FOR MANY PEOPLE SMOKING IS A RITUAL. IT CALMS THEM DOWN AND ENCOURAGES THOUGHTS.
Since thousands of years, ritual smoking is an important aspect of many different cultures. From a religious utensil, up to an important status symbol, a pipe can have many meanings.
Today´s blog-article deals with one of the best-known rituals, connected to smoking, the usage of a peace pipe (also holy pipe or calumet). When we hear the term “peace pipe“, we instinctively have a picture of native American people, that sit in a circle, make important decisions and pass on the pipe. Exactly like this we have seen it a million times on TV and pictures. But what is the real meaning of this practice? What did the people smoke, and which equipment did they use? Read on, and experience exciting information regarding this topic.
USAGE OF THE PEACE PIPE
Even though the term peace pipe is used till this day, the purpose of this ritual object is more colorful than many people think.
In general, the pipe gets used for festive ceremonies, like peace agreements or the signing of a trading agreement, and is a sign for unity.
If two people smoke the same pipe, it symbolizes a sealing of their friendship. Additionally, the object is used for prayers, and therefore has a high spiritual value.
American settlers shaped the term peace pipe, as they got in contact with the object in this context.
WHAT DOES A PEACE PIPE SYMBOLIZE?
Like mentioned earlier, the holy pipe is a valuable spiritual object. In the past only high ranked members of a tribe would own such a treasure, and signalized their status with it.
According to the legend, Whope, the white buffalo women, brought it to the humans together with the seven rites. The pipe traditionally symbolizes the human life. The head of the pipe stands for the world, or mother nature, and the stick symbolizes the path of life, that every human has to walk on.
Additionally, there are many other meanings, that the pipe got over the years, especially in connection with specific events. For example, when a man left the village together with the wife of another man, than it was custom to send the betrayed a calumet. If he smokes the pipe, he thereby signalizes that he renounces his revenge.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL RITUAL, IN WHICH THE HOLY PIPE WAS SMOKED, LOOK LIKE?
The smoking of the calumet is a special event and gets prepared in a ceremonial way. The participants of the ritual gather in the tipi (house) of the host, and initialize the usage together. Usually, people sit around a bonfire, but nowadays it is also common to use candles for this purpose.
While the pipe gets stuffed, herbs get burned in the fire, this way positive energies get collected and evil ghosts get expelled. Before the peace pipe gets ignited, it has to be pulled through the uprising smoke of the fire. Hereby it is important, to pay attention rules. It first goes from north to south, then from east to west, and then from heaven to earth. (six cardinal directions)
As soon as the content of the pipe is lit, four puffs have to be sacrificed for the grandfathers of the four cardinal directions, before the pipe gets handed around, always clockwise.
WHAT WAS SMOKED AND WHICH PIPES WERE USED?
In the past, the people usually smoked a mixture of tobacco and regional herbs. Depending on the specific tribe, this mixture could consist of many different ingredients. It is assumed, that some of the tribes used the calumet to smoke hallucinogenic drugs, like marijuana and mushrooms.
Originally, only a pipe was used to inhale the smoke off herbs burned in the fire. Only over time they developed the skills and know-how to build more advanced versions of pipes.
The pipes were made out of wood or stone, whereby the materials could vary based on the specific tribe and its location. For the head of the pipe, catlinite, which was gathered from the “holy quarry”, got used. The stick of the pipe was mostly made out of wood from robust trees, lie the white-ash.
The concrete design of the calumet was different for many tribes. Especially when it comes to the head of the pipe, there were major differences. While some peace pipes were equipped with a basic and simple head, others had elaborate adornments, or were shaped like animals or plants.
However, even if the materials and designs were different, all calumets were crested with ornaments and textiles, wherefore nowadays they are seen as pieces of art.
We hope you enjoyed this little insight, into the world or ritual smoking, and that you learned a thing or two. If you want to receive more interesting and exciting information about smoking utensils and spirituality, visit our blog from time to time. We will upload new articles on a regular basis.