Guest Author - DawnEagle Summers
Tobacco is the Sacred Herb of the East. Tobacco was a gift to the Europeans from the Natives, when they arrived in this country. Sacred Tobacco that is used for prayers and ceremonials is not the same as the tobacco we commonly use today. The common cigarette is not sacred, nor is the tobacco contained within it. The original type of tobacco and the sacred herb, are of a different variety, or plant, than is commercial tobacco. Preferably, one should grow one’s own tobacco for ceremonial uses. If you must use commercial tobacco, look for tobacco that is grown naturally, using no chemicals, and is packaged in bulk, not in the cigarette form.
In the East, we send Prayers to the Great Spirit in the smoke of the tobacco. Eagle takes these messages to the Creator. We also honor Eagle with Tobacco.
We burn Tobacco when we say our prayers, and in Ceremonials, as our prayers are contained in the Tobacco’s sacred smoke. Using Prayer Feathers to fan the smoke upwards is one way of sending our prayers to the Creator in the smoke of the Tobacco. These Prayer Feathers are usually from the Eagle, however, due to Eagle being sacred to Natives, and a protected species, other types of feathers can be substituted. The feathers’ purpose is to connect us symbolically with the spirit of Eagle, to further ensure that our prayers reach the Creator. Whether we use Tobacco, Eagle Feathers, or any feathers at all, our prayers will be heard if we are sincere, humble, and speak from our hearts when we say our prayers. It is the intention behind the prayer that is the most important ingredient when speaking with the Creator of us all. Therefore, Prayer Feathers can be any type of feathers or none at all. Always offer Tobacco to the winged one who donates their feathers to you.
Offerings are made of tobacco, when we harvest the gifts of Mother Earth, or when we seek knowledge from her any of creatures. When we harvest herbs in the wild, we offer tobacco to the plant from which we harvest. When we wish to enter the woods, we seek out the oldest Standing Person, the Grandfather of the Forest, and ask his permission to enter. We then offer him tobacco to honor him, and thank him. He may choose to let us pass or not, but either way, we still offer tobacco!
We also use Tobacco to give thanks for all that we have received, and for everything that is on the way to us. We know that our prayers are being heard, and all that we need is already in the process of being manifested in our lives, because we have faith in the process, in ourselves, in the Universe, and in the Creator.
The Creator gave us Tobacco to be used for sacred purposes, not for everyday use. This is abuse of a sacred substance. More information and many resources for help with tobacco addiction are available on the website below. If you are interested in growing your own Ceremonial Tobacco for sacred use, contact Joe Winter, a Native anthropologist who has made it his life work to collect and grow traditional strains of tobacco so that he can give it back to the people. He can be contacted through the website below.