spirit of cannabis, cannabis and spirituality, kathleen harrison

Is There a Spirit of Cannabis?

A Wealth of Testimony

“Is there a spirit of cannabis?” It’s an interesting question. First a disclaimer. Although there have been numerous hints, signs, messages and unusual occurrences in my encounters with the herb, I still wouldn’t feel right in making the claim that I’ve personally experienced anything I would definitively describe as a spirit or deity associated with cannabis.

But that’s just me. Many others have indeed said they have had such encounters. For starters, there is a wealth of testimony from traditional communities the world over, past and present, claiming direct experience of spirit beings in altered states of consciousness, both with and without the inclusion of a psychotropic plant.

I’ve come across many such testimonials in my research. Just this morning I read a fascinating enthnographic account by anthropologist Dr. Johannes Wilbert in Cannabis and Culture (Rubin ed. 1975) of the widespread use of tobacco for spiritual and healing purposes in South America. Among many examples in his paper, Dr. Wilbert quotes a description (Elick, 1969, 206-207) of a practice among the Campa for initiating novice shamans into the company of spirits. One apparently not uncommon experience involved an encounter with a jaguar spirit that morphed into the “Mother of Tobacco,” who then taught the novice a shamanic song by repeating it over and over until he had memorized it. There are innumerable accounts of this nature.

The ‘Green’ Lady?

Getting back to cannabis itself, I found in the same book Cannabis and Culture, in an essay titled “The ‘Ganja Vision’ in Jamaica,” a description of novices’ experiences of encountering a “little lady” of congenial nature who invites them in. This is said to typically happen on the novice’s first experience with the herb and is believed to indicate the novice is simpatico with ganja.

Reading that description led me to wonder if I might not be as lug-headed as I thought. I’ve always loved to dance, free-style, and when doing meditative quasi-ceremonies alone at home with cannabis I’ll occasionally get up and dance. On a number of those occasions, with eyes closed, I’ve had a vision—palpable, if perhaps not as highly defined as might occur with high doses of certain plant sacraments—of a Native woman dancing in front of me. In those encounters I’ve fallen effortlessly into sync with her movements.

As Within So Without

The issue of the existence of a spirit of cannabis or of any other visionary plant medicine also begs the question, at least for some of us, of what is external and what is internal. In Singing to the Plants, author Stephan Beyer writes that the mestizo shamans and others of the Upper Amazon talk about non-embodied beings as “other than human persons.” And then there was Carlos Castaneda’s (perhaps fictional) Don Juan, who just laughed when asked by Carlos if the intensely vivid and all-encompassing visionary experiences he was having with Don Juan’s psychotropic plants were real.

I had a somewhat similar experience the first time I drank ayahuasca. The medicine came on like a hurricane. The shaman sang an ícaro for me and waved his healing shacapa around my head and shoulders. While crawling back to my mattress shakily and still afraid, a large cat of some kind took possession of my body—my whole being really—and delivered me gracefully and safely back to my spot, where I spent the remaining hours in a state of joy and apparently in communication with some great and kindly beings.

In the morning I asked the shaman if there really were beings there or if it was just me and my own mind and he said something like, “Ah, that’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself.”

An Honored Guest

Regardless of the “reality” of what you might call an independent, non-material spirit entity accessed through cannabis, behaving “as if” there is a spirit of the plant is very likely to produce deeper and more beneficial experiences. In her chapter in Cannabis and Spirituality, Kathleen Harrison writes beautifully and sensitively of the spirit of cannabis. In her words:

“The plant is your honored guest too. You may be pleasing yourself, or your close friends, but you are also pleasing the spirit of cannabis when you slip into a more conscious and attentive frame of mind in order to invite her into your body and your consciousness, into your ceremony of awareness. In this way of thinking, she responds more fully if invited in a respectful way.”

Note to readers: Many people have had powerful spiritual, sometimes visual/visionary experiences with cannabis, including contact with a spirit being or beings. I encourage you to share such experiences with me for the benefit of other readers.

3 replies
  1. Mr E
    Mr E says:

    Hello there sir, I have alos smoked cannabis before and fallen asleep to clearly rmeber being attacked by some kind of woman trying to mate with me in the dreams many times it’s scary and if I’m not careful when she enters my dreams I can’t stop her from doing whatever she or itwnats to me, it’s a succubus dream rite I absolutely hate those kinds of dreams there not good to have thats my thought anyways I would not share that with others sir, the drumming and chanting on the floor or alone need the fire care duce some prettyweird things to if you do it for a long enough period of time, the drum changes sound starts making a echo like a Morris code sound instead of the drum bumping base it’s like it’s a communication tool to another state of consciousness or something I make drums from seran wrap and glass mixing bowls and use a little bamboo stick to gently tap the top ofit to make the boom boom boom boom boom sound,anyways please let Sberbank good to each other I’m a good guy I mind my own business I just wanted to share this with you becusse I was intrigued by your story it’s hard to find information about the spiritual side of cannabis without digging for hours through other things just to find good information like the story about the man they found shrouded in cannabis with seeds and a ball of resin from 5000 years ago in Asia or China or somewhere and he w a s a white man living among natives and was a shaman and a begger. One friend told me there’s there’s book that was wrote by China or Japan about all medicines and plants and that bookhas like almost 60 pages just dedicated to cannabis and hemp alone where as other plants and topics take up four or five or 6 pages of information regarding the plants and its properties. Cheers kind sir.

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  2. Mr J
    Mr J says:

    That was not what I wanted tosay ihave had visions heard voices seen stars move, seen shadows I’ve felt my body slam into my bed, I’ve seen shadows felt animals energy I’ve had Telepathy with s stray cat I rescued I’ve seen orbs on the wall when I wake up like blue glowing blobs. I’ve had dreams of animals and bugs I’ve been attacked in my sleep I’ve dramt of places I’ve never been or seen before beautiful places. I feel energy from electricity I have empathy the cnannabsj for me is a way to help me calm my mind and receive my pain, but then I also like you have had weird things happen to me that don’t make any sense, ive gone into trance from the cannabis it is the coolest feeling going into that state between being awake and asleep, do you alos notice it high-res your senses sometimes especially early morning late at night I can smell so many things in the woods I don’t smell during the day. I’ve seen a shadow in my backyard looked like a cloked ghost. Vis8ns a re hardtop explain and share its hard knowing when your going in and out of the spirit world it can happen while we’re awake to I beleive we just arent aware of it becuase we are the sensing it, when everything is ritein front of us but itis also hiding rite in front of us, how this strange way everything is connected the little bird wants the bug, well a bigger bird wants the little bird the way it wants that bug too. Life is a circle

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    • Stephen Gray
      Stephen Gray says:

      Thanks for sharing that. You are clearly sensitive to many different energies and presences. I don’t know about you, but in general people need to be careful about what they allow into their consciousness.
      I believe we have the ability, and the necessity on the spiritual path, to only accept positive messages from outside and within. Ultimately it’s only ourselves who can hurt us psychologically/spiritually.

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