Along with sage, cedar and sweetgrass- tobacco is considered one of the 4 most sacred plants when it comes to prayer, healing and ceremonies in Native American cultures. The smoke from tobacco become an intermediary between us and the spirit world for prayers to be carried into the spirit world so they have the opportunity to be answered. Tobacco was also considered a tool for greeting when people from neighboring clans would visit. A pipe with tobacco was lit to honor their guest who had come from so far.
In ceremony tobacco is considered a profound ally to master plants such as Peyote and Ayahuasca. .
Unfortunately in the turn of the 20th century, western societies got a hold of this sacred plant and transformed it as a fashion gimmick. Corporate companies continue to put a vast array of toxic chemicals in tailor made cigarettes bringing these poisons directly into our lungs. This beautiful sacred plant was used in the most misguided and heinous way as marketing tool for 'cool'. .
I once heard a story about a Native elder coming into town from his home in the 1930s and was horrified to find so many people casually smoking on the streets with looks of worry, anxiety and stress on their face as they frantically puffed away. He turned on his heels high-tailing it out of there because it grieved him to imagine all the unconscious thoughts being delivered to Great Spirit. .
Because of its astringent qualities tobacco is used to cauterize and stop bleeding when put directly inside a wound. It’s also used for snake bites, burns, convulsion, fever, urinary and nervous ailments.
Whenever we abuse these plants through ego and ignorance, unfortunately our own abuse gets reflected back to us through dis-ease when we take for granted the power these plants hold. When we remember to walk with humility and respect for the intelligence of these plants, honoring the powerful medicine they offer, we can begin to work with them as allies and friends.