The rise of cannabis spirituality: How the plant can heighten your experience
In my early twenties, I worked Saturday nights at a live music lounge. During breaks, I’d wander outside for a burst of fresh air, where the sidewalk would be invariably colonized by patrons sweaty from dancing, leaned up against the wall sharing joints. At least one individual would pass along a joint, praising its ability to transform the music into a spiritual experience. I’d inwardly roll my eyes at what looked to me like a bunch of stoners justifying their smoking habit.
Cannabis has long been identified as an entheogen: A plant that can expand one’s consciousness and assist in spiritual growth. Hindu sadhus, Zoroastrians, and Rastafarians honor cannabis as a sacred tool. In Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, cannabis is understood as a divine healing plant connected with Lord Shiva. However, the Vedas caution that when used inappropriately or recreationally, cannabis is tantamount to a toxin .
The line between spiritual development and pleasure may be thin, especially when it comes to weed. But recent years have seen the flowering of an elevated approach to cannabis consumption, which re-emphasizes its spiritual character.
A new wave of spiritual consumers
All over the globe, cannabis is being combined with practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Alongside these looser affiliations is the blossoming of semi-organized cannabis-based religions and churches, including Cannamaste, The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana, the International Church of Cannabis in Colorado, The First Cannabis Church of Florida, the Healing Church of Rhode Island, the Coachella Valley Church of California, and the Hawai’i Cannabis Ministry. Most have also adopted creeds that emphasize love, unity, tolerance, equality, and kindness.
These cannabis-based spiritual practices and communities honor the plant for providing a gateway to the divine through connection with the self, others, and the Earth. Elevationists at the aesthetically stunning International Church of Cannabis in Colorado, for example, venerate cannabis as “the sacred flower to reveal the best version of self, discover a creative voice and enrich our community with the fruits of that creativity.”
But what distinguishes this new wave of spiritual cannabis consumers from those who smoke recreationally, claiming spiritual enlightenment as a by-product? For starters, the new wave treats the plant as a sacrament or refers to it as a teacher with numinous messages to impart. Setting a clear intention before smoking or consuming is vital. Ingesting cannabis is also often accompanied by a ceremony or ritual, enwreathing the plant with the divine.
Such a philosophy has been interpreted as an effort to curtail the recent commercialization of cannabis and reclaim its roots, so to speak. Since the Green Rush, cannabis is frequently mentioned in the same breath as market shares and industry. Cannabis spirituality champions a more holistic understanding of the plant, in addition to its feel-good, curative, and palliative qualities. Swami Chaitanya, a long-time cultivator of Swami Select in the Emerald Triangle, is one such advocate of a more spiritual approach.
“To fully employ cannabis as a sacrament, the precursor to lighting the joint would be to acknowledge the source of the divinity enshrined in the plant with a mantra, a prayer, or a simple statement,” said Chaitanya. “Another use would be to enlist its aid in a healing or creative endeavor with a specific statement to that effect.”
Cannabis rituals: Why they’re more powerful than you may think
Ritual and ceremony may seem like archaic constructs or irrational throwbacks to old school religion. The truth is, however, that contemporary society is still saturated with ritual: it’s universal to the human experience . Ritual can be profoundly rational because it is often extremely effective in charging an intention, helping an individual to feel in control, reducing uncertainty, or diminishing anxiety. Ritual also promotes social bonding with others. Chaitanya and his partner, Nikki Lastreto, for example, both align themselves with Cannamaste.
“We gather from time to time to specifically use cannabis as a sacrament with creed and a defined ceremonial sequence,” said Chaitanya. “Everyone brings flower to contribute to the communal joint. We always pass to the right with the right hand, with the left hand covering the heart, look the recipient in the eye, and say: ‘Cannamaste!’” According to Chaitanya, ritual can be infused into every interaction with the plant, rendering it more meaningful.
Chaitanya reflects that the conscious preparation of cannabis engages the senses: the feel of the flower as it crumbles in the fingers, the aromas of terpenes, the oily, waxy texture of the bud on the fingers, the sound of the grind, and the meditative process of producing a well-rolled cylinder.
“Finally, smoking the joint is itself a journey, an exploration, an act of consciously
paying attention to how it smokes, speculating on the flavors and cultivar, acknowledging the bodily sensations, the changes in one’s attitude and the heightened acuity of the senses,” said Chaitanya.
Spiritual intent is also woven into the cannabis Chaitanya and Lastreto cultivate. “When we first crack the seeds in water during the proper moon cycle in the Spring, a drop of sacred water from the Holy Ganges River in India is added to each container,” said Chaitanya. The pair then chant the ganja mantra over the seeds, so that the power of the plant serves as a source of inspiration and insight to facilitate physical and spiritual healing.
