritual or simply want to enhance your own meditation or spiritual sessions, then you first need to set your intention. Have it, write it down, and keep it clear whenever you need to get started. Then experiment with different strands and methods of smoking, until you find the method that works the best for you.
Then try out different increments of the plant, and make sure to start off small. Work in increments and get comfortable with marijuana before you start adding more to your practice. Finally, take notes on how you feel after the practice is complete. Do you feel better, worse, content, and most importantly- did you carry out your intention?
Don’t be afraid to delve into the spiritual side of marijuana, because people have been doing it for thousands of years.