Entendendo o uso ritualístico da maconha - Squadafum

Understanding the ritualistic use of marijuana

Discover which religions used marijuana in their rituals and how prohibitionism tends to shape different cultures

Cannabis is an ancient plant and its use in religious practices dates back centuries, with various cultures and traditions incorporating the plant into sacred rituals. Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sufism and even Christianity and Judaism have historical records of the use of the herb in cults.

The discovery of vessels with traces of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in an archaeological site in Tel Arad, Israel, for example, was the first evidence of the use of psychotropic drugs in religious rituals in ancient times.

Without a doubt, one of the groups best known for its association with cannabis is the Rastafarian community, whose approach to the ritualistic use of marijuana is deeply rooted in their faith and philosophy.

About Rastafarians

“Rastas” are known for leading an anti-capitalist lifestyle: they have their own clothes, they don’t cut their hair — giving rise to the famous dreadlocks, a symbol of Rastafarianism —, they don’t shave and they usually don’t eat meat.

“Ganja” plays a fundamental role in their rituals. They believe that cannabis is a gift from Jah (God) and that its sacred use facilitates connection and communion with the divine. Therefore, marijuana is used in “sessions”, when Rastas get together to make collective use of the herb and improve the spiritual experience in meditative practices.

The influence of marijuana on Rastafarian culture also extends to music, especially reggae. Iconic artists like Bob Marley used their music as a vehicle to convey spiritual and social messages, often referencing ganja as a tool for spiritual upliftment and awareness.

Challenges of prohibitionism

Despite its spiritual importance to many religions, the ritualistic use of marijuana faces legal challenges in many parts of the world. Many Rastafarian communities, for example, fight for the acceptance of their religious practices and the legalization of the ritualistic use of ganja.

In Thailand, despite marijuana being decriminalized in 2022, Buddhist monks were banned from consuming it, and only medicinal use is permitted. As for Judaism and Christianity, ganja is also criminalized in religions, based on arguments based on prejudices and social stigmas.

In a plural society, it is important to respect and be compassionate towards different beliefs and cultures. Open dialogue, education, and changes to drug legislation are important steps to ensuring that religious communities that incorporate marijuana into their rituals are respected and protected.

Text: Bianca Rodrigues / @biancarodriguess

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