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Most of the discussions that are undertaken in the context of cannabis culture are linked inevitably to medical and recreational adult use, products, technology and the many applications of the plant and its extracts. One topic, however, is easily overlooked and yet intrinsically linked to nearly every aspect of cannabis as a therapy and recreational agent – that it is, the use of the plant as a spiritual entity.

Intrinsically esoteric, the cannabis plant is unlike almost every other crop on the planet in this regard. Where few literary concessions are made for, say, corn or beets in the area of spiritual development and discovery, cannabis has long been linked to lofty philosophical pursuits like enlightenment. Most traditional studies of the plant, whether cultural or paleobotanic, make mention of cannabis as a holistic tool.

The ritualistic use of the plant has been documented for thousands of years. Use of the cannabis plant has a history that spans 10,000 years and has been cited as a keystone in the bridge to enlightenment for many indigenous tribes. From the Sadhus of India to Jamaican Rastafarians, the spiritual use of the cannabis plant has long been an important subtext to cannabis culture.1

Outside of those two religions, cannabis can also be found in the literature of many groups, sects and cultures. One of the first examples of cannabis use in religion can be found in Taoism, an ancient Chinese belief system that dates back to the 4th Century BCE. Early Taoist texts mention the use of cannabis in incense-burners used in rituals that were believed to eliminate selfish desire and achieve a serene state.2

An Exploration of Cannabis and Spirituality
Other Eastern religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism, also make note of cannabis in its literature. Because cannabis is reported to have originated in the Himalayas, it stands to reason that the plant was first used in the region for therapeutic and spiritual reasons. Gautama Buddha, the sage who established the Buddhism religion in the 5th Century, has been depicted holding leaves from the cannabis plant.

An Exploration of Cannabis and Spirituality
Paganism and ancient Greek religions also make note of cannabis, while a noted etymologist recently published an interpretation of the Old Testament that suggests the Hebrew word for cannabis (“kaneh bosm”) was mistaken for calamus, an ancient plant that was once used to make fragrances. There is no consensus on this particular point, but the theory does have some backing from experts in the field.

To contemporary society, cannabis has served as a tool for self-evaluation, realization and enlightenment. As author Stephen Gray has noted, “cannabis can unlock us from the habitual way of doing things, and, more importantly, of thinking about things. It pulls us out of forward-leaning vector, encouraging us to hang back, wait a bit, and see how things feel before rushing into anything.”

From both a historical and contemporary standpoint, cannabis has been a celebrated part of the spiritual and religious discussion. As more people lean toward the herb as a therapeutic option, and a recreational pastime, so too will cannabis become an even more important tool for spiritual discovery. And these revelations are taking place at a time, and in a place, where the need for a renaissance in the top-tier of existence is not a question, but a certainty.

  1. Cannabis and Spirituality: an explorer's guide to an ancient plant spirit ally https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=GmEoDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT13&dq=cannabis+and+sp irituality&ots=19eQ9- HmOf&sig=zn3Y934Twyog2bvk5GxJ6D5L3NI#v=onepage&q=cannabis%20and%20spirituality&f=false
  2. A brief history o cannabis use in world religions https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-a-brief- history-of-cannabis-use-in-world-religions-n624

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