[Canniseur: Lisette brings a distinct femininity to her art. I love that she is so open about her healing. Our community is fortunate to have someone like her leading the way for others.]
Self-awareness, patience, and understanding are all traits that Lisette Barajas picked up through her cannabis use.
Cannabis encourages us to express our vulnerabilities. For those of us, who, through trauma and pain, have hidden from ourselves and the world, the plant has encouraged us to dive deep into ourselves and heal the pain that we’ve run from most of our lives. When Lisette Barajas, better known as Mehndi420 on Instagram, first started smoking in 2009, she didn’t know that the plant would help her heal from childhood sexual assault and allow her space to discover her passion for art therapy through henna.
“Unfortunately, I was sexually molested by my neighbor when I was 5-years-old,” Barajas shared with High Times. “That experience created a lot of shame and confusion.”
Courtesy of Lisette Barajas
When she was younger, Barajas attended therapy but it was to address the domestic violence issues she was experiencing at home. “I never addressed the molestation because my brain created a defense mechanism known as childhood amnesia,” she said.
In 2009 while working on obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from California State University, Los Angeles, Baraja’s began to use cannabis recreationally. Around this time she was also taking a sociology course, which forced her to accept that her molestation was real.
“Although I started using cannabis recreationally, it transcended into something more than that. Through cannabis, I have been able to cope with and process childhood trauma.” she said. “Smoking helped me deal with some of the emotions and triggers that come with working through abuse. I decided to become a social worker and now [I’m] transitioning into [art] therapy because of my lived experience.”
Courtesy of Lisette Barajas
It wasn’t until 2018 when cannabis became legal in California that Barajas began to take her henna hobby seriously and design cannabis motifs.
“I have always doodled and loved to draw on myself. Henna allowed me to do just that minus the toxic chemicals of a [marker]. I first began by making my own paste, then I practiced elements, then [I] developed my own design style. My style is unique [because] I use the cannabis leaf as a motif and that isn’t common in the henna community,” said Barajas. “I began to apply henna designs with paint onto my personal smoking accessories. I started with a lighter, then a bubbler, and now I’m doing bongs.”
She hopes that her work will help break the stigma of the plant and usher in more feminine energy into an industry that is heavily dominated by men. The cannabis industry is a boys club, and artists like Barajas want to shift the aesthetic to one that celebrates the feminine energy of the plant and the women who also indulge in marijuana’s goodness.
“The [cannabis] industry is heavily dominated by men. Due to this, a lot of smoking accessories aren’t very appealing, some even look like penises. I want to smoke out of a piece that is pretty and that makes me feel good. Most pipes and bongs are just for function, and I want function and aesthetic,” she shared with High Times.
Scrolling through her Instagram you will see her feminine designs grace the curves of bongs and women. “I want to feminize the cannabis industry and make it more female-friendly. Whether that be through designing bongs or doing lingerie-style henna on influencers. I want to bring out the creativity that cannabis inspires in women,” she wrote over email.
Through her relationship with cannabis, Barajas has become aware of herself in so many ways. Her henna designs exemplify so much. She uses the traditional henna art form on cannabis accessories to illustrate how, if we all continue to search, we can find various ways to explore our vulnerabilities and heal our pains.
Courtesy of Lisette Barajas
“Cannabis has helped me cope with the triggers that come with abuse. It has helped me relax and reflect on my trauma, thus helping me connect with other people with similar experience,” shares Barajas. “Combining cannabis and henna to practice mindful meditation through art therapy has helped me heal and I want to share that with others.”
She is preparing to go back and get her masters in Art Therapy, and she plans to incorporate all forms of cannabis and plant medicine into her her future work. Currently, she is working on collaborations with MAV Glass and Functional China.
Top Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lisette Barajas/ Mehndi420 (Instagram)
High Folks: Lisette Barajas on Healing Herself Through Henna and Marijuana was posted on High Times.
[Canniseur: Beautiful Existence has an intoxicating perspective of the spiritual dimension of cannabis. She shares her story here.]
This breast cancer survivor’s relationship with cannabis redefines what it means to be connected to spirit and present in your power.
Editor’s Note: Welcome to one of our newest bi-weekly columns, High Folks: the cannabis-infused version of Humans of New York, in which we take an intimate look at people’s relationships with our most beloved plant. The connection between humans and cannabis is primal, dynamic, and profound. But it’s something that’s increasingly overlooked in the new age of weed. So in an effort to combat the superficiality of cannabis in the social media-age, High Times is proud to present to you a collection of work that highlights one of life’s most beautiful gifts: connection.
Beautiful Existence’s life is guided by the spiritual relationship she has with cannabis. Her connection with the plant exceeds mundane human understanding because when she was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2015, cannabis nurtured her like a mother back to perfect health. As a way of saying thank you, Existence goes throughout the world to connect and guide others who have heard the call and felt the spirit of Mother Ganja.
