“Many drugs, or intoxicants, soften this sharp subject-object dichotomy and help us feel more connected with the wider world. Such experiences dismantle the instrumental nature of most thinking and instead allow us to appreciate life for its own intrinsic value.”

Robert C. Fuller, PhD, a professor of religious studies at Bradley University and author of 13 books, including Stairways to Heaven: Drugs in American Religious History.

Of course cannabis and spirituality go hand in hand. I mean isn’t the sacred ritual of rolling a blunt as consecrated as the giving of sacrament and taking in of the body of Christ? There has always been something otherworldly about our religious connection whether within the confines of a church, temple or a heady music concert surrounded by energies. The human drive to feel connected and “plugged in” is what I believe to be the basis for all spiritual euphoria. I remember being younger and feeling like my wheels were always spinning. I was constantly running to encourage, to engage to fulfill my mission as a Nichiren Buddhist. It was some of the best times in my life. And I also remember the distinct sting of withdrawal when I had stopped actively practicing. I likened it to being a drug addict although I knew that was a bit melodramatic it didn’t take away from the underlying sentiment. And when I shared with others that were in the same boat as me they would shake their heads in quiet agreement. They understood what I meant, they GOT it. So I wanted to explore and understand why and how did I have this type of experience? And how do I enhance and use that on a daily basis with cannabis?

Reach your highness

When I began this journey of medicially using cannabis for my son and then for myself, I couldn’t help but notice that in ingesting cannabis not only helped me to better see myself and just “be” in the moment by quieting my mind, but it also helped me to better connect and see things from a new set of eyes. Cannabis assisted in bringing about a softening of the armor that I wore to protect me as a black woman and a freeing of the heart in compassion toward myself and also those around me. I felt lighter, free-er and also more open to the positive changes that I desired and chanted for. This was surprising to me because as someone who only used cannabis for recreational use, with no regard to the sanctity of this plant, I had overlooked one of its biggest benefits. The usefulness of connecting to a higher conscience and aiding in the healing of deep traumas.

We all have trauma, hell I know I do! I have experienced abandonment, sexual assault, verbal abuse, disappointments and daily external microaggressions that seem to come constantly. This is not addressing the internal battle of the buddha and the devilish functions via negative self talk, low self esteem and self harm. Any human being in this day and age is dealing with any number of traumatic and stressful factors. Is no wonder that suicides are on the rise and that the life expectancy is lower than any other generation? What are yours triggers? What have you done to treat or mitigate them? Did you know that cannabis can be a ally in your toolbox of strategies to win against this constant battle.

With all the newly envigored conversations about medical cannabis and the ever progressive adult use advocates screaming for freedom of use and social equity within communities most hard hit in the “war on drugs” (all points that I agree with mind you!) I think we are not having the conversations of how cannabis can be spiritually activating and can break down walls built up over time from collective and individual traumas, especially within the POC, Latinx and the LGBTQIA communities. As Stephen Grey the author of Spirituality and Cannabis asserts “we tend to be driven by narratives operating below the horizon of our awareness; the confused mind of the unresolved, unhealed ego—[through meditative cannabis we bring it] into the light of day ultimately allows us to learn how to function skillfully and gracefully as authentic, spiritually awakened beings.”

According to the author of Cannabis and Spirituality the use of cannabis or other herbal entheogenic plants have been a part of the history of the religious world for centuries. Historically humans have mostly used religion and/or spirituality to answer the questions of dealing with trauma. Meditative cannabis use just like any other ritual is about the intentions set before and the actions taken after that dictate and support that ritual, or as Stephen Grey worded it the “post-marijuana meditation” experience. Once we have gained the insight and reverse engineered that trauma what do we do with that new and heightened conscience state? Do we continue to create and perpetuate the patterns that made the scenarios that we found our lower selves in? Or do we choose to go another route? Some folks like medicine shamans Sean Hamman and Steve Dyer, say it has much to do with the state of mind and intentions of the grower of the cannabis even. So how important it is that we have a connection or personal relationship with the plant itself (home grow, anyone?)

I have chosen to take the higher road, although I still get in my Gemini feels sometimes, but I am a worthy work in progress. And I already see the benefit of incorporating my microdosing (which will be another blog and a podcast) and meditative cannabis rituals to heal myself, be a better and more authentic version of Angie; I can then take on the world and help others with those same tools with ease. Just as the great and venerable Bob Marley said “When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.” What a wondrous plant! Which side of yourself would you like to see in the forefront? Although we can never separate ourselves from the darker side and the traumas that feed it. We can use that side to shine even brighter bringing hope, joy and power to all that are around us.

