Pagan Blog Project #1 – “C” is for Cannabis

Yep, I don’t do things half-assed – my first topic for the Pagan Blog Project will be about one of the most controversial substances of our time.

Introduction

Out of curiosity I did a bit of my own research on Cannabis and it was extremely hard to find any unbiased information on the plant – on one hand there are people saying it should be legal and other people who think it should stay illegal. Both parties had their extremists and, as a studying herbalist who has been taught to do research upon more research, nothing I’ve been able to find has really convinced me that either side is right or wrong.
Again, as a studying herbalist, I disagree with the amount of control the government holds over us – it seems a little bit hypocritical when I see doctors handing out prescription only medication like they’re lollies. But I know it’s not every doctor and I understand the reasons behind the scheduling of a wide majority of substances, not just cannabis. In my personal opinion I think cannabis should be offered as medication and treated like any other medication, but I also believe that more power should be given to qualified herbalists. We should be able to prescribe cannabis to people who would most benefit from it eg. cancer patients going through chemotherapy.3
Personally, I use it in spiritual ceremonies, recreationally and for anxiety – particularly social anxiety. I use it to allow an opening of my mind whilst also allowing inner dialogue to come through without over thinking it (which I have a habit of doing if you haven’t already noticed). A lot of my close friends and family use cannabis – a few of them being highly addicted. But I also have friends and family who are extremely against it and just from talking to them I know that they’re uneducated about the whole situation.

I don’t see it as a drug – I see it as another herb that allows me to change the body, mind, emotion and spirit of an individual. Just like any other medicinal herb. Of course if you abuse it you can get into a lot of trouble, but you can abuse anything. This is why I think it’s important that a qualified practitioner such as a Herbalist or Naturopath be given more power.

General Information

*Botanical Name: Cannabis sativa & Cannabis indica. Subspecies sativa is used for it’s fibre and seed oil (among other things) whilst subspecies indica is used for medicinal and recreational purposes.1
*Medicinal Properties: Intoxicant, sedative, analgesic, anti-emetic. Traditional uses include the treatment of pain, rheumatism and asthma. The herb has been used medicinally in Ayurvedic medicine and TCM since ancient times. In the 19th century, marijuana was popularly used as a pain killer especially for menstrual cramps. Nowadays it is used for nausea caused by chemotherapy, depression and lack of appetite in AIDS patients and to lower intra-ocular pressure in cases of glaucoma. Seeds are still used in Chinese medicine as a mild treatment of constipation in elderly people and as a superfood for a nutritional boost.1 4
*Parts Used: The female flowers, associated leaves and the resin which contain the highest amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has been the only chemical found in the plant to cause the hallucinogenic effects on the central nervous system. However, in my research I have come across the drug Marinol which contains the synthesized version of THC and has had many side effects including death.1 2

Ritual

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As stated previously I use cannabis as a way to open my mind – this can be extremely useful when I’m meditating for a particular purpose that I don’t think I can accomplish on my own. On numerous occasions I’ve heard cannabis being referred to as a ‘teacher plant’ – one of the many actually (Ayahuasca being another).
This I completely agree with because when I first started smoking, one of my friends from high school died in a car crash. It felt like after that that someone had shaken up my brain and all the information that was stored in there was out of place. The reason why I liked it was because it taught me how to get past the grief and sort everything else in my life out at the same time. It’s also taught me things about other plants and many other things besides.
I started using it in ritual about a year and a half ago after I meditated a few times high and learnt some amazing things about myself and the people around me that I would never had if I was sober – things that I use in everyday life now.

I set up the ritual as usual then roll a joint (1 part mugwort, 1 part damiana, 1 part lions tail, 1 part cannabis). Ideally I would have it sitting on my altar for a couple of days before I smoke and keep a majority of my herbs on or next to my altar. Whilst doing this I think about the purpose of the ritual and what it is I want to learn during the meditation. Of course, you still want some sort of intuitive flow so it’s important you don’t become too rigid with the question or intent. It’s also equally important to have a bullshit filter to avoid your mind going in circles or latching on to every tiny thought (meditating for 15 minutes before smoking or my Meditation flower essences can assist with that).
Next Cannabis will usually take me to the place I need to go this can be in the form of an overwhelming desire to walk down to the park or art gallery or to simply sit on the balcony. When I’m in the right space physically and mentally, I will meditate. Guided meditations are extremely helpful for me, however I’ve only come across a couple that I like it’s important that you look around a bit (music, movies or being in nature can also assist).
Next I will usually draw, paint or write what it is I see, hear or experience. Once I have what I need I usually have something high in protein to ground me again (plus some flower essences and water). Having a shower or bath or simply taking a nap can also be effective – this is why it’s important I have an entire day or night to conduct such a ritual.

