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Traveling to Mexica Moon Dance Journal, October 6th, 2012

Updated on May 21, 2014

Tobacco Mixing Herbs, Kinnickinnick.

Mexico trip is not too far away! I will be leaving in 15 days. The excitement mounts as I begin to gather the items I will need for this special Prayer Ceremony known as the Mexica Moon Dance, la Danza de Luna! As a Moon Dancer, we are given the responsibility of carrying a prayer pipe for the People. This is a heavy job and not by weight either! It can be a heavy on the spirit when strong prayers are requested! In preparations of my trip, today, I will be creating my tobacco mix that will be smoked in this beautiful and sacred pipe. Kinnickinnick is the common mixture of tobacco and herbs and what the Native American Indians use in their prayer pipes.

A Bit Of Tobacco History

When tobacco first became of interest to the Westerners, Johann Sebastian Bach enjoyed his pipe. He wrote poetry, expressing how smoking tobacco so enhances the relationship with God. This is somewhat the sentiment of the Native Peoples of Americas. In their cultural practices, tobacco was given to them by the Creator with instructions to use when praying, before ceremonies, making of offerings and for sealing agreements.

The New World Explorers were drawn to the plant after watching the Natives uses of this new and mysterious "herb". People wonder today, why the Natives, from the old days, did not show signs of nicotine disease. The traditional natives very seldom smoked the tobacco straight and many times was used as a offering! More than not it was used for medicinal purposes. Open wounds, insect bites and cleansing solution were some of the more common uses. The Old Ones probably never did inhale or over use the sacred tobacco, like the casual smoker of today. This would explain the lack of lung diseases among the Natives. But also take note of some of the herbs that are used are common for respiratory ailments and building of strong lungs, like mullen!

Praying With Sacred Tobacco

When it comes to actually smoking the mix in the sacred prayer pipe, there are two schools of thought about rather to inhale or just puff. Our pipes are loaded with prayers at each pinch that is inserted into the bowl. Some prayers are strong! Some people believe that if you inhale deep, then you will be bringing those prayers into your very soul leaving remnants of the prayer within, creating harm. Others believe if you inhale, the smoke gathers those deep rooted prayers that are hard to speak. So the smoking style is up to the individual's belief system.

It is important to remember the sacredness of this plant! When the tobacco was first used for prayer, the Native Indians were instructed to mix with other herbs. This became known as Kinnickinnick, whose origins come from the Algonkian language, meaning, what is mixed or that which is mixed. The use of tobacco in a sacred manner was shared across the continent and each tribe had their own recipe according to their environment, however, the sacred tobacco was always on the top of the list.

What Is Kinnickinnick

Do not confuse the mix known as Kinnickinnick with the Kinnickinnick of Eruoasian origins, called, Artostaphyfos uva-ursi, aka Bearberry. This plant is a great ground cover, growing dense and crawling with bright red berries. The irony here is that this plant came with the colonist and soon naturalized itself into two thirds of the United States! Soon, the Indians discovered the healing properties and began to add this to their mix. Eventually the plant became dubbed Kinnickinnick, because it was found all across the region and was generally in other tribal mixes along with tobacco.

One of the things I so enjoy about my tobacco mix, or kinnickinnick, is that some of the ingredients come from my garden or growing wild in Mother Nature's. I have Texas sage, sweet grass, mint, mullen and chamomile growing in easy access. In the past, people have gifted me natural tobacco, red cedar and sometimes a bit of their own kinnickinnick. All of these things went into a huge wooden bowl. As I mixed and tore big pieces into small ones, the aroma came wafting up into my nose. There was the mint, followed by the chamomile and sage then an occasional hint of sweetgrass. It was wonderful. I prayed over the kinnickinnick to be worthy, good and sacred.

Praying For The Dance

There is expected to be over 300 women at this Moon Dance. All of us prepared with kinnickinnick and our over 300 pipes! We will have dance and singing sessions throughout the night, accompanied by a special drum and singers. When we break, it will be to smoke our pipes and pray then dance and song begin again until sunrise! We pray hard so this kinnickinnick must be prepared sacredly in order to be worthy of it's role in the la Danza de Luna, the Mexica Moon Dance!

This is generally what is found in the tobacco mix the Native American Indian smoke in their pipes today. I suppose you have gathered by now that there is no wacky tobaky in the sacred mix of kinnickinnick! Just good clean sacred healing medicine for carrying our prayers to the Creator! Now it is time to seal up my kinnickinnick and pack away for the journey, and see what other needs are still waiting to jump in the suitcase!


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