The Trickster Spirit Who Planted a Joint in Our Apartment, or, The Stupidest Religious Belief I Ever Had


The scary thing is? I actually, seriously believed this.

JointThis happened when I was eighteen, the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college. I was deep into my New Age woo phase: Tarot cards, astrology, reincarnation, Aleister Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson and just about every other piece of stoner bullshit spirituality that crossed my path. I was living in Alaska for the summer with my boyfriend, and we were getting pretty well baked pretty much every day. We had an assortment of joints that we’d pre-rolled from an assortment of stashes, and in order to keep track of which joint had been rolled from which stash, we marked them with little colored dots on the ends.

So one day we were going through our little collection, deciding which variety we wanted to enjoy… and we came across a single joint with a blue dot on the end.

And we freaked our shit.

See, we couldn’t remember marking a joint with a blue dot. We vividly remembered rolling joints from three stashes: one we’d marked with red dots, one we’d marked with black dots, and one we’d kept blank. Neither of us had any recollection of marking a joint with a blue dot, and we both had clear — well, okay, “clear” is perhaps not the right word, let’s say “vivid” — memories of having rolled joints from three and only three stashes. We couldn’t for the life of us think where the blue-dot joint had come from.

And so we came to the most obvious conclusion — which was that a friendly trickster spirit had planted the joint among the rest of the joints, and had marked it with a blue dot to confuse us.

I kid you not.

The alternate conclusion — that we’d rolled the joint and marked it ourselves, and had simply forgotten about it, what with being BAKED OUT OF OUR MINDS JUST ABOUT EVERY SINGLE DAY — we rejected out of hand. We didn’t remember doing that. Therefore, we hadn’t done it. Therefore, friendly trickster spirit.

I’m not sure that this story has a conclusion, other than the obvious ones: most parsimonious explanation, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, wishful thinking (we really liked the idea of the trickster spirit, it was entertaining and gave a touch of amazement to our everyday lives), etc. I mostly just think it’s a funny story.

So if you ever had religious or spiritual beliefs, what’s the stupidest one you ever had?

Comments

  1. Dunc says

    The important question is: was it good? ;)

    I remember once watching a documentary about Jimi Hendrix, and being hit with the absolute, unshakeable, bolt-from-the-blue, feel-it-in-your-bones conviction that he was the Messiah. (This was long before I started taking drugs.) Thankfully, it didn’t last long… But I can totally see how that sort of feeling could result in a major religious conversion, if it were associated with an accepted religious figure and supported by social reinforcement.

  2. Ganner says

    Haha wow. My college roommates and I smoked a whole bunch (among others things) and all became atheists. Never got into any of the “stoner spirituality” junk. I do think seeing how easy it was to twist my own perception and make sense, in my own head, of any kind of idea helped lead me to seriously questioning things.

  3. says

    “So if you ever had religious or spiritual beliefs, what’s the stupidest one you ever had?”

    Isn’t that like asking which end of a turd smells worse? But to answer the question….

    There have been periods in my life when I was religious, with my teen and young adulthood swaying mostly between Wicca and Christianity (the Metropolitan Community Church and the Episcopal Church.) I’m not sure I can say I’ve ever had any beliefs, though, as I was never able to swallow the dogmas. I enjoyed the ceremonies — to say my youth was chaotic would be an understatement, and the rituals and symbolisms brought a lot of much needed order to my life — but I never expected spells or prayers to do anything other than refocus my own mind. Kind of like secular meditation, but with incense and candles. Even at my most devout, when I was attending Mass two or three times a week, I was never able to shake the surprise of, “People actually believe this stuff? Really?”

  4. cottonnero says

    I remember being scared as a child of the vampire that was going to bite me if I didn’t sleep with my covers over my neck. When I was presented with religious ideas, they were never as vivid, as real, as the vampire was. Maybe I was lucky; my memory starts very early, and my religious education didn’t start until I was four and already asking smartass questions.

    I don’t know how relevant my story is to your question, but it’s the one that was brought to mind by your trickster spirit.

