The Three Sacred Plants
By Roger Longtoe
There are many ideas and traditions on the uses of these sacred plants
being use today. But what I have written has been taken from historical
accounts and traditional stories from the Northeast and they are basic and
simple. The three sacred plants most commonly used in the Northeast were:
Tobacco (Nicotiana Rustica) was used as an offering to the Creator or
lessor Spirit Beings, when praying or asking for their assistance or
protection. This is done by burning it on a fire, coals or smoking it in a pipe.
The smoke will rise into the air and carry your prayers into the Spirit World,
so they may be heard. Or one could spread the tobacco into the wind or
upon some waters like a lake, river, ocean; so that it would make the Spirits
happy by showing respect toward them. Also, tobacco was smoked when
important words were to be spoken to the people.
Cedar, both Eastern red cedar (Juniperus Virginiana) and Eastern white
cedar (Thuja Occidentalis), were used to drive away bad spirits, feelings or
influences. This is done by burning the leaf or green part and smudging a
person, place or thing with the smoke. Sage was not used in the Northeast
until probably the 19th or early 20th century.
Sweetgrass is used to bring in good spirits, feelings and influences. This
is done by burning it and letting the smoke spread around a person, place
These plants should not be mixed together or burnt at the same time. Each
has its time and place to be burned. I have been told never to put any
sacred thing in a plastic bag. The spirit can not move around freely in
plastic. A leather, wool, bark or paper container should be used.
|Making Cedar Smudge Sticks
with the young ones
|Norm & Patty M'Sadoques with his
Native Tobacco Garden
|© 2006 Elnu Abenaki Tribe