Wild Sweetgrass Grows on the Plains of the Americas
This plant is a powerful medicine that has been revered as sacred by indigenous people throughout the world. Different strands of it grow throughout the world with varieties that are indigenous to both Eurasia and the Americas. European lore talks of using Sweetgrass to line the entrance of churches and it is sometimes referred to in as "Holy Grass" in Europe. This is where it's western name, Hierochloe is said to have come from.
Drawing of from German Botanist, Otto Wilhelm Thome circa 1885
Sweetgrass is most commonly known at this point for its ceremonial use among First Nations People of the Americas. This plant has become popular to sell in herb stores and people burn braids of it for many different purposes. A common misconception about Sweetgrass is that it is a clearing or purifying plant. Quite the opposite, I have been taught and experienced this plant as a spirit calling plant. It's sweet aroma calls in different energies and draws spirits close.
I found this plant to be a powerful gift to offer another person. I believe that gifting this plant is a part of its medicine. I received a braid of Sweetgrass as a gift after tending a fire at a several day long ceremony several years ago. As the person placed the braid in my hands, I felt it's power reverberating throughout my body. When I later burned the braid, I could feel the power of the gift present in the medicine. When we burn this plant it is an offering to the spirits, so it makes sense that when we gift this plant, it's medicine is amplified.
Sweetgrass braids that I grew, harvested, and will give as gifts
This year I decided that I would grow my own Sweetgrass. It felt like the gift would be deeper if I grew the plant myself. So early in the spring this year, I began to grow these sweet grasses. They wanted lots of water and sunshine. The variety I have been growing is native to the plains region of the US so I knew I would need to simulate that environment best I could to keep these plants happy. Hot days and thunderstorms is what I know of the plains in the spring and summer, so that is what I offered them. Lots of sun and a hose that soaked them thoroughly in the afternoon (hey it's not a thunderstorm, but it's the next best thing right?).
This week, after they had begun to seed, I could hear the little grasses calling out to me to cut them. And so this afternoon, I sat down and prayed with the plant for a while before I began to fold the long grasses into braids to be harvested. The sweet smell of this plant filled my nose as I braided and hummed my harvesting song to these delightful plants.
Taking in the sweet smell of these sacred grasses
As I write this, my room is filled with the smell of the sweetgrass braids hanging to dry. I've been surprised at how easy this Sweetgrass has been to grow. I wonder why more people aren't growing this plant. A little research into this plant, reveals that First Nations people in Canada have raised concerns about the decreasing community of Sweetgrass due to loss of habitat and over harvesting. This raises ethical concerns about purchasing this Sweetgrass braids that have been "wildcrafted" and you can not ensure the health and vitality of the communities of Sweetgrass where this plant was harvested.
Why purchase the braids of this beautiful plant at a store when you can so easily grow Sweetgrass in a pot and get to know it's medicine as it grows throughout the year?
All you need is water, some sun, and a lot of love.
Why not start now? You can purchase a Sweetgrass starter plant at Crimson Sage Nursery.