7 Things That Smoking and Sex Have in Common.
What if I told you there was an act so powerful that it could propel you into new realms of understanding and connection… or slowly kill you?
That there was a ritual that can engage all your senses and lift them to heightened awareness… and that you don’t have to travel to a different continent to do it? That you don’t have to travel anywhere, in fact? Would you believe me if I told you that this ritual was sex? You might. What if I told you that it was smoking?
Smoking and sex are both acts that are innately powerful. This power takes on a reputation of its own — many people love it, strive for it, become addicted to it. Others malign it, decry it as evil, ban it. The truth is, this power is simply a force. The force, in itself, is neutral. But it is strong.
I want to pause here for a second and explain that when I say smoking, I’m not talking about a pack-a-day habit or a morning toke. Put aside your notions of what smoking is, and imagine the simple act of packing herbs into a pipe, lighting, and taking a deep draw.
1. They engage our desire: Smoking and sex pull on our desire so strongly that we’ll go to seemingly any lengths, from breaking laws to traveling great distances to spending huge sums of money to make it happen. Buying fake IDs, sending illicit late-night texts, making runs for supplies. This fervency is one that’s reserved only for acts of intense desire. Both acts hold intense power — over us, for us, by us.
They draw us in and hold intense sway.
2. They can be misused and abused: The thing with power is that it’s not inherently good or bad, though some folks may try to convince you otherwise. It’s just power. And so, it can be used for good, or it can be used to harm. We can use power to empower ourselves or others just as easily as we can use it to disempower ourselves or others.
It doesn’t take a huge stretch of imagination to see how this works. Sex can be one of the most empowering, bolstering, and strengthening acts there is, if it happens under empowering, consensual, non-manipulative circumstances. It can also be extremely violent, abusive, manipulative, and the cause of a lifetime of trauma.
Smoking can be a beautiful ritual or a healing practice for the respiratory system, if done in a certain way. Or, it can become an addiction, a habit that severely harms your mucous membranes, mouth, trachea, and lungs. It is such a powerful act that, over time, it can kill you. The difference lies in the many subtleties of the ritual.
3. They are highly maligned and regulated: Yes, we are certainly in a more-evolved era regarding sexual freedom, but you’re living in a delusion if you think we’re all sexually liberated. From the policing of nipples to the puritanical shame that most of us were raised with, sex is still taboo, if not considered evil, tempting or sinful by many.
This cultural defaming of what was once a sacred act has led to heavy societal legislating of that same act. As recent as 16 years ago, sodomy was still illegal in 14 states. As recently as 2015, gay couples could not marry. On top of actual laws, there are myriad societal norms and shaming to keep us from enjoying free, open, and healthy sex lives.
Sound at all like smoking yet? Smoking holds a place in so many cultures as a spiritual act. When that act is absorbed into a capitalist society that preys upon desire to generate profits, a cycle of abuse begins. Smoking has been used by corporations to disempower many people via harmful addiction. It thus gained a reputation as something inherently evil, and it is now highly regulated.
Even smoking substances other than tobacco or cannabis is regarded as being inherently bad. I know this by the reactions I get when folks learn that I, an herbalist, craft herbal smoking blends and teach people how to smoke. They think that this is somehow anathema to everything else that I do. People are horrified at the very mention of smoking.
I, of course, recognize that smoking in certain ways can cause significant harm to the body. To put my point here into context, I invite you to consider one of the most addictive and harmful substances that exists in our modern society: sugar. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine, and truly is the cause of so many health problems it’s not worth listing them. It is a very real threat to individual and public health.
Most people, and many doctors, acknowledge this. And yet, are we legislating the consumption of sugar? Do you have to be 18 to enter into an ice cream shop? Is there widespread social shaming around celebrating someone’s birthday with a sheet cake, or giving a lollipop to your child?
No. Sugar is not policed or even shamed at all. Why, you might wonder? The answer runs deeper than the pockets of the sugar lobby: power. Consuming sugar is not a powerful act of communion that can turn ordinary citizens into empowered beings who can experience different realms of reality, project their consciousness into different planes of being, and gain deep, penetrating insights about existence.