  5. Onamission5 says

    This was some 20 years ago…
    I thought that my bad dreams and sleep paralysis were caused by my bio-father sending me bad juju attached to the trinkets and drawings he’d made me. So I “banished” the bad juju by burning the things he gave me in the woodstove.

    Funnily enough, that put an end to my sleep disturbances at that time. Confirmation bias by way of superstitious ritual ftw?

  6. Trebuchet says

    I believe that pumpkins can fly.

    The Gourd’s Prayer:

    Our Pumpkin which art in the heavens,
    Halloweened be thy name.
    Thy slingdom come,
    Thy splat be done,
    In Washington as it is in Delaware.
    Give us this day our daily hurl,
    And forgive us our misfires as we forgive those
    Who misfire in our direction.
    Lead us not into pneumatics,
    But deliver us from air cannons.
    For thine are the flingdom, the counterweight, and the glory,
    For ever, or at least in the Fall.
    Fire in the Hole!

    My wife thinks I’m nuts.

  7. rodriguez says

    I was totally taken in by Dante in my 20’s. It’s so embarrassing to remember now, because I knew it was literature, and I knew the RCC didn’t endorse it. Yet I thought, yep, this is how it is. I remember telling people how I was just trying to make my way to purgatory.

    Fortunately I quit religion not too long after that. Maybe it was the last fever spike.

  8. says

    I’ve entertained so many bizarre beliefs that it is hard to rank them. There was the time when I thought a spirit came out of my closet and threatened me (couldn’t possibly have been a dream!). There was an extended period when I thought that I could commune with spirits/ghosts (complete with Ouija boards, ghostwriting, hearing voices, seeing/sensing spirits around me). I entertained various almost-believed fantasies that I would one day be transported into another world where I “really” belonged. And, of course, after I became a christian I was convinced for a time that the devil had sent cockroaches into my apartment for the sole purpose of terrorizing me.

    All that and no drugs.

    These are among the reasons why I tell people that I have much less to fear as an atheist than I ever did as a believer.

  9. Jeremy Shaffer says

    For the longest time I had a belief that everything had a soul, which included inanimate objects and they came complete with feelings and the like. If I bumped into a table, slammed a door or what not I always felt the need to apologize to it. If I got mad and “insulted” something because it didn’t work properly I’d eventually have to apologize to it. I remember when I was around seven or eight getting disturbed whenever my grandfather burned trash.

  10. freemage says

    A belief, in my childhood, that exhaling while going past a graveyard meant you’d have some of your life-force sucked away, while breathing in left you open to possession. To this day, I reflexively hold my breath for as much as two blocks at a time while driving, even though I no longer have any sort of belief in this; it’s just comfortable.

  11. Friendly says

    For a while I believed — or at least I wanted to believe; I certainly told people — that three demons lived in my bedroom. I’m not really sure why; I wasn’t afraid of the “demons” and there was absolutely nothing “paranormal” happening in the room. I think it must have been during one of those “I might get people to pay more attention to me if I make outrageous claims” phases that I was prone to as a kid.

  12. Kitterbethe says

    I was about 7 years old out shopping with my mother and sister. I saw a little ceramic unicorn figure and fell in love with it. I had, being a bit of a saver, enough money for it at home and asked my mum if she would buy it and I would give her the money afterwards at home. This was the standard arrangement as she did not like us carrying money around.

    On this occasion she refused, called my little unicorn trash and gave me a rather shouty lecture about frugality in the middle of the store. Crying hard and at the start of a 2 hour drive home, I felt miserable at the (perceived) injustice of it all. Then I suddenly became convinced that my Friend/Saviour JESUS who LOVED ME! (eleventy), would take the money from my money box, give it to the shopkeeper and put the unicorn in my room. I prayed/wished intensely for the whole two hours and by the time I got home I was *convinced* the little unicorn would be there. I even ran up the stairs two at a time.

    When it wasn’t there, I was heartbroken, yes, but also gobsmacked. I would have been less surprised to find my bed turned to jelly, than to see it there, without the little unicorn on it. Even though I had never seen magic before in the real world, I had been absolutely sure that it would happen this time.

