Renowned journalist, writer, and filmmaker Steven Hager has been an important voice in American counterculture and cannabis activism for decades. In 1988, Hager became editor of High Times and removed hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, from the periodical. He also became the first person to promote the work of activist Jack Herer.
Subsequently, Hager created the annual Cannabis Cup awards ceremony in Amsterdam. He is also a forefather of the the Freedom Fighters, the first marijuana legalization activist group, and organizer of the first 420 rallies outside of the Bay Area’s Marin County.
Hager’s recent research has transported him into the spiritual realm to compare marijuana’s relationship to religion. His work covers marijuana and spirituality on a molecular level, its relation to meditation and enlightenment, and bringing the truth about religious mythology, such as the true meaning of the Holy Grail, into the public eye. MERRY JANE caught up with the legendary Hager to gain some insight on his past work and the roles cannabis and religion will play in the future.
MERRY JANE: At what age did you begin to discover the religious aspects of marijuana?
Steven Hager: After inventing the Cannabis Cup in 1988, I began studying the history of cannabis and ceremony, which led me to read some parts of the Rig Veda (the oldest living religious document) and I quickly came to the conclusion the central sacrament (Soma) had been misidentified as a mushroom, when, in fact, it was obviously cannabis.
When was your awakening, your “Aha!” moment?
While reading the Veda, I stumbled across something like: “Soma is a sage and a seer inspired by poetry, who heals the sick. The blind see. The lame walk. Soma is King of the healing plants.”
Where did you begin to look for resources regarding the religious history and practice with cannabis?
In India, where the persecution of the plant was less intense than the Western world. Eventually, I began to focus on Bactria and the Black Sea area.
Did you study overseas or speak to gurus in India?
I ran away twice, once to Haight-Ashbury for a week. I attended the first Woodstock festival. Most everything I learned was from reading books by Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Ferdinand Celine, Tom Wolfe, and others.
I did study with a number of important people. I attended John Cage’s biggest “happenings” while in high school. I also attended some Rainbow Family Gatherings. I lived for a few weeks with Stephen and Ina May Gaskin while editing a book by him. I rode the Grandfather Tour with Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs. I took an improv class with Wavy Gravy in New York City. I met just about every counterculture leader I ever wanted to and picked their brains for wisdom to help guide my public ceremonies.
If someone is new to the truth about marijuana and religion what are some good resources for them to begin to research information?
The definitive book is Chris Bennett’s The Soma Solution, although it requires weeks of study to comprehend. I still find revelations in it and I helped TrineDay edit the book years ago.
What do you believe is the best way to bring this information into the mainstream?
Educate people about the failure of single-molecule medicine, and how people who use cannabis typically take no other medications for the rest of the lives, while those on prescription pills often find themselves taking dozens every day by the time they are 55.
Cannabis is the original Tree of Life, Tree of Knowledge and the source of the Holy Grail—historical facts can no longer be kept hidden. Over the next few years, I expect much more validation to emerge, thanks to the value of the Internet as a researching tool.
Enlightenment is a form of waking up. You cannot be enlightened if you are raging out, or sadistic, or if you blindly follow the status quo. So there are two sides of enlightenment: (1) You have to research the war-for-profit hoodwink, while avoiding the tinfoil hat rabbit holes constructed to deceive your quest for the truth, and (2) You have to learn to feel your connections to everything around you, while enhancing your serenity. When you get fully serene, you will spread joy with your presence and stone people with your positive telepathic vibes.
As far as the war for profit, what tinfoil hat theories are you speaking of?
One of the first played was “Elvis is alive.” Now we have “Chemtrails,” “We never landed on the moon,” “The Rothschilds are really aliens,” “The Earth is flat,” and many, many more.
Do you think the end of prohibition in our country will bring forth a spiritual awakening as well?
Cannabis has a telepathic connection, fostering empathy. Telepathic energy is “spirituality” and there are many flavors to pick from. My favorites are the fun vibe and the love vibe.
What do you believe will happen to spirituality and religion if/when marijuana is legalized countrywide?
Vast numbers of cannabis-based religions will emerge. Most will be predatory and run by egomaniacs seeking power over others.
There will be less violence, fewer murders, fewer car accidents, and fewer drunks in the gutter. Parties and ceremonies will become more fun as an alternative to booze presents itself.
Do you think “big marijuana” is an inevitable effect of legalization? What effects may it have on the view or outlook society has on cannabis?
If the bankers get complete control of this industry and turn it into another private cartel, the hippie black market will continue to flourish. After cannabis is legal, we should start freeing the rest of the prohibited plants.
For a marijuana user to take their first step toward enlightenment, what initial steps would you recommend when it comes to focus and meditation? For example, is it a personal preference between smoking or consuming cannabis or is one found to be more effective when quieting the mind? Also, what role does environment play?
You get what you pray for, so if you want something to manifest, create ceremony and ritual that support where you want to go. Your mind produces telepathic energy that affects the universe in profound ways. There’s a long history of study in this area—known as “the occult”—but it is full of fakes and forgeries, and no one until recently figured out the meaning of the Holy Grail and where it came from.
But one of the better books on mind power and telepathic energy is free online, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, based largely on interviews with Andrew Carnegie. A lot of my ideas on telepathic energy were shaped by reading On War, by Carl Von Clausewitz, which is actually a very influential book inside the Pentagon today. Friction, fog, and clogs were all concepts introduced to me in that book, and I immediately saw their applications in the events I was organizing.
I don’t prescribe ceremonies for others, though. Everyone has to find their own way and there’s only one rule: “Don’t hurt anybody.”
What is the spiritual or religious importance of how the plant is cultivated?
The best cannabis is grown with love and constant attention and without toxic chemicals. Growers forge a telepathic connection with their plants and anticipate their needs and desires, likes and dislikes. This is how you produce the Holy Grail.
What do you do to put yourself on the right daily path and stay focused?
I wake up just before dawn and walk my dogs around the block as the sun rises. If I am feeling well, I’ll drink a cup of coffee. If not, a cup of tea. I take a hot bath, sometimes with scents and salts depending on my mood and condition. Then I check my websites and the news, and Facebook, while TCM channel runs in the background.
Then I create something: a blog, a video, poem or painting. That can take hours, sometimes the rest of the day. When I am done, I spend the rest of the day relaxing and usually fall asleep not long after sunset.
Creating is my form of meditation. I can make a movie or write a book in a matter of a few weeks. Once I turn my mind on, it focuses itself and produces its own energy storm. But it doesn’t turn on all the time with the same intensity, and when it doesn’t I just sit back and wait.
Were you religious growing up?
I was raised a Lutheran and my confirmation at 15 was also the last day I ever attended. The process of attending Saturday school classes had already convinced me there were serious problems with the dogmas of that religion.
How would you describe God now compared to the way you described God when you were younger?
When I was little, God was a kindly old man who lived in the clouds. Now I realize that everything emits some form of telepathy, and the universe is connected on a vibrational level.
You have your own transmitter, but when 10,000 people unite in ritual, they create a mega transmitter. When you add up everything in the multi-universes, every atom, every wave, every spec of dark matter, and all energy everywhere, when you roll all of that into one ball…that’s what I call God.