Anthony Bear has walked the path leading up to the launch of his Bear Blend brand of smoke blend his whole life. Born in Ohio, his mother carries Native American blood in her lineage. Some believe the Native Americans were the earliest to use smoke in shamanistic ceremonies. The significance of the sacredness of smoke first dawned on him as a youth out of college in Eugene, Oregon prior to an activist event which would take place at Big Mountain (Black Mesa) in the Four Corners area of the southwestern US. When a spontaneous prayer ceremony arose in support of the Native people living in the area, a Native American leader asked Bear if he had any tobacco. Passing the leader a pack of cigarettes, Bear watched the man rip off the filters and pray to Great Spirit, inhaling and exhaling the smoke. “I saw that smoke embodied spirit. It becomes a prayer that goes up to the Sky Father.” Bear’s own smoking became ritual after that experience. It was in Ohio Bear would meet a Muskogee named Tis Mal Crow who introduced him to the many uses of plants and herbs. Crow, who authored the book Native Plants, Native Healing Traditional Muskogee Way, taught Bear at thing or two about the properties of plants. “I used to carry around a satchel of herbs, and even just carrying them around, touching them, smelling them, would bring a healing energy awareness, almost like having a crystal.” It was then Bear began creating his own botanical smoking blends and sharing them with friends.
In another experience Bear recalls “I was sitting in ceremony playing a drum at a gathering led by a French man, a shaman who had lived in Peru. During the ceremony I was watching him and how he used the smoke, deliberately and intensely blowing it…there was something magical about the way he used it to cleanse and purify the space. The meaning of the use of smoke in sacred ceremony came alive, like the herbs came alive in my mind, almost as if they wanted to help. It was then I realized I had to get my blend out into the world.
Bear Blend and the company of the same name launched in May 2015. While there have not been a lot of studies with respect to effects of smoking herbs, anecdotal evidence from many customers show that cutting Bear Blend into organic tobacco, like American Spirit, and then gradually decreasing the tobacco amounts over time, has helped many to quit smoking commercial cigarettes. Says Bear, “I’d like to bring back the heritage of smoking as prayer. Our tag line and our mission is Celebrating Life Through Ritual. Smoke with intention, mindfulness and ceremony.”