You might think of marijuana as a medicinal or recreational herb, but very few are aware of its history as a spiritual plant. One of its greatest gifts is its remarkable potential for spiritual awakening & healing. Many cultures & religious practices spanning the globe used this therapeutic plant for meditation, yoga, shamanism, visualization, chanting, and more. People believe this plant helps us connect to nature, with each other, and more importantly, with ourselves.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a psychoactive plant with a long known medicinal and spiritual history. It primarily comprises Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive component, and Cannabidiol (CBD), which does not cause any euphoric high. Both these compounds interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, but their effects differ significantly.
You can consume cannabis in several ways, be it edibles, tinctures, capsules, or others. Edibles such as gummies are delicious as they mask the earthy taste of this plant. You can purchase weed gummies from local shops or online dispensaries.
With the legalization of marijuana in several countries, many people are willing to grow their own cannabis garden. If you are one of them, ensure that you purchase the best marijuana seeds you can find to grow a good yield.
Read on to learn about how marijuana finds its place in different cultures around the world.
Cannabis as a Spiritual Herb
Throughout history, people have used mind-altering substances to guide them on a path towards finding purpose in life. Cannabis still plays an integral role in many faiths and cultures around the world, some of which are discussed below.
No religion shares the reverence and admiration as much for this plant as the Hindus do. In accordance with the Atharva Veda, a Hindu religious text, Cannabis is one of the five sacred plants. Regarded as a source of happiness, people believe that a guardian angel resided in its leaves. Moreover, they thought that God sent cannabis out of compassion to the human race so it can help diminish fears and increase sexual desires.
Amongst the millions of Hindu gods, Shiva holds a special place. The ancient tale suggests that Shiva and other gods made Amrut, the eternal potion of life. When this elixir dropped on earth, cannabis plants sprouted from the ground. Therefore, every year on the occasion of Maha Shivratri, Hindu devotees from Nepal and India gather in Kathmandu. Here, they smoke cannabis in a pipe called a chillum and drink bhang (i.e. a milky drink made from cannabis buds believed to cleanse the body and soul).
The other two cannabis preparations commonly used in India are Ganja, (i.e. smoked buds and Charas or ‘black gold’ (i.e. a type of hashish made from the bud’s resin).
The oldest documentation of marijuana as a sacred herb dates back to ancient China. Taoism is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin based on the teaching of Tao Te Ching. In Taoism, the consumption of cannabis was reserved only for religious officials. Ancient Taoist texts mentioned using cannabis in several rituals and ceremonies. People believed that it helped eliminate selfish desire and assist you on the path of spirituality on account of its psychoactive properties. Moreover, priests in ancient China used cannabis along with another herb called Ginseng to communicate with the good and evil spirits and reveal truths about the future.
Gautam Buddha, revered, as the founder of Buddhism, was a philosopher and meditator. Mahayana Buddhism believes that he survived on one cannabis seed a day on his path to self-awareness and enlightenment (i.e. Nirvana. To this date, many paintings depict Buddha holding cannabis leaves in his hands).
In the past, Buddhists have used marijuana to enter into a state of profound stillness, which is known as Samadhi. Even today, many ardent followers of this religion believe that cannabis can amplify how deeply we feel emotions and heightened awareness.
4) Ancient Greek
The traditional cultures of Scythia and Assyria used Cannabis in numerous religious ceremonies. Herodotus, the Greek historian, wrote about this in detail. According to Herodotus, individuals would gather in tent-like structures and smoke marijuana for spiritual purposes.
In Assyria, cannabis was used as early as 900 B.C.E in temples and during funeral rituals to ward off the evil spirit. Moreover, people believed that God found its aroma very pleasing.
5) Cannabis in the Old Testament
While Cannabis was quite popular in the ancient eastern religions, few researchers believe that it appears even in the Bible. According to a well-known theory, the Hebrew word for cannabis, (i.e. kaneh bosm) was mistranslated as calamus. If this theory is correct, then this plant has been mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament. This includes Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and more.
The theory is open to interpretation because it has caused a rift between Christians. One group believes that consuming cannabis in any form is a sin, and others believe that God sent this plant for us to benefit from its properties.
6) Other Cultures
There is increasing evidence of cannabis usage in other cultures as well, such as Zoroastrianism and Rastafarian religion that developed in Jamaica.
Cannabis has long been considered as an entheogen (i.e. a therapeutic plant that can assist one’s spiritual growth by expanding their consciousness). Even today, there are several new-age sects that use this plant as a sacrament. What’s more, incorporating it into your life can improve your health and wellbeing as well.