Halloween is upon us, once again invoking ideas of spooks, skeletons, and pointy-hatted witches casting spells from their cauldrons – but while the traditional image of witches with their broomsticks and cackling laughter is one more rooted in fantasy, the notion of a practicing witch is very much a reality.
With its long and storied use throughout history in ritual, ceremony, and magic, it should come as no surprise to learn that there is indeed a link between cannabis and witchcraft. Spanning back millennia, the use of cannabis in mystical rites has been recognised in various cultures worldwide, including China and India, where origins can be traced back as far as around 1400 BC.
Weed and Witches Throughout History
Although the mention of cannabis and witchcraft is relatively scant in ancient text, references to the use of the plant in magic and ritual have been made. In ancient Greek lore, Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, was credited for her prophecies uttered under divine possession by Apollo. Pythia was the high priestess at the Temple of Apollo, and it was written that she would sit atop a tripod above a hole in the ground where earthy natural vapours would arise and induce her visions.
It’s believed that Pythia inhaled the smoke from hallucinogenic plants below the temple. While interpretations do not name cannabis specifically, this is one of the earliest writings to mention smoking (albeit indirectly) plants to channel or receive visions and communication from the spirits.
In the sacred Hindu text, the Atharva Veda, which was compiled between 1200 and 1000 BC, cannabis is listed as one of five sacred plants with medicinal and spiritual properties and was believed by some to have guardian angels living within its leaves. Ancient Chinese literature even references marijuana as having many medicinal uses and can cause people to see ghosts.
In the middle ages, the Pope banned the use of marijuana altogether. He so began a long-lasting demonization of the plant so prohibitive that its use was seen as witchcraft itself.
How and why Modern Witches use Cannabis
No doubt, due to the psychoactive properties of THC, weed’s place in witchcraft, both in lore and fact, can be tied to its ability to induce an altered state of mind and body. Some modern witches utilise cannabis as a means of meditation to help aid focus before spell work, but the applications of the drug in contemporary witchcraft are numerous.
Cannabis is favoured by some witches prior to ritual as means of cleansing the space before beginning magic and can be achieved by a practice called Smoke Cleansing – in some cultures, the herb Sage is burned to clear the area of evil spirits, and some witches use cannabis in the same way, and will smoke a joint or a pipe while holding the intention that the smoke will cleanse the environment.
Cannabis can be used as an offering by witches to the Gods and Goddesses they seek blessings or protection from during their practice. Some witches and Wiccans offer cannabis using placing a plant or a small quantity of weed on their altar before beginning the ritual. This is done to seek favour via providing a potent and spiritually significant piece of nature back to the Gods and Goddesses in exchange for blessings and divine protection and is similar to the offering of wine in some religions. Some witches bless their weed before using it, and some ask the Gods and Goddesses to bless the weed for them.
Smoking Weed as a Meditative or Transformative Aid in Witchcraft
It comes as no surprise to learn that cannabis earns its place in witchcraft due to the same properties many of us Muggles cherish! Yes, some witches use cannabis as a meditative aid before or during rituals or spellwork – and as the intent is always at the forefront of all ritual and spell casting, many witches smoke weed then meditate to quiet the mind and hold the intentions of whatever they wish to accomplish during their sessions.
Other witches use cannabis as a means of entering a mild trance-like state, believing it to be conducive to thinning the veil in a way that allows more accessible contact with spirits from other realms. Elizabeth DeCoursey, the Antidote Apothecary and Tea Shop owner in Brooklyn, New York, has said that “Having a safe and reliable way to enter altered states of consciousness can be an amazing tool in witchcraft.” For some, cannabis may provide the means.
Why Cannabis is Valued in Modern Witchcraft
The elemental connection is key to understanding cannabis’ place in witchcraft, as YouTube witch/cannabis enthusiast Aura of the Forest explains: “Cannabis holds all four elements – the plant itself is Earth, and we light it to smoke using Fire. Water is used to grow cannabis, but also used in smoking it if you use a bong or a water pipe, and finally, the element of Air is present in the marijuana smoke. This helps us hold a deeper and more true understanding of nature.”
What Witches Use Cannabis for in Ritual
In keeping with the known properties of the cannabis plant, witches who use cannabis prefer to use it in healing spells due to its medicinal benefits, may smoke it during incantations for their own health, or use it to make tinctures for the healing of others. Some like to use cannabis in love spells or sex magic due to its aphrodisiac properties, and specify that the same horses for courses approach to choosing strains applies as under regular use, stating that indica strains are preferred for relaxation and meditation, love spells, healing and nurturing. At the same time, sativas are preferable for achieving higher consciousness, tapping into higher energy, and are the best strains for the manifestation of fortune and abundance.
It’s interesting to note that many of the uses of cannabis in modern witchcraft are familiar with relaxation and healing among the leading reasons. One thing’s for sure – if used correctly and responsibly, it certainly can be magical.