Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Gnaphalium polycephalum

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A plant used in important ways by American
Indian peoples in the eastern U.S. is
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium
(L.). Knowledgeable
Yuchi people know this species as
‘spirit medicine’. Literally, the Yuchi name tsodasha
is a compound word. The head of the compound,
‘sun’ is found in other Yuchi plant
names and relates, in a broader way, to Yuchi cosmology
in which the Sun is associated with the
Yuchi Creator diety.
Yuchi uses of tsodasha cluster around a common
set of interrelated problems—ones simultaneously
spiritual and medical. As a preventative
medicine, tsodasha is burned together with dried
cedar needles (
Juniperus virginiana
L., known in
Yuchi as
) following a funeral. A man appointed
for this task mixes the dried flowers and leaves of
tsodasha with dried needles of cedar. In a cast
iron pan, a metal bucket, or in the horizontally
held blade of a shovel, the two are burned
together to produce smoke. Entering the home of
the deceased, the man, usually with an assistant,
carries the smudge throughout the residence, visiting
all of its sides and rooms. The male official
may use a feather or a feather fan to distribute the
smoke around the home.
Similarly, during a baby naming ceremony, a
smudge of cedar and tsodasha is built and the
child being named is fanned with the smoke, typically
using an eagle feather or a feather fan.
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