Where does cannabis fit into modern witchcraft?

cannabis and the occult

Much like the occult, cannabis has been historically shrouded in secrecy so practitioners could avoid persecution. As with many other countercultures, cannabis has always permeated occult sects like Pagans, witches, and Satanists. When policy and law enforcement began punishing and prohibiting cannabis possession and consumption, the two became somewhat separate. Now, there won’t be mention of the plant in a library of books on modern paganism and witchcraft, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful for meditation practices, shadow work, and other modern rituals.

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Cannabis in ancient practices

Culinary herbs, flowers, and other plants are used in herbal poultices, tonics, oils, charms, and sachets. It is believed that all herbs take on properties from the surrounding world according to The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook by Karen Harrison. Chamomile, or manzanilla, is associated with water and the sun. When a witch hopes to cast with those energies, that herb can be used in the ritual.

Historically, cannabis has been used in rituals dating back to the earliest reaches of human evidence. Two ounces of cannabis flower was found in a 2,700-year-old grave in the Gobi Desert, and a small pouch of flower was discovered in the 2,500-year-old grave of a Siberian princess. Cannabis remnants have also been found in ancient Chinese funerary incense burners. This signifies that the plant was held as sacred and used in ancient rites like funerals.

Aside from China, sects of worshippers of the Indian god Mahadev Shiva are also known to burn cannabis among offering fires. The fourth Vedic scripture of Hinduism states that cannabis relieves anxiety. Its mention in the text makes it a sacred plant.

There have been a lot of uses for cannabis over the centuries, and there’s proof that it was present in ancient civilizations. Healers, midwives, curanderas, witches, and other cunning people have added the plant to cures and charms. It has also been a valuable tool for practices like meditation and shadow work that require a receptive demeanor and the ability to focus inward.

Meditation with cannabis

Manifestation is a prominent part of modern witchcraft or New Thought spiritualism. The theory goes that like attracts like. Think negatively, and bad things will surely come. Focus on the positive, and good will be all around. Meditating can be a manifestation tool, calling in specific energy to bring about an intentional outcome. Cannabis can help set the stage for the mind in this work.

Living surrounded by screens, working full-time jobs, parenting, and dealing with the rigors of modern society can all block the mind’s ability to settle. Many meditation practitioners report that cannabis can help shut out the noise, but the practice doesn’t work for everyone. Try it out in a safe meditation space, as some might find the experience intense.

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Cannabis and shadow work

A main tenet of witchcraft is purification. Not in the same way as organized religion, though. Before a ritual, it’s common to bathe, sometimes in herbs that perpetuate the desired energy, and wear free-flowing clothing to remain unrestricted by the earthly realm.

Along the same measures, before one can truly engage with the craft, they must engage in an inward conversation. There are parts of the subconscious and psyche that are hidden. Sometimes, that is because the brain protects the person from severe trauma, and most times, there is a lesson at the end of the darkness. This is called shadow work.

This type of work is not only exhausting, it can be scary and emotional. Cannabis can serve as a safe space to land after engaging with the shadow, or it may help infiltrate those deep crevices of the mind. A clear head can project its power, but that’s easier said than done when it comes to shadow work. Cannabis can be the crash pad on the journey.

Herbalism reconnecting with the plant

Much like witchcraft books, a big shelf of texts on herbalism will not have any mention of the cannabis plant. This is interesting since evidence of cannabis has been found in multiple ancient civilizations. Every part of the cannabis plant is mentioned in historic Chinese medicine texts. So, why no mention of modern herbalism? Prohibition most likely lives at the root of the matter, but that doesn’t have to stop a practitioner from learning how to safely include the plant in their rituals.

Learning the energies of the cannabis plant can guide an informed herbalist on how to apply it to their grimoire. The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook names cannabis as an herb of Neptune, the planet of creativity, mysticism, and imagination. The energy of Neptune is useful for spells and manifestations that require illusion, dreamwork, trance, and hypnosis.

When aligning the plant with the ideal element, that comes down to what part is used. Seeds are aligned with the earth as that is where they are most comfortable, while flower and fan leaves can be associated with water.

These rules of thumb can help a practitioner work cannabis into green and kitchen witchery. Simply add the plant to herbal teas, incense, spell jars, and wherever cannabis plant energy could be of use.

Cannabis and the occult

When all is said and done, a modern witchcraft practice comes down to intuition. If the cannabis plant is pulling at someone, beckoning to be added to a charm or oil, it might be time to explore how the plant can be integrated. There are some books coming out that share how, including Weed Witch: The Essential Guide to Cannabis for Magic and Wellness by Sophie Saint Thomas and High Magick: A guide to cannabis ritual and mysticism by Philip H. Farber. These are just a start, as more become interested in the power of the plant.

From meditation to shadow work–cannabis can bring the mind into the right space to do the work. Not to mention it is a valuable herbal ally in anything from ingested teas and tinctures to topicals. History shows that the plant has stood the test of time. As the legalization foothold strengthens, even witches are exploring how the prohibition deleted the plant from their practice.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.