Folk Belief

Rasta Man

– Folk Belief

“Rastafari is not a religion, it is a lifestyle.  It is the way you decide to live man.  In Rastafarian, we don’t believe that weed is, is a drug.  Weed makes you do what you really wanna do.  It brings out the real you.  When… when Rastafarians smoke weed, they use it to meditate on something, on something positive.  That is why for us it is not a drug, its good because it makes us exchange and create, yah.  It doesn’t help Rastas only, it helps… that’s why we believe we should be able to smoke our weed everywhere you want.  It helps sick people, like people can’t sleep sometime, they use weed.  Weed helps artists to create things.  So weed is for creation, not for destruction.” (R.B.M.)

Informant Analysis:

“Rastas are a big part of Rwanda.  But they exist all over the world.  They are not just in Africa and Jamaica man.  They are everywhere.  We believe in many things, but weed is very important to us.  It is not a drug, but a blessing.  It frees you and lets you be who you are man.” (R.B.M)

Personal Analysis:

It is apparent that cannabis has many uses and functions.  Some societies view these functions differently.  Some view these uses as inhibiting and as negative, but others see them as uplifting and as positive.  It is simply just a matter of viewpoints and opinions.  Where some feel it is immoral, others feel it is necessary.  Whatever the case, it is definite that cannabis can be used for the betterment of the soul and for the mind.

Although there exists a vast amount of criticism when it comes to marijuana, it is important to see both sides of the spectrum.  Rastas see the experience as purely beneficial, and almost as medicinal.  They use it to aid in meditation, creation, and reflection.  Simultaneously, when needed, they use it medicinally to help prevent insomnia and body pain.

Interestingly, these spiritual and constructive uses of cannabis manifest themselves in popular culture.  In The Unfinished Tales, Tolkien makes several references to pipe-weed.  One protagonist, Gandalf, is quoted saying, “Yon might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway, it gives patience, to listen to error without anger.” Hence, Tolkien, like the informant, feels that this herb helps cleanse the mind and soul of worries and negativity.  They use this plant responsibly and practically, thus affirming that cannabis does not purely reap destruction, but that instead, it can stimulate creation.

Annotation: The quote above can be found within the following annotation, along with additional information about the peaceful and positive effects of weed.

Tolkien, J. R. R., Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Hunt for the Ring, ISBN 0-395-29917-9

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