I explore using cannabis as a tool for my sexual pleasure and fulfillment and for other people’s enjoyment, as well. BDSM is a tool to alter your consciousness. It takes you to a different place, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Pot is just like that. You have to know how to use it, and you have to use it wisely. When used the right way, it’s great tool for play in their mind and their body.

Mistress Matisse- How the BDSM community integrates cannabis into Kink

I have always be a naturally curious and exploratory type person. There isn’t much that scares me when it come to trying new things, being open to diving into a new adventure or creating a space to walk along the “wild” side. BDSM has always been something I desired to explore and know more about. But I also knew that this would not be a journey I undertook alone.

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy from Pexels

From very young I was always strong willed, independent and prideful. I like to move to the beat of my own drum (even if I didn’t understand or know the beat). I wasn’t afraid to move against the grain. I had joked with some friends of mine that I lived in the ‘burbs on the city of BDSM, cause I wasn’t sure how to move into the city called Kink. Besides dabbling in the usual spanking, hair pulling and name calling I had not taken the full plunge off the deep end. Where do you go? Who has the map? But most importantly, will there be snacks?!?! I was confronted with the ENTIRE world before me but could not get my head wrapped around how to get started. Along this time my recreational cannabis use was normal. Nothing to crazy, I enjoyed it, had my fun when I could. One thing I did know is that stoned sex was the BEST sex and so it cemented in my head that if I were to ever go down that path cannabis would inevitable be a part of that journey.

BDSM + WEED = HAPPY

Photo by Michael Fischer from Pexels

So when I found my Sir (Dominate) the one who would hold my hand and take me lovingly on this journey of exploration, I was appalled that he would not allow me to do so while stoned. I couldn’t understand why he would take away something that I felt didn’t impede me, but actually opened my mind and body to whole new sensations. Being a chronic overthinking and perpetual Type A personality, cannabis helped me to quite some of the chatter in my head and just be in the moment with what was going on. To feel completely relaxed, engaged and connected to my Sir was my only desire. Within the BDSM community safety and consent are paramount so there are some that believe that being under the influence of cannabis is being intoxicated and therefore you cannot safely consent to what will be happening as you play. But reading the article ‘How the BDSM community integrates cannabis into kink‘ by Sophie Saint Thomas I see I’m not alone in my feeling of being able to use the mind and body high to bring my kink to a whole new level. Just having the ability to no longer worry about what others were thinking, how I would be viewed, the embarrassment of my body and all of those self sabotaging messages gone; I am simply a woman who is channeling my need for control and pain to elevate my mind.

While sitting on a cloudy day in a Parisian style cafe called Voo La Voo in Wilton Manors, eating delicious crepes; I discussed this very topic with my Sir to see if his views had changed. ‘There will and are so many people that look down on people that use while playing’, he said. I internally had to agree with him. The stigma of cannabis use as a drug is still prevalent and so it made sense that there are people who still believe it is a drug, point blank period. But I had to bring up to him (also to myself) that the societal acceptance of cannabis use as a medication and also for responsible recreation is changing and the kink world should take heed of that. While societal norms are changing shouldn’t the world of BDSM too? He seemed perplexed that I would still write this post. But to me like everything, representation matters and if I can be a voice for others or a example of how things are evolving then I will be. I take that challenge seriously, and hope that others will too when it comes to showing up in spaces that are hesitant to open up. And as we finished our raspberry crepes I felt the warm glow of indica embrace me and the topic seemed to change, but I knew it would all be alright.

Long ago in a galaxy far far away…..ahem let me stop playing. But seriously it was a REALLY LONG time ago I had a blog called Black Orchids and Fireflies. It was my first attempt at blogging and honestly I didn’t even really know if it was my JUSH. Ironically I was reminded of it from a ex lovers email, she stated “Angie I just finished the postings on black orchids and fireflies. Wow!  I now have a clearer insight to you.” to which I replied almost rudely, “Really? It is surprising that a blog I had almost 4 years ago would offer you insight into who I am…I never thought that there was anything of significance in it honestly I didn’t dedicate enough time for that.”

