"The Entheogenic Experience: Using Cannabis for Personal and Spiritual Growth":
Welcome to the world of entheogens, my fellow cannabis enthusiasts. For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, entheogens are substances that are used for spiritual or religious purposes, and cannabis happens to be one of the oldest and most widely used entheogens in human history. Others include psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, and DMT, as well as traditional plants like peyote and iboga. The use of entheogens for personal and spiritual growth is a fundamental human right that has been practiced for thousands of years across cultures. In this article, we'll be diving deep into the world of using cannabis as a tool for self-discovery, and we'll also hear from experts in the field who have used cannabis to enhance their own personal and spiritual growth. So sit back, light up a joint, and let's take a journey together into the world of the entheogenic experience.
As a psychonaut with over 20-years experience utilizing entheogens for spiritual and self discovery, I may be a bit bias towards the use of them. But to be fair, what ancients call “plant medicine” has had some of the most profound effects and significant bouts of growth in my life. This doesn’t mean that “you need” entheogens for personal and spiritual growth, but it does mean that they are tools within a seeker’s personal toolkit. Additionally, not everyone should be taking entheogens.
However, for the sake of clarification – I do consider cannabis as an entheogen. Meaning, it can be a tool for self-discovery and spiritual growth.
Will this enlighten you to the manner of ascension – no! However, it will begin to show you the way, and sometimes all you need for enlightenment is a path.
Cannabis has been used for millennia to promote spiritual and personal development, with possible advantages including heightened self-awareness, emotional clarity, and a stronger sense of connection to oneself and the outside world.
The usage of entheogens, such as psychedelics and what ancients called "plant medicines", can also have comparable advantages. According to research in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, people who took psilocybin mushrooms in a therapeutic context were happier and more satisfied with their lives.
Ayahuasca usage was linked to greater spiritual development and self-awareness, according to another study that was published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. These are just some examples of how these entheogens can be utilized within a spiritual setting.
In this article, we're going to be exploring the relationship of humanity with entheogens and why it's your fundamental human right to trip balls!
The history of cannabis in spiritual practices
What we do know is that cannabis has historically played a significant role in divine worship and spiritual exploration.
Here's a few examples;
In ancient Chinese rituals, cannabis was used as a sacrament and was treasured as a gift from the gods.
In the Chinese Book of Ceremonies, cannabis is also referred to as a "liberator of sin" and a "carrier of peace."
In ancient India, bhang, an oil derived from cannabis, was used and revered as a sacred plant. It was used in religious rites and believed to be able to heal a range of ailments. The Hindu god Lord Shiva was often associated with cannabis and it was said that he wandered the forest in a state of constant intoxication from eating bhang.
In the Rastafarian religion, cannabis is considered to be a sacrament and is used in religious ceremonies. Rastafarians believe that the smoking of cannabis brings them closer to their God and that it helps to promote a spiritual and peaceful state of mind.
"Cannabis is the healing of the nation, alcohol is the destruction," - Bob Marley, Rastafarian musician.
There are several modern day institutions that also look at cannabis as a sacrament, such as “The Church of Cannabis” who believes that it helps them connect with their divinity. I’m sure there are plenty of other minor cults that have cannabis as a central theme within their divine practices.
It is clear that cannabis has a long history of spiritual use across many cultures and religions, and it continues to be used in spiritual practices today.
The use of cannabis in ancient cultures and spiritual traditions
When we take a look at ancient cultures and spiritual traditions from around the world, we can also look at places such as in ancient Egypt where it was used in the mummification process, or in ancient Greece where it was used as an offering to the gods, or in ancient Rome to where it was used to induce visions and prophecies.
In ancient Central Asia, where it was thought to have originated, cannabis was used in shamanic rituals and was regarded as a potent medicine by the people.
Shamans in prehistoric Siberia used it to engage with the spirit realm according to their lore. It was utilized in traditional African medicine and religious rituals all over the world.
These instances show how cannabis has a long history in spiritual and ancient traditions all throughout the world. It is intrinsically connected with who we are, our roots, and where we are going.
The role of cannabis in modern spiritual practices
Cannabis continues to play a role in modern spiritual practices as well. In the Santo Daime religion, which originated in Brazil in the 1930s and is a weird mix of Catholicism with native lore, cannabis is used as a sacrament in religious ceremonies, known as "trabalhos". It is believed to help participants to enter into a state of heightened awareness and spiritual connection. Similarly, in the UDV (União do Vegetal) religion, also based in Brazil, cannabis is used in religious ceremonies to connect with the divine and gain spiritual insight.
In Notrh America, the Native American Church, peyote is used as a sacrament in religious ceremonies and is believed to be a powerful spiritual tool. The use of peyote is protected under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
"Cannabis is one of the few plants that can be used for both medicinal and spiritual purposes", - Terence McKenna, Ethnobotanist and Psychedelic researcher.
