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Meet Colorado's high priestess of cannabis 

click to enlarge Candace Aguilera trained in Guatemala’s jungle. - KIMBERLY HOADLEY
  • Kimberly Hoadley
  • Candace Aguilera trained in Guatemala’s jungle.
Marijuana: It’s recreational, medicinal, and for those who believe, sacramental. Well before dab bars and clubs swept across Colorado Springs, Greenfaith Ministry in Nunn, Colorado, became the first cannachurch on the books with the IRS and the state.

Rastafarian Rev. Brandon Baker got his spiritual start in Cheyenne, Wyoming, before moving to Nunn and founding what would become Greenfaith Ministry in 2008.

A second location of the nonprofit opened in Colorado Springs in the old Mike’s Camera spot on the corner of Constitution Avenue and Academy Boulevard in 2010. The Springs location is managed by High Priestess Candace Aguilera. The first Sunday of every month, Greenfaith in the Springs holds a spiritual service of healing; the Independent attended a service on July 1.

The church is nondenominational, and Aguilera incorporates many components based on Mayan culture, especially calendars, astrology and the energies she says are associated with them. She began her service by saying a blessing to the four cardinal directions, Grandfather Sky and Mother Earth.

After each person at the service turned in each direction while holding Mason jars of water, we took our seats as the high priestess shared her astrological knowledge of the Mayan day Tijax 7 (July 1 this year).

Tijax is the obsidian knife, an energy honored for cutting through illusion to an illuminated state. The number seven represents a day of healers and the Grandmother Moon, offering guidance in the night and bringing light to the darkness.

The high priestess invigorated the audience: “Today we can heal. You choose your path and way. Tijax is the day of cutting negative ties. Today you tell yourself you want health and divine peace.”

While listening, members were encouraged to hold the water in sacred prayer, before labeling the jars with aspirations of creativity, love, peace and health.

With good vibes lingering, it almost went unnoticed that the only smoke permeating the air was copal (tree resin). Then, congregant Bill Hahn slowly rolled up a joint. A dedicated member, Hahn enjoys being able to smoke herb as a part of his spiritual experience.

“Can you imagine this happening in New Jersey?” he asks. “I can’t. I found a diverse place for healing and companionship where marijuana is honored as a sacrament. I’ve seen all walks of life here.”

He wasn’t kidding. Looking around, there was a man dressed for Sunday church, a young woman ready for yoga, and a couple in jeans admiring the Native American murals.

Aguilera says she is continuing in the footsteps of generations of medicine women and men, and she does seem to be shrouded in a certain mystique. The high priestess says she is continuing to acclimate from her spiritual training in the mountains of Central America.

Mentored by a Mayan priest who seeks and chooses his students, Aguilera attended a class on energies in 2015. She drove to Denver for a midnight class for 20 days, during which she and small group of women pored over the Mayan calendar and scripture under the direction of her teacher and his translator.

After long nights and drives, Aguilera joined her first pilgrimage near Cobán, Guatemala. From sunrise to sunset, the students learned and practiced ceremonies. Aguilera recalls the hours by bus and truck into the wild. “I hadn’t experienced anything so far from home. We slept on a wood floor in the jungle with no electricity. I’ll always remember the jaguars; we heard them but there’s no telling where they were.”

Over the course of her education, the elders of the tradition, known as grandmothers and grandfathers, endowed the high priestess with hand-sewn ceremonial garb — fajas (a strip of fabric worn around the waist or forehead) and a stone from a holy mountain. These sacraments serve as vessels for spiritual healings performed at Greenfaith Ministries and at Aguilera’s home.

Typical sacraments in the high priestess’ medicine bags used for healing are crystals, eggs, tobacco, copal, coal, and holy oil. Marijuana is a sacrament celebrated after ceremonies to honor the creator, whom Aguilera calls Spirit.

Two rooms in Greenfaith are dedicated to spiritual healing: one to discuss the Mayan day’s energies, the other to perform the ceremony. One can expect to reach a meditative state through deep breaths while the high priestess chants and prays over chakra centers and meridians. Not limited to her teacher’s instruction, the high priestess says she honors all spiritual teachings she’s gathered and adopted.

Along with serving as Greenfaith’s high priestess, Aguilera is also the manager. She directs volunteers, oversees renovations, and finds plenty of joy preparing donations for the homeless. She anticipates the upcoming holiday season will require over $100,000 worth of care packages.

Donations for those in need will include toiletries, turkey dinners, winter jackets, and a puff of sacramental herb in Greenfaith’s sanctuary.

For more info, visit Greenfaith Ministry’s Facebook page and blog greenfaithministry.com/blog.

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