I have, for many years now, been blending a very nice
kinnikinnick for use in pipe ceremonies. "Kinnikinnick"
means "that which is mixed", and refers to both
smoking mixtures in and of themselves, and to
certain herbs commonly used therein, most notably
Red Willow bark (Cornus stolonifera) and
Bearberry leaves (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi),
though other plants have been given this title as
well. Though not all do, my blend contains
Tobacco mixed along with the other herbs, and I feel
that it cannot be left out of the mixture if one
wants to retain the all the medicine that the smoke
may offer. While many believe Tobacco is an
unhealthy, dangerous plant, I feel that, like so
many things, if used properly its virtues far
outweigh its vice.
Smoking Tobacco as an act of prayer has been practiced
as long as Tobacco has been available to our
kindred, and throughout all the lands where Tobacco
has since traveled. It is an entirely
different practice than habitual smoking, which is
properly characterized as the abuse of Tobacco:
We are abusing it. And if we abuse
it, the way it tells us that this is wrong is by
making us sick. It will do this until we learn
Tobacco's very essence is that of Prayer Medicine, and
it is in this context that it can be used as a
powerful ally and spiritual medicine. To be
used in such a way requires Ceremony. There
are as many Ceremonies as there are people who pray
with Tobacco. Because the use of Tobacco in
pipe ceremonies comes to us from the indigenous
peoples of the Americas, there are many strong
feelings about the proper way in which to use
Tobacco in prayer, and what constitutes respectful
and disrespectful interpretations of the many
indigenous traditions in which Tobacco is held
sacred. This, however, is not a place in which
I will tread into such territory. There are
better forums and situations in which the many
points of view can be heard and considered.
What I would offer is that the prayerful use of
Tobacco and Kinnikinnick be rooted in deep respect
and reverence; in consciousness and honesty.
Please, I ask that you do not make this smoking
blend and use it in a way that dishonors either the
Tobacco and herbs it contains, or your own health
and well being.
I have always "eyeballed" the proportions, so please
know they are not "fixed" in any way.
roughly equal parts by volume:
...yerba santa leaves
slightly smaller parts each:
...red willow bark
Perhaps you might use 1/3 cup of the first three
ingredients, and 1/4 cup of the following two.
If so, figure in that the Raspberry leaf is a bit "poofier"
than the Tobacco, and so will need to be pressed
down a bit, and that the Yerba Santa is a bit
heavier and you may perhaps use a wee bit less.
Be aware that Red Willow is not a willow at all, but
the Red Osier Dogwood, Cornus stolonifera.
Also, I should say that the Tobacco I use in this
mix is cured using molasses, giving it a richer,
deeper flavor than commonly available Tobacco.
Like most smoking mixtures, it is nicest if it's
holding a tad of moisture, and this can be achieved
either by adding an apple or pear slice to the
container it sits in for a little while, or by
adding one of those ceramic discs used to moisten
pipe tobacco (never tried that; pear is really quite
nice). Please know as well that this is a pipe
mixture, and won't smoke well rolled in papers.
Beyond that, the disposable nature of rolled smoking
herbs is less conducive, I believe, to the nature of
smoking as Ceremony.
Using this blend in pipe ceremonies has literally
always brought me to a deep place of perspective
on what I have prayed for, and on the absolute
connectedness of all things. I have used
pipe ceremonies to forge deeper connections with the
plants I work with. I have shared ceremony
with others and seen this medicine touch and heal
people. This profound healing is as real as
the harm that may come from the abuse of smoke
Please make, and use, this Kinnikinnick with my
excellent resources for insights into smoking
Herbal Smoking Mixtures
Smoke Plants of North America
The Ceremony of Tobacco
quality, prayerfully grown organic Tobacco can be
Butler formerly ran Sotoya Ceremonial