One of my most memorable spiritual happenings in my life was a sweet grass ceremony that I attended many years ago. It was outdoors, simple, beautiful and honest and was a  connection to Mother Earth who is the source of all we have. Sweetgrass was what was burned at this ceremony at the beginning of the prayer to attract positive energies.  A beautiful drum beat accompanied the spiritual event.

Our Native elders have taught: before a person can be healed or heal another, one must be cleansed of any bad feelings, negative thoughts, bad spirits or negative energy – cleansed both physically and spiritually. This is to help the healing to come through in a clear way, without being distorted or sidetracked by negative  in either the healer or the one trying to be healed. All ceremonies, tribal or private, must be entered into with a good heart so that prayer, song, and is done in a sacred manner so we allow ourselves to be helped by the Creator who lives in a sacred realm.

Sweet Grass

The Chippewa (Ojibwa), “young people, chiefly young men, carried a braid of sweet grass and cut off 2 or 3 inches of it and burned it for perfume. Young men wore two braids of sweet grass around their necks, the braids being joined in the back and falling on either side of the neck like braids of hair.” It was also used in pipe-smoking mixtures along will red willow and bearberry, when it is burned, prayers, thoughts and wishes rise with the smoke to the creator who will hear them. Medicine men kept sweet grass in the bag with their medicinal roots and herbs”.

Smudge Ceremony painted by Howard Terpning

Sweetgrass is used to “smudge”. The smoke from burning sweetgrass  is fanned on people, objects or areas. Individuals smudge themselves with the smoke, washing the eyes, ears, heart and body. Mi’kmaq have long used sweetgrass as a smudging ingredient, often mixed with other botanicals. Sweetgrass is one of the four medicines which comprise a group of healing plants used by the people in Anishinabe, Bode’wad mi, and Odawa societies. The other three are tobacco, cedar, and sage.

The same can be said of the Mormon temple ceremonies. Unless one prepares oneself, the actions are meaningless and just a process with a lot of fanfare. I believe that everything we do in life can be done in a deeper realm or just superficially which makes the difference between deeply enjoying and just doing. I’m so glad that I can savor even the small things in life, perhaps those the most.

I’ve been in temples, where supposedly the spirit of God dwells. There is quiet and peace and beauty as in rich upholstery, shimmering chandeliers, and pale thick carpet, huge paintings etc but personally it’s a man made beauty. More of a reverence for me, not a connection. The place where I feel closest to God is and always was in the woods, where I am in Nature.

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