After 15 years of intense spiritual and energetic study of plants, I can unequivocally state that no psychotropic earth-teacher is more misunderstood than Marijuana.
That said, what I have come to understand, and am about to share, is wholly from a space of experience, and perspective. This is my truth, as dictated by some very powerful plant forces. I am well aware they express the opposite truth in others. The great thing is - we all get to be right.
So, why is the spirit of Cannabis so completely misunderstood?
Because Ms. Ganja is an enigma. And she seems to like it that way.
It’s a beautiful evolution to see Marijuana be more accepted in society, but it doesn’t come without tangible repercussions. The very real challenges of working with Ganja are not what the nay-sayers and fear-mongers espouse. But they’re not non-existent, as the attached and even addicted among us claim. No, she’s far more mysterious and powerful than what she gets accused of being -- from either the pro or anti camps.
Marijuana is becoming so prominent that many hold her as a ubiquitous addition to any altered journey. If she helps create a space of relaxation and openness solo, she can do that in combination with any other substance, right-o?
Oh hell no. That’s one of the many ways this glorious shadow dancer plays with our egos and our assumptions. She may start out complimenting and even expanding a given altered space, but use her long enough, and she will throw you a curve ball. Only you may be so veiled in her comatose energies, you could miss it all together and thus the lessons show up in your life instead. Which they will. Watch closely.
This can certainly be the case when Ganja pairs with Ayahuasca. Some traditions say this is a horrible idea. But does tradition always know best? Can’t we evolve and change the rules?
Of course we can. Some foundations are ripe for transformation, so that we may benefit and grow. But in the case of Marijuana meets Ayahuasca, there can be serious ramifications. Before you mix the two, this is an invitation to discover the potentialities.
GANJA AND AYAHUASCA: DARKNESS AND LIGHT
Although the results of working with either Ayahuasca or Ganja can facilitate similar expansiveness and healing, the way they work with us to create these transformations are polar opposites.
Plants often anchor their teachings through a space of light, or darkness. Or both! Which simply means illumination, or through the subconscious. Please note both are equally effective and sacred. We humans tend to enjoy one over the other, but healing is healing. However we increase awareness and expand our consciousness is golden.
Light is simply illumination. Darkness represents that which is unconscious. We experience them in different ways, but neither space is better or worse. They both hold profound teachings and lessons.
So let’s start with Mother Aya. She is the light worker. As much as she can take us through the darkness at times, those horrific nights on the medicine are trips through our individual and collective consciousness; and as we all know, there are some dark, messy, ridiculously painful spots in there.
Ayahuasca is born from the underworld, but comes screaming up and out like a comet. She is a massive spotlight that illuminates the hidden things within us. Some of those suckers are nightmarish. It’s not her darkness, she’s just the friendly tour guide. And she knows the more that we face those demons and move through the energies, the more empowered, loving, and joyful we will be.
Cannabis is different. She is not a ball of light; she works in the shadows. There’s one very obvious way this becomes apparent: Unlike her sister Aya, she can literally take our pain. Ayahuasca can show us what caused the blockage that triggers our agony and help us move it or change our relationship. Marijuana can go straight to the source and take it away in an instant.
That’s how we know Ganja works in the underbelly. The space from which she dwells can reclaim our deepest aches, our darkness, our fears and resistance. But don’t ever forget – that’s temporary, and it has real repercussions if we use it as a crutch. Everything is always in balance.
Marijuana works with us primarily from a space of unconsciousness (ours, not hers.) This is why she is dicey. Working with anything that thrives in the shadows means it’s very difficult to know when she’s taking us on a ride.
And she oh-so-willingly takes us on that ride. She and Aya share that lack of apology. She doesn’t care if it brings us into a full scale life-centered breakdown. It’s always for our own good.
Here’s another reflection: A dark night on Ayahuasca can last the whole bloody evening, but in almost all cases, we feel reborn and amazing the next morning. That’s the gift of moving consciously through our personal version of hell.
Marijuana can trigger a rough night too, but that’s more rare. What she does is completely the opposite. If we are using her unconsciously – to escape our lives, whether we know it or not – she will support that desire by slowly veiling our motivation, our drive, our life force. It can happen that over months or even years into the abuse we stop consciously showing up for our lives. We start to retreat both internally and externally. And we defend this position because….we are not aware. We are normally the last ones to realize when we become both addicted to being high, and to hiding from our darkness by staying in the shadows of life.
Make no mistake, if you’re using Ganja in a space of reverence and conscious intent, she has the capacity to heal through illumination too. Of course she does. But how many people do you know who use Marijuana every time with reverence, respect, and sacredness?
