Native American sweetgrass: its meaning and use
If you follow my site’s Facebook page, you know I am currently doing course 3 of my program entitled Aboriginal focusing oriented therapy and complex trauma. Today was day 2 of 3 and our teacher was kind enough to bring us sweetgrass she grows. Therefore, we all braided our sweetgrass during our break 🙂 So this inspired me to write a short post on sweetgrass, its use and meaning. Here we go!
What does sweetgrass represent?
Sweetgrass is one of the main herbs used by Native people. It is often part of the medicine used when smudging along with sage and cedar (for more on smudging, see this post). Just as sage is used to clear negativity, to cleanse, sweetgrass is used to bring positivity. At the healing circle I attend, we often start the circle by smudging using sage. As circles tend to be heavy (lots of trauma is shared), if we use sweetgrass, we use it at the end of the circle. To cleanse ourselves again and to bring back positivity and calm.
Therefore, sweetgrass represents positivity, strength, connection to the Creator and all our relations. it represents the Mother, our mother, Mother Earth. It is our connection to the land, to what is around us. Its smell when burned dry is a sweet smell, reminiscent of our ancestors. When fresh, its smell is one of grass (a faint one). It smells fresh, it smells like comfort and home. When braided, sweetgrass can represent a few different concepts. In the Cree-Ojibway culture, for example, the three braids of the sweetgrass can represent love, peace and harmony or mind, body and spirit.
The uses of sweetgrass
As I just mentioned, sweetgrass is used in smudging, to cleanse and purify. Native American sweetgrass is a healing herb, it has healing properties. For example, sweetgrass can be used to help with colds, or sinus issues. It can be drank as a tea or infusion to help with coughing (God knows I should drink some as I have been coughing for 2 weeks now). For more on herbal remedies see this post. One could also gargle with it (the tea I mean, not a branch of sweetgrass…).
Further, sweetgrass is a blood thinner as it contains coumarin, which has blood thinning properties. Finally, sweetgrass can also help with arthritis. Indeed, one can carry fresh sweetgrass in their clothes, like in their socks for example, to help with movement (my teacher often does that).
I will share with you my teacher’s experience with sweetgrass as I know she would not mind. She has been growing her own sweetgrass for close to 50 years now. The one in the picture on the right is some she brought it today. She constantly has sweetgrass inside her clothes, like her bra or shoes, to help with arthritis. Well, one day, as she was crossing the border (between Canada and USA), she forgot she had it in her bra. And of course, it was found. Let’s just say it raised suspicions and she had some explaining to do!
Finally, above you will see dried braided sweetgrass that was tied into a circle. This was given to me years ago by an Elder. The sweetgrass was tied with a cloth and shaped into a circle to represent the Medicine wheel. One final note, according to that Elder, sweetgrass is never supposed to be cut with a knife, as metal is not supposed to touch the herb.
What is your experience with sweetgrass? Share below 🙂
All my Relations