“I never realized it but my first impression of cannabis was when I moved into a farmhouse the summer before first grade,” Existence tells High Times.
In 1978, seven years after Richard Nixon launched (the failed) War on Drugs, Existence moved with her family to Rochester, Washington, into a 100-year-old farmhouse located in the legendary Rainbow Valley. The room that the previous owners used to grow cannabis would eventually become her bedroom.
“I literally watched the adults dismantle track lighting and take huge bags of seeded marijuana out of the closet space and burn it in the field,” she says. “It wasn’t until I was in college that I recalled my memory of the farm and realized that the plant had always been there.”
Existence understood the spiritual component of her life and hardships, and she treated her 2015 cancer diagnoses no differently. “I had already suffered multiple experiences in my life prior to this where I had had the rug pulled out from underneath me and had to pick myself up.”
At the time of her diagnoses, she was working as a marketing and media director for the third largest spiritual center in the country and living between Boulder, Colorado, and Seattle, WA., so she had access to a multitude of spiritual resources. She immediately approached her illness from a very holistic and spiritual perspective and attacked it with everything she had.
Courtesy of Beautiful Existence
When she began using cannabis to treat her cancer, medicinal strains and Rick Simpson Oil were being phased out because in the state of Washington recreational consumers were looking for strains that were high in THC and low in CBD, making it difficult for Existence to find the right strain.
“It wasn’t until I got a chance to be around the growers and the people that had been apart of the medicinal advocacy within the state that I really understood what I needed to get and that was the concentrates,” Existence says. “I had so many mineral deficiencies… I had to completely detox and change my entire life. And [cannabis] showed me this: in healing, you need to have the concentrates and you need to have the strains. So, I’ve been going across the country and advocating for that for three years.”
In February 2019, a report by Swiss researchers shows that dabbing cannabis concentrates allows users to inhale more THC and CBD into their lungs than smoking, which, in essence, allows for more of the healing benefits of the plant to impact the body.
While looking for her perfect strain–which happened to be Charlotte’s Webb–and connecting with the plant more, she began to dive deeper into advocacy work. “The plant spirit has shown me all these different levels of what she has known,” says Existence. “[She] has been evolving with us as a species for thousands of years.”
In her advocacy work, she’s also helped states like Massachusetts build sustainable equity programs that help communities at the state and local levels.
One of the programs Existence works with is Cannabis Community and Research Network (C3RN). C3RN’s focus is advancing science, research, and best practices in the cannabis industry. In December 2017, C3RN won the first Boston University Cannabis Startup Competition, in which Existence helped build their initial website. CEO Dr. Marion McNabb says Existence has been a huge help because of her wealth of knowledge regarding the cannabis industry.
“She’s been a consistent mentor, friend, and help in designing programs and making connections to help advance science, research, and education in the industry with us,” Dr. McNabb tells High Times. “She’s provided strategic alliances and insights for us on how we can collectively advance social justice and rigorous science and research together.”
But Existence doesn’t just work in advocacy. She’s also the mother of 2 sons, a co-owner of HER Cannabis Line, creator of the Flower of Life Cannabis Tarot Deck, and is a mentor to those seeking to connect with themselves and cannabis on a deeper level.
Courtesy of Beautiful Existence
In September 2014, Kerri Jade was en route to Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida–a school in which she earned a full-ride softball scholarship–when she got into a car accident. The trauma from the experience ignited a fear of death within Jade. But that all changed after connecting Existence on Instagram for guidance.
“[Existence] has absolutely guided me in putting the puzzle pieces together of self-healing, self-awakening, and seeing a broader spectrum of what this life is about,” Jade says, who is now a student of Existence. “It’s so cliché that her name is Beautiful Existence because it fits her so perfectly.”
Existence believes the plant saved her for multiple reasons. “She knew that I would go out, and show, and help, and make a definitive difference with it rising up in the world.”
And Existence has done exactly that: spread the healing wisdom of Mother Ganja.
High Folks: Beautiful Existence Spreads Mother Ganja’s Healing Love was posted on High Times.
[Canniseur: Jessica’s pipes resemble the Goddess Pachamama. Pachamama is a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting. Is this a coincidence? We think not!]
Jessica Wolfert’s Lady Pipes project is rewriting the narrow narrative of beauty.
Editor’s Note: Welcome to our newest bi-weekly column, High Folks: the cannabis-infused version of Humans of New York, in which we take an intimate look at people’s relationships with our most beloved plant. The connection between humans and cannabis is primal, dynamic, and profound. But it’s something that’s increasingly overlooked in the new age of weed. So in an effort to combat the superficiality of cannabis in the social media-age, High Times is proud to present to you a collection of work that highlights one of life’s most beautiful gifts: connection.
