Nick Ward:

Spirituality, solitude, and the way of cannabis

Photo credit: Mohamed Nohassi via Unsplash

Note from the editor: This is the first in a monthly series from writers sharing their insights about the intersections between cannabis, psychedelics, and spirituality. Want to pitch your story? Email amanda@insidethejar.com.

I can never fully experience cannabis unless I’m alone.

In groups, I often find myself playing the entertainer or the observer, and the stimulation of others impedes my ability to completely drop in and experience the euphoria most come to expect.

The spiritual side of cannabis is often tucked away in the consumer or grower’s personal connection to the plant. It’s this connection that I want to explore. To do that I need to start at the beginning of my journey with cannabis.

Exposure to Spirit

The first time I smoked cannabis, I was 13. It was also the first time I realized that through consuming, I have the ability to tap into different dimensions.

My friend had gotten a hold of some smokable cannabis oil from a few high school kids he ran with. As we prepared for our first session, we felt we were the baddest of asses. I can remember the moment that the smoke hit my lungs and mind at the same time.

There was a faint smell of gasoline and strong weed in a way that was pleasant to me. We jumped on our bikes and went down the road and I peddled ahead of the boys. It was late April, and the sky swirled with pink and grey clouds as I felt the setting spring sun hit my face.

In a moment, I felt myself transported out of my body, suddenly aware of energies and loving wave-like entities that were surrounding me.

It was a comforting feeling, not a scary one, and I felt embraced by them. I saw this dimension with so much clarity, it felt like I was observing it from another world. From a far distance I could see myself and my friends riding our bikes and laughing in what can only be described as a perfect moment.

I remember turning around to my friends with a look of pure joy, assuming they’d just experienced what I had. I was sad to realize that it was just me who had been gifted with that moment.

In later years, I learned that to walk a spiritual path is usually a solo adventure, and often quite lonely. It would take me the better part of three decades to integrate this experience into my subconscious.

Triggering bliss

I have experienced spiritual ecstasy many times in my life. Some were experiences with a romantic partner, where sex transcended the physical act into a spiritual connection, and body and soul seemed to amplify one another. Other times I’ve felt this ecstasy using psychedelics like MDMA, LSD, DMT, psilocybin, or ketamine, sometimes in combination with banging house music and hundreds of sweaty humans.

Yet other times I’ve used only prayer, meditation, and fasting to connect to the experience of transcendent consciousness, “enlightenment” or “nirvana”—however you might prefer to refer to it. But the one tool, the one enhancement that allows me to instantly drop into a spiritual awareness, is cannabis.

Ever since that experience as a 13-year-old, each time I consume cannabis alone (or with a select few individuals), I immediately feel a connection to Spirit. I say Spirit and not God or Universe, because that’s just what feels the most real to me. Spirit, in my mind, is a mysterious and less obvious energy source than the God of religion, or even the Universe of New Age beliefs.

I never know where I really stand with Spirit or what Spirit actually is, yet the prompts I hear are clear, and observing it has shown me benefit over many years. The great thing about my relationship with Spirit is I access the direct connection through nature in general, and cannabis specifically.

I don’t need a priest, a community or even a building to feel sacred; to be connected to life. It’s as though my soul is dialled into the plant, and a spark of fire or metabolizing cannabis oil is the onramp for my energetic body to activate and take over the controls from my conscious mind.

Routine connections

I usually experience the most vivid connection between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., and after consuming anywhere from a third to one full gram of flower, it can send me into a 30-minute trance.

My simple morning routine ceremonies consist of lighting a candle, offering prayers of gratitude and then lighting a joint and sitting with the pre-dawn air. After medicating, I drop into a free-flowing meditation that feels more like a psychedelic journey than a mindfulness practice.

Whatever ailments I’m feeling, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, get swept away in a manner that feels like healing, punctuated with the occasional surge of positive jolts of energy flowing up my spine. My body generally feels euphoric, experiencing subtle waves of pleasure even as my mind and heart are being soothed, cleansed, and relieved all at once.

I commonly receive intuitive bursts of precognition information that show their usefulness in future moments. I also experience cognitive leaps of imagination that can help me solve and reason out particular challenges.

Over time Spirit and practice have both shown me how to discern between genuine intuition, cognitive leaps, and mental projections. These are important distinctions, because there are many “spiritual” people who feel they are intuitive or empathetic, but may confuse themselves and give false guidance to others.

When we add cannabis or other psychedelics to this experience, the risk of false or self-projected truths that we deem to be “downloads” or divine insights increase exponentially.

In these times, I can also feel deep pools of emotion, including profound sadness and despair. When these feelings come up, cannabis acts as a subtle buffer allowing me to feel them with less resistance. But whatever the day, whatever the experience, it's just me and my medicine working together to make me feel as good and nourished as possible.

I relate to cannabis as a sacrament as much as I relate to it as medicine, productivity aid, or social enhancement. I credit my early exposure to Bob Marley and my ongoing love of reggae music and Rastafarian culture in seeing it as such. I also credit Spirit with teaching me how to stay connected with myself. I credit cannabis for being the catalyst for me to embrace living a spiritual life, while walking a practical path of service.

Cannabis turns my work into devotion, my play into ecstasy, and my life into a gift I offer back as tribute for the joy and gratitude I feel, everyday.