All plants are our brothers and sisters.
It’s that time of the year again when a Mercury goes into Retrograde! Three or four times a year, Mercury goes past Earth with the optical illusion that is it spinning backwards. This illusion is known for shaking things up within the Zodiac signs affecting each one of them differently. Your favorite plant girl is a Scorpio and I recently got a white sage, Salvia apiana (also referred as White Sage) , to cast bad vibes out of my home during this period of Retrograde to be safe. I got my white Sage plant from work, that came from my organic plant supplier. One thing that stands out from this company is their tags. The tags are filled with really cool information. One thing that stood out on this tag was how American Indians used it and that the Sage had ceremonial properties. One thing that we need to remember about Ethnobotany is how cultures and civilizations used plants. My page about Ethnobotany is giving us the opportunity to take a stroll back into time and to learn how plants were used before us.
We all know that Sage, Saliva, comes in different forms. We see pots of them as perennials, annuals, and herbs at our local garden centers. We use the perennials and annuals to invite pollinators into our gardens. We use the herb to add flavor to vegetables and meat in our cooking. Our ability to use Sage in ornamental plantings and in culinary is so simple but for American Indians, Sage has a deeper purpose .The word Salvia (Sage) came from root word to heal in Latin. Sage was known as a spiritual herb to cleanse by the American Indians.
American Indians had various spirituality practices - from Monotheism to Polytheism (one god to multiple gods), Animistic - where creatures have spiritual essence, Shamanism - where a practitioner interacts with the spirit world, and Pantheism - where reality is equal to divinity. These spiritual beliefs varies among tribes across the land. There are many different values and traditions passed on from generations to generations. Each tribe had their own creation story and own theories to how things came to be. One thing that they all had in common was harmonizing with nature and that the world was connected to the supernatural one. That was their beautiful culture.
The sacred herb, White Sage, is native to Southwestern California and Baja California. There were various tribes that were found in this region of California. The tribes that lived in this area were Chumash, Alliklik, Kitanemuk, Serrano, Gabrielino Luiseno Cahuilla, and the Kumeyaay (nahc.ca.gov). These tribes used the White Sage for smudging, smoking, and medicinal uses.
One of my memories from growing up is attending Church is during the Lenten season the Priest used Frankincense. In the Catholic religion, the burning and smoke from Frankincense represents purification and a reminder of wonder and awe. Just like how Frankincense connected Catholics to Heaven and Earth, White Sage connected the American Indians to the Spiritual World. The American Indians used, and still used today a practice called smudging. Smudging was/is a spiritual practice that the American Indians used to remove negative energy by setting fire to small bundles of dried White Sage. Smudging Sage banished negative energy and healed on all levels - from physical to spiritual. Smudging Sage was also used during prayers, funerals, and celebratory ceremonies. The leaves from White Sage were scattered around spiritual alters to keep away evil spirits.White Sage is still used today among American Indian Tribes.
Sage was also smoked in American Indian culture. The practice of smoking Sage promoted relaxation, clarity, and reduced anxiety. White Sage was also used for medicinal practices among the tribes. American Indians used White Sage as a tea for treating colds and to ease digestion problems. White Sage tea was to relieve congestion of the lungs, throat, and sinuses too. Sage was use to treat wounds and inflammation. The roots were utilized in the birthing process to expel the afterbirth.
The ability to appreciate culture is a beautiful thing. During my researching there has been a lot of articles about culture appropriation, which is taking parts of “non-dominate” cultures without using history and awareness doing so. I have been reading up and collecting my own thoughts for this article. I put non-dominate in quotes because I feel our old world is important and that all cultures should be respected and recognized. I did mention in the beginning of my article that I have a White Sage plant myself, which is used as ornamental use only. My houseplants that I have are strictly for ornamental and loved as my plant babies. The importance of Anthropology and Ethnobotany is to learn and appreciate once was. Challenge yourself to broaden your knowledge and make connections when it comes to learning about any type of culture.
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