Sage and sweet grass from the American plains are traditionally burned by American Indians for cleansing, purifying, or creating sacred space.
Traditional Sweet Grass is used in virtually every sacred ceremony of the Plains Indians. Hence, it is one of the most honored native plants of the Dakotas. When burned as incense, often as braids, Sweet Grass emits a very pleasant fragrance. When used in ceremonies, the rising smoke from burning Sweet Grass symbolizes the purification of the people's hopes, needs and oneness with all things to the Great Spirit Wakan Tanka.
For centuries Native Americans have burned sage, sometimes called smudging, in their ceremonies to purify themselves, protect physical and spiritual well-being and honor the great spirit, Wakan Tanka. The colors on the medicine wheel represent the four directions. Yellow, the east, symbolizes the knowledge of truth. Red, the south, represents the promise of new life. The purity of the words we speak and the life we live is symbolized by White, the north. Black, the west, symbolizes life in its maturity and the hope of humanity to overcome the darkness of fear, ignorance, hate and war.