My ‘blog’ was started back in 2011. My son was 3 years old and I was once again exploring my creative side. I figured I like talking, I use to write, so why not start a blog?!? I had just broken up with a new lover and it seemed like the appropriate time for artistic catharsis. I went back looking for it and couldn’t even find it today. But I am sure it had some pretty love heavy, romantic, idealized version of myself, who I was at that time. It was offensive to me when she wrote about ‘having insight into my mind’ because I was no longer THAT person. I was different. I had just finished the journey of figuring out I was polyamorous and made an agreement with myself that I was no longer going to live happily deceived or feeling defective because I didn’t reside in this neat little box called monogamy. And that I was willing to work and fight to be who I truly was no matter what. That was scary AF and not to mention a little daunting.

Photo by Isaac Taylor from Pexels

What is polyamory?

“A great many people do believe that to be single is to be somehow incomplete and that they need to find the other half. […] We believe, [polyamorist] on the other hand, that the fundamental sexual unit is one person. Adding more people to that unit may be intimate, fun and companionable, but does not complete anybody.” 

Dossie Easton, The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love

According to Websters dictionary polyamory is the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved. But I personally don’t agree with that definition completely and I would say for me polyamory is the ability and willingness to engage and foster intimate relationships with consent of all people involved. You notice that neither in the Websters definition nor in mine did it state a number. Because the number of partners is relative, and in mine sex doesn’t denote a relationship. Being poly is something that is very much a part of who I am, especially as I have learned more about myself, what my desires and needs are and also what I want my future to look like. I know what polyamory isn’t for everyone and that is OK. As along the same vein monogamy isn’t for everyone either no one way is right or wrong.

Photo by Anthony from Pexels

In a recent study by Kelly Cookson and independent academic he states, “It appears that sexually non-monogamous couples in the United States number in the millions.” So if these numbers are in the millions and it is comprised of polyamorous couples, swinging couples, gay male couples, and other sexually non-monogamous couples, then shouldn’t we be acknowledging and talking about this wide spread phenomenon? Well we are…sort of. With shows like Sister wives, Polyamory: Married and Dating and Sense8 media outlets are showing other forms of relationship styles which has pushed polyamory into the circle of discourse. Do they always get it right? MEH. But what I like is that it gets people thinking, discussing and hopefully maybe self reflecting.

My Own Journey

Becoming poly wasn’t a overnight occurrence it took a lot of freaking soul searching, honesty to myself and to others and also faith in myself; but also in finding people who thought the same as me. When I took myself out of the majority of monogamy and monogamy-ish life it left me feeling little bit paralyzed. How do you find your tribe? Your community? How do you educate and enlighten yourself to better gain a understanding of what being poly even means to you? All of these questions swirled in my head. Now let me back track, I have NEVER been great at monogamy. Being completely honest I was actually really, really horrible at it. I would tell half truths, I would hid what I really felt or thought to not upset the status quo, I engaged in relationships that were never really for me all because I feared being alone and I was constantly being fed this narrative that I was ‘supposed’ to be boo’d up. It lead to heartbreak, disappointments, time and energy wasted all because I could not be honest and strong enough to look for something else. After many years of having FWB relationships and still feeling empty and a lack of intimacy I decided that I needed to change, hell I WANTED to change.

I had been in a open three way relationship with a husband and wife for almost a decade a few years prior to my journey and reflecting on that time. I remember being so happy, feeling fulfilled, free and completely at ease which, I believe, is why it was my longest relationship. We all had the freedom to come and go as we pleased but there were still commitments made to each other that bound us as family. There was a nucleus, a home to come to when you needed to reassess. I watched their kids grow up, I had a son of my own while with them and they helped me, birthdays, anniversaries, happy times and even sad times were double. I never felt alone or confined to being something or someone I wasn’t. They loved me and I loved them plain and simple. So as I am thinking about doing things different I remember how fantastic that time was and I wanted to explore that again. But first it was time to educate myself. I didn’t know any terminology, or even how to explain how I felt inside.

Reading is fundamental

These two books were really the beginning of my awakening, my proper education into what I already felt in my heart and now my mind. I gobbled up everything I could ingest about the new world of polyamory. It just all made sense to me. I found myself devouring every bit of knowledge because it was not only validating how I was feeling but for the first time I was feeling SEEN! It was amazing to be able to put names to emotions, to pin point parts of myself I needed to work on and most importantly to know what I wasn’t alone; that there were others who felt this way and there was a successful method to live authentically and fully in this truth. It didn’t matter that others may not understand you. The most important thing was to be honest no matter how it was received. What exhilaration it gave me the more I learned, the more I explored. It was like seeing life in a whole new light. Now just like Neo in the Matrix, I was awake and could not go back to sleep. I knew that I needed to be honest and dig deep to stay on this path that was in front of me.

