Tobacco is found in innumerable forms today and some propose that its spirit has been weakened. I disagree. Tobacco’s spirit remains intact and strong. Albeit contained in a designer cigarette, seasoned with mint, diluted with preservatives and inbred for optimum crop production, its spirit still lives strong and vibrant. When smoked whether it is a conscious or an unconscious act tobacco gives its gifts. The recreational smoker often taps into a quiet place, the place of timelessness where linear time seems less important, less demanding. And yes, this is part of the addiction, but it is also part of tobacco’s power. For me tobacco is the communicator and has the power to transmit our deepest concerns, genuine feelings that reside in our hearts.
Ah yes, we are challenged to pray consciously with such a great power but when we do we form a relationship with tobacco crafted with a willingness to love and know this sacred herb. Nevertheless, smoked, chewed, snuffed whether that heartfelt, genuine need is something we are aware of or not, I believe tobacco still carries that genuine message. It is its nature, its sacred destiny.
Although I romanticize my ancestors and their sacred relationship with tobacco, I don’t know how it really was. I don’t know how it would have been generations ago participating in ceremony with my community, my elders and contemporaries who had always believed in the spirit and the power of tobacco as far back as they could remember. I do know their knowledge would have been part of my life, a foundation for my relationship with tobacco. Without the passing down of ancestral knowledge we have a crisis of faith and most have forgotten how to talk to tobacco as an embodied spiritual being. The challenge of this time on sweet mother earth is to re-establish that faith, to continue to speak to tobacco although it may be adorned in the trappings of our time, to entwine our spirit with tobacco and respectfully ask for its help, its genuine participation in our life.
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