Cannabis and Religion
The use of Cannabis for spiritual and religious purposes is as old as civilization itself. Plants with the ability to evoke new spiritual consciousness around the world have been used (and still are used) by various religious cultures.
We know that the Cannabis plant is used for medicinal as well as entertainment purposes, but there is another area that we have not touched on. Did you know that it also has a thorough and varied history as a spiritual plant?
This plant has been instrumental in religious rituals and ceremonies throughout the globe for thousands of years. Its spiritual qualities have been recognized by societies ranging from the ancient Chinese Taoists to the modern Rastafarians, and everyone else in between.
In many cultures, it is even considered sacred and is used by believers during religious ceremonies.
The attitude towards Cannabis is also ambiguous, as we have already seen, some cultures accept and use Cannabis in their ceremonies, while other religions demonize their use.
In this article, we will look at the spiritual history of Cannabis and its religious application also in our modern world.
Cannabis as a spiritual plant.
Throughout history, people have used mind-altering substances to use them in search of purpose, meaning, and enlightenment. Cannabis, along with sacred cacti, magic mushrooms, and other hallucinogenic plants, is still used in many cultures around the world, where it plays an important role in certain faiths and religions.
The many spiritual uses of Cannabis are undoubtedly related to its psychoactive compound Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The use of this chemical compound has a number of physiological and psychological effects, including relaxation, euphoria and general well-being.
Since the third millennium BC, various civilizations have used these qualities to promote rituals, ceremonies, and meditation. To this day, the most spiritually conscious use of these effects, and some even believe that regular use of Cannabis helps them achieve spiritual enlightenment.
Most likely, it all started with the use of herbs for incense together with other herbs, which created a relaxing feeling. Due to the high THC and CBD content of inhaled fumes, shamans of many primordial religions may have had these as first mystical experiences and decided that these were definitely sacred flowers that would require reverence in the future. Over time, these priests and believers saw these “magical” fumes as a guaranteed way to come into contact with divinities, the spiritual world, or nature. Certainly, Cannabis is mentioned in many sacred texts of the world’s major religions, among which we can mention Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Sufism, and even Christianity, and is part of the religious oral traditions of many African and South American tribes.
Cannabis in Ancient China.
Some of the earliest evidence of Cannabis as a sacred plant can be found in ancient China. This evidence was discovered only about 20 years ago when farmers discovered human mummified remains in an area now called Xinjiang in western China.
The man was well dressed and obviously of high social status. Along with his body, other items were found, including a harp, archery equipment, and some other items that made historians think he must be a shaman. Among his things was a relatively large amount of Cannabis – exactly, 789g!
The remains could be 2,700 years old, but the plant’s presence has remained so incredibly good that scientists have been able to easily identify it as a Cannabis plant and confirm the presence of THC in its leaves. These intriguing discoveries led researchers to believe that in this case, the plant may have been used because of its psychoactive properties, possibly to aid in divination or other shamanistic rituals.
An interesting fact about this man is that although the remains were found in China, he was actually of Caucasian origin. It is not really clear who he was or how he came there, but it probably seems that he came from a nomadic Indo-European tribe known as the Gushi.
And Gushi were not the only ones in China who used and resorted to Cannabis at that time. From the first to the second century BC, Cannabis was already considered a medicinal plant in the Materia Medica “Divine Farmer’s Classic”. It described that it can be used in many cases in medicine, but the author also points out that ghosts can be seen when used, and that “prolonged consumption frees the light of the spirit and lightens the body.”
This statement is almost certainly a reference to the psychoactive properties of the plant, and a similar statement was made in the 16th- century text “Compendium” of Materia Medica, which recommended the use of Cannabis to people who “want to see ghosts”.
Cannabis is also often associated with Taoism, an ancient Chinese spiritual practice based on the teachings of the Tao Te Ching. The word tao means “the way” in Chinese, and the Taoists used Cannabis as incense to help them go on a spiritual journey beyond the mortal plane.