Community is everything

Being awaken to your true self can be a really sort of complicated thing. At first it seems okay and even exciting. Your mindset is new and free, you can see things more clearly and the adventure is underway. But the other key competent to this journey is community. It is all well and good if all this growth was just internal and you didn’t have or need to interact with others. But like any good growth you need to have a community to lean on, to use as support when the going gets rough and to encourage you when you want to give up your path. Thank goodness for the INTERNETS, for without this wonderful invention I think a lot of us within the margins of society would be wandering aimlessly without a home. LOL! But because of this glorious connection I was able to find my wider poly tribe in the Black & Poly community. They looked just like me and loved in the same way that I did! Talk about a double dose of awesome! Here is where I learned about the types of poly, what specific challenges we faced as black people trying to love fearlessly and free, and just having a space where we could talk with a bit of shorthand about the ups and downs of polyamory from a black standpoint. I also found mentors, friends and confidantes within the walls of that group that helped in so many ways as I stumbled, crawled and tripped being a new poly baby. Now it wasn’t always pretty this journey, but they made me feel loved and seen no matter what was going on. And helped me to understand that I was worthy of love (in the way that I needed it) no matter the mistakes and missteps. And for that I am grateful always to that community.

http://Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

I now have been fully immersed in the poly love style for 7 years now and as life continues to flow I am shown time and time again that I made the right decision for me. I now have a wife that I adore and who makes me feel seen and loved crunchy bits and all, a long distance girlfriend who I am proud to be a emotional support and love to as she continues to evolve into the beautiful queen she is meant to be and a boyfriend who is the newest addition to the gang but was a disruptor, my game changer who made to reaffirm the promises I made to myself. They each bring something to my life that I might not ever had experienced. They are each their own person and CHOOSE to share this life and journey with me and it is fabulous! And isnt that what we are put on this planet to do not just be a hashtag living our best life, but ACTUALLY doing it?

Photo credit @byrawpixel

Anyone who’s a chef, who loves food, ultimately knows that all that matters is: ‘Is it good? Does it give pleasure?’

-Anthony Bourdain

The Green Baker’s initial mission was to bring the recreational, medicinal and social use of cannabis into the mainstream by way to FOOD. Food is the one thing we can all agree on whether we are on the left or the right of the debate of the use of cannabis, it is no denying that when anyone offers you good food there is no divide.

Food and I have had a varied and sometimes torrid love affair. I can remember from my earliest memories food always being a central and intrinsically part of my life. I grew up with a grandmother with southern roots in a melting pot of a city, NYC. So it made for some interesting food options; from the bean pies and fried fish up in Harlem; to the slices I shared with my granddad when we would go on our bargain shopping trips in Manhattan. Food was always there and GOOD food at that! Ha!

My grandmother would make her delicious coconut cake and steamed cabbage with fried chicken for Sunday after church dinners (we were Baptist so all that black hymn ‘sanging’ made you REALLY hungry). She would force me to eat the wet soggy vegetable and after much chagrin I would just so I could get to that heavenly coconut cake (maybe that is where my coconut obsession is rooted) Because of this I have never really been fond of cabbage, but after my own culinary training I have struck a happy balance with this veggie (mostly because of bacon) and now I can tolerate it. Desserts were always the shiny prize, the reward for adult-ing and getting through the soggy mess of the day that is life sometimes.

Now in my current version of my love affair with food, I am trying to find a happy balance. I am a true lover of food so being a phat gurl I knew that restricting and ‘punishing’ myself for this love would never work. I am a fan of things that bond that unite and food is just one of those things. My faith is so strong that I made my whole career around that belief, I had to not only reframe how I looked at food but how I could consume the things I loved in a healthier way.

When it came time to decide how to navigate the cannabis ingestion medium I knew that SWEETS were where it was at! What a better way to reward ourselves for getting through a difficult day and to feel good then with a decadent chocolate brownie or cookie laced with that good ole MaryJane? And not to mention the possibilities were endless; from chocolates and candies to cakes and pies, my culinary wheels were spinning from the beginning.

Photo credit http://www.pexels.com/@juliana-arceo

Sweets nowadays are not just for the kids (or the inner kids) in our lives, with the advent of such great alternate sweeteners so readily available in our local grocery stores; it has been fun experimenting and trying out how to put a new school spin on some great classics like carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread and others. So i take the things that collectively unite us and with my magical unicorn culinary powers I make them healthier and more balanced to fit into a proportional eating habit. So medicate, feel good about it and move it along. Yes sugar is the new culinary boogeyman, but it doesn’t have to be if we are just a little bit smarter and healthier about what we consume. Food is ALWAYS going to be the central piece to health, but it also a connection to our lives, our cultures, our histories and even our future as humans. Who would want to let that go?

