Tobacco as medicine and its uses
A Word on Tobacco from ECA Healer and Regional Leader of the Red Road in Colombia, Gonzalo Aguila Garcia:
”Tobacco is the mother plant of excellence in all of the original communities of the Americas, and in all ancestral ceremonies it is present as an ingredient that accompanies other sacred medicines. Tobacco leaves take the form of the tongue, and this characteristic helped the first grandfathers and grandmothers of the original communities to deduce that it was to be used for prayer and communication, and this is exactly how it has always been used. When used intentionally and for prayer, tobacco smoke carries our words, thoughts and intentions to the Superior Consciousness, God, The Creator, or The Great Spirit.”
”A myth from the Witoto nation who inhabit the southern extreme of Colombia says that there was once a tremendous blaze that consumed all life on the land. Afterwards, the first plant to rise from the ashes was the Grandfather Tobacco. We call certain plants Grandfather or Grandmother because they existed long before the arrival of human beings.”
”Tobacco also has other uses; its water, in cooking and infusions, can be used as an inhalant through the nose to treat common colds, catarrh (excess build-up phlegm), sinusitis, and rhinitis. Tobacco in powder form, like rapé, can be used to treat these ailments. Ambil, from the Witoto tradition, which is the result of cooking fresh tobacco leaves over various days until a type of honey tobacco paste is produced, is used by licking or eating in small quantities for prayer. It can also be used to clean or purge the body by being dissolved in water. Ambil is know as ‘water tobacco of life’ in South America. In North America, indigenous communities such as the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Dine, Chayenne, and other tribes of the 405 nations of the Red Road, utilize tobacco for the sacred pipe, also know as the Chanupa Wakan.
Tobacco can also be rolled in dried corn husks. This act is a living example of the function of tobacco used for prayer. These forms of honoring the sacred plant give it the name ‘Fire of Life’.”
”Throughout the Americas, tobacco is associated with the elements. In Central America, from Panama to Mexico, tobacco is known as ‘tobacco of air’ or ”air of life” because of the characteristics of the air currents in those lands. As mentioned, in North America, tobacco is thought of as ”the fire of life” and is honored primarily and ceremonially through use in corn husks or the sacred Chanupa Wakan. Lastly, in South America the Grandfather Tobacco is of water.”
For more information about the uses of tobacco at Eagle Condor Alliance retreats, please continue reading below:
Tobacco is honored at ECA retreats as one of the sacred medicines of the Americas. It is one of the original plants of prayer and its ceremonial use can be traced back to 1400BC in Mexico. Participants are reintroduced to tobacco in three forms – dried leaves that are smoked, a liquid form of tobacco that is eaten called ambil, and a powered form that is snorted called rapé.
When dried tobacco leaves are smoked with clear intention, the smoke rises to the sky and carries our prayer and intention to the spirit world. We never inhale tobacco but rather exhale it with the intention of harmonizing energies within and around us, and we emit the energy that we wish to receive. We can also use this most common form of tobacco to make our daily offerings and to give thanks for all of the blessings present in our lives. We lay sacred tobacco on the Earth in appreciation of her provision of all things that sustain our physical beings. At ECA we also honor the eternal presence of our ancestors with tobacco both during and outside of ceremonies, and in the same way we honor our parents who united to give us life. Additionally, tobacco is offered to water in acknowledgment of the lifeblood that sustains us all and with the prayer that clean water always be available to all.
Ambil is the liquid form of tobacco that is placed on the tip of the pinky finger, the finger of humility, to be eaten in prayer. It is prepared by taking fresh tobacco leaves and cooking them in fresh water over a wood fire for 12 to 20 hours. ECA’s healer, Gonzalo Aguila Garcia, prepares the ambil that ECA guests consume. Ambil is often used in the presence of coca leaf or mambe, and the union of these two plants clarifies and sweetens communications, and makes us more sincere in our dealings with one another. The combination of ambil and mambe represents the sacred union of the Father Creator, represented by tobacco, and the Mother Earth, represented by coca leaf. Ambil alone also realigns our chakras, grounds us emotionally, and encourages positive, insightful conversation.
Rapé has many of the same uses as ambil. Like all forms of tobacco it is used for prayer, but instead of being eaten or smoked, it is either snorted off the back of one’s hand or blown up each nostril through a L shaped tube. One can find rapé that is pure tobacco, but it is not uncommon to find it with San Pedro Cactus, Virola, or spices such as cinammon or cayenne pepper.
All three forms of tobacco are used as offerings and as a way giving thanks in advance of a request. Whenever there is a request for guidance, advice, ceremonies or taking from the plant, animal, or spirit world, tobacco is always offered first.