Updated: Jul 22, 2019
The Future of Cannabis is Female — and so is the Past.
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: the future is female. As third wave feminism transcends from a gender movement to a human movement, women's activism advances justice for a spectrum of oppressed groups. More simply put, sisters: we are the carriers of culture in our society. And while cannabis consumption is slowly becoming the new normal, now recreationally legal in 1/5th of U.S. states and medically legal or decriminalized in many others, the stoner stereotype lives on.
While a few of us definitely crushed on the drug-rug wearing, joint-rolling dude down the hall from us in college—his black light posters mesmerizing and eyelids heavy—we know today that cannabis-users are made up of a far more diverse, complex, and (likely) showered population than just the archetypal pothead.
So how do we expand the cultural perception of what a weed user looks like? Women play a key role in this process as pioneers of change. But to create the future, we must first look to the past. The history of women and weed is wide-ranging and prolific so we're zooming in on one question to start: What can the most ancient weed warrior-women of the past teach us about our present and our future?
Ancient Mothers Know Best
Long before Deadheads and college crushes started hitting bongs, ancient goddess-followers were lighting up holy pot. Taking a look at three gorgeous faves, let's start with the most ancient goddess still worshipped today: Kali-Ma. An Indian deity, she's referred to as "The Mother of Life and Death." Talk about a job title. Much to any Sunday School teacher's dismay, her followers smoked weed during devotional ceremonies as an act of worship.
Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing, also became identified with architecture, astronomy, building, and mathematics (shout out to women in STEM). She has major street cred as the inventor of writing—no big deal—and was depicted often with the same symbol above her head; while some call the "unknown seven-pointed emblem" a mystery, it sure as hell looks like a cannabis leaf to us.
Perhaps the most weed-associated goddess of them all, Ishtar, represented all things sensual and feminine for Mesopotamians and Sumerians. Beauty, sex, love, desire, and fertility were under her rulership as well as war, justice, and political power—you go girl. Her literal cult-following burned cannabis incense in her honor, but as Ishtar followers became more numerous and sexually liberated, crusades to write her off as a wanton prostitute sought to threaten her growing power.
Beyond these deities, our ancient mothers used cannabis throughout the ages as medicine. While men hunted game, women harvested in the wilderness, becoming privy to the secrets of plant properties and powers. Using herbal remedies, women healers cultivated health in their communities for centuries before male-dominated medical fields shamed them as witches and kooks.
Goddess Vibes — Then and Now
The shaming of liberated women, sexual energy, and healing power are not much different than what we face as women now. Women in the workplace are disproportionately barred from positions of power and plant-based remedies (cannabis included) are often written off as New Age BS or "alternative." No fair. The good news is, women today are uniquely positioned to reclaim cannabis as a symbol of goddess power and healing, and we have some tips on how.
Remember your first time smoking pot? Betcha if we took a poll, most of us were introduced to weed for the first time by a guy friend. Now we're not saying that Rick from Lit Class had any ill-intent when he started you off with "about the amount of weed he'd kill with four friends over an hour," but we are saying that as women, we can find a better way to share the joys of cannabis.
If weed is something that's brought you healing, pleasure, or empowerment, we've got an assignment for you and we hope you'll try it: find one friend who doesn't use cannabis and offer to be her ganja guru. Introducing your ladies to weed gently and incrementally can be an amazing gift and bonding experience. If cannabis is something you don't use often or at all, we pose a similar challenge: find one friend who does use weed and ask her for your first lesson. Chances are, she'll be happy to help. Calling on the power of our ancient goddesses, let's reclaim cannabis for our goddesses within and beside.