Sweetgrass innovations in native and new age communities
LccE 98 R3 S53 1995
LcshIndians of North America - Rites and ceremonies
Indians of North America - Ethnobotany
New age movement - North America
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AbstractThis thesis is a study of contemporary practices and ritual attitudes in relation to the use of sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) in two research populations: natives from the Northern Plains and "new agers ". Ethnographic observations on usage and ritual are reported; personal experiences and beliefs are recorded in the users' own words. Despite the similarities between neophyte practitioners and long-experienced adepts in both populations, the users' characterizations of the meaning of their actions reveals a systematic difference in "ritual attitude ". Natives' accounts seem to be predicated on "metaphoric" symbolic connections, (their behavior in relation to sweetgrass usage constrained by a sense of tradition). By contrast, new agers' accounts seem to reveal a "metonymic" pattern of relating symbols to one another, and a willingness to syncretize and to innovate personal meanings. This leads to the conclusion that the culturally common "element" of sweetgrass performs significantly different "symbolic work" in native and white contexts.
Bibliography: p. 160-170.