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Tobacco Prayer Ties

First Nation people do not ask for something without offering something first.

Cherokee and Lakota people have many traditions to help their individual and collective healing, and one of them is offering prayer ties to Great Spirit in exchange for blessings. Prayer ties are spiritual tools created to physically represent and carry the energy of a prayer. Those prayer ties are usually wrapped around a tree in preparation for a large ceremony.⁠

With respect and honor to their tradition, we can practice this earth-centered ritual of making prayer ties and using it as an intention tool for prayer and/or healing. The most important part of the process of creating them, are the prayers that go into it, it should be done with much reverence and respect the whole time.⁠

Traditionally, the making of the ties is part of the prayer and blessing ritual, as making the ties themselves is a meditative action. Start setting your intentions as you begin to prepare the ties.

To make prayer ties, you will need the following materials:

Small bundle of natural material string

Package of loose tobacco

Squares of cotton cloth

Traditionally four colours of fabric are used to represent the four directions: yellow, red, black, and white; while they are tied in sequences of four or seven prayer ties of the same color, creating a total set of twenty eight.

A single prayer tie is made from a small square of cotton cloth about three by three inches or less than eight cm by eight cm. Place a pinch of loose tobacco in the center of the square. Tobacco is considered a sacred herb and a gift to the spirit world by Native communities, and here it is used as an offering of gratitude and to carry our prayers to the Great Creator. Next, gather the four corners of the square together and secure the tobacco into a small bundle by looping or tying the string around it. Leave about four inches or ten centimetres of string on one side of the prayer tie and leave the other end untrimmed.

As you create additional prayer ties, add them to the same string, spacing the prayer ties so that they are about three to four inches or eight to ten centimeters apart. You can add as many prayer ties as you like, just keep the string uncut except at the ends. This continuous string represents the flow of energy from the beginning to the end of your prayer. Any breaks in the string will interrupt the natural flow of your intention.

Once your string of prayer ties is finished, you can make an intention statement. This is a prayer to Great Spirit, God, the Universe, your higher self, Mother Earth, or whichever deity or energy you are spiritually aligned with.

Let me know if you have any success creating them.

During our Moon Ceremonies we incorporate rituals to help ourselves and our community. Join us here:

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