    The message I took from this was that Jesus did not love me, and I needed to work harder or I was going to Hell. So I was extra especially good and pious for the next three weeks until the morning of my sister’s birthday when she received as a gift, my little unicorn.

    The message I took from THIS was that I was fundamentally bad (unlike my sister), Jesus would *never* love me (unlike my sister), and to Hell I would go.

    The actual explanations for all this were, of course, that there is no such thing as magic or Jesus, that my mother was drunk in that shop and forgot which one of her kids wanted the unicorn so much, and that I was quite a strange child.

  13. angela says

    My “religious experience” that kept me believing in some kind of “god” thing for so long is actually pretty fucked up. But fuck it, you don’t know me :).

    So during a time in my childhood when – due to some fucked up stuff – I was thinking of suicide. I was 11, and I had a lovely tree outside my window, and had my bed sheets, and thought about tying them together and hanging myself after I knew everyone was asleep (because by the time they woke up, I’d be done, and I figured the “god” I believed in wouldn’t send me to “hell”, and would understand, because he would know he created me and my situation). One night, I was at a peak of depression, and I was seriously about to do this. I was lying in bed, (now a DING DING DING!), and thinking about everything that was fucked up, and how miserable I was. I had a ceiling fan in my empty room (well, there was an empty shelf, and my bed and desk, and my backpack, but otherwise empty). The ceiling fan started swirling with – what I perceived at the time- a dark black mist that darkened the entire room. I prayed that if there really was a “God” that gave a shit about me that he would give me a clear and “RIGHT NOW” sign. And then the darkness went away, and the room became – or so it seemed – brighter than before.

    The experience I had, I now see as probably sleep paralysis, combined with a coping mechanism of some sort. And possibly some external factors like maybe some clouds were passing over the moon at that particular moment. At any rate, I’m glad my brain did this automatically for me or I wouldn’t be here today.

    Reading back over this before I post, I see how this could potentially be misunderstand as me applying benefit to the belief in some form of “god” or something, and that is absolutely not the case. I would attribute this “positive under negative circumstance” experience to my brain – and possibly clouds too! – and what it/they did for my survival. Our brains/minds, and its capabilities are fucking amazing.

  14. says

    Closest thing I got: when I was a kid, I was a big X-Men fan, and I was completely sure that my two closest friends and I were mutants and that our powers would manifest promptly when we hit puberty (like they do). It was a huge deal, like 90% of our play revolved around training with our powers, and (of course) we had to keep it a secret from a world that hated and feared us. The weird thing was that I was simultaneously wholly convinced that this was true (I could feel the lightning shooting out of my fingertips), and also aware that as an adult I would not believe it any more; to this day I can’t quite reconcile the dissonance, but at the time I didn’t feel the need to try. I guess I avoided thinking about it because Future Me seemed so sad and empty.

    It influences how I relate to religious people, though, because that’s the only deeply-held irrational belief I’ve ever had. Whenever I try to empathize with someone believing in gods or the supernatural, I relate it to my experience, which was sort of on the blurred line between belief and pretending really hard. It makes it hard for me to take folk at their word when they insist that they legitimately believe that stuff. I’m like, “yeah, I would have said that as well, but it was actually just an extremely rich fantasy life.”

  15. photon says

    You were obviously visited by that kindest and most generous of all supernatural beings, the Pot Fairy.

    The Pot Fairy has visited me & my friends many times over the years, leaving zip-lock bags or foil-wrapped bundles in the back of drawers or cupboards. ( It must have been the fairy – I certainly don’t remember hiding them there!) Once the fairy left me several mature plants lying on the ground outside my back gate (as well as a pair of scissors).

    I’m not claiming that the Pot Fairy really exists, but look at the evidence!

  16. says

    During the early ’90s during my own dope smoking woo-woo phase. It was a late Autumn evening and I was walking to a slightly older and more worldly (to my mind anyway) girlfriends apparent, all tie-dyed silk and dream catchers. As I turned into her street I started to feel a little unwell, the slightly nauseous, head spinning feelings increased as I got closer to her door.

