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Cannabis & Spirituality 

The hallucinogenic properties of natural Cannabis have been recognized for thousands of years in ancient China and used in Chinese Medicine and Taoists environments.  It has been considered sacred throughout the world and has been used in religious and ceremonial practices dating back to the 2nd Century BC throughout ancient Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. During these periods, Cannabis was even considered one of the five sacred plants.  

Cannabis was and is still being used as bhang, ganja, hashish, and charas depending on the part being used such as the leaves, roots, and tops. The plant is usually consumed as an infused drink or smoked out of a pipe, chillum, or hookah.  In India, it's associated with the worship of the Hindu deity Shiva.  Shivaite devotees commonly smoke Cannabis in the form of resin extracted from the tops and leaves called charas. 


Certain Buddhist environments have also used Cannabis for therapeutic and awakening purposes during esoteric and tantric practices. In Africa, Cannabis has been used as a calming agent, to relieve pain, as a stimulant, to restore appetite, and as an antiseptic in the form of hemp.  

Other medicinal properties of Cannabis include the treatment of:

  • Tetanus

  • Rabies

  • Infantile convulsions

  • Neurological Disorders

  • Cholera

  • Menorrhagia

  • Insomnia

  • Delirium tremens specific to alcohol withdrawal syndrome

  • And many more...

Cannabis & Shamanism 


Shamanism is not based on dogma or religion. It is actually the origin for all ritual and religion.  Shamanism's basic fundamentals are rooted in using the regional flora and fauna, lunar and solar cycles, the cycles of the four seasons, the cardinal points, and using song, sound, music, dance, and/or psychoactive plants to induce trance for various purposes. 

Since the beginning of humanity, there have been Shamans or Curanderos(as )who are the healers, guides, wisdom keepers, and intermediaries between the community and the spirit realms.  Shamans use traditional folk remedies including sacred psychoactive teacher medicine plants to guide people to profound visionary, spiritual, mystical, healing, and transformative experiences.  It has been said that these psychotropic teacher plants are what made us human, where non-ordinary states and higher states of consciousness led the evolution of humanity. Many indigenous peoples throughout the world continue to embrace sacred medicine plants as an integral part of their spiritual practices.  

For thousands of years, Cannabis has been a very useful spirit ally and teacher medicine plant for shamans in order to enter non-ordinary states of consciousness. Some shamanic cultures incorporate Cannabis into their ceremonial practices with plant medicines such as peyote, mushrooms, and ayahuasca. For many reasons including this one, Cannabis is considered one of the safest psychoactive and mood-altering herbs still used by shamans across cultures. 

The following are a few ways Cannabis is in relationship with Shamanism:

  • Inducing a stable and long-lasting personal state of trance. This trance enables the shaman to ascend or descend into the spiritual realms in order to conduct healings and seek information. 


  • Sharing profound experiences with others, which makes Cannabis particularly suitable for storytelling rituals. It has been used in rituals to forge and restore bonds between people as well as negotiate peace. 


  • Relieving psychiatric illness. Ancient healers found Cannabis effective in treating practically any type of psychiatric illness, as well as in other medical contexts. Such treatments were often connected to the alleged purifying and sanctifying qualities of the herb.

  • It was used as a kind of ‘miracle cure’ for a multitude of different ailments. 


  • Ritual use as a funerary herb, to make the deceased rest in peace. People used Cannabis in funeral rites, covering the entire body in Cannabis leaves and branches like a shroud. This protected the dead and perhaps granted them some sort of power in the spirit realms. Cannabis was also discovered in small jars beside persons identified as shamans, indicating Cannabis' close and sacred relationship to death. 

Cannabis as A Psychedelic

What is Cannabis? 

Cannabis – Also called marijuana, ganja, herb, hash, pakalolo, Santa Maria, and hemp to name a few, is a genus of flowering plants that are indigenous to Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.  Two of the most well-known species grown for their psychoactive effects are Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. To make hemp, Cannabis Sativa plants are grown to produce different strains that contain much lower levels of the psychoactive compound, THC. The psychoactive compounds in Cannabis are most abundant in the buds or flowers of the plant and contain over 100 chemical compounds. The most common three compounds are THC, CBD, and CBN. 

Is Cannabis a psychedelic?

Although not considered a classic psychedelic due to its molecular structure, experts consider Cannabis a psychedelic drug in terms of its effects and possibly its binding to certain neuro-receptors. 

Stephen Gray, editor, and contributor to the book "Cannabis and Spirituality", states that "Cannabis is both gentle and intense." With a large enough dose, intention, and setting, a person can achieve "ego-death" or ego dissolution states similar to other entheogens and classic psychedelics.  

Cannabis' psychoactive effects are potentiated when used with specific aging, growing, and blending techniques.  Turning a very safe plant medicine into a powerful yet gentle psychedelic tool. ​​​

Credit: Yekaterina Kadyshevskaya, Stevens Laboratory, USC

Please see the following article for further information on Cannabis and its psychedelic properties:

Cannabis has been called a "miracle drug" in a peer-reviewed scientific paper published in 2013, where doctors Pal Pacher and George Junos state that modulating endocannabinoid system activity “may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans”.  Cannabis uses the body’s own healing potential to repair itself due to its interaction with our own body's endocannabinoid system, which regulates control over much of the nervous system.

For further information on this article and Cannabis' amazing healing properties please see:

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