Herbal Treats

Herbal Smoking Mixtures Workshop

We present an Herbal Smoking Mixtures Workshop about twice a year. You can purchase a downloadable recording of the last workshop here.

Herbal Smoking Mixtures Part 3

Ceremonial Use of Smoking

by Howie Brounstein

Some of the milder psychotropic herbs can be effective in smoking mixture for ceremonial reasons. These light smokes will not knock you down as the heavy counter-cultural chemicals, but they will give you the feeling of the plant. The best use of these mixtures is during meditation or vision quests where you pay great attention to the way the herb feels. These are not for everyday smoking mixtures.

Many people are looking for psychotropic herbs that are legal and smokable. If you are looking for a replacement for Marijuana, stay with the calming herbs or Calamus. There are many other plants available in the wild that range from mild LSD-like experiences to strong other worldly experiences. Many are very dangerous and unhealthy to your body. Certainly a spiritual experience may be worth short term bodily discomfort, but it’s not worth death. These stronger psychotropics should be used under the guidance of a Shaman or other experienced practitioner trained in the specific uses and dosages of these herbs. Carlos had his don Juan to help him back to earth from these outlandish worlds. Don’t be stupid and get lost in other dimensions leaving your body in a coma in a hospital for your loved ones to pay for.

The hardest part of being a teacher is not teaching what I know but knowing what not to teach. If you are looking for heavy duty psychedelic smoking mix you won’t find it in this book.

Scotch Broom, Cytisus scoparius

Scotch Broom is planted by the roadside to prevent erosion, but it regularly escapes to the neighboring areas. When I was about 19, I heard that if you dry the flowers and smoke them, they will get you high. What I got was a sore throat, a headache, and a hangover, but no real psychoactive effects.

As the years went by I researched it further. Merlin smoked it in a legend, but he must have done something to it. I finally found out about a curing process. Put the freshly picked flowers directly into a jar and seal it. Let it cure about two weeks. It should turn brown and look like scat. If not, open the jar for a minute and close it up again. It’ll turn brown in a moment. When it’s ready it will smell putrid; however, when you dry it, it will have a very pleasant aromatic aroma. Don’t dry it to a crisp; leave it slightly moist. It will have the most amazing flavor. I tried this curing process and smoked it. It gave me a mild altered state with a minimum of a headache. I then tried curing it for eight months. The resultant product is a hallucinogen, although mild.

Even cured it is still harsh on your body. It will cause nausea along the altered states. It can also cause a loss of motor control in larger amounts, with no major hangover if you are healthy. People with liver problems should probably stay away from this herb, and most other organic hallucinogens as well. Many people are allergic to Broom, and should not smoke it. It is not an everyday blend to replace Marijuana smoking. The effect is nothing like Cannabis, and it feels as if it will cause damage to your body with long term use.

I sometimes teach this process in my apprenticeship. It depends on the students’ attitudes. If they’re looking for highs … forget it. I won’t even mention it. If they really understand about “power plants” then I will. Broom to me is a very powerful spirit that enters your body when you take it internally in the described fashion. When harvesting it, one has to be careful to pay attention. The plant forcibly stops some students from harvesting it. It will actually warn them to stay away, and then hurt them through rashes, hives, headache, sneezes, and nausea. All from just a harvest; it is a very powerful plant indeed.

I harvest Broom in the spring and cure it throughout the year. In the fall it’s dried and mixed with a number of other plants harvested as the seasons cycle. I blend it in small amounts with the other herbs to make a special smoking mixture that is mild and pleasant. One that gives a feeling of our connection with the earth and the fine gifts we’ve harvested, and the fine gifts we’ve given back to nature. This is my smoking blend used for special purposes in times of meditation and retreat.

I regularly make a blend like I this. I only gather a small amount each year, enough for a few times of smoking. I don’t always add Broom. Broom will make it so I don’t feel like walking. I like to walk. In contrast, to smoke Broom regularly just to get high is to invite bodily damage. If you’re looking for a daily Marijuana replacement use Skullcap or Pedicularis. They won’t give you a hangover.

Calamus, Acorus calamus

This ancient herb is mentioned in the Bible and is chewed by the Natives of Northeastern Canada on a daily basis. It is also used in ayurvedic medicine for canceling out the negative effects of consistent marijuana smoking. This makes it an especially good smoke for those who are quitting long term marijuana use. In small doses it is a stimulant. In large internal doses it is hallucinogenic. It’s main ingredient (TMA) is more psychoactive by weight than mescaline. However, smoking it will not cause psychic pyrotechnics. It appears to provide a relaxed, pleasant, mild psychotropic effect very different from Marijuana. It is very unlike calming herbs used to quit Marijuana because it will make your head cloudy.

The active ingredient of Calamus is not the most stable of compounds. It will deteriorate within a few years leaving the herb useless. Try to get as fresh an herb as possible and buy large pieces if possible. Break these pieces up small before use in a pipe. If you use papers, powder the herb and mix well.

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