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Smoke Plants of America: A Journey of Discovery
by M. R. Ross
Publisher:
MultiCultural Educational Pub. Co. 
Year:
2002 
ISBN:
0970372108 
Categories:
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Figment, 10/27/2006

The author of this book was a deeply anxious and highly strung woman when a Cherokee man gave her a healing smoke that calmed her instantly. To honor her apprenticeship with various smoking mixtures, Ross wrote this charming, curious little book, which combines a “mix” of personal reflections, aphorisms, recipes, quotations, and practical data on around 150 seeds, flowers, roots, and plants that Native Americans have huffed and that you can too: bent grass, Dogwood, urva ursi, hops, nettle—even zowie datura.

The basic message of the book is that while some plants are eaten for body medicine, smoking mixes are medicine for the mind—or at least the nervous system. Turning the demonized act of smoking on its head is worth the price of admission, and while the whole thing is rather slight, the book does provide some solid info for puffers and, occasionally, some really interesting insights: “Smoke was traditionally used in North American First Nation rituals to connect people together in a sacred space. An agreement made with smoke was considered a deeply binding agreement. It’s as if smoking with someone binds our spirit with theirs. That is why I really don’t want to be in a smoke-filled room with a lot of strangers.”

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