One of the things I’ve noticed is that when important people come into my life, I don’t often remember meeting them for the first time. The people who have become staples in my world are often shrouded by a cloud of je ne sais que. Whatever threshold we crossed together was as foggy as a hot boxed car; how can I remember when we first connected if I feel like you’ve always been here? This happens to artists I love as well; the threshold from unfamiliar to favorite can become blurred; I only remember always loving this artist, as if there wasn’t a time in my life when I didn’t know them. Of course, I’m sure my stoner memory has something to do with this as well, since things seem to seep into your aura a little differently when there’s cannabis or magick evolved. And at any rate, those things you can’t live without often feel like you never have had to live without them at all.
This is exactly how I feel about musician and artist Chelsea Wolfe. Though I know I started listening to her when I was in college five or six years ago, I can’t remember hearing her music for the first time. I just remember feeling a deep connection with her haunting melodies, her intensity, and her depth. I remember driving through Columbia, South Carolina thinking about an interview I read with her, and how she would wear a veil when she performed to act as a boundary between her heart and the audience; a glamour that resonated deeply with my own exploration of the unseen realms and finding the strength to share them. Chelsea Wolfe is entangled with my memories of transformation, as I would sit outside my apartment and smoke weed as I listened to her music, gazing at the train tracks and the church that occupied my view. She has been the soundtrack to some of my deepest rituals, and her music has guided me in my practice of shadow work, integrating messages of shame and pain as a practice of self-acceptance and alchemy. We all have these guides throughout our lives, and when we meet them it can feel overwhelming.
A Chat With Chelsea
Fast forward five years later and I am sitting with Chelsea on her tour bus in Colorado outside the Stanley hotel, the night before Scorpio season began. We are sharing a joint alongside my friend Jennifer Joseph (who makes the sickest crystal pipes around) and the air hangs heavy in the late October night. Chelsea had just performed in the hotel’s ballroom—my first time seeing her—and we would end the night drinking at the whiskey bar at the hotel, reflecting our admiration to one another, the cannabis acting like a safety blanket for our hearts’ expression. That night was truly a portal, and such an example of the power of cannabis to create connection, initiate transformation and work as a spell of removing veils that keep us from seeing one another’s true nature.
What I didn’t expect when I asked Chelsea if she’d talk to me for this column was how much her relationship to cannabis mirrors my own. We are all connected—especially right now as we are all collectively trauma-bound because of COVID—so I know that these answers will relate to you all as well. Namely, how important it is to find healthy means of escapism and coping during this pandemic. Chelsea echoes something I talked about in a past High Priestess column with one of our mutual friends, artist Blake Armstrong; creativity is a coping mechanism and it’s also alchemy. And often, cannabis can help make this a magical experience.
“Cannabis helps me to lean into things, whether I’m writing music, or focusing on self-healing. It’s pretty cool to witness: I’ll be feeling completely depleted or listless, barely able to function, and then I’ll smoke and I suddenly want to put on a record and do some yoga, or go work on a new song,” Chelsea explains. “I feel like this plant wakes me up—mentally, physically, and spiritually. If I have a new song in the works and I’m going to record some harmony ideas or extra guitar parts, I’ll set up my recording equipment and have it all ready to go, then smoke and begin working. I find that cannabis also wakes up my ears, so I hear things that maybe aren’t there, but then make them manifest in sound!”
Creativity as a means of survival and self-expression amidst pain has never been so important; I know that collaging has been a huge part of my own journey during Covid and that I’m not alone. Out of pain and suffering can come art and healing, which is why Chelsea helped to co-create an artistic challenge to help others find inspiration amid such difficult times.
“I’m leaning into these small pleasures lately, like smoking and working in the garden or going for a walk in the nearby woods,” Chelsea explains. “Also, my friend (artist) Bill Crisafi and I came up with a month of creative prompts for people to participate in on Instagram (#reimaginemay) because we wanted to help inspire people to find new beauty in familiar surroundings. Many people are still stuck at home right now and there is still so much that’s unsure, so these prompts are one little thing to indulge in each day, and to hopefully help get the creative mind flowing”
Sometimes the ritual isn’t necessarily creating something, but the actual act of consuming your ganja. Ritualizing cannabis use is something I’ve talked a lot about on this column, and that includes enjoying the whole process of whatever you’re doing, whether it’s smoking weed or drinking a tincture, both of which Chelsea is a fan. If what gets us through right now is enjoying beauty for the sake of it, then so be it! After all, beauty is the language of the Goddess.
“I’m always a fan of joints because I love to use beautiful holders and clips—it may seem frivolous, but really, taking that extra bit of time to fit the jay into the holder makes me more mindful of the journey I’m about to take, and feels just a little bit more magical and focused,” Chelsea shares. “I’ve also somehow started a small collection of what I call “Gandalf pipes,” those extra-long and wizard-y ones. They’ve just somehow seem to come into my life every now and then. The wizard pipes feel a bit more fun and silly to smoke from, so maybe I’ll use one of those if I’m smoking to chill out at the end of the day.”
Another way that cannabis can help us stay afloat right now is by allowing us space to grieve and experience sorrow, loss and pain. What’s important is how we use this to help us feel fully so we aren’t stuck in that aching emotional state forever. “There are days when the collective trauma starts to overwhelm,” Chelsea says “I think it’s very important to grieve, and to release the sadness and tears, but also to re-center afterwards. Smoking cannabis helps me get back into my body when I’m feeling disconnected.”
And while cannabis can be a vital part of helping us get through this experience, it’s still important to remember that balance is key. Chelsea reflects something that’s been a big part of my own journey with cannabis over the last year. Namely, that I’ve had to rethink my relationship to weed when I realized it had become something I was dependent on and I had to create healthier boundaries around cannabis because of this. “I’ve learned to keep my relationship with cannabis balanced and mindful, because in the past I’ve gotten to the point where I was definitely over-using it; where it became a source of fogginess and paranoia,” Chelsea explains. “When I use cannabis as another mental health tool/supplement along with meditation, exercise, etc., it remains a really positive part of my life.”
So stoners, as you continue taking it one day at a time, I encourage you to find a ritual that feeds your soul. Put on some Chelsea Wolfe, grab some cannabis, and create something for the sake of it. Sending you love and magick until next time.