The Use Of Marijuana In The Rastafarian Religion
Let’s start with the name. Rastafarians generally called weed, Ganja.
This word is from the Sanskrit, brought to Jamaica by indentured servants from India who worked alongside the liberated slaves that would later become Rastafarians.
Rastafarianism arose as a liberating Theology that places Jamaicans, Africans, and African Americans in the lineage of King Solomon and the Hebrew bible.
Many references to the Hebraic tradition can be found in Reggae music, a creative, social, spiritual and political music that has deeply influence cultures around the world.
One of the biggest influences that Rastafarianism, and the Reggae music that would help make this spiritual path famous, is the use of Ganja as a spiritual path.
Rastafarians are less likely to use marijuana recreationally, and more likely to use it ritually.
Rastafarianism refers to “Babylon”, as a general concept that represents worldliness; money making systems, and societal norms that cause mental enslavement to pursuits and beliefs that have no lasting value, and distract from higher, more refined spiritual goals.
Ganja is seen as a liberating tool from “Babylon”, a sacred herb that was given to humans by Jah (G-d) to aid in the pursuit of a spiritual lifestyle that fosters free thinking, alternative lifestyle, truth, kindness, and brotherhood of man.
With the rise of their Spiritual Leader, Haile Selassie, as the first Black Emperor of an African country in the after math of slavery, Rastafarianism also took on an element of Black Liberation and freedom for people of African descent to rise to their full stature.
This meant an opportunity to heal from the wounds that slavery had left, and regain autonomy and self-respect as individuals, and culturally.
Rastafarianism also provided an opportunity to reframe the Christian concepts forced upon those of African descent, towards empowerment, placing Africans in the lineage of the Hebrews.
This whole process was a feat of creative spirituality, and a triumph of spirit. So how did a disadvantaged Jamaican population overcome a centuries-old disability system to create a belief system that fostered their own enlightenment?
Many would answer through the healing affects of Jah given herb. Rastafarians believe, as many of us do, that Ganja is a kind of herbal medicine given by G-d to help enlighten humans.
Some even believe that there are references to Ganja in the Hebrew Bible; The Tree of Life, or the grasses in the field, as references to this central Herb in Rastafarian culture.
Rastafarian promotion of marijuana as a healing herb has had a huge effect on cultural perceptions of Marijuana.
Negative images propagated by films such as “Refer Madness”, have been slowly but steadily replaced by the positive imagery of ganga as a healing agent through Reggae music.
The unapologetic and unashamed use of marijuana as a healing path was spread world-wide, by perhaps the most famous Rastafarian of all, Bob Marley, who became an ambassador for Rastafarianism in general, and Ganja in particular.
Rastafarians use Ganga ritually, often sharing a bowl or a joint as a way of connecting, sometimes as a precursor to problem solving between individuals and groups.
The sacred place of Ganja in Rastafarian culture is aligned generally with their reverence for holiness, expressed through growing Dreadlocks (a sacred approach to hair) diet (usually a healthy diet that resembles Kosher dietary practices), and devotion to higher principles and a spiritual lifestyle.
They never mix tobacco with their weed, and in fact, many Rastafarians avoid tobacco altogether.
Rastafarianism is an amazingly optimistic practice with a strong emphasis on hope, and a vision of redemption, or a return to Zion.
Perhaps the use of weed has helped foster this positivity, which rose, incredibly, in the economically and socially disadvantaged reality of racism and the rehabilitation of a nation from the evil and corruption of slavery and colonialism.
Rastafari Weed Prayers
Certain prayers have become standard before smoking Marijuana. These of course arose organically from a religion whose practitioners are cultivating a lifestyle and attitude of gratitude for the Divine Grace in their lives.
This grateful attitude enlivens Reggae music, bringing a lot of the joy and positivity for which this music genre is beloved the world over. So, here is a short list of possible prayers before smoking.
Follow this example and try making it a practice to express your gratitude for the blessing Ganja in your life.
Rastafarian Weed Quotes
“Glory be to the Father and the Maker of Creation. As it was in the beginning, so now and ever will be. World without end. Jah Rastafari”
“The River of Life proceeded to flow from the throne of Jah. And on either side of the banks was the Tree of Life, and the leaf from that tree is for the healing of the nations.”
“Jah is I Shepherd I n I shall lack nothing. In grassy pastures Jah make I lay down by well-watered resting places Jah conducts I. I soul Jah refreshes. Jah Guides I in the tracks of righteousness for His Name sake. Even when I walk in This valley here on Earth…I am that I am since birth.”
“I don’t smoke Ganga to escape reality, I smoke Ganja to enjoy reality even more.”
“Smoke Good, Eat Good, Live Good.”
From Bob Marley
“Herb is the healing of the nation; alcohol is the destruction”
“Don’t gain the world but lose your soul.”
Rastafarian Weed Rituals
Reasoning is one of the main rituals of Rastafarianism. Rastas meet weekly, in homes or communal settings, to talk, sing, smoke, and discuss communal issues.
Using Ganja is key to this practice, as it helps the members of the group to relax and tun into higher spiritual states.
This makes it helpful in discussions, which tend to be informed by the loving and accepting environment that smoking brings.
Rastafarians use Ganja to inspire them towards spiritually heightened states that facilitate prayer, chanting, and song.