Indians believed throughout North and South America, about the magical powers of tobacco. They thought it could calm angry gods, give courage, cure illness, and bring rain in time of drought, or turn back the waters in time of flood.
The Maya thought tobacco smoke could keep away evil winds and poisonous snakes. They also believed it could protect night travelers and those people who worked in the dark places. They also believed that shooting stars were burning cigar butts thrown away by the Balam, or Jaguar Rain Gods. These gods ruled over the four corners of the universe. In one of their ceremonies, they blew tobacco smoke in the four directions to appease the gods.
In another ceremony, called "The Interrogation of the Chief", a series of riddles was asked. One riddle was: "Son, bring me the firefly of the night. Its smell shall pass to the north and to the west. Bring me the beckoning tongue of the jaguar." Guess, what did the Chief want? Yup, that's right. The answer to the riddle is a smoking tube, or cigarette, of tobacco. The firefly is the cigarette, and the jaguar's tougue is a light.
The Caribs of Brazil blew smoke over their warriors to give them courage in all the battles. The indians of Virginia cast powdered tobacco on stormy waters to appease the gods and improve their fishing catch. The Osage, a tribe of the midwestern plains, always smoked before doing anything important and invited the Great Spirit to "come down; smoke with me as a friend." This shows how important the tobacco was.
Cihuacoatl, the most powerful Goddess of the Earth, had a body filled with tobacco. Mixcoatl, the God of Hunting, was generally pictured with a gourd containing tobacco as part of his costume. The Maya also believed tobacco and its smoke could cure illness, protect an unborn child, and rid a dwelling of ghosts and evil spirits.
The Karuks of the Pacific Northwest had a myth about a Winged-One, and it's called Savage-One-of-the-Middle-of-the-World. He frightens the Sun, called He-Who-Travels-Above-Us, with tobacco smoke until the Sun promises to protect him in time of war. Another Indian tale is about Long-Billed Dowitcher, who loses his five children to Mountain Man. He finally kills Mountain Man with stones. The he puts his children's bones in a lake and brings them back to life by smoking and blowing the smoke over them.