RITUALS-Sweetgrass Braid and Smudging Ceremony

Sweetgrass Braid Profile

Also known as

Hierochloe odorata or Anthoxanthum nitens, buffalo grass, bison grass, holy grass, manna grass, Mary’s grass, seneca grass, sweetgrass, or vanilla grass.


A hardy perennial herb with a sweet vanilla-like fragrance due to the presence of coumarin, sweetgrass is native to Europe and North America. The plant grows to a height of about 24 inches, with long leaves that have shiny undersides.

Its name, Hierochloe odorata, literally means “fragrant holy grass,” and the plant has been regarded as sacred everywhere it has been grown and harvested.

“In Northern Europe, sweetgrass was scattered on the ground in front of churches on saints’ days so that a sweet fragrance would be released when people walked inside, Among Native Americans it has a long tradition of use as a smudging herb (healing and purifying incense) in sacred rituals, and is still widely used for that purpose today”

Some tribes believe it to have been the first plant to cover the earth. The leaves, which can reach two feet in length, are woven to make baskets. Sweetgrass has been used as a flavoring for tea, tobacco, candy, soft drinks, and vodka, and as an ingredient in perfumes.



Parts Used

The leaves.

Typical Preparations

Most often braided and then moistened to release its sweet fragrance, or burned as incense. When burned, the plant smolders, producing clouds of fragrant smoke.


Sweetgrass has traditionally been used by various Native American tribes as an incense (for purification, driving out negativity, and as an offering to spirits and ancestors), as a poultice for chapped skin, to make a tea for sore throats and coughs or to extend endurance during fasting, as a perfume, as a stuffing for pillows and mattresses, and as an insect repellent. Many non-Native Americans have grown fond of sweetgrass for its soothing, somewhat hypnotic vanilla-like fragrance, which can be an aid to meditative practices.


Not recommended for internal use, due to the presence of coumarin.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Smudging for Health and its benefits

Smudging which means to smoke or to protect by means of a smudge.

” In other words Smudging is a method of using smoke of burned herbs to cleanse an object, a body or  areas of negative influences. Smudging always has a purification benefits for our consciousness, our living space and more importantly for our bodies”

There are many people who believe that smoke gathered from burning herbs acts as a remedy to their bodies and energies their conscious understanding and comprehension. People from all across the globe have used the smoke from herbal mixtures in their spiritual rituals as well as in their healing. People also use smudging in order to clean the crystals before they use them in jewelry. It may also used to protect our homes from bad vibes or events and can help in warding & banishing ceremonies, if used with proper references. The three herb plants which are used for the purpose of smudging are all types of sages, sweetgrass and cedar.


It has two major genii & with different varieties  in each genus which are used in smudging. The herb sage (Salvia) is used for cooking.  The two major varieties of sage are garden Sage (S.officinalis) and white sage (S.apiana).

“From a long period Salvia varieties have been known as healing herbs. The word is derived from Latin word salvare, which  is a verb of “to save” or “to heal”

The Artemisia genus has two major varieties namely Common Sagebrush (Californica) and Mugwort (A.vulgaris). There are also other varieties of Artemisia and Salvia & all of them are effective for smudging. Sage is burnt in smudging ceremonies in order to drive out negative thoughts & feelings, evil spirits and to negative entities (Gan’n) away from those areas. In order to safe sacred objects from negative influence sage can be used. In Sioux nation their Sacred Pipe is kept with sage boughs in a bundle.


The botanical name of sweetgrass is Hierochloe odorata.

“This herb is  important to the Cherokee and Sioux nations. In these tribes it is braided as a hair braids. It is burnt by burning at the end or by putting the end portion into the charcoal in a brazier. Sweetgrass is burnt for good influences and to drive out the bad evils”

 It is very difficult to find sweetgrass and in traditional plains people are protecting the last reserves of it. Cedar is not endangered and can be used in a similar way. Others like Piñon pine needles (which are used by the Southwest Teneh like  Apache and the Navajo as well as Zuni and Pueblo people) and Copal (which was used by Yaqui and during the ancient times by  Maya and the Azteca) have this type of effect. All the three are easily available and can be self gathered.  Herbs like copal resin can be gathered from any herb shop.


The true Cedar is of Libocedrus and thuja genii. Some Juniperus genus (Junipers) is also known as Cedar. Among these Junipers some varieties are cleansing herbs like J.monosperma, desert white cedar. For smudging purpose Thuja occidentalis (Western Red Cedar) & Libocedrus descurrens (California Incense Cedar) are the best. While praying to a great spirit a cedar needs to be burnt. Burning a cedar also helps in meditation.

” It also blesses a house when you move into your house for the first time. This tradition is followed in Northwest & Western Canada. It helps in purifying the air as well as to attract positive energy into your homes.”

The herb is easily available in any herb stores in a chipped form. It should be sprinkled on a charcoal in a brazier. Use a charcoaled mesquite rather than using a commercial charcoal cake.

Using Smudging

“The clippings of the herbs should be burn in a brazier and not in any shell or in any new age shamanic circles. If it is done in that way it is an insult to the goddess (White Painted Woman) as this particularly abalone shell is considered as scared to her.

Another way to burn the clippings is to bundled the herbs in a wand and lit it at the end and not the wood.

 In order to direct the smoke you can use the hands or Peyote (feather) on the person or the thing that needs to be smudge. One can see the auras in discoloured places & direct the healing smoke on the patient’s body parts. In order to clean a house, offer cedar smoke in the four corners outside the house. After this take a sage branch inside the house and ensures that the smoke is penetrated in every nook and corner of the home. It will be helpful if you can sing power song while smiudging. Finally run through a white candle which will protect to light up the house. Be careful while you perform these things.

“One should always do smudging with reverence, care and with an attitude of love. People should show  honour and respect towards the plants that has given them a remedy to cure their healing. The plant in turn will favour us by keeping us free from various diseases and negative energy”

These herbs will helps in keeping us fit and free us from diseases of our body. Some plants like the Aloe Vera plants which should  not be burnt, are really good for cleansing purpose. One should plot Aloe Veras in their houses in an organic way by plotting in wood or ceramic pots. When you transplant the plant in the pot sprinkle the roots with some corn meal & smudge it with a cedar after  planting.If you burn your skin it can be used to heal. But before you cut any part of the leaves please take plants permission for its healing juice. In case you do not take prior permission it will cease the protective power of plant and would be left with an inert houseplant.


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