University of Vienna, Dpt. for Religious Studies

Light your Spliff, Light your Chalice. The use of Marijuana in Rastafarian Ritual.

The Rastafari movement that spread up among marginalised Afro-Americans in Jamaica out of Ethiopianism (Garyeism) is widely known due to its connection to Reggae music and some of its offsprings, in which the use of “Ganja” or “Herb” (=Marijuana) has been promoted by famous musicians. Not primarily used as a hallucinogenic drug, the ritual smoking of Ganja (or “I-schence”) is central to the concept of “livity” (the Rasta way of life). In this paper, a short overview of the history of the movement is given, with special emphasis on the use of Ganja. The latter is described in detail and questions of conflict with the law in countries with Rasta communities (outside the Caribbean e.g. Ghana and Malawi) are discussed. Introductory books include: Leonard E. Barrett 1997: The Rastafarians. Boston. Barry Chevannes (ed.) 1995: Rastafari and other African Caribbean Worldviews. New Brunswick 1995. King, Stephen A. 2002: Reggae, Rastafari and the Rhetoric of Social Control. Jackson 2002.

Hans Gerald Hoedl