Pastor Scheeler

Pastor Joe Scheeler from the All Saints Episcopal Church in Hazel Dell smudges the sweet grass before harvest by burning a mixture of sage, cedar, tobacco, and sweet grass. 

On May 15 a sweet grass harvest ceremony was hosted by All Saints Episcopal Church in Hazel Dell. According to pastor Joe Scheeler, Sweet grass is one of the four sacred prayer tools that indigenous people received from the creator, along with sage, cedar and tobacco. They are burned separately or together as part of a sacred purification ceremony.


Mona Pocha from Vancouver harvests sweet grass at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hazel Dell, May 15. The Sweet grass is harvested with regular scissors, while a two-beat traveling song plays. The grass is gathered in a woven basket and sectioned into three strands, three times to be braided. When the grass is braided together it symbolizes the union of self, family and community. “We braid those together for strength,” Pastor Joe Scheeler said. “When those individual pieces stand alone they are weak, but when they are braided together they become amazingly strong.”

The harvest ceremony was put on by The Traveling Day Society, a native-led, inter-tribal, multicultural group of musicians. Formed in 2015, the group’s mission is to provide First Nation song and musical accompaniment for people at transitional points of life. 

Ribbon tying

Mona Pocha, Martha Stephenson, and Manda Gludt work together to tie a red ribbon on the sweet grass braids, finishing the process of the harvest. After finishing the braid they are dried before being burned. The Sweet Grass braids will be gifted to members of the community, and across the United States.

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(1) comment

Elizabeth Madrigal

This is such a lovely ceremony. Thank you for a terrific and beautifully accurate article. For those unfamiliar with sweetgrass, it emanates a delicious vanilla-like aroma.

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