Traditional people say that tobacco is always first. It is used as an offering for everything and in every ceremony.
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.
Tobacco is always offered before picking medicines. When you offer tobacco to a plant and explain why you are there, that plant will let all the plants in the area know why you are coming to pick them.
When you seek the help and advice of an Elder, Healer or Medicine Person, and give your offering 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 offering of tobacco. It is put down as an offering of thanks. Traditional people make an offering of tobacco each day when the sun comes up.
Like sage and sweetgrass, cedar is used to purify the home. It also has many restorative medicinal uses. Cedar baths are healing, and cedar tea can be an excellent source of vitamin C.
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.
Sage is used to prepare people for ceremonies and teachings. It is used when smudging to cleanse the spirit of negative thoughts of a person or place. It also has other medicinal uses.
Sage represents the Western direction. Sage is used by the original peoples to make their prayers and to signal to creation of one’s need for help. There are many varieties of Sage and all are effective in smudging.
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. The three strands of the braid represent the balance of body, mind, and spirit.