Chinese Taoism is based on the philosophy of Lao Tzu and emphasizes the importance of doing what is natural and “following the flow” or Tao, the cosmic force that flows through all living beings and maintains balance in the universe. The basic philosophy of Taoism is harmony and balance between all things in the universe, symbolized by the yin and yang symbol. Early Taoist texts mention the use of Cannabis in the burning of ritual incense, where it was used to prevent selfish desires and to achieve a natural state. It was burned in ritual censors (especially ritual vessels) to breathe its “hallucinogenic fumes.” Cannabis was also thought to help with divination. Taoist priests and shamans used the plant to communicate with both good and evil spirits.
In modern China, Cannabis is still an integral part of Uighur culture. The Uighurs are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority. They come from the western province, but can now be found living all over the country and have a certain for dealing hash.
Cannabis in Buddhism.
In Tibet, Buddhist practitioners have a long tradition of using plants for religious purposes. It is said that Gautama Buddha, a sage who founded the Buddhist religion in the 5th century BC, has lived on nothing else but one Cannabis seed per day on his path to enlightenment. The Buddha is sometimes depicted holding a Cannabis leaf. The use of herbs was believed to increase awareness during ceremonies and prayers, while also serving as an aid during meditation.
Cannabis and Scythians.
The Scythians were people from the Central Asian region of southern Siberia. They were nomadic warriors, skilled riflemen and riders, but also enjoyed good smoke.
Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the Scythian’s peculiar use of Cannabis, saying that they were building a temporary tent-like structure, putting Cannabis on hot stones and “swimming” in the smoke. It is not clear whether they practiced it as a spiritual practice, some special cleansing, or both. However, the Scythians were said to “howl with joy” as they inhaled the cannabis vapor, suggesting that it was more than just a practical activity.
Since then, evidence of Cannabis has been found by finding seeds in leather bags at Scythian burial sites. It is also thought that it was probably the Scythians who introduced Cannabis to Europe for the first time.
Cannabis in paganism.
Little is known about the spiritual use of Cannabis in Europe, as it was mainly seen by Europeans as a medicinal plant. However, it played a role in Norwegian paganism and was associated with Freya, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. According to Scandinavian mythology, the Cannabis plant contained the feminine energy of the goddess – Freya. The use of a plant would allow its essence to enter the user’s own body. There is evidence for the use of Cannabis at many stages in life in early Germanic paganism. The plant was used during spiritual and fertility rituals and was considered so important that the clothes made from it and the seeds obtained from it were given to the dead. Cannabis harvesting has always been a cause for celebration.
Cannabis in the Middle East.
Cannabis was also a popular spiritual plant in the Middle East. It was first associated with the Zoroastrians, an ancient religious group that originated in Persia long before the birth of Islam. It is mentioned in the Zoroastrian sacred text Avesta, where it is called a “good narcotic.”
The Assyrians came from an area that includes modern-day Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. There have been reports of Assyrians using Cannabis as incense, and references can be found in books as early as the 7th century BC. It is believed that the ancient Assyrians also used incense at funerals to ward off evil spirits.
Cannabis is also mentioned in the Jewish Talmud, where it is claimed to have euphoric properties.
Until the 11th century, its use spread rapidly in the Middle East. It has been used by Islamic mystics, known as the Sufi, and is even mentioned in the famous 1001 Arab Night Tales. One of the reasons why cannabis became so popular in the area is the large number of Muslims using it to replace alcohol, which is prohibited by Islamic law.
Cannabis in the Bible.
Some people believe that Cannabis is also often mentioned in the Bible. They point out that the Hebrew word ‘kaneh bosm’ (meaning cannabis) could initially be misinterpreted as calamus, another plant that is more associated with iris than Cannabis.
In theory, supported by Sula Benet, a Polish anthropologist whose work was based on the study of Jewish and Polish religious customs. In one of her 1936 writings, she mentioned that the first translations of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek were misrepresented and that the Hebrew words ‘kaneh’, ‘kaneh ha-tob’ and ‘kaneh bosm’ (all present several times in the sacred text and referring to the production of sacred oils) is intended as Cannabis. Of course, this is just a hypothesis, but many linguists then believed it to be true.