Note

In my experience Cannabis needs to be smoked with respect and reverence – even if it’s just recreationally. Being educated on the herb itself and being aware of where it’s come from (hydro or bush) is also important so that you can gauge how much you will need. Of course everyone is different so it’s essential for your first time smoking to be with someone you can 100% trust, in a place that you know and that you know how to meditate effectively. Generally, it’s extremely harmful to smoke cannabis with tobacco – this is usually how people develop an addiction to cannabis. Do yourself a favour and chop up with some other herbs that can enhance the effects or offset the potential side effects.

Conclusion

It’s a bit of a riskay post but I use it a lot in my practice and I thought it was appropriate to document on my spiritual blog. Of course there is a lot more to a ritual or ceremony than meets the eye or that can be recorded in words. If anyone has any questions or comments I encourage you to come straight to me with it and I will answer or listen to the best of my ability.

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Attune to Self Through Herbs and Nature – Week 4

Check In

This week was different from other weeks. I think the others might have gotten confused about whether or not it was on (it was a public holiday – also a full moon so it wouldn’t surprise me if everyone were a little busy). Either way it was only Me, Takashi* and MaYanya. I think I was quite excited of the prospect of it being a smaller class and how fast we could move through the herbs (less people = less chatting). As soon as I got there I strolled right over to the tea that they always have sitting on their counter. I took a sip before MaYanya could say anything – once she realised she told me that it was actually the first herb (she had run out of plunges). I had to laugh; the universe works in mysterious ways.
Our initial ‘drop in’ brought lethargy and exhaustion. This was not surprising seeing as I just spent the week helping my Aunty and her family and had only gotten back an hour before hand (it takes 5 hours driving to get back). I could immediately feel all of the tights spot in my body (right hip, diaphragm, both sides of right and lower back). Other than that all I felt were my need for sleep and to see Brian.

1. Mistletoe (heart herb – emotional and physical)
Ate a little of the plant material; spongey in texture. “Take scent back into glands behind ears”. We imagined a universe captured in our skull. Filling every corner of our being. We flew through the universe – black holes, blue planets and comets. We were told to imagine an eye; mine was made from a nebula (inspired by this image that I saw a few years back). Then we were told to imagine the pupil being like a door spinning on its axis which we then went through; to the dimension of the being in the herb.
I saw myself and then I saw a big desert, the sand/dirt was a dark orangey-red. There was a dark blue sky; as if the sun had just set. Before me I saw big rocks that reminded me of the stones in the Stonehenge. These represented the being’s hands (I guess that could mean how it received and took things). By the right ‘hand’ we were instructed to see a gift; from the base of the right one I saw a plant growing. It reminded me of a vine but stood upright on its own.
After that she danced with me; I couldn’t see any features, I could only feel her touch guiding me. When it was time to leave I drew a heart in the sand at the base of the spinning door, then knelt and kissed the Earth. I came back through the portal and flew home.

2. Chrysanthemum
Yellow flower, which smelt like sweat (lol). The smell was completely different to the taste. Taste wasn’t noteworthy. At this point I’ve written “Want to close our eyes” – I’m not sure who I was referring to when I said ‘our’ but I gathered it meant the group. We were told to imagine a pyramid in our head, consisting of a central pyramid as the base. It spun on it’s axis in time with the breath. I imagined myself upside down. We were told to image a colour for the pyramid. At first I saw white (not transparent) – then it changed to yellow then green. The pineal gland then started glowing and pulsating green. MaYanya then went on to explain that Green and Pink are the colours of the heart centre and it was the colour of healing.

3. Borage (powerful balancing herb)
As soon as MaYanya poured the tea I felt a shiver all through my body. I got another shiver on picking up and then on drinking the tea. We were told to think of the colour of the flower – then MaYanya made clear that it doesn’t matter if we got the colour wrong (I had to giggle at that because that’s precisely what I was worrying about haha). I saw an orange flower with deep green foliage. I could smell wattle which enveloped my entire being (the smell of wattle is my absolute favourite). We were told to imagine being a bee, we buzzed and gathered nectar and pollen – accepting the pure joy this plant was giving to us (described as an “orgasm”). We were then taught to put this pollen anywhere we needed it – I chose my brain which then overflowed to my eyes. MaYanya then explained that this will allow us to interpret signals from the organs and that this particular herb will be working for a couple of days (food/sound/action/etc). I massaged my head (temples, forehead, back of head) and a feeling of cold on my eyes.

NOTE: We don’t find out what herbs they are until the very end.
NOTE: Everything written in “quotation marks” is a direct quote from MaYanya, Nikki or one of the other people of the group.
* name changed for privacy.

4/1/13 – Weather (and People) Observation

Weather: It has been hot and sunny – the news have predicted a heat wave over the next 10 days. It’s not unbearable though – there seems to still be a decent breeze and the water has been a really nice temperature. A few days there the wind was picking up in the afternoon/night but last night it was very still. The Jasmine had died down but it seems it’s blooming again – lots of yummy fruit have been available at reasonable prices at the supermarket and farmers market.