    By the time she had invited me in I was actually feeling very odd, similar to a mild *whitey* . I explained the symptoms to her and she laughed because the answer was so obvious. She had just washed all her crystals and the [blah blah] energy was interfering with my [something or other]. I stayed with her that night and over the course of four or five hours the symptoms got a little worse and then started to subside until I was feeling fine again.

    Over the next 20 or so years, realizing the woo-woo wasn’t really my bag, I got myself a scientific understanding of the world. However, there was still this nagging doubt about the crystal thing. I had felt fine until I got within 200 yards or so of her door, i then felt rather ill while in her apartment but as the newly refreshed crystal energy diminished I started to feel OK again. I will admit, the whole thing really bugged me.

    6 years ago a friend and I went down with very similar symptoms at the same time, a quick internet search brought up Norovirus. Now I know how to spot the symptoms I realize that I have had the Norovirus a few times since, and it appears that I am not particularly susceptible. Luckily the symptoms for me are just the mild nausea that I had felt at my old girlfriends apartment that late Autumn evening.

  17. grumpyoldfart says

    Even as a child I was a no nonsense sort of character. I still remember how clever I felt when I worked out that “Once upon a time” was code for “This is bullshit”.

    There was one thing however…

    There was a muddy old dam not far from our house, and somehow I convinced myself it was bottomless. I told everyone about it (and berated anyone who disagreed with me) until one day one of the other kids decided to test out my theory. He took off his clothes and waded across the dam from one side to the other. It was so shallow he didn’t even get his bum wet! That was the first and last piece of woo with which I was involved.

    I did go to Sunday School for eight years, but I was an unbeliever from day one.

  18. voidhawk says

    I went through two phases I can’t honestly say I didn’t believe in. The first was the belief that the Earth was being invaded by aliens called ‘Bugatrons’ (yes, really) which lived in the ground and could suck you down and kill you. They looked like the evil cartoon verucas in a veruka cream advert. I refused to walk on bare soil and my friends and I dedicated hours to fighting the Bugatron menace.

    The second occured a few years later. My friend and I were convinced (To the point of borrowing physics textbooks from the library to study the phenomenon) that we were regularly hopping between very similar paralell universes Quantum Leap-style. This explained every little change in our world from people’s personalities being different from one day to the next, to not remembering homework set (ah! of course we didn’t remember this, the maths teacher didn’t set this homework in OUR dimension!) to ridiculously petty things like the vinyl tile in a corridor being a different colour to how we remembered it. We developed so many theories as to how we were traversing the dimensional void but I don’t remember how we stopped believing in it.

  19. kristine says

    I once got impossibly good gas mileage. In the early ’90s, my boyfriend and I drove his 1964 VW bug from Berkeley to Yosemite Valley and back on a half-tank of gas. Over 400 miles, on 5 gallons of gas. We marveled over it for days – could we have stopped at a gas station (and not paid!) and not remembered it? Was it a miracle? Should we bring the car to some engineers and have them study it? Start a church?
    Sadly, it never happened again. A few years later, the car was crushed by a little old lady (who hit it so hard from the rear that she spun it around and hit it from the front as well). We held a modest funeral.

  20. PDX_Greg says

    I used to believe, as a kid, that I could prevent specific bad outcomes by thinking about the specific bad outcomes as a kid. For instance, I would think that when I got a test back, it would be graded a B. Or a C. or a D. or an F. Yes, I would force myself to picture those outcomes, but to never picture an A. And the tests would always come back with “A”s, and I honestly thought that I had prevented the other grades because I had pictured them in my mind emblazoned on the test in big red ink. It had nothing to do with the fact that I had studied for the test and had a good aptitude for learning book stuff. Nope, I had willed away the other possible outcomes be pre-imagining them!

    When I asked a girl “out” the first time (this was way back in middle school), I consciously pictured every type of rejection I could think that she might come up with to eliminate those from the realm of reality. Lo and behold, she refused my invitation in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. I mentally kicked myself for not having thought of it beforehand, opening the door for my crushing failure. She actually asked me out a couple of days later, something I had never anticipated, which only served to reinforce my belief in this power. I won’t give away all of the salacious details, but let’s just say some pretty serious hand-holding took place right there on school property, enough to get us both suspended for a day from South Hills Academy (a Southern Baptist institution that was clearly offended by the unsupervised intermingling of palms, and probably made her forever unfit for marriage in their eyes, but I digress. Michelle, I hope you were able to find your virtue again in the wake of our parting.)