Cannabis as teacher
The concept of sacred plants as teachers isn’t novel. However, contemporary spiritual proponents of cannabis are reviving this notion, or at least making it more manifest. “Cannabis is always teaching, challenging one to think outside the box,” said Chaitanya. “She has taught me about organic living soil cultivation, regenerative agriculture, political action, and community organizing. She has opened the door to higher awareness by altering my consciousness as an everyday psychedelic, teaching that joy and laughter lead to compassion and understanding.”
Rachel Carlevale, founder of Ganjasana Yoga , also views cannabis as a teacher. Carlevale weaves cannabis into her yoga, mindfulness, and meditation practices to help participants access the wisdom of the plant. The ceremonies she draws upon encourage practitioners to set intentions before using the plant, to consume mindfully, and to quiet the mind to allow teachings to be transmitted.
Though it’s improbable that most cannabis consumers will begin viewing their relationship with cannabis as a student/teacher dynamic, it’s incontestable that what we put into our bodies influences our state of mind and consciousness. Smoking or consuming with intention may heighten the benefits we derive from the plant, particularly if our use is therapeutically motivated .
A spiritual approach to cannabis could also mean that we lean toward supporting sustainable cannabis growers, or become aware of deeper meanings when we pass a joint around in a social setting. At the very least, it’ll elevate our experience.
Cannabis has been used as a sacrament in many cultures and spiritual practices. Learn how people today are popularizing its use for mindfulness, meditation, and more.
Cannabis and Spirituality: Are There Spiritual Reasons for Smoking?
Can cannabis make you more of a spiritual person? Can it make you more in tune with yourself? The strange thing about running the greatest Cannabis Superstore and Entertainment Complex Vegas has to offer is that no matter who comes through our doors, there is – truthfully – no straight answer.
Certainly, many people who take cannabis act more spiritually than others at times. Although outside of the walls of the greatest cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas, you might be surprised to hear that. After all, if you know nothing about the scene and only get your info from the news or the government, there are only two types of consumers.
First, there are medical users. These are the people that may or may not have severe conditions and use cannabis for things like pain relief and improving mobility. To these people, cannabis is a route to leading more of a normal lifestyle.
Then, there are the people that just love to get unashamedly high. For these people, it’s a chance to relax, have fun, and experience new things in a new way.
And of course, there are those that do a lot of both!
However, since legalization, it seems that the nation has forgotten all about the connection between marijuana and spirituality. In years gone by, there has always been a high percentage of users that worship the plant – in a similar way to ayahuasca is used by the indigenous peoples of this country.
Cannabis has been at the forefront of many youth culture movements. It has inspired great works of art and has been used ceremonially for thousands of years. The Beatles and many more bands wrote albums while stoned. All of these examples – and many more – have involved the user finding something inside them that they didn’t know was there before. They tapped into something – and whether you want to call that spirituality, creativity, or a mainline to heaven, it’s ultimately up to the individual.
There is a sacredness at work here, which cannot be ignored, even though the commercialization of marijuana products continues to gain pace.
The reality is that cannabis has always been used as a nourishment for the soul, spirituality, and overall wellness. And what’s interesting is that in the case of the latter, is that it’s a surprise that so many wellness coaches are avoiding talking about the herb that so many millions have used since the dawn of humanity. After all, wellness is such a hot topic right now – even corporations are embracing the benefits. Given the positive effects of wellness on physical health, cannabis could prove to be beneficial for both.
It all makes complete sense when you think about it. The effects of marijuana are usually that you think deeply about things, perhaps looking inwards, perhaps looking out. You have people who meditate with cannabis, do yoga while relaxing after a marijuana tonic, and there are those that use the herb to be more creative in the arts.
Ultimately, cannabis gives you an opportunity to engage a new and different sense of self. It heightens senses, helps one think meaningfully about life, the universe – and everything beyond. Many people who have visited our dispensary near the Las Vegas Strip have reported some kind of awakening – some spiritual, some political, others something entirely unique.
So, whether you are a Rastafari who places cannabis at the center of your religion, a hippy who uses it to explore the mental cosmos, or just a mom that needs time to reconnect with yourself after a busy day with the kids, there is no doubt that marijuana can help. This ancient plant has been healing people for millennia – body, mind, and soul. There is no reason why that can’t continue for millennia more.
Have you become more in tune with yourself whilst using cannabis? Or have you experienced something spiritual happening, that you didn’t know was there beforehand? Most people use alcohol to feel different, and society doesn’t seem to frown on that – much. It will be interesting to see how the legalization laws that vary from state to state starts affecting people in similar – or very different – ways. Feel free to let us know about your experiences – or pop down and see us in the best Vegas dispensary. We’ll see you soon!
Cannabis and Spirituality: Are There Spiritual Reasons for Smoking? Can cannabis make you more of a spiritual person? Can it make you more in tune with yourself? The strange thing about running