Editor’s Note: This is the first entry of a new column by Head Magazine’s High Priestess, Kerri Connor. She will be concentrating on the spiritual aspects of what cannabis can offer those seeking a deeper connection to that realm. Kerri has published a wide variety of books that concentrate on this subject. We are delighted she has chosen to join us.
My spiritual cannabis journey began the evening I sat on my deck using an Alien Rock Candy vape for the first time. Though I had been high plenty of times before, this night was different. I noticed my hearing had highly intensified, and as a teen in the 80s, let’s just say my hearing abilities have suffered a bit of damage. I was impressed by my own ability to be able to suddenly hear better, and so I listened.
I felt compelled to try to pinpoint where individual sounds around me originated. Could I follow the voice of the frog to find him, not in, but near the pond? Could I distinguish in which direction different songs tweeted on the wind? Could I close my eyes and determine which trees swayed in the breeze based on the sound of their rustling leaves? Turns out the answer was yes. I could do these things which I couldn’t do before.
This discovery led me down a path of experimentation to see what else I could do with cannabis as a guide and aid when working with my senses. From there, my practice shifted to detecting and separating different natural energies I encountered with my senses.
Once I was able to learn how to differentiate these energies, I learned how to focus on individual ones to connect with. Once I could connect with different natural energies, a whole new world of spirituality opened.
The word “sensual” relates to the gratification of the senses. When using cannabis to focus on increasing the power and effectiveness of each sense, a higher level of gratification is possible creating a more sensual experience for the user. The created connection becomes more than physical, stretching into the spiritual realm.
As you heighten each of these senses, you may achieve an out of body experience, or something which feels close to it. The rest of your physical body temporarily fades away, while the focus on the specific sense intensifies. When you focus on several senses at once, the physical body is left behind. This out of body experience shifts you from the physical mundane world to the spiritual world of your higher self. (No pun intended.)
You can find and work with these energies by adding the following exercises to your own practice either alone or with a partner. Working with a partner is not only fun and helpful, but it can also be an intimate experience between friends, lovers, or other types of partners.
Hear me out
Let us begin the journey the same way I originally did, with listening. Find yourself a semi-quiet, safe place preferably in a natural setting. While you can do this exercise in a busy city, it will not have the intended results. Though the experience would be rather interesting, it would also probably become annoying and grating rather quickly.
Our overall goal will be to connect with natural energies, so the commitment to find a location where they exist in a plentiful bounty is essential, particularly for those who are not used to separating energies. Doing so in a hectic environment takes extra control and focus to fight off the abundant negative distractions. Beginning this type of work in an area filled with positivity and life is a step toward success.
A shaded area (or at night), with your back against a tree, or lying on the ground (blanket and pillow is fine, you want to be comfortable), is the perfect setting to begin listening to the world around you. Consume your cannabis in whatever form you choose to elevate yourself to a higher level. Close your eyes, use a blindfold if safe to do so. Cut off the access to your other senses as much as you can. Breathe deeply and listen.
Mentally catalogue the different sounds you hear. Are there birds? Insects? Can you hear the wind? Running or moving water? What other background sounds can you hear? Are there people? Cars? Machinery? Acknowledge any manmade sounds, listening long enough to comprehend what sounds to set aside. Filter out these sounds by letting them go and turning your attention to any of the specific natural sounds you hear such as the call of a bird.
Choose one specific sound to focus on. What is it? Can you tell where it comes from? Follow the path the sound waves took to make it to your ear drums, but in reverse. Find the source, not with your eyes, but with your ears. When you believe you have the location, open your eyes, or take off your blindfold and use your sight to confirm whether you are correct. Practice this with different sounds until you find yourself to be accurate with pinpointing the sources. Use this exercise in different locations to build your connection with nature through listening.
The nose knows
Studies have shown our sense of smell can remind us of previous experiences when a specific scent is strongly connected to a memory, whether it’s Grandma’s cookie recipe, or the natural scent of a previous lover. Certain aromas will trigger reactions and memories, for the bad or the good.
First, journal about the different scents you already know you associate with a particular event or memory. What feelings does the scent arouse in you? Is the scent pleasant, or does it cause you a negative feeling such as anxiety or fear? Not all the associations we have are good.
