Citation: Whitman. "The Spirit of Cannabis: An Experience with Cannabis & Meditation (exp111198)". Erowid.org. Dec 11, 2017. erowid.org/exp/111198
I have been interested in cannabis as an entheogen for many years. My early relationship with cannabis was dysfunctional, full of insecurities and doubts, and yet I was always inclined to return to it. I believe I am what you would classify as one of those people who “just can’t handle weed,” it generally freaks me out, with the dreaded “I-fucked-up-bigtime” moments recurring time and again. No doubt there were many good and relaxing times, but the potential for catatonic despair always bubbled under the surface. For many years I simply blamed the herb, and avoided classic hallucinogens.
I began meditating as an alternative to exploring consciousness a few years ago when I first began my PhD in biology. For six months I underwent an intensely dedicated practice where I did yoga and meditation every day. I attained what I would consider psychedelic states on several occasions (see “Achieving Ego-Death"
). My curiosity regarding reality and consciousness was stoked into a wildfire of ideas. I was in love with subverting my fundamental assumptions regarding cultural values and scientific principles. Meditation naturally revealed new avenues for exploring consciousness. And so, my relationship with cannabis was renegotiated. Through cannabis I could potentially achieve altered states of consciousness I had never experienced before.
I used cannabis gently for many months. All it took was a single good toke to initiate changes in the way I thought; interesting insights (at least during inebriation) struck me with regularity and I would jot them down in my phone. It was as if I was more receptive to information floating in the aether of imagination. But most of the time the shift I experienced was subtle, and it was clear I had to devote myself to sitting down and meditating while reasonably high. In preparation for what to expect, I read the account of a user being visited by the spirit of cannabis. I was intrigued but skeptical.
Fast forward to a conversation I had while opening up to a friend regarding cannabis use, and I became motivated more than ever to truly dedicate meditation sessions to exploring cannabis. I had previously taken to running up hills or dozing off on my back during previous sessions, but the intent was never formalized, stuck between two extremes and constantly harassed with distractions. On a single previous occasion, I did make a point to smoke more than usual and allow the high to take me where it would, but I was left confused and uncomfortable. In my phone I jotted down “falling through layers of reality,” which, at the time, best encapsulated how I felt laying on the yoga mat, while a voice could be heard in my right ear, coaxing me deeper. I simply could not handle how hallucinogenic cannabis became under sensory deprivation, and so I spent the rest of the night paranoid and afraid. This night would be different. My intent was clear. I wanted cannabis to reveal itself to me, and in return I would give myself over fully to cannabis.
I began the evening by taking one solid toke out of my red and purpled hued pipe. The pipe was charred from years of sporadic usage, and the bowl was prepacked with a few pinches of what I judged to be a fairly potent sativa dominant strain. I watched as the flame curled around the edge of the bowl, and felt the harsh burn clawing at my lungs. I held it in for a bit and allowed the smoke to leave as it came. The practice had already begun.
I proceeded to my cramped office, rolled out the yoga mat, and sat on my hemp meditation cushion. I set my iPhone timer to 30 minutes; for some reason I felt more comfortable knowing no matter how far I went with the practice, the alarm would bring me back eventually. I played shamanic meditation music through ear buds and noticed a soft binaural beat in the background. I shut my eyes and was immediately immersed in a state of calm, meditative awareness.
The effects began almost right away. I felt a pressure in my head, a single point moving around my forehead before resting somewhere in the middle and above my eyes. My head felt oddly shaped, and the pressure grew in intensity. My imagination was flaring, the office was quickly forgotten, and bizarre ideas occupied my attention. I was wearing a smooth and shiny mask with a snout, animal and Egyptian-like. The thought was replaced with tunnels and channels, connecting my head to someplace else. Black space swirling in on itself, spires twisting into the abyss. The pressure in my head shifted to my temples and I felt the connection solidify between whatever and wherever I was and this new realm I was going into. I became immersed in a sensation of spaciousness and other-worldliness, not devoid of images, but not solid like the letters on my keyboard. It was the space where dreams occur, except I was not asleep, and my waking awareness in this space was struck by a sensation of profound peculiarity. It was a space not manifested with the usual senses, yet it felt intensely real, a space I had visited before during sober meditation and with the aid of cannabis. So I demanded in the space, “Reveal yourself.”