People Observation: Even though it’s warm people’s immune systems seem to be taking a turn for the worse – cold sores and pimples seem to be prevalent.

(Note: I work in a health food shop and along with weather observations, I also take note of what seems to be common amongst the people who walk into the shop. I’m hoping these observations will eventually make a pattern that will help me in my future practice).

Moontime – Intro

snakemoon

I’m studying to be a Naturopath and have always been really interested in Women’s Health – in the future I hope to specialise in that area and focus on preconception care, homebirth and new mum and baby care. Somewhat recently in my study of this subject I’ve come across a number of websites, books and people who have spoken about the Women’s Mysteries.

What are the Women’s Mysteries?

The shamanic journeys of our rites of passage of menarche, childbirth, and menopause; the spiritual practice of menstruation; the inner, spiritual and shamanic journey of pregnancy, birth and mothering; and menopause as rebirth.” – Moonsong
A lot of my sources talk about the oppression of women and how misogyny, sexism and discrimination in the past (and I daresay the present) have led to the disconnection of women from the mysteries.

Spiritual Menstruation

I have just begun to connect and work with the mysteries so I hope to document my working with them here. At the moment I’ve mostly been working with spiritual menstruation as I have not experienced pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause. I have also begun to work with the menstrual cycle in my craft – using the different energies of my cycle in rituals, spells, prayer, etc and I’ve found that it really does give a bit of edge to whatever it is I’m doing.

Doula and Shamanic Midwife

I hope to one day have a successful home-birth practice. I would love to be a doula and shamanic midwife – the only thing stopping me doing the course is the financial aspect. So expect to see talk of these things there too.

Note: I hope not to offend anyone who does identify as a woman but who may not have a menstrual cycle as such (or vice versa). I will try my hardest to include everyone but I must admit I’m a little ignorant in that area – if I overstep the line please say something (nicely!). In saying that I hope that everyone learns something from my writing about menstruation as everyone experiences this energy whether or not you actually experience the physical bleeding and/or ovulation.

4/1/13 – The Kookaburra’s have Returned

I live in a place that’s perfect for Kookaburra’s to thrive – I found this fact truly exciting when I first moved in as Kookaburra’s are a part of me. I’ve always seen their seemingly coincidental appearances during important life events as a sign of guidance and protection. That’s why I noticed when one day they seemed to just disappear.

They can be stealthy when they want to be, but I was sure they weren’t around. I couldn’t feel them, I couldn’t hear their unmistakable laughing and I stopped being visited by them which, in itself is unusual. At first I feared that maybe they had left me because they weren’t happy with how I’d been acting (after a tarot card reading I realised that I had a pretty shitty attitude – my cards don’t beat around the bush and they’re not afraid to hurt people’s feelings), then I thought maybe I wasn’t in need of their guidance anymore because two big black crows/ravens showed up in their place (I have an inkling they’re Ravens but ever since childhood everyone I know have called them Crows). I must admit, I was sad and a bit nostalgic – they’d been there for me for as long as I can remember and it just seemed my whole life, including my guardians, were changing.

About a week ago however, I woke up to the beautiful sound of their cackling laughter and I smiled. A day or two later I was visited by a beautiful Kookaburra (I still haven’t figured out if it’s the same one that visits me) with a giant worm hanging out of it’s mouth and again this morning another one visited. After some reflection I realise that maybe there was another reason entirely for their departure – Magpies.

I’m not sure how many of you know about Magpies but let me put it this way – they’re extremely protective of their young. The Kookaburra’s had disappeared around about the time when Magpies were laying their eggs and I had witnessed a few tiffs between the two. It actually kind of surprised me at the time because Kookaburra’s had always seemed fairly intimidating – however, I’m not a bird and I suppose anything with a sharp beak and claws would be intimidating to me. Looking at them now, especially at the one that visited me this morning, I realise they’re more of the class clown of the Australian wildlife. Always laughing and doing whatever they please – you should see a group of them together.

During the absence of the Kookaburra’s, I got closer to the Magpies. My fiance and I were sitting on the back balcony one day, talking and enjoying the view, when a very large Magpie landed on the railing about a meter away from us. If I thought Kookaburra’s were intimidating then Magpie’s were just downright scary – I was in awe though so I just sat there while Brian got scared and went inside. Magpies are reasonably easy to deal with though – I just complimented the shit out of it’s scary looking beak and claws and told it how lustrous it’s plumage was (I wasn’t lying!). Looking back now I realise that maybe this Magpie, which I believe to be a male, was deciding whether or not we were a threat to his soon to be babies. After that experience I left regular offerings for the parents and then their young when they were old enough to fly – this seemed to put me on their good side and they haven’t seemed all that interested in us since (a part from when I try to stick a big black camera in their face).

