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Native American Sweetgrass Mythology

Sweetgrass is one of the most important Native American ceremonial plants, used by many tribes as an incense and purifying herb. Sweetgrass symbolizes healing, peace, and spirituality in many Native cultures, and braids of sweetgrass are sometimes left as offerings at graves and sacred sites. Sweetgrass is also one of the herbs frequently included in medicine bundles and amulets. Plains Indian people used to chew sweetgrass during ritual fasts, and it was also used as a medicinal herb in some tribes. Sweetgrass still holds great spiritual importance to many Native Americans today, but these days it is almost always burned as an incense, not chewed or eaten. More prosaically, sweetgrass is also used in traditional basket-weaving. In the myths of some tribes, such as the Ojibwe and Cree, sweetgrass is said to be the eldest of all plants and sometimes referred to as the hair of Mother Earth.

Native American Sweetgrass Gods and Spirits

Sweet-Medicine (Cheyenne)

Native American Legends About Sweetgrass

Smudging:
    Stories from an Ojibwe elder about the tribal importance of tobacco, sage, sweet grass, and cedar.
*Scarface and the Sweatlodge:
    Blackfeet story about the origin of the first sweetgrass.
*Cipayak, the Northern Lights:
    Cree legend about an elder who used sweetgrass braids to pacify the angry Northern Lights.

Recommended Books of Sweetgrass Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Plants of Power: Native American Ceremony and the Use of Sacred Plants:
    Interesting book about the meaning of sweetgrass and other native plants to traditional Native American spirituality.
Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American stories about plant spirits, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Native American Medicinal Plants:
    Comprehensive book on the names and traditional uses of herbs throughout Native North America.



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