When photographers Shaughn Crawford and John DuBois heard about two feminist nuns growing cannabis, they knew they wanted to get it on camera. The photographers tracked down Sister Kate and Sister Darcy, who graciously invited them to their central California "abbey" to watch the magic in action.
Before we say anything else, Sister Kate and Sister Darcy are self-ordained nuns who created their own order. So, although they wear white robes and call themselves highly spiritual, they are not Catholic, nor are they abstinent or subordinate to any priest. Rather, they are vegan, feminist Bernie Sanders supporters who believe in every human's god-given right to cannabis.
However, the Sisters of the Valley, as they call themselves, aren't interested in just getting their customers high. Rather, the Sisters seek to treat suffering and assuage the pain of individuals battling anything from cancer and arthritis to diaper rash and hangovers.
Their salves, tonics and tinctures contain high volumes of CBD, the healing ingredient in cannabis, with little to no THC, the psychoactive element. All the products are organic, lab-tested and pesticide-free. Furthermore, the sisters only bottle their tinctures during full moons and say a prayer for healing with every bottle and jar sold.
The sisters are driven by a desire to relieve. "We disagree with the concept that suffering is normal and a part of life," Sister Kate explained in an interview with The Daily Beast. "We think that’s bullshit. Suffering isn’t a part of life; they’re making it so when they criminalize plant-based remedies."
In their quest for natural healing, the Sisters have encountered both immense support and hard resistance. Their Etsy account, which often sold out of its salves, has been shut down and, in January, the municipal government of Merced placed a temporary ban on weed cultivation. "It's frustrating to me because there are all of these people with negative attitudes about something that is truly God's gift," Sister Darcy told Merry Jane.
In their photo series, Crawford and DuBois capture a day in the life of the two marijuana-growing "nuns," documenting the entire process from growing to trimming to concocting CBD products. All the while, Kate and Darcy's all-white ensembles provide a wonderfully confounding image, communicating just how trippy real life can be, even sans THC.
Although the Sisters of the Valley are not actual Catholic nuns, they do take inspiration from the bona fide abbesses in their lives. "I always wanted to be a sister," Sister Kate said. "But I couldn’t be in a sisterhood that wasn’t empowered. I try to emulate the Catholic nuns standards of excellence. They stood for something. I’m trying to bring that back."