“They are exactly who they present themselves to be,” say photographers Shaughn Crawford and John DuBois of the Sisters of the Valley, two nuns who grow and sell cannabis products from their home in Merced, California.
Sister Kate and younger apprentice Sister Darcy take great pride in their work, and they welcomed the photographers into the fray with generous and open spirits. DuBois describes the Sisters as “self-ordained;” in other words, they are not members of the Catholic order but live within a holy world all their own.
As deeply spiritual women with the intention to heal the sick, they harvest their cannabis plants according to the cycles and positions of the moon, and until recently, when their account was shut down, they sold their salves and remedies on Etsy. The process includes special rites and rituals, including the burning of sage, and every shipment is blessed with a prayer.
The products they sell are medicinal, treating anything from diaper rash to seizures. They are politically active and engaged with the community— they support Bernie Sanders and decry Donald Trump—and more than anything, they’re on a mission to help people in pain.
Like the Sisters, Crawford and DuBois, who together form the photography duo Shaughn and John, aren’t in it for the money or the sensational headlines. Quite simply, they want to tell the tale of two complex, daring women who have turned their own personal brand of piety into a thriving business run by strong-minded women.
All images © Shaughn and John