THE FOUR SACRED MEDICINES
Tobacco is the first plant that the Creator gave to Native people. It is the main activator of all the plant spirits. Three other plants, sage, cedar and sweetgrass, follow tobacco, and together they are referred to as the four sacred medicines.
Traditional people say that tobacco is always first. It is used as an offering for everything and in every cceremony. Always through tobacco, the saying goes.
Traditional tobacco was given to us so that we can communicate with the spirit world. It opens up the door to allow that communication to take place. When we make an offering of tobacco, we communicate our thoughts and feelings through the tobacco as we pray for ourselves, our family, relatives and others.
When you seek the help and advice of an Elder, Healer or Medicine Person, and give your offerings of tobacco, they know that a request may be made as tobacco is so sacred.
We express our gratitude for the help the spirits give us through our offerings of tobacco. It is put down as an offering of thanks to the First Family, the natural world, after a fest. Traditional people make an offering of tobacco each day when the sun comes up.
Sage is used to prepare people for ceremonies and teachings. Because it is more medicinal and stronger than sweetgrass, it tends to be used more often in ceremonies.
Sage is used for releasing what is troubling the mind and for removing negative energy.
Like sage and sweetgrass, cedar is used to purify the home.
When cedar is put in the fire with tobacco, it crackles. When it does this, it is calling the attention of the spirits to the offering that is being made.
Cedar is used in fasting and sweat lodge ceremonies as a form of protection: cedar branches cover the floor of the sweat lodge and a circle of cedar surrounds the faster's lodge.
Sweetgrass is the sacred hair of Mother Earth. Its sweet aroma reminds people of the gentleness, love and kindness she has for the people.
When sweetgrass is used in a healing circle it has a calming effect.
Like sage and cedar, sweetgrass is used for smudging and purification.
TAKING CARE OF THE MEDICINES
You take care of these sacred medicines by keeping them in a dry place. They can be stored in paper bage or wooden boxes.
If you have been using alcohol or drugs, Healers say you should wait four to seven days before touching the medicines.