Sacred Scents from Mother Earth
Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata)
Sweetgrass is a plant that grows in North America and Europe. It is well-known for its medicinal properties and has a lovely herbal scent when burned as incense.
Latin name: Hierochloe odorata
Harvest location: Canada
Scent: sweet, herbal, grassy, green, reminiscent of vanilla
Sweetgrass is also sometimes called bison grass or buffalo grass; the botanical name is “Hierochloe odorata”. Sweetgrass belongs to the sweet grass family, Poaceae. Various cereal grains also belong to this family of plants.
Sweetgrass is one of the most important plants for the Indigenous peoples of North America. It thrives in the prairies of the USA and Canada, and also in Europe, growing to a maximum height of 90 centimeters. The grass was once very important in Central Europe, used in the Christian worship of the Virgin Mary.
Historical use of Sweetgrass
Native Americans use this grass in rituals to energetically cleanse people and spaces. For this purpose, they make incense braids for use in ceremonies and blessings. Sweetgrass is also added to various tobacco blends, mixed with other plants and used for religious pipe rituals.
In Europe, Sweetgrass is known primarily as Mary’s grass (in German, “Mariengras”). When smoked, it has a different effect than its American counterpart. In the past, European Sweetgrass was dedicated to Freya, the Germanic goddess of love and marriage. Later, through Christianity, it was dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Native Americans have long known Sweetgrass for its healing properties. They dry the plant and use it to brew healing teas. It is said that this tea helps with colds, internal aches and pains, and fevers.
Sweetgrass as Incense
When you burn Sweetgrass, the scent it produces is truly beguiling: slightly sweet, hay-like, and reminiscent of vanilla.
The smoke given off by Sweetgrass is warming and comforting. This special grass harmonizes and purifies the mind, evoking positive powers.
Sweetgrass is a favorite of both good and evil spirits. Therefore, it should be burned together with White Sage, which banishes evil spirits. That way, you will summon only the good spirits into your space.
Sweetgrass is often mixed with Juniper, White Sage, Copal, Thuja, Pine and Cedar.
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