When racking my brain for a topic for this latest installation of WEIRDOS, I came upon a topic that I, honestly, am very apprehensive about addressing publically: How cannabis can bring us closer to God. My hesitation in writing about this topic has more to do with my background than with the very real assertion that cannabis has assisted people on spiritual paths since ancient times. As someone who went to a Catholic elementary school, organized religion has been something I chose to reject in my adult life. But with the ongoing crush of COVID pushing all of us to re-evaluate the fundamental question of “Why are we here?” I wanted to share that, with the help of cannabis and other aspects of the natural world, I’ve seen glimpses of the divine.
Admitting that makes me feel very exposed. Something inside me says the other way to operate in this world is with provable scientific facts and that confessing a belief in a higher power makes me appear weaker. But as long as I have this platform with High Times to pen an opinion piece, I figured I’d keep it as real as possible. I hope cannabis is helping you in your life. The amount of time we have to spend with each other is unknown and, oftentimes, too short. We should try to fill our days with flowers and things that bring us joy. Use weed with intention and combine it with experiences in the natural world and you may find, as I have, that cannabis can bring you closer to understanding why we’re all here and what we are meant to do.
Our experiences these past few years of a global health pandemic have been challenging in different ways. For myself, this time has brought extreme isolation that puts me in my head more than ever before. One of the ways I get out of my head and more into my body is through a yoga practice. In the times before we were worried about the dangers of being together and breathing each other’s air, I’d meet with my friend to do yoga together once a week. Before class, we’d share a quick puff with her husband as we rushed out the door. It seemed that with the stressors of our jobs and duties at home, we had to carve out time to smoke and stretch. Sometimes I’d find excuses not to spend time on those two things that greatly benefit my life. One time, I tried to explain to my friend that I had taken a mid-day edible and was too high for yoga. Her response? “What do you mean? You won’t know your left from your right? Let’s go.” I’d always feel better after the class was over.
In 2020, without the encouragement of my friend or the community aspect of an in-person yoga class, I turned to watch pre-recorded yoga videos available on YouTube. In the darkest days of that year, I had a bit of outdoor space and would spread my mat out on the small patio right in front of my front door and set up my laptop computer to continue my practice. As a coping mechanism for the uncertain times at the beginning of the pandemic, I started taking doses of a cannabis tincture that contained 1,000 mg of THC in a small bottle. A few droppers of that tincture would result in me ingesting about 40 mg of THC (which is a pretty high dose for most people), and I came to enjoy the fact that the high would build throughout my yoga class. In yoga, instructors will often ask practitioners to come up with an intention to carry with them. I’d often choose something like “hope” or “love without fear.” One time during a particularly stoney stretching session, I laid down for the final part of class, savasana or corpse pose, and focused on my intention “may all beings everywhere be happy and free.” While laying down in stillness and concentrating on that mantra, I began to feel a soft rain falling on my body and knew that I had somehow tapped into the life force of the universe. The cannabis made me more present. It pulled back my veil of doubts around spirituality. It helped me see and feel things I had not or could not before.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and find an escape from the hectic pace of the city by spending time in nature. Samuel Taylor State Park in Marin County was one of my favorite spots to get high and hike in those early pandemic days. Once, after puffing a few bowls of cannabis in the park, I wandered into a sacred space, a ring of giant redwood trees. When the clock struck 4:20 p.m., a beam of light pierced through the canopy reaching the ferns on the forest floor, and I knew it was a sign from a higher power that things would be OK. Since then, I’ve also experienced other instances when cannabis and nature combine and I can feel the presence of God. It’s challenging, but through my daily interactions, I try to remember that the face of God is in the face of all beings I encounter. I don’t know if I would have understood this without the reflection time the pandemic provided, but I do know I would never have gotten to a place of peace without cannabis as a sacred guide.