But an orgasm can do that. So can smoking.
And so, these powerful acts must be culturally and socially policed. Citizens must be scared of them, or scared of the repercussions of admitting to them, such that the only folks who will openly embrace these acts are on the fringes of society.
Empowered, enlightened beings are more difficult to control.
4. They transport us to a different experience of time and space: Have you ever experienced an orgasm in which you felt like you were suddenly transported to a completely different era, occupying a completely different body? Or perhaps you’ve felt yourself among the stars and planets, or you glimpse the future?
This type of transcendence is achievable through sex. It’s also achievable through smoking.
To me, smoking is unique as a ritual because it feels particularly connected to the ancestors. Smoking seems to lift my spirit into the world of my ancestors, allowing me to ask questions and hear their wisdom. Smoking has an ability to lift and carry your spirit to another realm in a way that few other ritual acts can.
5. They are a form of sacred communion: At this point, you might be wondering what’s so damned powerful about smoking and sex. It’s simple: they are acts of sacred communion.
During sex (if it involves two people) you are entering into a divine connection with another being. You are completely exposed and vulnerable, and are both using your energies to join into a moment of harmony and power. In magical and spiritual traditions, the moment of orgasm is seen as generating an incredible amount of energy.
Some see it as your kundalini energy rising through your Crown Chakra, your Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine joining in harmony, or simply you being so present in the moment that you are able to experience Truth.
When we smoke, we invite plants into our bodies in an immediate and intense way. Did you know that when you inhale a molecule, it only has to pass through one cell to enter your bloodstream? Once it’s in your bloodstream, it can go anywhere. Inhalation gives molecules an all-access pass to your body. That’s why huffing is such an effective way to get high.
When we smoke, we make ourselves vulnerable to the plants we inhale. It is an extremely intimate connection. The energy of this communion creates the conditions for all that growth and expansion and transcendence.
6. They provide a gateway to a moment of absolute presence: We cannot experience spiritual growth or transcendence when we’re mired in distractions. That’s why meditation, meditative movement (yoga, tai chi, etc.) and mindfulness activities are so crucial. It all amounts to being absolutely present in a moment.
The great thing about working with sex magic or ritual sex or tantra is that the sex itself doesn’t really work if you’re not in the moment. And once you’re amid orgasm, you’re fully there. It’s markedly less difficult than becoming a master meditator or yogi. Sex takes you to the moment of absolute presence with relatively little effort.
And, I hope this doesn’t come as a shock by this point in the article, but smoking can do that too. It pulls you into the moment, engaging all your senses. Smoking is an invitation to step into a moment of intense awareness, to be fully present.
One reason that sex and smoking bring you to a state of absolute presence so easily is that they engage all your senses. And our senses, along with our thoughts, are the primary distractors that pull us out of the moment. By giving our senses plenty of lusciousness to focus on, our consciousness can enter into a transcendent state.
7. They allow us to transform into our divine selves: Here’s a secret: the true power, growth and transcendence that come from these sacred communions are not the fruits of insight that you gain while during a meditation, journey or trip as though you were plucking apples off a tree. The true magic comes from transforming into your divine self.
This occurs because, in that moment, you realize that you don’t need the apple, that you are the tree. You experience what it feels like to become the tree that is just dripping with insight and magic. You embody your divine self. You experience the full extent of your power.
Once we experience stepping into our divine self, we usually don’t stay there. It’s hard to stay there. We live, after all, in a world of traffic and texts and calendars — not exactly a recipe for continual transcendence. But we want to stay there, because it feels good to experience the true nature of our being.
This is why smoking and sex are so amazing — they provide for us a ritual through which we can return to the experience of embodying our divine self. And the more we embody this divine self through ritual, the more we can bring that self into the experience of everyday living.
Amanda Midkiff is the plant witch, herbalist and owner of Locust Light Farm, an herbal teaching garden in NJ. She spends her days coaxing plants from the earth and coaxing the magic from the plants. Amanda lives to help people tap into the power of the plant world, and her classes and writing connect students to that power. You can find her tending her apothecary garden. You can find her at You can find her on Instagram or Facebook.