    I think I was in high school before I rationalized this belief away. It was an outrageously narcissistic belief now that I think about it.

  21. says

    Wow, I did the exact same thing for years, PDX_Greg. Nothing ever turned out exactly as I imagined, so I tried to imagine all the possible unwanted scenarios I could. ANd then I hadn’t consciously thought of it for quite a while before you brought it all back to my mind.

    As for ridiculous beliefs, how about the idea that the glowing shade of deep dark blue that the sky sometimes turns at dusk is evidence of God? This was the idea around which my own spiritual beliefs were based for years, after a childhood of secular Judaism.

    Then in my late thirties I concluded that my childhood assumption that all religion was mythology was right after all. Gee, I was a smart kid.

  22. sambarge says

    This story is a bit long but stick with me.

    First some background; my parents are the younger/youngest children in big families so I have cousins as old as my parents. Also, my parents emigrated, so most of my extended family is in the old country and I have little or no real contact with them.

    Now, I was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed child in an immediate family of brown-haired, brown-eyed people. The difference was more pronounced because all my red and blonde-haired, blue-eyed cousins were back in the old country (and there were a lot of them). So, naturally, my older siblings assured me that I was adopted. Regularly. My parents assured me that I wasn’t (and really, why would poor immigrants adopt another child? I mean, think about it, Sam).

    A package of photos came to us from my dad’s brother, just after my grandmother died. They were pics of my dad and his siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. that my grandmother had. It looked like I was in a couple of the photos. I don’t mean someone that looks like me – I mean, it was me just dressed like the 1940s or 50s. It was freaky. My sister (who hadn’t let go of the “of course you’re adopted, Mom and Dad just don’t want you to cry” routine) told me that it WAS me and that I was a sort of bad-luck demon that had been haunting my family in the guise of an unwanted child since forever. Evidence – the photos.

    I believed it completely, even after my mother explained, patiently, that the little girl in the pictures was my cousin. That my cousin had died young, giving birth to her last child and that’s why I hadn’t heard about her (she actually died years before I was born). That there was nothing supernatural about it – my cousin and I both looked a lot like our grandmother (my dad’s mom) and that’s how it is in families.

    Funny addendum; I have some of those pictures reproduced and hanging in my home. My own daughter thought that they (and pictures of me as a child) were pictures of her in dress up clothes. Also, even though she tormented me as a child, my sister and I get along fine now.

  23. frankb says

    My example is not particularly spiritual because it was about Big Foot. In my early twenties I firmly believed in the creature. I had seen a big foot hunter show and read a similar article and saw the movie “The Legend Of Boggy Creek”. When public interest waned so did mine. Finally I heard from skeptics on the issue and that was that.

    #21, Kristine. I had a similar experience in the 80’s with our Toyota Tercel wagon, though my experience was much more possible. My parents had just purchased a travel trailer for long trips in their retirement. For their first trip they wanted to take their grandkids to Disney World. Staying at Fort Wilderness in a trailer and cooking meals in the evening made the trip a lot cheaper. On the second day of travel from Illinois to Florida my Tercel went the whole day on a single tank of gas. Later I realized we were drafting behind the trailer and were getting about 50 to 60 miles per gallon. If a VW bug got behind a semi, it could go all day.

  24. says

    That’s easy.

    When I was a sophomore in high school I crushed hard on my English teacher, who was in her late 20s. I took to having…let us say impure thoughts about her. When those thoughts would surface (usually late at night in bed), I would pray to God to remove those impure thoughts and not think about them.

    Stupid, I know. It took about three months for me to realize that when I was praying, I was talking to myself. I got over it all pretty fast.

  25. says

    Yesterday morning when I went out to my car, the front left tire was flat. And, even knowing it was ridiculous, my brain kept telling me that it was because I had been telling a story about getting a flat tire the night before. The pattern-finding nature of our brains is quite stubborn, even in the face of skepticism and reason.

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