I’m back witches and stoners! I missed you and I hope you missed the High Priestess too! Hopefully you’ve been staying safe, healthy, isolated, and centered amidst the chaos and unknowns in the world. While it can be a struggle to stay positive and creative during this time, we can lean into the powers of cannabis and plant magick to keep the love flowing. Now more than ever do we need compassion, magick, and art to keep ourselves sane and inspired. Now more than ever do we need ritual and connection to keep ourselves whole. Now more than ever can we work with cannabis and art to find an eye among the storm.
For this installment of the High Priestess, we are talking creative cannabis rituals to keep you centered during quarantine. We are in Aries season, the fire-sign ruled ram who marks the beginning of the astrological year. This is a blazing path we can take to align ourselves with our vision and what sets us aflame. An easy way to do that is by working with cannabis and art! To lead you deeper into the creative flame, I talked to Aries and mixed media artist Blake Armstrong whose evocative watercolors are equal parts transcendent and mystical. Through these ethereal visions, Blake paints a world of embodied sensuality and mystery that is both familiar and otherworldly. I talked to Blake about art rituals and incorporating cannabis into creativity as a way to channel other realms.
Find Your Mix of Structure And Flow
Before you begin your ritual of inspiration and plant magick, figure out what medium you want to work with. The key here is to find a balance between structure and flow; cannabis will help you loosen up inhibitions when it comes to creating, and it will also help you think in new ways. Figuring out what kind of canvas you want to work with is important before you begin. It doesn’t matter if you paint, collage, write, or sculpt; simply pick a medium and create a sacred container for your magick. You can set up your space by lighting incense and candles, playing music that inspires you or keeps you centered, and dedicating a physical space to where you’ll be creating.
For Blake, it’s not so much about knowing what he’s going to paint as much as simply letting the magick happen; “where paint flows, paint flows!” he explains. “if I don’t want it to be sloppy it won’t be, but i still have a calm chaos with a lot of the elements that are intercepted into that.” In my own artistic practice of collaging, eating an edible, dressing up, putting makeup on, and dancing around as Boy Harsher plays in the background is the container I create; the ritual of creating and setting the space is part of the artistic process. It’s important that you enjoy this, or else what’s the point!
Allowing the experience to be what it is without any pressure is also vital, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make a masterpiece. Sometimes the best thing you can do is enjoy the process, or return to it when that’s a possibility. “If you want to rest right now or if you’re tired, do that. Don’t force it because then it’s going to be tainted and you’re gonna get a misconstrued version of the story you want to tell,” explains Blake.
Think of How You Want To Work With Cannabis
Once you’ve set the space and scene, you may wish to work with cannabis, whether that’s through eating it or smoking it, to help you align with inspiration and to work with your mind— not against it. Think about how you’ll be creating and what sort of high you want to get. You can also think of the elements—earth, air, fire, and water—and what energy your art ritual calls for and then consume your cannabis accordingly. If you want a grounded and embodied energy in your art, then you may wish to work with the element of earth through edibles, since earth is connected to the body.
If you want something more mentally based and evocative, you may wish to work with air by smoking. If you’re deep in the realms of your emotions, you may wish to drink your cannabis or use a water pipe or bong to connect to the element of water. And if you want to connect more intimately with your sexuality, with the taboo and with chaos, then you can work with fire through hitting a bowl or masturbating with some cannabis lube. Don’t be afraid to get as creative as you want with your method of consumption either; Blake’s ritual is taking his joint into the bathroom and smoking it while the water is running for his shower, a powerful way to work with the element of water and air.
Think of How You Want To Be Inspired
The thing with rituals is that it doesn’t matter what we do if it’s not working for us. Rituals have to be personal to be impactful, and they have to matter to us if we want to get the results we desire. If you’re creating an art ritual for yourself, you can work with cannabis in a myriad of ways to help; and you don’t have to consume it before or during your ritual at all. If you have chronic pain, or if you’ve been stressed or anxious, then maybe you don’t use cannabis as a creative catalyst, but instead work with it to help you find your center.
“Cannabis alleviates back pain in order for me to concentrate which is really, really nice; or it helps me calm down and do whatever,” Blake explains. Sometimes to get ourselves in the mood to make art, we simply have to cancel out all the noise. Sometimes, we will use cannabis to bring the noise in instead. “I will say though there are times where I’ll smoke and I’ll put on a movie and a lot of inspiration comes from that as far as what I see or what I feel,” Blake explains.
“My favorite thing to do ever, ever in life, is smoke maybe one or two hits, put on music, and watch the original Fantasia. Oh my god it’s incredible.” By seeing old favorites in a new light and perspective, you can draw on unexpected inspiration. You can follow Blake’s lead by mixing your favorite film with an unrelated musical artist, mashing up the two and creating something different altogether to get your artistic senses reeling.
Give Space To The Experience
After deciding how you want to work with cannabis, what experiences you want visually and audibly, and what creative container you want to explore this through, you can begin creating. You may also wish to hold an intention in mind for this experience, whether it’s channeling a muse you’re creating for or in honor of, or simply to be present and give space for something new. Art is valuable because beauty is magick and because art leads us to experiencing the world in a new way, something cannabis can do as well. By experiencing something new, even in the comfort of our own home, we are shifting and expanding our reality.
“If you accomplish something through this, that’s amazing and I think that can lead to something even bigger, Blake explains. “I think the best thing to do is watch movies you haven’t watched, read books you haven’t read. There are so many different stories out there.”
Be A Conduit And Vessel For Art And The Spirit of Cannabis
Before you begin this convergence of cannabis, art, and magick, take some time to breathe and clear your mind. You may wish to practice a four fold breath by inhaling / holding/ exhaling/ and holding your breath, starting with four seconds for each piece of the breath. You can work with art by being a channel for the divine, the cosmos, the all or whatever it is you believe in. By giving space for this divine life force to express itself, we not only release any expectations from what we create, but we also invite something bigger than ourselves in.
“I don’t think it’s from me, I think I’m just a vessel or conduit,” Blake explains to me about his art. “I don’t think anything out, I just go from paper to paper. I’ll look back at things and think ‘does this work’ and I’ll flip it over and draw on that.”
By giving yourself permission to fuck up and to simply enjoy the process of creation for what it is, you’re letting the cosmic muse flow through you without any tethers to what you expect of it. By holding space for the experience itself, no matter what you create, you’ll have the most impactful ritual possible.
Let Your Intuition Guide You
The last thing to remember is to let your intuition guide you! Don’t think too much as you create, just follow your inner guidance and whatever the cosmos are leading you towards.
“I’ve always had a really great intuition, always, no matter what. I know I can read people very well and I can read people’s energy very well. And I think that if I’m open to that and I’m accepting of that, it’s almost like water going down a drain,” Blake explains of the ease of allowing intuition and inspiration to guide you. “Also not to be scared of that too. I don’t think anything is right or wrong, I think that being open no matter what [is key].”
Don’t let preconceived notions about what your art should look like stop you from experiencing the path your intuition is guiding you down. By actively opening up to this, and by working with cannabis to help us connect to our intuition, we can create these rituals that support us—not scare us—during quarantine.