When Aubrey Plaza expressed her interest in becoming a 'Weed Nun' during a recent viral smoke sesh with the Sisters of the Valley, the 'Parks and Recreation' star wasn’t kidding around.
"When we finished the video and walked out to the snack room, Aubrey was like, 'I'm serious. I want to be a Weed Nun',” Sister Kate told Civilized. "She'll actually be coming up for a full moon ceremony if she can get the time off."
As has become clear since the video’s release, Plaza is far from alone in this pursuit.
The Sisters of the Valley have, in fact, been inundated in recent weeks with requests to join their organization – a sisterhood from California's Central Valley who not only grow and harvest their own cannabis plants via moon cycles, but who advocate for women's empowerment through employment.
The flood of inquiries has, in fact, been so overwhelming that Sister Kate felt compelled to publish a blog for would-be Weed Nuns on what it really means to be part of their unconventional assembly.
For starters, don’t get them confused with the nuns – or, for that matter, the non-profit organizations – of yesteryear.
"The idea of a non-profit has been corrupted, and the idea of religion has been corrupt for a very long time. As activists with a chance to start a whole new kind of way of living and a whole new spirituality, we didn’t want to equate ourselves with either of those structures," said Sister Kate (real name Christine Meeusen), who officially launched the sisterhood in early 2015.
The group’s practices are instead based on their "Beguine mothers" – spiritual women of the Middle Ages who were devoted to caring for the poor and sick.
The Sisters of the Valley see a connection between "the degradation of the Divine Feminine, the degradation of women, the degradation of the planet, and the degradation of the cannabis plant."
"Christianity disempowered women. It also gave permission to people to trash the planet, which to us is a divine feminine entity – Mother Earth. And then we have a connection to the feminine cannabis plant, which is medicine and provides healing," said Sister Kate.
"If you disempower women, you’re disempowering healing for your people... because women are natural healers."
So why dress up like nuns?
According to Sister Kate, the imagery continues to "mean something to people." Their mission, in some ways, is to "redefine" that image.
"The Catholic nuns may have gone extinct in this country, but [the image] still means something to people... a commitment to excellence, to a system or organization," said Sister Kate. "The people are missing the presence of [spiritual leaders] among them, fighting their battles with them and for them."
Considering their roots, it only makes sense that a modern manifestation of this ancient model would involve medical marijuana.
"We believe that healing comes from working with these plants. We believe that one day, every mother will make it a rite of passage with their 14-year-old boy or girl to give them a cannabis plant and have them grow it," said Sister Kate.
"I believe that if you put your hands in the dirt and you grow something from a seed, you are creating a spiritual act. You are creating an act of meditation with the planet and you’re much less likely to go off and try pharmaceuticals and things you snort or shoot up your arms."
For those still interested in joining the group, Sister Kate urges patience.
"It’s interesting because usually when we get media attention, we see a spike in sales. When we did the video with Aubrey... we saw no spike in sales but we got a barrage of people from around the world who want to join us," said Sister Kate, whose group had roughly $750,000 in sales last year.
"[In terms of] where we are and growing the order, we’re just letting people know to sign up for the mailing list and be patient because we don’t have a magic wand."