Cannabis - a tool for artistic and spiritual creativity (originally published in Cannabismagazine.com, March 2020)
At this point in my life (50), my attitude towards cannabis is completely different from when I was a young man. As a student in London I was greatly interested in the psychotropic effects of Cannabis and was an avid reader on the subject as well as spiritual development – I read everything from Timothy Leary to works by Osho, Aldous Huxley, Celtic and Hindu mysticism.
Myself and my friends, very irresponsibly, experimented on ourselves through smoking cannabis (and occasional other psychedelics) to unlock our creative, intellectual and spiritual capacites, or so we thought. In truth, there was little in the way of control or self-discipline employed and for some there were significant and dangerous side-effects from excessive use. The mental illness of a friend from psychotropic drug abuse had a sobering effect on both myself and most of our circle of friends.
At this time I was heavily involved in music, attempting to find my own voice and creativity at a time when music was morphing from rock to dance music at the beginning of the 1990s and a huge amount of original new music was being produced, in London and Manchester. Cannabis was instrumental in helping me stop being a derivative and highly unoriginal musician and discover my own ‘sound’ and develop the mental bravery to try new things. This culminated with a trip to India in early 1995 to learn some new instruments and collect sounds on a portable DAT machine, that I could use or copy in my music under the name ‘Children Of Dub’. I learned how to play the Dholak and the Bansuri, but due to time and money constraints I was unable to learn the Sitar as I had hoped to.
The influence of the trip can be heard on our first album ‘The Silent Pool’ and some subsequent records. As well as this, my encounters with the Hindu culture, notably the Sadhus that study the Vedas whilst under the constant influence of cannabis fascinated me and led to some startling spiritual experiences myself. What was immediately apparent was that this was serious spiritual devotion and not the foolish recreational chaos of typical Western use.
Later on I abandoned use of cannabis and all drugs, including alcohol for some time, in order to reflect on what I wanted both from my music and life in general – I felt that excessive cannabis use had damaged both my judgment and my short-term memory. Much later on I took a break from music but continued to pursue my own spiritual development through yoga, meditation and study of Druidism/Druidry. Very occasional and specific use of cannnabis proved to be useful in this respect and also provided some inspiration for my writing – such as my book ‘The Journey’ which explores many of the great questions of human existence. I have been lucky – I have benefited creativily from Cannabis with few negative effects, despite my former recklessness. It is a powerful psychoactive tool, but as with all tools it needs to be handled with great care and responsibility.
Children Of Dub’s new album “5th Element” was released on 3rd March.