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Cannabis and Spirituality: Exploring the Plant-Human-Spirit Relationship
Kathleen Harrison, M.A.
Saturday, April 22, 2017 • 3:30 PM - 4:00 PM • Grand Ballroom


Kathleen Harrison

We are in a time of great cultural change regarding Cannabis—on the bridge between illegal and so-called legal, between taboo and panacea, between underground gardens and commercial gold rush. Cannabis is loved or reviled as a recreational drug, a healing medicine, or an emotional aid. And how do we talk about the spiritual aspect that some of us experience? How can scientific research and method contemplate "spirituality" with Cannabis? What does it mean to get high? We may begin by comparing and contrasting our own experience, while exploring methods of spiritual and scientific approach, and possibly discovering hidden gifts. I will bring my signature approach— observation of cultural patterns, stories of personal experience, nature-based philosophy, and roving questions for ongoing investigation—to the matter of cannabis and spirit. This talk will touch upon issues like personification of the species, the role of individual ritual, and the importance of conscious folk research as we stand in this moment on a threshold within this ancient plant-human relationship.

Kathleen Harrison, M.A., is an ethnobotanist who teaches internationally about global and regional beliefs and practices involving plants and fungi. She specializes in the study of ritual and mythical relationships with nature. Her four decades of recurrent fieldwork include research in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Hawaii. She contributed a chapter to the new book, Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorer's Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally (Inner Traditions, 2017). In her investigations with indigenous people, and her personal experience, she often focuses on the persona or perceived active essence of a ceremonial plant or mushroom species. Kat co-founded Botanical Dimensions in 1985, with Terence McKenna. This non-profit organization has sponsored ethnobotany research and documentation projects in various countries. BD is based north of San Francisco, California, where it hosts the unique Botanical Dimensions Ethnobotany Library and offers classes, taught by Kat and others.

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