In addition, various spiritual communities continue to practice and incorporate cannabis in their spiritual practices, such as the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church and the Rastafarian community.
These are just a few examples on how cannabis is still intrinsically connected with our pursuit of spirituality. Many “non-religious” people utilize cannabis as a means of connected to their own spirit, to become more mindful, and to experience the “bliss” or “euphoria” of cannabis.
The Science behind the entheogenic experience
Use of drugs for spiritual or religious purposes, often known as the entheogenic experience, is a complicated phenomenon that involves both psychological and physiological processes.
Let's talk about weed first. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), two psychotropic components of cannabis, interact with the body's endocannabinoid system, which controls a number of physiological processes, including mood, appetite, and pain perception. Studies have indicated that CBD can foster a feeling of calm and well-being while THC can boost activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is linked to self-reflection and introspection.
Research studies have also explored the relationship between cannabis and spirituality. A study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that participants who used cannabis in a spiritual setting reported increased feelings of transcendence and spiritual connection. Here’s a snippet from the Abstract of the Study;
A sample of 1087 participants (mean age = 38.9) completed an online survey assessing their use of cannabis and other substances, as well as spiritual and psychological characteristics. Spiritual benefit from cannabis was reported by 66.1% of the sample, and 5.5% reported it had sometimes been a spiritual hindrance. - SOURCE
Another study published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology found that cannabis use was associated with increased self-awareness and spiritual growth. However, this study doesn’t meet the typical scientific rigor that would be accepted by any mainstream institution.
Another crucial element in the entheogenic experience is the influence of set and setting, or the person's thoughts and surroundings. According to research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, "those who used cannabis in a welcoming and encouraging atmosphere experienced more beneficial benefits, such as heightened sensations of well-being and insight, than others who used it in a hostile or unsupportive environment."
"The entheogenic experience is a complex phenomenon that involves both psychological and physiological processes," - Dr. Ralph Metzner, Psychologist and researcher.
Currently, with institutions such as M.A.P.S and other research programs around the world, entheogenic experiences are once more being explored within the context of human wellness. The future looks promising. However, I do hope that we encode some sort of failsafe mechanism for humanity to have access to these substances. If this falls under the influence of Big Pharma – we could be looking at a very different entheogen experience.
How to use cannabis for spiritual growth
Using cannabis for spiritual growth can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and connection to the divine. Here are some practical steps to get started:
Set your intention: Before consuming cannabis, take a moment to reflect on what you hope to gain from the experience. Whether it's self-awareness, spiritual connection, or a sense of inner peace, setting your intention can help to guide your experience.
Choose the right strain: Different strains of cannabis can have different effects on the mind and body, so it's important to choose one that aligns with your intention. Indica strains are known for their calming and relaxing effects, while sativa strains can promote a sense of energy and creativity.
Create a comfortable and supportive environment: The setting in which you consume cannabis can greatly influence your experience. Find a quiet and comfortable space where you won't be disturbed, and consider lighting candles or incense to create a relaxing atmosphere.
Incorporate meditation or mindfulness practices: Combining cannabis with meditation or mindfulness practices can help to deepen the spiritual aspects of your experience. Try closing your eyes and focusing on your breath, or repeating a mantra to yourself as you consume cannabis.
Reflect on your experience: After consuming cannabis, take some time to reflect on your experience. Journaling your thoughts and feelings can help you to process and integrate the insights you gained during the experience.
Repeat the process: Using cannabis for spiritual growth is a process that requires repetition, so don't be discouraged if you don't have an incredible experience the first time. With practice, you will be able to access deeper levels of awareness and insight.
It is important to keep in mind that everyone's experience with cannabis and spirituality is unique, so it's essential to be open-minded and willing to experiment. Remember to start with a low dose and to always listen to your body and mind.
In conclusion, it is clear that the use of entheogens, including cannabis, has been a fundamental part of human culture and spiritual practice throughout history. From ancient civilizations to modern spiritual communities, entheogens have played a significant role in self-discovery and connection to the divine.
It is a part of our human heritage to use entheogens and to prohibit their use is to prohibit the exploration of consciousness. The War on Drugs, which has criminalized the use and possession of entheogens, is one of the most atrocious crimes against humanity. It has caused immense harm, particularly to marginalized communities and has hindered scientific research on the potential benefits of entheogens.
It's important to question who benefits from a society that doesn't have the freedom of consciousness and doesn't respect the human right to explore one's own mind. Entheogens should be viewed and treated as a human right, and we must work towards ending the criminalization and stigmatization of entheogenic substances and instead, recognize their potential for personal and spiritual growth. It's time for society to acknowledge and respect the historical and cultural significance of entheogens and to allow for the responsible use and exploration of these substances.