If you dig up the roots of a sassafras tree and peel back the bark, it smells like root beer. Many a country child strolling home from school has chewed on a bit of its root or eaten its buds. In fact, it used to be the primary ingredient in root beer, though today the soda is flavored artificially. Sassafras is also a traditional ingredient in Creole and Cajun cooking used to thicken gumbo. French settlers learned about it from the Choctaw Indians in Louisiana.
Native Americans and early settlers considered sassafras a cure all for all sorts of ailments. You can still find it today in medicinal teas, essential oils and aromatherapy, though FDA has banned it as a flavoring agent.
The Choctaws have a legend that is similar to the story of Noah’s Ark. The legend describes how a prophet foresaw the Great Flood and warned the people, but they didn’t believe him. The prophet created a raft made of sassafras logs and he was saved when the flood came.
During the establishment of the Virginia Colony, including Jamestown in the 17th century, sassafras was a major export commodity to England. Briefly, it was the second-largest export behind tobacco. Early settlers often made beds out of the fragrant wood, believing it would drive away bedbugs and evil spirits and give more restful sleep.
* * *
Believed to bring the wearer: grounding, a happy home, prosperity, protection, ecstasy, love, understanding, liberation, youth, longevity, self-discovery
Other associations: stretching money, appreciating inner gifts, triple goddess, positive change
Spirit animals: deer, bunny, beaver, woodchuck, wild turkey, woodpecker, mockingbird, swallowtail, caterpillar, moth