(Growing conditions) Sweetgrass

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Looking like wild grass =)

I used to use both sweetgrass and white sage for my spirituality, especially for space cleansing and to invite good energy into my boundaries. A dried sweetgrass braid of about one meter costs around $12 in holistic/new age shops locally, and to me, that’s really too costly.

So when my friend offered me a pot of sweetgrass, I jumped at the chance. Especially since I thought I could gather my own dried leaves and use them in my smudging rituals.

Many shoots growing in just one pot

I’d bought a dried braid to try burning before, but the grass, surprisingly, doesn’t burn well, even if research said that some (all?) Native American tribes burn them in their fires. Well, maybe the grass burns better in a large bonfire type of fire, than the typical small flames we use to light things at home. Whatever the case, I loved the subtle vanilla scent of the grass, and started growing it.

This plant grows like a weed if you don’t like it. For myself, I love how it sends up side-shoot after side-shoot in very short periods of time. One can never kill sweetgrass easily, it seems.

Although I rarely smudge my boundaries anymore, I still love this plant for its scent, and for its versatility in growing and propagating itself. I mean, from one pot to more than ten pots in less than half a year – that’s quite amazing and prolific. And, the only reason why I have so few pots now is because I don’t dare to propagate it any further – it might overtake my space otherwise!

One shoot has even grown out from the bottom of the pot!

Care: A moist soil mix; sweetgrass likes the soil moist to wet
Fertilizing: Does well with frequent weak fertilizing
Sunlight: Bright shade preferable; water more frequently if exposed to full sun
Propagation: Easily by divisions; seeds have a notorious reputation of having extremely low germination rate

Plants and spirituality – white sage and sweetgrass

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I don’t talk about my spirituality much outside of my shamanic blog, but I thought this would make for a nice change of subject. Sweetgrass

Since I was about 20, I made the choice to become a pagan. At first, this entailed nothing more than the fluffy woo-woo things one might see on TV: joining the meditation group for Rainbow Healing/Language of Light; reading up on Wicca (unfortunately, think the TV series Charmed); meeting and talking with people who claimed to channel angels and higher-vibrational entities and what-nots. Perhaps I haven’t met the right (read: sane and logical) people locally, even until now, but all those things above just didn’t sit well with me. There were a lot of things too…out-there about those people.

It wasn’t until I came upon the (umbrella) term shamanism that my attention was caught. This post isn’t about my argument of traditional versus neo-shamans, so I shall do a very simple summary and say that the ideas of self-healing (and helping others), of the dichotamies of nature, and the tread between the physical and spiritual world caught me. It was the most balanced path I’d chose to take at that time.

With the lack of readily available resources on shamanism in various countries other than in the States, I turned, at that time, to the generic Native American form of shamanism. I adopted a lot of their traditions and culture: I bought a skin drum, and then two skin drums for trance drumming; I bought various types of dried plants tied together as smudge sticks; I did this, I did that.

However, one of the most important things I enjoyed in the start of any ritual to drumming, is the act of smudging. Because the white sage was considered an important plant in space cleansing, and was considered sacred by the Natives, I bought (and was given) a lot of white sage smudges; I tried out a desert sage bundled with cedar smudge, and loved the clean and sweet fragrance as I burnt it and wafted the smudge around; I tried a sweetgrass braid which was subtly vanilla-scented and very earthy.

Although I have lessened my practices on my eclectic shamanic path (I wasn’t chosen by the spirits and wouldn’t call myself a shaman at all), I still greatly enjoy the feel and sense and pure spirit of these plants, so much so that I have started growing two of them, in order to feel closer to their basic sense. I have received great joy from the natural resilience and easy joy brought in by very quick self-propagation of the sweetgrass, and though the dried braids are hard to burn, I will ask the plants I have for permission to harvest and dry and use them when I can, to place them on an aromatherapy burner to release their scent; the white sage is slow growing, and loses the old leaves which it doesn’t need anymore. In their places, new and smaller leaves grow, teaching me the path of ridding myself of unwanted things and self-inflicted cages, and to form and create new things.

I learn something from all the plants I grow, and treat them with respect as much as I can. Each of them teach me things I seem to need to learn at various points of my life. In turn, I take care of them. Best of all, it’s very nice to simply say ‘hi!’ to them each morning when I wake up, and when I return home from a long day out.

I don’t think that I can harvest and use them anytime soon. But in their own paces of growth, my two favorite plants have already taught me a lot to aid in the growth in my life.

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