Mother Earth's Medicine Cabinet: Sacred Spirit Medicines

Healing our spirit is just as important as healing physically and mentally. Our spirit can get injured, sick, and tired just like our body and mind can. It is important to know what you can do to help heal yourself in all aspects.

The Indigenous and Native peoples of North America, as well as other those from other regions around the world, used what is referred to as The Four Sacred Medicines. These medicines consist of Tobacco, Sage, Cedar, and Sweet Grass. All of these plants are considered to be spirit medicine.

First, let’s look at the concept of spirit. Spirit (a noun) is defined as “the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the Soul.”

It is also defined as “those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group.”

So, in a sense, healing the spirit consists of dealing with and healing emotions.

Four Sacred Medicines

Tobacco (Nicotiana) – Long before people began smoking tobacco, it was used  medicinally to treat various illnesses, diseases, and injuries. The Native people believe it is one of the most sacred plants there is. This is because it is said that the tobacco plant is one used to help activate other plants. The plant is said to have been given to the people to use to communicate with the spirit world.

Tobacco is properly offered to any plant before one picks it.  When using tobacco for spiritual cleansing or healing it has to be burned in order to create the smoke. This is done by burning a little tobacco in an abalone shell or something similar, or it is used and prayed with and laid upon the ground. As you pray or burn the tobacco you are explaining your purpose for picking the plant; the tobacco smoke then spreads throughout the air and among the plants, explaining the reasons to the other plants. It is like a physical manifestation of the act of asking for permission and forgiveness from beyond.

Cedar (Thuja) - The sacred cedar is actually of the Cypress family. The red and white cedar flats (used for burning as an incense) are used for purification. Cedar contains important restorative healing properties: physically and spiritually. You can mix cedar with sage for a medicinal tea that will cleanse the entire body of any infections. Cedar foliage is thrown into lit fires along with tobacco to call the attention of the spirits, letting them know that an offering has been made. Cedar’s sweet scent has a very intense calming and soothing effect. I use it for prayer, in ceremony, for purifying and cleansing my home, and for purifying and cleansing myself, as well.

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) & (Anthoxanthum nitens) – Sweetgrass has such an incredible aroma; I personally think it’s up there with lavender. Sweetgrass is believed to be the hair of Mother Earth, making it sacred. The sweetgrass is picked and braided into 3 strands. One strand represents kindness, the next represents love, and the third one represents honesty. Braided sweetgrass is burned, releasing the smoke to purify and smudge the spirit. Just like the cedar, this grass provides a calming effect. Sweetgrass has a lovely scent but it isn’t as strong as cedar or sage. When it is burned, it produces a lightly sweet and subtle fragrance. I like to burn some when I meditate to help calm myself and center –  for me, it brings a little clarity and focus, allowing me to better align my chakras and inner self.

Sage (Salvia apiana) – I bet some of you guessed this one would be on here. Sage is used for various things, such as ceremony, prayer, and teaching. Sage is burned to release anything that troubles you emotionally and spiritually. Not only does it ease the troubles of the mind, but it also clears away negative energies. Sage is a very cleansing herb, both spiritually and physically. As I mentioned with the cedar, a tea made using cedar and sage will cleanse any infections within your body. Any Salvia or sage can be used but the Salvia apiana is preferred.

A spiritual cleanse can be just as important for you as a full body detox or cleanse in order to achieve the proper balance our body requires to maintain and function at its best.

* FUN FACT* When you put cedar into the fire it crackles and pops, sending little fire flies and smoke up into the air. It really hits all of the senses.