Sweetgrass grows in the Plains area of the United States, and in Alberta, Canada. It is a tall, wide-bladed green grass with a reddish base. It is harvested when it reaches about twenty four inches in height. It smells pleasantly sweet when dried, and is traditionally braided together in long strands for storage and use.
Sweetgrass can be burnt as a purifier similar to sage. It feels lighter than sage, and is often burnt after using sage. It encourages positive vibrations to enter an area or room. Sweetgrass is also used in sweat lodges. Clippings are placed on the hot rocks throughout the sweat. Participants can rub the leaves on their bodies while in the sweat.
Beautiful sweetgrass braids from Canada. These are collected by First Nations families for us each year ("First Nations" is the Canadian equivalent of "Native American"). Sweetgrass is considered sacred by many peoples of North America. The smoke of burning sweetgrass is said to purify and clear objects, places, and people. Often found in medicine bundles and sometimes packed with dance clothes to keep them fresh. Every braid is thick and measures about 24 inches long.
In this passage, a Lakota shaman describes the ways in which Sage and Sweetgrass work in the spirit world.
"Sage makes the bad spirits sick. They go away from it when it is burned. It does not make the good spirits sick. They will not leave when it is smoked. Sweetgrass is pleasant to all the spirits. Good spirits like it. Bad spirits like it. All like it. The smoke of Sweetgrass is pleasant to the good spirits. They come to the smoke. They are pleased with one who makes this smoke. They will listen to what such a one asks. But the bad spirits come also to enjoy the smoke. So, Sage must be burned to make them sick. Then, Sweetgrass to bring good spirits."
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