Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

I talked a little bit about sailors' use of tobacco at sea today over at Triple P, so I thought I'd cross-pollinate and talk about the magickal uses of this uniquely American herb here as well.

Tobacco was cultivated and used in various ways in both North and South America long before Europeans showed up. Ritualized, made into medicines and used for relaxation and bonding, tobacco's utilization by various Native cultures has influenced Wicca, Druid, hoodoo and Pow-Wow. Variously associated with protection and healing as well as jinxing, tobacco has known a myriad of uses in different magickal systems.

The ritual drinking of tobacco juice to induce visions remains a staple of some shamanic traditions. The plant has been considered sacred by many Native American cultures, and continues to be treated as such in some areas to this day. Tobacco was smoked to encourage communion with spirits and the use of tobacco as an offering was common all over the Americas. People of importance were sometimes buried with pipes and tobacco.

Tobacco was also used as an incense and burned, much like sage, to smudge both living areas and people. The smoke was thought to do everything from driving away evil spirits to curing common maladies such as upper respiratory infections.

Nightmares could be carried away by offering tobacco to a running stream immediately upon waking, according to Scott Cunningham. He also notes that tobacco can be used as a substitute for harder to find herbs such as nightshade and for curios like sulphur. The plant is considered less harmful, but that is only in the immediate. Both smoking and chewing tobacco have been proven to cause cancer; don't make the mistake of starting a habit that could potentially kill you outright.

In hoodoo, tobacco is a favorite additive to jinxing and court case workings. Generally speaking, people use chewing tobacco for such things. A simple mojo to win a court case consists of equal parts salt, deer's tongue leaves and tobacco carried into court in one's the pocket. Tobacco is burned as incense along with black candles to bring harm to an enemy.

Tobacco is also believed to draw love and in particular past lovers. Burn an incense made of tobacco and myrrh near your phone or computer for 9 days; it is said that you will be contacted by a lost love on the 10th day. Bonne chance ~

Header: The Widow of a Chief Watching His Weapons by Joseph Wright of Derby c 1785 via Old Paint


Capt. John Swallow said...

Among the many traditional uses o' tobacco with first nations peoples, is it's use as a gift. Wrapped in small red cloth pouches as a gift to a friend or neighbour when invited to their village/home. It is almost always sprinkled on the Earth (or flowing water) as a gift to the spirits of the same - especially when wildcrafting herbs/plants or even fishing as a thank you for those gifts. Even tossed into the wind to ask for pleasant breezes. It is also tossed into the fire to take prayers into the spirit realm.

As for smoking, the "pipe of peace" was often smoked without tobacco, but with a blend o'plants such as what the Algonquin Peoples call "Kinnikinnick" ("mixture") - a mixture I have contains Bearberry, Red Willow, red Sumac, & Lovage Bark. Mint leaves were sometimes added and on occasion, it may be mixed with tobacco for a more casual smoke.

Where tobacco is concerned, there is another point - or two - to be made. Tobacco itself, in pure form, is far less likely to cause any illness than any prepared tobacco; especially commercially manufactured cigarettes which contain between 4000 & 7000 ADDED chemicals (including arsenic, folmaldehide, ammonis, benzene...)! These are designed to give the product extended shelf life, "better/smoother" flavour and of course many more addictive properties. Tobacco smoke was never really meant to be drawn into the lungs - but early ad campaigns insisted that the "full inhale" was the best experience (not to mention the spin through movies & TV that made it "sexy"). This is another disgrace to a sacred plant...and perhaps another way to destroy First Nations People and their culture.

People who have smoked natural tobacco for years have had little or no ill effects and rarely are "chain smokers". The folks who hand roll cigars in places like Cuba (or even New Orleans) often smoke their own creations while working. Others who smoke a pipe are often the same - pipe tobacco, like hand-rolled cigars, is generally closer to the pure leaf (or at least a blend o' leaves), with "additives" being limited to rums, whiskies and occasional other herbs or plants. It is not usually preserved and meant to be smoked as ye have it - humidors and other sealed/wrapped containers protect it during that time.

Pauline said...

Thank you, Captain, for adding so much to this post. Wonderful information here. You're the best, sir :)

Timmy! said...

Once again, great info in both the post and the comments (thanks to the good Captain). Well done, indeed, y'all.

Pauline said...

Thanks, Timmy! I love it when the good Captain drops by to add to these posts.

Charles L. Wallace said...

Very nice post, Pauline, and verra nice info, Cap'n; thank you both.

I have no magickal recollections of tobacco. I chawed one bag o' Red Man when I was 18, my last year of baseball. Perhaps there are some who willingly swallow tobacco juice.... Visions, aye!! hahaha

Anisley said...

This site is so different than anything I’ve ever seen. I love the articles you have written.Thanks for the post:)

Pauline said...

Wally: bad times, of course. Nothing will make you rethink a bad habit like the first time you try it.

Anisley: Thank you for stopping by and for being so kind as to leave a comment. Please stop in often; I'd love to hear from you.