Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ceremonial Use of Tobacco

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Here is an interesting article on the historical (and spiritual) significance of tobacco in the Americas that  I'd like to share. Tobacco has a long and rich history in Native America, so it seems appropriate on this Thanksgiving day to take a few moments to reflect upon our history through the eyes of a people that were here long before we had a Thanksgiving.


In Woodland Indian rituals, ceremonies, and religious observances, tobacco is the unifying thread of communication between humans and the spiritual powers. The manidog (spirits) are said to be extremely fond of tobacco and that the only way they could get it was from the Indians, either by smoke from a pipe or by offerings of dry tobacco. According to tradition, the Indians received tobacco as a gift from Wenebojo who had taken it from a mountain giant and then given the seed to his brothers.

Ceremonial Use of Tobacco - Indian Country Wisconsin


  1. I read your link, J. What I found most interesting was the reference to 'smoking mixtures' and the addition of other substances because the native tobacco was strong stuff. (by the way, I don't know if you are aware of another site which recounts the tales of Buffalo Bird Woman about American Indian gardening - she has a chapter on tobacco here:
    The practices she recounts are similar)

    I became intrigued by these added substances, especially this statement:
    "The final mixture usually only contained about one third tobacco."

    Let me put this in context.
    I have been growing tobacco plants for three years now. I am getting better at it all the time. This year has been my best yet, but there is still room for improvement. Even so, it is doubtful that I shall ever be able to grow enough to last a whole year.
    My own stuff is strong, and I have been mixing it with Virginia whole leaf, which gives a smooth and pleasant taste. But there are coming problems. Tobacco Control is getting around to banning the import of whole leaf. I trust that you are beginning to see my point!
    If I can mix my own 'strong' stuff with stuff from common herbs, then TC can go to hell! They (and tobacco companies) will no longer have any control over me.
    I have been putting these thoughts around on my site "The Bolton Smokers Club" and some commenters have made suggestions. One person in particular gave me a link to a site which sells Kinnickinnick, and so I have ordered about half a kilo. It will be interesting to see how this experiment works out.
    I couldn't help but think to myself, "WOW!!" The implications are huge. Home grown mixed with dried, common herbs. WOW!! No more gross taxes. No more TC persecution. Underground cottage industries springing up all over the place.
    Such a development will put an end to tobacco control faster that any legal or political posturing.

    1. Hi Junican,

      " 'smoking mixtures' and the addition of other substances because the native tobacco was strong stuff."

      Hmmm....I too have read that. I wonder why that was...?

    2. I suspect that it was because the milder strains had not yet been discovered. I can't remember the dates, but I know that Virginia was discovered more or less by accident when it was found to grow well on poor land. It was called 'bright leaf' because the leaves cured to a light yellow colour and the taste was milder, which was particularly pleasing to cigarette smokers rather than pipe smokers. As you know, cigarette smoking only took off during WW1.
      I have Virginia leaf and Burley leaf. Burley is much darker in colour and, smoked on its own, is quite bitter and sharp, but mixed with Virginia is rather pleasant. Virginia on its own is very mild. There are also oriental tobaccos which are stronger still.

    3. "Burley is much darker in colour and, smoked on its own, is quite bitter and sharp..."

      It tends to be more alkaline. That's part of the reason for its sharp taste. It (the smoke and nicotine) is also absorbed differently (in the mouth) as a result, which one of the reasons why burley is so prevalent in cigars. Virginia leaf tends to be more acidic, which makes it smoother for inhalation. I wonder if this is why many Native Americans used red willow bark in their tobacco mixtures, as red willow contains the mildly acidic salicilin. Of course, that's just a wild guess on my part...

    4. "I suspect that it was because the milder strains had not yet been discovered."

      So in other words...maybe the type of tobacco smoked was more alkaline....?

    5. My knowledge of the chemistry does not stretch that far, J!


    First Call to Action for FDA Proposed Regulations - Consumer Request for an Extension of Comment Period

    On Thursday, May 8th, CASAA released the Overview of its Action Plan Regarding Proposed FDA Regulations. This is the first of several Calls to Action anticipated in CASAA's Action Plan. (You will recall from the Action Plan that we are not going to publish our suggestions for substantive comments until a few weeks before the deadline, and we urge consumers to wait until then to offer substantive comment.)

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    The First Call to Action is for CONSUMERS to request a 105-day extension of the comment period, requesting a total of 180 days to make comments. We understand that SFATA, AEMSA, and other industry groups will be providing similar guidance for vendors and manufacturers.

    We have prepared a suggested letter--which we encourage you to edit to accurately reflect your views and circumstances--along with instructions on how to request the extension. (Please note that submitting this request will not prevent you from later offering a substantive comment, and should not affect your subsequent comment in any way.)

  3. Thanks for posting this here Lisa Bell:-)