I repeated the intention, aloud to the space, “Reveal yourself!” A presence came to my awareness, dark and feminine, green and earthy, reptilian and royal, subjugating but quiet and merciful. The space became more chaotic, I was being pulled further and further away, literally feeling high, higher than I ever have before, barely connected to the office where I started off. I became scared, I could not believe how “high” I was on one toke. The urge to check the timer on my phone crept in and I opened my eyes. After a moment I shut them again and repeatedly fought the urge to check in with physical reality. I considered ending the practice, but I had reached the edge so many times before, only to abandon the opportunity to learn. I dug deep in this moment, realizing I just had to stick with it. I willed myself back into the space. I allowed myself to observe panic, and feel my heart slamming in my chest, trying to get out, and the blood hammering hard at my extremities. Meanwhile my mind was in a far off land, pushing further and further into the cannabis space. I thought of my son and wife, and relinquished my most deep seeded reservation. I trusted I would be brought back safely to them, and then gave myself over completely.
The images and sensations cascaded over me. Some were beautiful; it felt as if a canvas of the night sky were draped over me, domed like a mushroom with fibres of space connecting to the abyss below me. At other times I was challenged with confusing curling textures, two-dimensional, abrasive and flashy, devoid of meaning or significance. It dawned on me that this was all a test, and so I continued to push through, allowing the images and thoughts to wash away. Eventually I broke through.
I was in a new kind of space. This one was sentient. A warm glow filled it, and filled me. I had the impression I was in a vase. Geometric diamond shaped textures lined the walls. I felt a gentle love, certainly god-like, but not human, a disembodied intelligence that existed in some incomprehensible way, ethereal but present. I was filled with light, and I felt the healing, and the astonishment exploded within. I could turn my head (consciousness?) and look around; the light was subdued by real, more real objects in the previous space. My mind was clear and present. I felt so grateful, ecstatic, and overjoyed just to be in this place, which was somehow simultaneously the sentience. In my head I repeated with excited conviction “I’m having a religious experience,” meaning a metaphysical upheaval. I continued to revel in the astonishment until I started to come down. The sentient reality faded away, and I returned to the office. Twenty two minutes had passed since I sat down.
I wrote furiously in my notebook, barely taking time to use proper words, the pen scribbling and raving like a patient set free from a psych ward. I walked around my house and put on my running gear. Before heading out I added three afterthoughts to my journal: 1) The pressure that began in my head was a very real sensation, and I was still feeling it forty minutes later; 2) I was certainly interacting with another sentient being; 3) I was certainly someplace not physical or of the physical reality. I cherished these afterthoughts as doubt and skepticism already began eroding at the experience.
The rest of the evening proceeded normally. Within an hour I could barely recall the sensation of that space I was in, of how “far out” I was, and how utterly beguiling the sentience was. I have read numerous reports referring to the spirit of cannabis, describing her as gentle but playful, yielding only what the user intends, and intensely psychedelic given the correct set and setting. During my run that night, I pondered the impending legalization of cannabis, and how the experience I had could utterly revolutionize our society; all one had to do was become vulnerable to the experience. I’m sure the same is true of any psychedelic, each a different flavour of the sublime, varying in their intensity.
No doubt my reaction and understanding of what happened remains very naďve, but I am eager to continue learning from similar experiences. I would add that I have been stoned plenty of times before, and “greened” out on several occasions; this experience was on a different spectrum altogether compared to that I would consider the typical cannabis experience. As well, people evidently reach heightened states of consciousness through all manner of hallucinogenic substances, but it seems to me that, of all the psychedelics available, cannabis remains the most versatile and accessible, and, as such, has the greatest potential to provide tailored experiences that bring the user face-to-face with serious metaphysical questions. I hope this report will intrigue readers to try cannabis and meditation together, so they may convince themselves that these two activities work synergistically to peel back the mental overgrowth, unlocking realms deep within.
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