In the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Port Richmond, Jessica Wolfert (26) is a Renaissance woman fusing the realms of glass-blowing and cannabis into her body positivity project Lady Pipes. The glass smoking pipes are an ode to Wolfert’s younger self: a suburban girl from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who once struggled with social anxiety and body image issues.
“When my social anxiety was at its worst I was terrified of being judged,” Wolfert tells High Times. “I wanted to physically disappear, and I think that negatively affected the way I viewed and treated my body.”
Always thinking about what she was doing with her hands, her word choice, and breathing pattern made it painfully difficult for Wolfert to interact in social settings. It wasn’t until her first semester at Temple University’s Tyler College in 2010 that she decided to face her social anxiety disorder.
She smoked cannabis recreationally three or four times with some classmates when she realized it eased the overwhelming social discomfort.
Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 6.8 percent of the U.S. population suffers from social anxiety disorder (SAD), and there have been studies suggesting that cannabis is the cause of SAD. But a 2015 report shows that patients dealing with social anxiety disorder experienced greatly improved moods after consuming cannabis.
“I felt peaceful and euphoric,” she says. “I was laughing and joking with my friends and not thinking about all of the stupid little insecurities I had. It was very freeing. It took some effort to follow conversation but I realized that If I could do that while I was high then I could learn to do it [while being] sober as well.”
Wolfert is grateful that cannabis helped her deal with her social anxiety, but she also recognizes she wouldn’t have been as focused on her art without it. “I had trouble connecting with people socially, so art became a way for me to connect without going too far out of my comfort zone.”
Finding peace within her comfort zone and body prompted Wolfert to create Lady Pipes, an artistic glass project aimed at rewriting beauty’s narrow narrative.
“When I looked around at my friends, including myself, I didn’t know anybody who didn’t struggle with body image issues,” Wolfert tells High Times. “Pretty much everybody I know does. Even women you think are the societal ideal don’t feel good enough, and that’s pretty crazy to me. So I thought to myself that I wanted to depict a greater spectrum of beauty because when you see your own body represented in art and you see people commenting and calling it beautiful, it’s really empowering.”
Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert
Wolfert completed her first Lady Pipe in April of 2018.
But in 2017, prior to the inception of this project, Wolfert met Terasina Bonanini (32) an art director and curator for Ruckus Gallery in Philadelphia. Bonanini says Wolfert’s relationship with glass grew tremendously while working at the gallery.
“Challenged by the skill level of what was being showcased in the gallery, [Wolfert] worked hard to develop her technique as a glass blower and broaden her perspective of what glass is ‘supposed to be,’” says Bonanini.
On Valentine’s Day of 2017, Wolfert’s sculpture “Skeleton Siren Presented on a White Dinner Plate” debuted at Impossible Standards, a show curated by Bonanini.
“It was beautiful and delicate,” Bonanini tells High Times. “The presentation made you think, ‘why a dinner plate?’ She explained it represented the temptation to achieve an ‘ideal’ body through harmful and dangerous means.”
Wolfert believes life imitates art. But she also explains that media conditions people to have a dangerously one-sided view of beauty.
“If we can show the world that beauty is diverse then we can change the way we experience our bodies and the way that we experience life,” Wolfert says. “It’s changing the way that I experience my own body for sure.”
Wolfert plans to get some of her friends to model for her as she continues to make more Lady Pipes.
Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert
Jessica Hintchey (27) a friend of Wolfert’s since 2014, is excited about the future of Lady Pipes because it gives different women permission to feel beautiful and validated by having a Lady Pipe shaped like them.
“Body image and diet culture are something that [Wolfert] and I have always struggled with,” says Hintchey. “And fitting that ideal, what always ends up being European beauty standards of a thin body and small features, and the whole social determination of beauty. Wrapped up in that is also [Wolfert’s] relationship with cannabis because of anxiety, her use of cannabis to calm her anxiety and her anxiety regarding her body image in a rotating diet culture. I think Lady Pipes is helping [Wolfert] figure out her relationship to her own body, what the ideal body type is and how to navigate that in a healthy way.”
Through the Lady Pipes project, Wolfert reminds us how synonymous cannabis legalization and women’s liberation are because, as a country, we’re being forced to rethink what makes women feel good, loved, accepted, and respected in a place that has a one dimensional perspective of beauty.
Thus, Lady Pipes is an ode to understanding that we all develop through continued acts of faith and self-love.
“It takes a lot of confidence to go against the grain so to speak,” she says. “That includes looking different from the accepted ideal…”
Working as an entrepreneur, Wolfert plans to continue taking Lady Pipe commissions and building upon her work as a glass blower and ceramics artist.
High Folks: Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity was posted on High Times.