Cannabis is not only the most controversial plant on the planet, but has been in the limelight for as much as 7000 years. It has been at the center of many human evolutions, and we might just be witnessing yet another, as it is reintroduced as a medicine and recreational substance.
Cannabis has been used throughout history in many religions to induce vision, trance and a greater understanding of the cosmos. It was instrumental in advancing medicine, language and exploration. The herb is mentioned in the ancient scriptures of most religions.
Seattle weekly examines the role of cannabis in religious practice through the ages without trying to offend anyone.
Hindu creation myth
If we were to travel back in time to more or less 5000 BC, we would find cannabis in the Hindu creation myth referred to as one of the five nectars of the gods, called “Reliever of suffering”. Hindu priests puffed great ceremonial spliffs in honor of Shiva and Ganesha.
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Buddha lives on hemp seeds
Buddhists tell the legend of Mahayana Buddha living off only hemp seeds for six years, while Tantrics use the plant to induce deep meditative states and heightened perceptions.
Japan cleanses sacred space
In Japan, Shinto priests made their garments from hemp because of the purity associated with the plant. A gohei, or a short stick also made of hemp, was burned to cleanse a space or make it sacred.
China sees the future in tea
Taoists from China made tea from ginseng and cannabis to see the future, and by 100 BC, priests used incense sticks made of cannabis and cedar to achieve immortality. Taoist temples had clouds of smoke hanging in them, and priests experienced spiritual ecstasy and a profound sense of wellbeing.
Muslims connect to Allah
Modern Orthodox Muslims forbid the use of cannabis, but Mohammed didn’t, and historically, Muslims saw cannabis as a holy medicine referred to as “kannab”. Sufis also used cannabis and hashish to connect to Allah and aid in a sincerer understanding of self.
Africans protect their tribe
Several tribes in Africa use ganja to ward off harm, as a symbol of protection, and a plant of peace and friendship. Cannabis use is considered necessary to safeguard the village.
Christians: a gift from God
Coptic Christians use cannabis in offers of devotion, calling it “Angel’s Food,” “The Weed of Wisdom,” or “The Tree of Life”. They refer to the Old Testament to prove God gave cannabis to humankind as a gift.
Rastafarians for cosmic consciousness
Most well-known today are the Rastafarians, who use the herb to find a deeper understanding of self, the universe and God. To them it is a vehicle to cosmic consciousness.
Spiritual energy workers repair and witches fly
Modern spiritual energy workers believe cannabis can open charkas and increase chi. They also say it can repair the energy body and physical body by raising the vibrational frequencies of the user.
According to legend, witches have been using cannabis as a “flying ointment” for centuries, and today use it to induce states of meditation and improve intuition.
Cannabis churches sprouting
All over the US “cannabis churches” are popping up, among these: Greenfaith Ministries, The First Church of Cannabis and THC Ministries. All of them are receiving tax-exemption from the government, and a degree of legal protection in states where the use of the weed is still illegal. These churches claim they are providing more than a “high”. They are elevating people to higher spiritual plains.
Our long relationship with cannabis has been disrupted, but now, there seems to be a reawakening, with people using cannabis as they always did: for spiritual wellbeing and as a medicine.