It is important to understand you may have negative connotations with certain scents. Knowing what to avoid is as important as knowing what to seek out. Keep running lists in your journals of scents that are pleasing to you and provide positive reactions and memories, and a separate list for those which are not.
For the next exercise, head back to your spot in nature. This time you will blindfold yourself and use earplugs. Bring a friend with you if you want someone to “stand guard”. You can take turns and be on watch for your partner when it’s their turn to experiment.
Consume your cannabis in whatever manner you prefer. When you are set, take a couple of deep breaths in and out through your mouth. Give your nose a break before you put it into overdrive.
Like you experimented with your hearing, do the same with your nose and see what scents you can detect. Are there flowers nearby whose floral scent gets lifted on the breeze? Trees, mosses, even dirt, have their own scent. Is there a farm nearby? A factory? What can you distinguish? While you probably won’t be able to follow a scent back to its origin, work on separating them and try to determine the general direction it is coming from, if possible. Journal about your experience.
Once you have done this exercise outdoors, perform it indoors. (We start outside as there will most likely be less aromas to overwhelm you.) If you can have a partner set it up for you so you will not know what scents are used or where they are placed, even better.
Sit in the center of a circle surrounded by the different scents. You may want to begin with 4 or 5 and add more as you grow more proficient in separating and identifying them. You can do this with different types of essential oils, or even varieties of incense.
If you have different strains of cannabis, try identifying them by their scent alone. What different scents can you experiment with to hone your senses even more?
I have a taste for…
While you can experiment with all sorts of different flavors and foods, for our purposes here, we are going to focus on the taste of our cannabis, in whatever form you prefer to consume it. If you have different strains available to use and compare – excellent! Even if your preferred method of consumption is through edibles, when we first begin working with our sense of taste, we want to search out the taste of the cannabis itself, not anything used to counteract the taste.
Use your earplugs and when possible, your blindfold, to help shut out those senses. Focus on the taste of the cannabis. Which terpenes can you distinguish? Is it earthy? Citrusy? If you are using edibles this may be a bit more difficult to do but see what you can pick out and separate.
In an ideal situation, you could set up 5 or 6 different strains to smoke and taste each one individually. A palate cleanser in between each one can help you to keep the strains from blending together.
Our sense of taste and smell are closely related, so a quick sniff of ground coffee in between each strain can also help your nose distinguish between a lingering older scent and a newer faint one. If you can not swing this full scenario, don’t worry! Cut it down to what you can do. It can be expensive to have several different strains on hand depending on where you live. Save a little of each strain you try for special practices such as this, that way you can keep a variety on hand without going broke or needing a big investment all at once.
Putting it all together
Now that you have practiced with each of the senses individually, work on creating a pattern for engaging them together at the beginning of your spiritual work such as meditation or ritual.
Focus on the energies encountered in each step, closing your eyes, or using a blindfold may be beneficial until you get a good grasp on what you feel. Try:
- How does the cannabis smell before using it?
- How does the cannabis taste while, and after, using it?
- How does the cannabis smell while, and after, using it?
- What do you hear as you consume? A lighter? The quick hiss of fire? Your inhalation and exhalation? If it’s an edible, the sound may be of your teeth grinding it down, your throat as you swallow.
Feel the effects of each of the energies you experience. While you have worked hard to separate the different energies out, now work to combine them together. The awareness and mindfulness you now have of these energies allows for a highly attuned experience when they are put back together. Once you are comfortable feeling the combination of the other senses, open your eyes or remove your blindfold, but only if you wish. Notice how you can see, feel, and experience things you could not access before.
Set yourself free
Learning to attune with your cannabis and your senses in these ways allow you to create a more unique, personalized, spiritual working by creating, isolating, and activating the energies you wish to work with. Allow your senses to direct your attention away from the physical body and into the spiritual realm. What journey do they have for you? What pathways are waiting for you to navigate? Set your spirit free to soar and explore.
Kerri Connor is the author of Wake, Bake, & Meditate, 420 Meditations, and Conjuring with Cannabis. She runs The Gathering Grove at her home in northern Illinois. You can find her at KerriConnor.com