Marijuana and Ayahuasca are both immensely powerful teacher plants. One is used almost exclusively in this manner. One, let’s face it, is not.
And it shows.
THAT TIME GANJA TOOK ME TO HER CLOSET
It’s only fair to admit my own journey with both of these plants.
I gave 12 years of my life to Ayahuasca (and counting) after the first time I drank her in the Amazon. I’ve sat in hundreds and hundreds of ceremonies and apprenticed with several masters. She’s tattooed all over my back and shoulders. I freaking love that girl.
MJ – that’s been a much more complicated relationship.
Like most of us, I dabbled in high school and college. Unlike most of us, I hated being high. No matter the purity or the strain, no matter the potency or the cultivation, there has always been a malaise that I abhor when smoking Ganja. As a drug connoisseur, I appreciate a substance with an edge and a serious boost. MJ makes me far too sleepy, checked-out, and sometimes full-on comatose.
I didn’t dislike her as a plant spirit at all. I just didn’t like how she mixed with my chemistry. So I used her moderately all through my twenties. We were the girls at the party that would say hi and do small talk, but we never went deep.
Then I was in a long term relationship with a wholly devoted Marijuana disciple. In the beginning, he smoked most evenings only. Eventually, he became a full on wake and baker. He smoked All. The. Time. Especially when we were in heated arguments. I watched how he stuffed down emotions and hid from the truth of what we were manifesting by smoking.
Deep down, I knew that this was his choice. It’s not Marijuana’s fault. But I started hating that plant. She was an easy scapegoat for my misery.
During those days, I was all-in with my Ayahuasca work. It started becoming more and more apparent that the personal journeys between me and my mate were creating an irreparable divergence in the relationship.
One night, on the heels of a challenging discussion, he started smoking from the percolator nicknamed an Atomic Bomb, as it sent even the most seasoned of smokers into bizarre, tripped-out spaces that landed them on our couch for hours at a time.
I had never smoked from this apparatus, and I spontaneously decided it was time. My partner, of course, willingly (and very enthusiastically) obliged.
I centered myself into one clear intent: I wanted to know Marijuana. I figured if we got to know each other on a deeper level, I could let go of this anger.
Within 5 minutes, I was reeling. This was not a typical high. It was an onslaught. I excused myself and went to the bedroom, starting to freak out. The loss of control was manifesting. I knew this space so well from Aya, but I didn’t expect it this evening, and I fought back. My partner followed me in and was an angel. He said all the right words. He reminded me that I knew what to do. I had to let go.
I went deep into a meditation shortly thereafter, laying in the death position. MJ appeared to me clear as day. She looked more shadowy than human, but had a feminine outline draped in flowy fabric. She welcomed me into what she said was her home.
I started crying almost immediately. Being in her pure and powerful energy was so humbling, so precious. She grabbed my hand and spoke to me.
“I know you know my sister. I know you like her better. But I will show you my magic the way any girl would – I will take you to my closet.”
Closet? We’re trying on clothes here? I followed in the vision with a boatload of confusion.
Her closet looked more like an endless subway station; a lonnnggggggg corridor with cloaks hanging in a neat and orderly line as far as I could see.
“You know the 80/20 rule?” she asked me. “Ayahuasca is 80/20 in her favor. 20% of your experience with her is your intent, the rest is up to her. She’s bossy.” I adored her humor.
“With me, it’s 80% you. Whatever people ask for, I usually give them. Only they aren’t normally conscious of what they’re asking for.”
We moved deeper into her closet.
“This section here,” she pointed to a long row of cloaks. “These are for taking away pain. People ask for that all the time. I can do that. The pain shows up in other areas of their life, but I don’t tell them that. They have to figure it out. I don’t heal, I smother and cover and push down the energy. But it will show up elsewhere. Everything is always in balance.”
She pointed to the right, and there were cloaks for as far as I could see. “Those are the usual. People lighting up to get high. Which means to escape their lives. I do that constantly. It starts off innocently enough. But months or years into this habit, shit starts happening. Not my fault. I’m just giving you what you ask for.”
“See that cloak waaaaayyyyy down at the end?” I did. It was glowing and purple. “That’s for the expansion of consciousness. People don’t ask for that very often. It’s my favorite cloak. I know how to go there, like Ayahuasca. But it’s your fault for not asking.”
I was buzzing and shaking and close to vomiting. I could feel her compassion – she was about to set me free.
“Thank you for visiting, Kat. It’s not my fault. I give people what they’re asking for. I’m a genie in a pipe. And we all know those guys are tricky bastards.”
