This article comes complete with a spooky soundtrack to listen to while you read. To increase the potency of this spellbinding history of witchcraft and weed, be sure to press play.
Track 1: “Season of the Witch,” by Donovan
Did you ever go through a “witch phase”? Perhaps you used to enjoy drawing pentagrams on your backpack? Maybe you’ve tried to move a pencil with your mind? Or possibly you’re like me and are still living out your witch phase and still learning about the unique relationship your witchy kind has with the powerful and magical cannabis plant.
Track 2: “Witchy Woman,” by the Eagles
Witches ‘n’ weed have been besties since day one. These witchy women of yore used cannabis as a medicine, in their rituals, and as a way to expand their minds. The image of a witch flying on a broomstick is even tinged with weed. Old-timey “flying ointments” used hemp seed oil and spooky herbs like hemlock and mandrake to induce hallucinations of soaring above the clouds. The ointment was usually applied vaginally…and with a broom. Oh, witches!
Track 3: “Magic Man,” by Heart
It wasn’t all about the broomstick-dildos, though. Witches were “healers” and “medicine women” who used their shared knowledge of herbal remedies to help heal their communities. But in a time when the Catholic Church wanted to have dibs on healing people these women and their weeds caused a major threat to the status quo.
Track 4: “Black Magic Woman,” by Santana
It didn’t help that these ladies were also freaking out the locals with their far-out, pot-heavy rituals. These girls were simply having TOO MUCH FUN, so Pope Innocent VIII stepped in and banned witchcraft and weed in one swift papal move. The Catholic Church even ruined one of the best witchy holidays, Ostara—a drug-fueled sex orgy of yore—by making it all about Jesus and marshmallow bunnies. #boring
Track 5: “Girl Just Want to Have Fun,” by Cyndi Lauper
In those days, when the Catholic Church didn’t like something, it acted like problem teens and lit shit on fire. And the Church REALLY didn’t like weed-loving witchy women, so it stigmatized them, persecuted them, and burned them alive. This practice lasted for hundreds of years and is known as “The Burning Times” (which sounds like a niche newspaper for fans of arson).
Many medicine women were thrown to the flames. As they burned, so too did their knowledge of cannabis. But all was not lost. Weed and women are resilient creatures and both managed to survive all the persecution thrown their way.
Track 6: “Gallows,” by CocoRosie
Not-So-Fun Fact: In Europe witches were burned at the stake, but in America they were hung.
One way witches survived was by hiding in plain sight. Women who wanted to practice mysticism and herbalism without persecution joined the convent. Their rent and meals were covered by the Catholic Church, they didn’t have to get married and have kids, and they were free to tend to their herb gardens. All they had to do was replace “magic” with “God” and no one asked any questions.
Track 7: “I Put a Spell on You,” by Nina Simone
One of these nun-witches was St. Hildegard. A mystic, playwright, herbalist, composer, and all-around badass, this gal wrote about the wonders of weed and often recommended it to her patients. Her book Physia is still around and worth a read for the dreamy section devoted to “cannabus.”
Track 8: “Rhiannon,” by Fleetwood Mac
Eventually, the Church decided to stop burning women alive, but our friend Mary Jane was not so lucky. The War on Drugs is our modern answer to “The Burning Times”—complete with stigmatization, persecution, and plentiful flames. Weed fields are still getting burned up on the regular by authority figures.
Are you over 18?
Track 9: “Girl on Fire,” by Alicia Keys
Track 10: “Anything Can Happen on Halloween,” by Tim Curry
So this October, embrace your inner witch. Whip up some special snacks and beverages and call them “potions.” Think of your “to-do” list as a mini spell book. Visualize your weed-passing circle of pals as a coven in the midst of a ritual. And on Halloween, when you put on your ritual vestments and consume your cannabis and candy, pour one out for the witches of yore. So mote it be.