It was just two years ago that then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence passed the highly controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that, in part, helped Bill Levin to legally birth The First Church of Cannabis. At the time, the church was widely reported on and was viewed with both awe and contention. Many were shocked and scandalized, but most people were extremely skeptical of using cannabis as a holy sacrament or part of a religious practice. “Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorer’s Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally” is a book that highlights this reality with the respect it deserves.
Award-winning author and pharmacologist Julie Holland, who edited the seminal academic collection of essays in “The Pot Book,” writes the foreword which provides a great foundation for the tone of the book. While lauding the therapeutic effects of medicinal cannabis, she notes that there’s been less of a focus on its spiritual effects across cultures and eras throughout history. Thankfully, this book continues to bridge the gap between our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
In this collection of essays, editor Stephen Gray gives a platform to a wide range of voices within the cannabis industry as well as writing a few pieces within the collection himself. As a lifelong student of many spiritual practices and author of “Returning to Sacred World: A Spiritual Toolkit for the Emerging Reality,” Gray is no stranger to topics that walk the edge of mainstream culture and this book is no different. His reverence for cannabis is apparent throughout the compilation from referring to cannabis as a “euphoriant” to his selection of authors to contribute to this project.
These experts in their fields and practitioners of an assortment of healing modalities to share their insight on the connection between cannabis and spirituality in this collection of essays. The thoughtful piece touch on a number of topics from sacred rituals and group ceremonies to everyday practices of creativity with an essay about the link between cannabis and creativity by Floyd Salas a fiction writer who won the 2013 the lifetime achievement American Book Award.
There may be some cannabis lovers who may feel that this book may be a little too esoteric for their interests, but there are a few chapters that can still be relatable for those that aren’t as mystically inclined. This read is quite a bit different from a lot of other available cannabis books that only offer a look at the therapeutic and medicinal effects of cannabis. Of course, emphasis is given to the moving experiences that reshape perspective and the radical shifts in worldview and personal mentality and the spiritual healing that cannabis has played an integral role in facilitating, but there is a lot of interesting and objective information within the collection as well.
For example, there’s essay written by Dee Dessault, the first yoga teacher to offer ganja-enhanced classes in the U.S., where offers she her perspective on cannabis as a spiritual enhancer of a yogic practice. People who practice yoga will appreciate her words of wisdom about how cannabis heighten the experience of the very tenets that yoga promises — a deeper sense of connection, a pronounced feeling of relaxation and feelings of acceptance.
In the book’s final chapter, Gray proposes that “if there’s a revolution of consciousness transformation arising on this planet,” that cannabis will not only be a source of inspiration but will be at the forefront of the movement. While there are more and more signs pointing towards the reality of this concept, there are many who haven’t waited for mainstream culture to join them in this progressive line of thinking. But when and if they do, those who knew of cannabis’ true power will welcome them with open arms.
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