Enjoying and ingesting sacred herbs through smoking is an ancestral tradition throughout the world. As our societies become more health conscious, a strong push against the act of smoking has separated the very essence of the practice from its purpose: to connect with spirit, the inner wealth of knowledge and the divine, or any combination of the three.
Smoke is the presence of air (breath), earth (plants and herbs) and fire (heat). When practiced in moderation and with appropriate and wildcrafted herbs and plants, this elemental stimulation can welcome an integration into the body, which consists of up to 60 percent water. The act of smoking sacred herbs and plants is an act of balancing the body.
Damiana is one of these sacred herbs, smoked ritualistically and strongly related to the connection of culture, tradition and spirituality. Known colloquially throughout Mexico and Central America as the flower of love, flor de amor, Damiana is widely recognized as a mood and libido enhancer, that permits relaxation and stress-free living, while also promoting affection, heart centeredness, increasing fertility and boosting the immune system.
While we love Damiana in whatever form she comes in (oils and elixirs, facial mists, chocolates, teas, bath herbs, etc.), we can’t get over the deliciously spicy and earthy tastes it leaves in our mouths after a luxurious smoke session. When we indulge, we do so in a conscious way and enjoy its myriad benefits.
Smoked alone or coupled with herbs and plants such as cannabis, mullein, opal basil and tobacco, Damiana leaf releases mind and body tension quickly in smoke form. Its small, green leaves can easily be separated from the stems to be rolled up and smoked at leisure, providing a natural high, similar but milder than that of cannabis. Like a fine cigar, Damiana’s smooth smoke can be enjoyed as a dessert herb. Damiana smoke is subtly pleasing, with euphoric effects.
Noel Cianci, founder of Flor de Amor and an herbal maven and Kundalini yoga teacher in Baja California Sur, Mexico, says Damiana is a helpful alternative for those who are looking to reduce or completely cut their dependence on cigarettes and even excessive cannabis use.
The herb is tasty, but non-habit forming. “It soothes the nerves,” she says. “Some people say it’s their favorite herb to smoke. In Mexico and Central and South America, it has been smoked for centuries for its relaxation and euphoric properties.”
It’s actually so smooth, Cianci says, that the Mayans use it to this day as a cure for asthma, as it gently clears the lungs, and for illnesses in which it can help suppress coughing. Most importantly, perhaps, it can help regular cigarette smokers wean off commercial nicotine products.
“Blending the smoke is beautiful,” Cianci says, adding that Flor de Amor has Damiana cigarettes for sale in Baja California Sur, with organic Damiana leaf harvested from her farm. “It’s a really pleasant taste and it brings a grounded sense to the smoke if you mix it with cannabis, bringing the cannabis down to earth a bit and adding a jovial sense to the experience.”
Sacred smoke, and we’re not talking about a daily practice here, is something that is safe, pleasurable, and connecting when we make it a ritual, Cianci says. A ritual that has been removed from the smoking experience as tobacco was commodified.
Smoking commercial cigarettes are undeniably anti-health, and today there are more people than ever before trying to quit what easily becomes decades or even a lifelong addiction. The chemical compounds and addictive nature of nicotine are the antitheses of a healthy lifestyle, supporting big businesses that profit off of the knowledge that their products are deadly.
The corruption of tobacco smoking has robbed us of the deep connection it offers us to our various lineages. Tobacco itself is a sacred herb native to the Americas and its seizure and poisoning by corporations is a post-colonial desecration of one of the most spiritual plants in the Western Hemisphere.
Smoking to the point of addiction and overuse has been paramount to the corruption of tobacco, and that relationship has pivoted our culture’s views on smoking to generally unfavorable, even when chemicals are not involved. The motivation toward excess is inherently capitalistic.
It’s time to reclaim the ritual. To know that we can easily enjoy a smoke in moderation, in its sacred essence as our elders did, is an empowering way to establish a connection with the earth and with ourselves.