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Bitter, Sweet, Sour, Salty, and Fire, Earth, Air, and Water are the four tastes and elements that form the foundation of Southern Appalachian Folk Medicine. Like many other folk traditions, Southern Folk still continues to this day. Southern Folk Medicine main contributors are Greek Medicine, Native American Knowledge of local plants, healing methods of northern and western Africa, and the folk medicine of the British Isles. Especially that of Scotland and Ireland. We cannot overstate the traits each brings to Southern Folk Medicine. Nor can we thank our elders enough for all their hard work. Willing or unwillingly. As time changes...
Sage has a long history of ceremonial use throughout North America and Europe. Romans used Culinary Sage for wedding bouquets to bring marital happiness. Artemisia is widely used throughout North America for ceremonial purposes. Salvia Divinorum is used in Mexico for many healing purposes. Smudging is meant to help clear the air, shift energies, and to induce a meditative state.
Plants are used to induce meditative and trance-like states, assist in communication with the spirit world, and shift energies. Some plants are taking internally including ayahuasca, peyote, and tobacco. Some will use plants externally through a wash, smudge, or incense. The practice of burning herbs is ancient. While it helps to create a sacred space and mindset, it is also known to purify the air of harmful microbes.
In many cultures, there are often meanings attached to the plants used in the ceremony. Each one is chosen for a specific reason and role it is to play in the ceremonial space. Every culture in the world has a strong tradition of the symbolic use of plants, both in and out of the ceremonial space. Some plants are considered more feminine, others more masculine. Rose, for instance, has been used to represent anything from designating a royal lineage to love and femininity to the divine.
Aromatic plants have a long history of ceremonial use, particularly in spiritual ceremonies. Whether it’s frankincense burned in Catholic churches, incense burned in Hindu temples, or sweet grass burning at a traditional ceremony, fragrance evokes sacredness. Aromatic plants are associated with cleanliness and have long been thought of as purifying. The practice of using fragrant plants in a ceremony also comes from a desire for purification: of person, place, and soul/spirit.