Flower Essences – General Information

My stock bottles of flower essences from the field of Derrian Turner.

“Dr. Edward Bach was highly regarded within the orthodox medical world for he was deeply involved in study and worked as a bacteriologist – specialising in devising and preparing vaccines for diseases.”
“In the 1930’s he gave up his lucrative practice to devote himself entirely to research work; to seek plant remedies that would help individuals gain control over their emotions.”
Dr. Bach believed that everyone should have the ability to heal themselves and that the method be easy and the treatment, gentle. His philosophy was to treat the patient, not the disease.
Today flower essences are used to bring out the positive states of mind that lay beneath a problem – to help a fearful person set aside their fear and rise in courage and confidence, the intolerant and impatient to become more understanding to compassionate, etc. Increasing amounts of evidence is showing that emotional stress can be a cause of physical illness. “If emotions can cause serious physical disorders, then it becomes apparent that we must strive to balance and correct this aspect of our nature in order to maintain a level of health and happiness.”

References: Bach Flowers Introduction (D, Turner), The Essential Writings of Edward Bach (E, Bach) and The Medical Discoveries of Edward Bach, Physician (N, Weeks)

Flower Essences – Clematis

Dreaming of the future without working in the present

– Dr. Bach’s Description: “Those who are dreamy, drowsy, not fully awake, no great interest in life. Quiet people, not really happy in their present circumstances, living more in the future than in the present; living in hopes of happier times, when their ideals may come true. In illness some make little or no effort to get well, and in certain cases may even look forward to death, in the hope of better times; or maybe, meeting again some beloved one whom they have lost.”

The Remedy
+ Grounds us so that our thoughts can take tangible form on Earth.
+ Feel more comfortable in the present, and so become more productive and self-fulfilled.
+ Optimism about life is renewed.

Clematis is part of my Meditation mixture.

– Notes gathered from The Essential Writings of Dr. Edward Bach (E, Bach) A Guide to the Bach Flower Remedies (J, Barnard) Flower Remedies: Feel Good Naturally (M, Wells) and my own personal experience.

For more information: http://www.bachcentre.com/centre/38/clematis.htm

Flower Essences – Wild Oat

Uncertainty over one’s direction in life

– Dr. Bach’s Description: “Those who have ambitions to do something of prominence in life, who wish to have much experience, and to enjoy all that which is possible for them, to take life to the full. Their difficulty is to determine what occupation to follow; as although their ambitions are strong, they have no calling which appeals to them above all others. This may cause delay and dissatisfaction.”

The Remedy:
+ Can put us back on track towards self-realisation and fulfillment.

Wild Oat is part of my Meditation mixture.

– Notes gathered from The Essential Writings of Dr. Edward Bach (E, Bach) A Guide to the Bach Flower Remedies (J, Barnard) Flower Remedies: Feel Good Naturally (M, Wells) and my own personal experience.

For more information: http://www.bachcentre.com/centre/38/wildoat.htm

Flower Essences – White Chestnut

Unwanted thoughts and mental arguments

-Dr. Bach’s Description: “For those who cannot prevent thoughts, ideas, arguments which they do not desire from entering their minds. Usually at such times when the interest of the moment is not strong enough to keep the mind full. Thoughts which worry and will remain, or if for a time thrown out, will return. They seem to circle round and round and cause mental torture. The presence of such unpleasant thoughts drives out peace and interferes with being able to think only of the work or pleasure of the day.”

The Remedy:
+ Can release the mind from its addiction to constant thought, bringing new calm and clarity.

White Chestnut is part of my Meditation mixture.

– Notes gathered from The Essential Writings of Dr. Edward Bach (E, Bach) A Guide to the Bach Flower Remedies (J, Barnard) Flower Remedies: Feel Good Naturally (M, Wells) and my own personal experience.

For more information: http://www.bachcentre.com/centre/38/whiteche.htm

Flower Essences – Scleranthus

Inability to choose between alternatives

Couldn’t decide on which one to start with so obviously Scleranthus should be the first 🙂

– Dr. Bach’s description: “Those who suffer much from being unable to decide between two things, first one seeming right then the other. They are usually quiet people, and bear their difficulty alone, as they are not inclined to discuss it with others.”
– Can also assist those who experience extremes of energy.

The Remedy:
+ Helps you differentiate between situations in which we need to do something and those in which we don’t.
+ Brings balance into our lives.
+ Raises our awareness of what feels right.

– Notes gathered from The Essential Writings of Dr. Edward Bach (E, Bach) A Guide to the Bach Flower Remedies (J, Barnard) Flower Remedies: Feel Good Naturally (M, Wells) and my own personal experience.

For more information: http://www.bachcentre.com/centre/38/sclerant.htm