“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”

Dr. Brene Brown

Part of my wonderful journey with cannabis was the awakening to the ability I gained to plug into my intimate partners and the larger world around me. And honestly it started with reacquainting myself with ME. I have been in a wonderful relationship for 4 almost 5 years with my wife JT. We, as so many couples met on good ole Craigslist (thanks Craig..lol) and we had a connection that we infinite and deep from the start. Maybe something in my wild gemini heart called to her eccentric aquarian soul but it clicked, and so did we.

Fast forward a handful of years later and through all the struggles that most couple encounter; I came to the realization that I have forgotten how to be me. To cause catalytic changes and growth because of my innate powers of empathy, love and #blackgirlmagic and I was become the one thing I never want to be the ‘angry black woman’. I know that my joy is found in the place of the divine feminine and that is flows through my creative, my authenticity, my vulnerability, my softness and magic. That which gets blocked when I am not living in any of those truths. I had not been living in that truth for quite some time and as with all things that get bottled up, eventually it has to be resolved or it will implode. Suddenly I was drowning, in my own hubris, in my own fear and my inability to stand in truth.

I didn’t know which way was up of down and as the waves of insecurity, guilt and judgement washed over me almost becoming too much to bear, I realized that I (we) needed help navigating this. I was dosing much more heavily then what I would normally just to cope with the overwhelming thought of the journey I was about to undertake. This journey would implore me to be brutally honest with myself and my partners. And that was scary as hell, being seen and vulnerable as much as I preached it, I wasn’t practicing it. As Dr. Brene Browne puts it vulnerability is defined as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” Brené says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. No wonder I was feeling sagnant, stuck and just plain ‘meh’ about life. I wasnt risking a damn thing! I was going with the flow, comfortable in my relationship, being okay not being seen or trusting my partners to risk “emotional exposure”.

There is this song that I like by Amber Marks it is called ‘Love me Right’ in part the lyrics say:

Because the drive it is alive and honey, it is calling you
And I’m numb, you’re tryna hide it, baby, I need more from you
So could you please respond to me because I’ll never understand
I give you the keys and while you gladly take ’em you, don’t use them

[Chorus]
You tell me all the time, baby
I’m the light in your life
And you love me more each day
You are starting to drive me crazy
Why won’t you realise you gotta love me right, baby

Couple holding hands on beach
Photo courtesy of Valentin Antonucci

We all carry around this Disney-fied version of what love and romance is supposed to be; that we will fall in love and this person will be our ONE true love and they will automatically know how to love us and we will ride off into the sunset in a horse and carriage (or maybe a motorcycle or a boat…Haha!) But no matter what they will inherently know how to “love us right”. That isn’t the case for me, and we often assume that our partners have this extraordinary powers to read our minds. What does love me right mean, anyway!?! I thought that I understood it but I realized that I didn’t and the search for that showed me 5 things:

  • I had to get back to being and loving me, which meant pursuing my passions, being creative, taking care of my health physically, mentally and spiritually and not being afraid to share those crunchy bits with the world. #selflove
  • No checked bags on this flight; which meant I was not responsible for other peoples feelings or of helping them cope with how they felt because of their own trauma. I am no responsible for baggage lost on the flight. #sorrynotsorry #boundries
  • Standing in my truth fully and as genuinely as possible no matter the outcome or consequence. Never compromising on what my intuition is telling me I need. I named her the the soul calling. #vulnerability
  • Partaking of my doses were helpful in keeping my on track with my accountability, opening up more freely, letting go of the small stuff and also allowing me to confront my own deep fears and fuck ups and take responsibility for them. #accountability
  • Practice #gratitude. I know I can be a handful, I am not easy to love. And not in the way you think, I am a catalyst and when with me and I am strolling on the path of my soul calling; it will force you to step up or step out. So I thank my partners everyday that they choose me because there are easier fish in the sea (but none as worth it as me) and pray that we continue to choose each other for as long as we desire so.

Those 5 things (self-love, boundaries, vulnerability, accountability and gratitude) were how I realized how to LOVE ME RIGHT. It wasn’t about my partners, it was about me. We are always looking to validate how we are feeling through the barometer of other people but that ‘connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.’ So we must sow the seeds and being able to not only verbalize but demonstrate when needed to our beloveds how we want to be treated and loved by setting up the greatest and most fulfilling love of all, the one for ourselves.