An Ethnobotany of Firewood in Osage Big Moon Peyotism: Practical knowledge, ritual participation, and aesthetic preference

Daniel C. Swan, Lauren M. Simons

Abstract


This article examines firewood in the context of the modern practice of the Big Moon Peyote Religion by the Osage Indian community of Osage County, in northeastern Oklahoma, U.S.A. The fire and its ritual maintenance is a major component of the all night ceremony of Peyotism. The selection and preparation of the wood used in the ritual fire incorporates botanical knowledge, ceremonial experience, and aesthetic considerations to satisfy a range of preferences and criteria. We also discuss the manners in which firewood, through its ritual use and sacred properties, extends the spiritual benefit and social relationships of Peyotism to the greater Osage community.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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