Imagine the absurdity… billions of us floating in outer space and no one knows why.
Is it any wonder then that so many of us join religions, sects and cults? ‘Join NOW and receive the secrets of life. Terms & conditions may apply.’ This latest promotion offers cannabis to new members. So should you join?
In a secluded farm in Merced California, lives a group of nuns who grow cannabis sativa.
The sister's plants are non-psychoactive, ‘CBD’ dominant and so will not get you high.
The cannabis is grown organically and prepared in accordance with the cycles of the moon, enriched with healing thoughts and prayer. I was excited to speak to the leader.
Donned in a habit, akin to a nun, I am reminded of the nuns who taught me at my old school.
I find myself apologising every time I curse as if I am offending a servant of God.
Sister Kate does not mind “I am not offended by cursing, I am offended by oppression”
We start our chat by talking a little bit about her past…
Christine Meeusen (as she was known then) was a highly successful businesswoman, mother and wife. In 2005 following a horrendous divorce which left her penniless and homeless, the Milwaukee native left the Netherlands and returned to the United States with her 3 young children, to live with her brother and his kids.
“I was crapped on by a ‘white man culture’ and made to feel like a ‘throw-away woman’”
A belief in the plant, coupled with a need for money got her thinking about a new business…
Not knowing how to grow the herb herself, she met a black market dealer and convinced him to grow her non-psychoactive hemp alongside his own ‘THC’ crop. There was one condition.
Christine would have to guard the entire crop for the 3 months. Desperate, she agreed.
“I bought a gun and an RV and I guarded the crop so I could get my ¼ of it.”
The responsibility was shared between Sister Kate, her son, and Zane (a hired hand) so that it would be less of a burden. The crop soon caught the attention of “toothless redneck white boys”
Sister Kate continued: “When we saw the spotters, we started doubling up until we had to get out.”
“It was the fall of 2014, Zane and I were in my RV when all of a sudden the two pit bulls started barking like crazy. I said ‘showtime Zane', but he was already up, with the gun, trying to see out in the darkness. As I swung my feet from the bed, the first gun-shots exploded through the bed. They were aiming for the fuel tank under my bunk!”
Zane fired some shots towards the crop which scared the thieves and they ran away.”
As the sun rose, Christine offered anyone with a gun, $100 to come and protect her while she harvested the crop. Her ¼ of the crop was harvested within hours!
Sister Kate now had 8 pounds of plant material to launch her first batch of salves and tinctures.
The accidental nun
A few months later in January 2015, using some of the funds that she won back from her stealing husband in a settlement, Christine would buy a farm and set up a business.
The sisterhood was formed and Christine renamed herself, Sister Kate.
Now in their 5th year of operation business is flying high and so are the nuns.
“We are making around $1m in sales each year. We could be making over $7m but we don't want to work ourselves to death!”.
Six sisters along with some laymen and women work on the farm. Three sisters live on the farm while the others live nearby. Harmony on the farm is vital and any disputes are settled early.
Sister Kate sees her enclave as ‘Beguine’ revivalists (Of Hadewijch origin). The Beguines were a sisterhood that existed from at least the 7th century. Back then, women had in the most part, two options; get married to a man, or, enter the church. Some early feminists cared for neither life and came together to live and work. They were healers who used cannabis to help the sick, poor and dying.
In the 12th century, the Beguines were infiltrated by the Catholic church during the ‘church inquisition’. Beguines were converted or killed and all their plant knowledge stolen from the world.
Sister Mary is quick to point out that they relate to the orders and customs pre-inquisition.
Ordained sisters must vow to live by the rules as set out by the acronym SOLACE
Obedience to the moon cycles
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‘Obedience to the moon cycles’ and ‘chastity’ intrigued me and so I asked Sister Kate about it. “We always start a batch on a new moon and finish on a full moon. We do this simply because our ancestral mothers did, and to keep the focus on the physical earth that we have been gifted.”
Speaking of chastity, Sister Kate clarifies that “we don't require a vow of celibacy, we require a vow of privatising your sexuality.” I probe further on relationships but am told that their lives are on show for all the world to see and this is why they want to keep some part of themselves private. I move on…..
I am told they work 6 hours a day, 5 days a week and believe in weekends off but she says:
“I keep signing us up for crazy ‘hollywood events’ at the weekends”. She is very open to engage with the media to promote the movement. It even caught the eye of a film producer and a documentary will be released in American theatres in April. (Breaking Habits)
Sister Kate is currently in discussions to allow a large US distributor to grow, distribute and use her label with the condition that her strict guidelines are adhered to and that it is not exclusive.
The licencing fees she receives will go towards creating new sister farms in these areas.
This month a second farm has been opened in Sacramento to help with demand.
She has 6 sisters working in Canada on launching a public service campaign not to mention several countries either at the planning stage or at the very least, activism and awareness.
With over 10,000 people already registering their interest in creating a sisterhood and continued deregulation around the world, it is safe to say the Beguines have been revived!
“We're growing, but we're trying to keep a lid on it and do it so we remember their names as they come into the order“
Sisters of the valley only sell non-psychoactive CBD balms and tinctures. Nonetheless, she is an advocate for ‘whole plant medicine’ and they have their own “private medicine cabinet” where most of the sister's will microdose on recreational cannabis during the day but will not overdo it to ensure productivity stays up!
Sister Kate has a vision for a gentler, kinder world, where men and women coexist in harmony.
“We love our men. We only want peace. We want honest men to work with us on our vision”
As the herb continues to be set free in many parts of the world, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to think that the Beguines will be in every town and city in the near future.
The only question is, would you join? I would.