Mankind has been using the cannabis plant for thousands of years, it has given us food, fuel and shelter. Some of the oldest artifacts of ancient man show how early and comprehensive our interactions with the hemp plant have been.
The seeds, it’s fruit, are an excellent source of nourishment, and have been used as a food source since recorded time. It’s fibers have been used as rope and textiles, it has lashed our homes together, clothed us and powered our great sailings ships. Hemp seed oil has lit our lamps, bringing light into our darkest nights, it can even fuel our modern means of transportation. Henry Ford designed his first cars to run on hemp based bio-fuels. There are thousands of ways we have found the hemp plant beneficial to our physical survival and comfort.
Cannabis has also secured its place in our religious and spiritual lives, the intoxicating effects of THC have been associated with numerous religious traditions. In Hindu beliefs the god Shiva is said to have discovered cannabis’ “rejuvenating” qualities and is sometimes pictured with Bhang, a beverage made with cannabis still widely used in India today.
Some entomologists have argued that the holy anointing oil of the Bible contains cannabis as one of its main ingredients. The Sufi leader Haydar is said to have promoted the use of cannabis for spiritual purposes and Sihk worriers used it to treat fatigue and wounds, mental and physical, sustained on the battlefield. Today Rastafarians use cannabis regularly for both recreation and religious purposes, espaousing its physical and mental benefits.
Nearly all cultures that have related spirituality with cannabis have spoken of a “lightening of the heart” and a feeling of inter-connectedness with with world. Not just the world of man, but the animal and inanimate worlds as well. A sense of belonging to and being of natural world, not simply some distinct identity apart and separate from it. Many describe heightened awareness of nuance in music and art, feeling more like they are part of it than simply as an observer.
“The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before. The understanding of the intent of the artist which I can achieve when high sometimes carries over to when I’m down. This is one of many human frontiers which cannabis has helped me traverse.” Carl Sagan
For some the use of cannabis is a truly spiritual experience, one of harmony and wholeness with the world, bringing a sense of peace and tranquility to their lives. It may not be for every one, and some may just be getting high, but to others it is a loving and life affirming sacrament of spiritual awakenings. Giving insights into the human condition and how we all share this amazing adventure, with the ability to sustain us in mind, body and soul it truly is a tree of life.