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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Offering Smoke: The Sacred Pipe and Native American Religion

Paper, Jordan (1988).
Moscow, Idaho: The University of Idaho Press.

ISBN: 0-89301-126-6 paperback

Description: Paperback, xx + 161 pages.

Contents: List of Illustrations, Maps and Table, Preface, Acknowledgments, 6 chapters, Appendix 1: Notes on Methodology, Appendix 2: Data on Sacred Pipes, references, index.

Excerpt(s): Historically, perhaps the most striking feature of aboriginal religion in the Americas is its ritual use of tobacco. As one eighteenth-century observer noted, "All the Indian nations we have any acquaintance with frequently use it on the most religious occasions." Elsewhere in the world, practices can be found similar to many of those in native North America, including sweat ceremonials and shamanic trances, but the focus on tobacco as the ultimate sacred plant, ubiquitous throughout the Americas save for the Arctic, is unique. For more than a millennium, the sacred pipe has been the major means of communal smoke offering over much of the continent, and its use has become the paramount Native North American ritual.

In this brilliant exploration of the history, mythology, ritual, and symbolism of the sacred pipe, author Jordan Paper breaks new ground in assessing the importance of the pipe in Native American religion. With exemplary sensitivity and thoroughness he traces the routes of types of pipes through the ethnography and ethnohistory of their users, developing in the process the most sophisticated analysis to date of the cosmology and symbolisms associated with them.

Lavishly illustrated with over sixty color photos of pipes from collections across both the United States and Canada, Offering Smoke provides a dazzling introduction to an aspect of Native American culture heretofore never explored in such depth or with such careful regard for the religious and cultural sensitivities so vital for genuine understanding. (back cover)

This work began as an interdisciplinary study of the Sacred Pipe, combining methodologies from archeology, art history, cultural anthropology, ethnohistory, ethnology, and history of religions. Because the Sacred Pipe is the core ritual and symbolic heart of many native traditions of North America, the research led to an analysis of major aspects of Native American religion as a whole and to revisions of established anthropological theories. The evidence indicates that contemporary pipe-centered pan-Indian religion is a revitalization of a major religious modality that has as long a history as virtually any other in the world. The research also led to a reassessment of the role of women and of female spirits in Native American religion, a role found to equal that of the male. (Preface, page xiii).

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