Cannabis and witchcraft: is weed a magic plant?

Let’s explore the link between cannabis and witchcraft for Halloween

It may seem a bit crazy, but cannabis and witchcraft share a long history... no, we're not making this up! For Halloween, we did a little research, and it turns out that the plant has been used for thousands of years for many occult practices... Whatif Sabrina Spellman and Hermione Granger hid some CBD flowers in their cauldrons? Let’s explore it together.


Cannabis and witchcraft: exploring a very occult plant

Hash, the substance of occultism

As we began our research into the link between cannabis and witchcraft, we immediately came across the work of Chris Bennett, an author who has been working for years on the plant's role as an entheogen. Is this too occult for you? Don't worry, we didn't know this word either... 

A substance is said to be entheogenic when its psychoactive properties are used for spiritual purposes. However, Chris Bennett realized that beyond its recreational or therapeutic role, cannabis had always been used as an entheogen, notably by important figures of occultism and esotericism in the 19th century. 

He quotes in particular Helena Blavatsky, the founder of the theosophical current. Claiming that she was guided by invisible masters, she was known for her psychic abilities and communication with the beyond, which she maintained through a sustained consumption of hash. A habit she shared with Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian author, famous for his teachings in esotericism and mythology. In his book The Secret Teachings of All Ages, he would have praised the merits of cannabis and substances that alter the psyche. 

Cannabis and witchcraft: the key to communicating with the imperceptible?

Among the leading figures in this relationship between cannabis and witchcraft, we find above all the sulfurous Aleister Crowley, known for his work in occultism, tarology and astrology. 

In his essay The Psychology of Hashish, the one called "the Beast" presented hash as an aid to meditation and communication with the spirits. A practice that he would have inherited from colleagues such as the Irish poet Yeats or the doctor Havelock Ellis, who used it for astral projection and telepathy. 

All this knowledge goes far beyond the 19th century, Crowley citing the experiments of Zoroaster, alchemists, and even members of the famous Hashischins Club.

Used for spiritual purposes for a millennia before the birth of Christ, cannabis had a special place in Chinese pharmacopoeia. In particular, hemp seeds were reputed to help with communication with the spirits, so much so that several mummies in the province of Xinjiang (north-western China) were buried with bags of cannabis: a way for their owners to continue their shaman activities in the other world. 

Helena Blavatsky and​​ Aleister Crowley

Cannabis and witchcraft: a divinatory tool?

But the link between cannabis and witchcraft does not stop at communication with spirits. There are also cases of use for divinatory purposes.

It would have been used for example by the Pythia, the oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece. Sitting on a raised tripod, her visions were caused by earthy vapors escaping from a hole in the ground. Although not specifically about cannabis, writings referring to Pythia were the first to mention inhaling plants in order to receive visions.

An idea that would have lasted thereafter, as many famous texts of the Middle Ages, notably Picatrix and Sepher Raziel, reported cannabis-based recipes for divination. 

Cannabis and witchcraft: what about today?

A plant still used today

Since Crowley and Pythia, we have obviously had time to understand that cannabis was not magic, and that it is more likely the psychoactive effects of THC that allowed practitioners to enter an altered state of consciousness. 

But scientific explanations do not prevent today's witches from keeping cannabis in their practices. Even with lower levels of THC, the plant remains a very effective meditation aid: CBD promotes relaxation and concentration, helping witches to put themselves in the right conditions to practice. 

Endowed with purifying virtues, some witches also use it to purify the space before starting a ritual, just like sage, while others use it as offerings to the deities they work with. 

Finally, the many benefits of CBD explain why many witches use cannabis as an ingredient in their spells and concoctions. Moreover, the Atharva Veda, a Hindu sacred text collected more than a millennium before Christ, lists cannabis as one of the five sacred plants with spiritual medicinal properties.

American Horror Story - Coven​​

Why haven't I heard about this before?

When reading this article about the link between cannabis and witchcraft, you might be tempted to find it unlikely, because after all, you might not have heard about it before... 

The reason for this general ignorance is rather simple. Just as cannabis has often been banned for political reasons by governments, the Church has followed the same logic. Already not very fond of pagan and occult practices, it did not hesitate to demonize the plant and condemn its use as early as the Middle Ages, so much so that we ended up not hearing about it anymore. 

In any case, at Cakespace, it gave us ideas for our Halloween party... a few drops of CBD oil on the popcorn for a Charmed marathon, it’s worth a try, right? Until then, we hope you enjoyed this article, and we'll see you next Friday with a new article!

Cake it easy,