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Among the many topics on which I have been taught conflicting information is which herbs were regarded as "sacred" [ceremonial] in the Eastern Woodlands. I saw where Piney said that white cedar was used as smudge, rather than sage. Someone else once told me that there was an eastern plant that was used instead of sage, but I don't recall what it was; I don't think it was cedar (I mean it was more sage-like, though I don't know that it was a salvia). Apparently sweetgrass was indigenous to the east, but I'm not sure if it was used ceremonially. Tobacco [nicotiana rustica] is a given; I'm pretty clear on that. So please, enlighten me as to what the rest of the story is. Of course, various nations might give slightly varied answers, but I trust you all to give accurate information. My primary interest is in the Lenape, of course, but other nations' viewpoints are desirable as well.
Last edited by lenape (Jan-08-2009 10:58:am)
Anischi! I have that book, but have not looked at it for some time.
Of course, I'd like to learn the things you and Piney know, but wouldn't say on this public forum. But that has its own problems and roadblocks, enit?
Last edited by Suckachsinheet (Jan-07-2009 11:36:pm)
I have replied to posts here several times and deleted it, purely and simply because I felt it inappropriate for a Non Native, White English man to have an opinion, however I do have an opinion and I don’t mean to offend anyone with it and anyone here that really knows me will know will understand that.
Many Indigenous people I have met over the years from different Countries have taught me many things that have been passed down to them by their elders to them and then them to me to assist me in certain situations I may find myself in. I took onboard many things like a sponge wanting to absorb everything possible, everything was new to me, roots, leaves barks etc.. and their uses, I was like an excited child because I spent every minute as a child in the woodlands, with books teaching myself the best I could. When my friends were out playing football and getting Fish and Chips for lunch I was in the woods trapping catching and eating my lunch… Yes I was an odd child, I even brought Horses and all sorts of animals home but Dad always made me take them back.. any I am digressing a little now.
Back on topic.: I appreciate that what the Indigenous people taught me was only what they wanted me to know and they kept many things back for obvious reasons, I befriended many I met and they did show me additional techniques but I never shared anything with anyone not even on courses where their tips would have come in good use.
What am I trying to say here… I believe that discussions of this nature “Sacred Herbs” is dodgy ground, where are the borders before it ventures onto taboo territory? Sacred to me means “Holy” “Sanctity or “Natures Mysteries” and discussions on these topics violates that meaning… Do we really want to share our knowledge with others; it is wasted on most due to their mindset and ignorance.
Where would this discussion start and stop, who moderates the borders secrets that should be kept within. I also tried looking for the “Magic Medicines of the Indians” book but decided against it in my opinion again anything that is anything will not be published in a book or available on the WWW and if it is then it is not worth the read… don’t get me wrong it is probably a good book.
Again I don’t want to offend anyone here, I am the outsider and the last thing I want is to be invited into someone’s home and start preaching but I don’t apologise for giving my opinion.
Last edited by lenape (Jan-08-2009 11:00:am)
Poisons were sacred, same as abortion drugs, also things that give you visions, that's were it becomes dodgey ground. Someone might read it then abuse it. The Nanticoke abortion herb can kill if used wrong. Very painfullly I might add. Certain things that give visions or kill pain will kill too. Or give you permanent brain or nerve damage.
Let me start by saying brilliant thread.
I'm sort of new to this forum, but I'll spare you all the lengthy introduction, at least here.
In short, and pertaining to herbs and plants:
I have picked up botanical knowledge, both medicinal and culinary, throughout my entire life. My father had always treated me and my brothers and sisters with traditional herbal medicines, and to this day I renounce most if not all of Western doctoring.
Ohelemapit's post made my eyebrows raise a few times, but I will second what Piney said. The potential of certain medicines is what makes some knowledge more carefully divulged (though by no means secret). In my experience, with proper instruction, respect, and intent even things such as visionary and poisonous medicines are available to learn from. They can simply be dangerous, misused, or passed around and made dangerous or abusive , and so it is more discretionary. For that reason there are certain obvious things not to be shared openly over a forum such as this, not to guard knowledge, but to preserve life and sanctity of it. I think this is well understood!
I personally believe all herbs are sacred, although I understand what you mean. High medicines, so I call them. Not that they don't have other purposes and uses, but the fact stands that they are revered for some exceptional spiritual significance and sacramental function, and held in a higher regard than most other herbs.
I live in the hills and woods of New York, north of Wyalusing and outside of Binghamton, NY. Around here is an abundance of herbs, foods, and medicines that have long been utelized. Some are native, a lot have been brought from Europeans. I will briefly mention some herbs, but feel like seperate threads would better do them justice.
I believe that perhaps the 'sage-like' sacramental herb you allude to could be sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina). It is not a fern at all, but a deciduous fragrant shrub that is just as easily identified by its appearance as it is by its smell. Which is very pleasant. It has many medicinal purposes, but I have been taught to regard it highly for its spirit and for its smudging properties. I'm not sure if this extends out of this region (or even far from my own family), but this as well as cedar is what I have always used in lieu of sage. And it does seem very sedge-like physically, growing in difficult soil and tolerating dry conditions very well.
Also, another mentionable high medicine is Bearberry (Uva Ursi), also known as Kinnickkinnick, or Mountain Cran(cramp)berry. This is one of the most powerful and useful herbs for a great many maladies. It is also a very important part of smoking blends and is traditionally paired with tobacco. As it's name Upland or Mountain Cranberry might imply, it grows at higher altitudes (around 2000 feet, as I've observed near home, here), and one must seek them out for it. They are a very impressive, low-growing shrub that can grow and colonize for literally hundreds of years, and to me at least, the presence of them holds a great deal of power.
So, more on these as they come to me, and hopefully I'll get around to poking my nose into or creating other threads for medicines and herbs.