Lakota: Sage, Sweet Grass & Tobacco
Sage, sweet grass and tobacco are used by the Lakota in prayer and ritual.
Sweet Grass: Sweet grass is as it sounds, a scent that is sweet and pleasant when burned as incense in a braid or thrown loose on a fire.
It is used to honor the Wakan Tanka and bring blessings to those in prayer, while at the same time sending prayers above on the rising smoke, as the Great Spirit understands this language better than words. In addition to prayer it can be used for purification and for healing.
Sweet grass was introduced to the people by Okaga, the south wind. It grows in the plains and mountains and can reach five feet in height. It is cut and most commonly braided.
Sage: Burning sage (in this case, in the form of smudgesticks, as pictured here) sends a more bittersweet smell into the air when it is used in many different prayer and sacred rituals or for purification.
It is used on the floor of the sweatlodge, as the base of a vision quest bed, in medicine bundles or at the buffalo skull altar. It is said burning sage keeps evil away.
Tate the wind, son of Skan, the sky, is said to get his power from sage.
The silver-leaf sage plant is the incense of the seven sacred rituals, and while used in almost every ceremony, sage is particularly important within the Sundance. The dancers chew sage to alleviate their thirst and wear crowns made from the sage plant.
Tobacco: Tobacco is smoked in the scared pipe, also rising to the sky as a visible prayer or breath on the wind.
Tobacco offerings are made by taking a small amount of tobacco and wrapping it in tiny squares of colored cloth of the four sacred colors.
These tobacco tie offerings are made to stand for a promise or request made to Wakan Tanka.