I felt such love for her in those moments; I could see clearly how she plays a sacred role for our society, which manifests as both the hero and the villain, depending on the lens. But she is neither. She is only a mirrored reflection of the energy we are swimming in.
It took me about an hour to come back in to my body, but the experience was and is indelible.
All the anger and rage I had for Ganja replaced with reverence and gratitude. She is one hell of a plant spirit.
WHY WE SHOULD NEVER USE GANJA WITH AYAHUASCA
Ayahuasca gave me this wisdom once: Mixing two powerful plant spirits like her and MJ is a horrific idea in part because it’s like trying to have an enlightened conversation with Buddha and Jesus at the same time. One in each ear, telling you the secrets of the universe.
And for all of you who think you'd love to have a chat with Buddha and Jesus, let's get down and dirty. Have you ever had a crazy super powerful spiritual conversation that was utterly alchemically transforming and turned your world inside out? If you have, you know you could barely contain that wisdom. Do we really think we as mere mortals could handle two at the same time?
Buddha and Jesus, like Ayahuasca and Cannabis, have the same intention for mankind: Expansion. Awakening. Illumination. But each has their own way of working with us.
Here's a tangible example. Say you're working on an addition to alcohol. Ayahuasca may swoop in and show you the core trauma that alcohol numbs, and she may encourage you to both feel that trauma and take a break from alcohol to see what happens.
Ganja often plays it differently, but with the same intent. She may encourage you to go deeper into your addiction, pushing a full on commitment to the act of escape so a breakdown can ensue. She knows a breakthrough can be facilitated this way, and so she sometimes works in partnership with the darkness, but still with our benefit held sacred to her intent.
If you sat with both plants and received both directives, the confusion is obvious. It dilutes the individual wisdom and creates a big ole cacophony, which can create stagnation or more repetitive patterns. Sure, there is no wrong answer no matter what, but we humans don't need to add more confusion into our spiritual paths. Most of us have plenty already.
Never mind the counteractive effects, the traditions, the fact that Cannabis and Ayahuasca don’t grow in the same indigenous areas. That’s all relevant, but in the end, it’s a matter of being honest with what we can really handle. And showing respect to each incredible plant partner.
People speak of Ganja and Ayahuasca as jealous plants; my experience is different. They aren’t jealous, they just know what’s best for us. Our dualistic minds can literally schism in the presence of just one pure plant spirit experience. Very few of us have the capacity to hold conscious space for two or more. (Emphasis on "conscious".)
So they demand we show reverence and sacrifice not because they like it that way, but because they know it’s better for us in the end.
Yes, of course I know many of you have had awesome experiences using Ganja in parallel with a gazillion other altered spaces. I challenge you to look hard at your life and find the places where the unconscious energies are manifesting. MJ especially is a tricky plant because she reflects our karma in spaces we often cannot see. So look for the cracks in your experience. Look for the spaces that feel stuck. Dark. Fearful. Heavy. Veiled.
If they aren't there, you can ignore me entirely. My truth is not everyone's truth :)
Or don’t look. Keep doing it your way, and that’s OK too. MJ has all the patience in the world. She will show you the truth of how you’re showing up in lifetimes if that’s what you require. But make no mistake – she will show you. That's how much she loves us.
When in doubt, keep it simple when you’re working with these powerhouse plants. One. At. A. Time. Be present and reverent and grateful that they choose to work with you too. If you want the secrets of the universe, they have them. But they will deliver them in painful and suffering-filled ways if you don’t give them the attention and respect that such wisdom deserves.
THE FINAL WORD - TRUST THE PLANTS ABOVE ALL ELSE
This is the directive I have received repeatedly from both Ganja and Ayahuasca, and something I've discussed with gazillions of others on this path, including devoted followers of Cannabis.
But it is not the final world. The final word about what each of us should do in any given moment when working with the plants lies with them, not us.
If you're working with any plant spirit, cultivate a deep connection, a space of listening, and trust them above all else. If they guide you to using more than one at a time, everything I say here is null and void.
Ganja, Ayahuasca, Chacruna, Huachuma - they're the bosses. We are just the vessels, and the messengers.
Journey well, and keep listening.
I know this is a controversial subject and many of you disagree - I welcome the discourse! Leave me a comment and let's talk it out :)
About the Author
Tina “Kat” Courtney, The AfterLife Coach, is a traditionally trained Ayahuasquera and a vocal advocate for all sacred psychedelic spaces. Kat is an experienced Ayahuasca and psychedelics coach, helping journeyers make sense of those profound spaces. Additionally, Kat works with people confronting issues around death and shadow. Her calling is to be a light as we walk through our darkness, and to always remind us to enjoy the ride.