If this is the case, then Cannabis is mentioned several times throughout the Old Testament, including the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and so on. It says that God even instructed Moses to create sacred oil using ‘kaneh bosm’ along with other plants, including myrrh, cassia (Chinese cinnamon), and cinnamon leaves mixed with olive oil.
Cannabis has also been associated with the biblical ruler Solomon, a man who was believed to have great wisdom and knowledge. According to legend, the Cannabis plant was found on his grave many years after his death.
Cannabis and rastafarianism.
The religion perhaps most associated with the spiritual use of Cannabis is Rastafarianism, a relatively new religion based on Old Testament teachings.
Rastafarianism is a monotheistic religion born in the 1930s thanks to Jamaican preacher Leonard Howell, who honors Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and identifies Africans as the chosen people and Ethiopia as the promised land. Rastafarianism is very much associated with Cannabis. In fact, Rastafarians do not approve the use of Cannabis simply to get high. They condemn the use of other substances, such as tobacco, caffeine, alcohol or hard drugs, which are considered to be poisons for the body and mind. Cannabis, on the other hand, is considered a plant of wisdom and is consumed in religious rituals called “reasoning sessions” as a kind of group meditation that brings the inner spiritual ego closer to God. These rituals include deep meditation, prayer, debate and discussion with like-minded people.
Local healers use it because of its healing properties.
Cannabis has become a key element of Rastafarianism as they interpret various passages of the Bible. For example, “eat every plant of the earth” is interpreted to mean that God created all plants, including Cannabis, for human use as he pleases.
Cannabis in the ancient Greek religion.
The Greek historian Herodotus (484 – 425 BC) informs us about the use of Cannabis during religious ceremonies in ancient Greece. He describes how the Scythians burned hemp incense using containers or makeshift tripods over an open flame. Participants gathered in tents for ritualistic purposes, inhaling smoke.
Cannabis in other religious movements.
Although the use of Cannabis for spiritual and religious purposes began many thousands of years ago, many modern movements and “new age” sects have emerged in the last century that use Cannabis as a sacrament.
Some of these modern movements include THC Ministries, Temple 420, Green Faith Ministries, Cantheism, The Cannabis Assembly, The Church of the Universe, The Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, and The First Church of Cannabis. On April 20, 2017, the nonprofit religious organization Elevation Ministries opened its headquarters in Denver, known as the International Church of Cannabis.
Closing thoughts on the spiritual history of Cannabis.
Cannabis has been used by thousands of religions around the world for thousands of years. Due to the presence of THC in leaves and buds, it has psychoactive properties that allow it to create a feeling of deep relaxation and, for some, even spiritual awareness.
These are just a few examples of Cannabis-related religions, some of which have now forgotten the spiritual value they once attributed to the plant, while others retain great respect for the plant and its derivatives.
Why do some cultures accept this? We believe that much depends on the importance given to these populations by the direct relationship between nature, man and divinity. In short, the more religion has a natural spirituality, the more Cannabis is accepted and used as a means of feeling united with what surrounds a person. It is likely that the link between cannabis and religious ceremonies is due to natural positivism and a sense of acceptance caused by its consumption. After that, the problems of life often seem insignificant, and a person feels ready to accept the future.
Whether you use Cannabis for religious, recreational, or medical purposes, it is definitely a special plant. So the next time you come across this plant, you can take the time to think about the spiritual side of Cannabis and how it is based on many religions and cultures and how it stood the test of time.
The information on the internet about CBD products and their use will be ambiguous, so we always recommend reading safe and reliable sources. We also use websites related to the Cannabis industry, research and education to prepare information.
The content of this site is for informational purposes only. We are not medical experts and this should not be interpreted as medical advice. Be sure to consult your doctor before undergoing CBD or other treatment.
The chemistry of every human body and brain is unique, so the use of CBD to improve mental as well as physical health does not guarantee results. However, many GWEEPRODUCTS CBD oil users have included it into their daily routine as one of the therapies for improving mental, physical health and quality of life.
References: en.wikipedia.org; royalqueenseeds.com; zamnesia.com
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