A Guide to Smudging

“Nature understands fire and smoke better than words.” Plants of Power 
I started the ancient tradition of smudging about 3 years ago, after learning about the energetic clearing and purification benefits. I now smudge my home each new and full moon; I use it to meditate and I also travel with sage and palo santo so that I can clear the energy of the places I visit. For the skeptics that ask, ‘does it really do anything? Does it make your home feel different?’ I say yes. I believe that energy is everywhere and in everything. As a non-tangible element, energy can transform, manifest and be manipulated. It is in constant change, just like our physical bodies. To understand what smudging is, it is best to  look to the origins and traditions. Here is some information on the origins and key elements to the practice.
History:
  • Smudging was believed to be used as a powerful cleansing technique with orgins as far back as 1500 BC. Evidence of ancient Egyptians using herbs burned in religious ceremonies were inscribed on tablets.
  • Shamanic smudging is an old tribal tradition which has been used for centuries for cleansing but also to create harmony and peace. It has also been used to open the doors of the soul to the spirit world.
  • A large number of ancient cultures used herbs and plants in the cleansing rituals and preparation of the dead. The smoke of the burning herbs was believed to carry prayers to the heavens.
  • Throughout history, the burning of herbs and plants has been used for cleansing, healing and in spiritual ceremonies.
  • There are thousands of different shamanic smudging ceremonies. Different tribes on all continents have used a variety of herbs for smudging and rituals.
  • Smudging can be seen as a universal spiritual component that runs through and connects all the worlds great cultures and religions throughout time.
  • Today, individuals burn smudge for symbolic cleansing and blessing rituals.
  • Science says that burning sage for one hour removes 94% of bacteria in the air thus improving air quality. The smoke is antimicrobial and can reduce various types of infection.

Harvest:

It is said that before gathering the herbs for bundling smudge, the harvesters of the plants would pray, ask for guidance, and ask the plant’s permission to harvest.  Each plant is believed to have a deva or a sacred spirit associated with the physical substance. The plants are considered sacred. Therefore the individual harvesting  and his intention has to be pure. These rituals are believe to strengthen the connections with the plants. Once gathered, the herbs were then cut and arranged into a bundle. Some believe that the smudge must then be hung upside down so the energy does not drain out the cut end. The stems are representative of the earth energy, while the tops of the herbs represent the sky and the spirit.

Plants variations used fro Smudge:
  • Cedar – Calming, uplifting, and grounding.
  • Sage – Anti-fungal and antiseptic.
  • Sweetgrass – Increases positive energy and purifies
  • Mugwort – A symbol of health and hope.
  • Lavender – Used as an invitation for the spirits.

Ceremony:

1.  Gather your sage smudge stick and bowl, or more traditionally used, a abalone shell.

2.  Open every door and window in your house.

3.  Light the stick at a 45 degree angle. Let it catch fire and burn for 5-10 seconds. Then blow out the flame, allowing the embers to start to smoke.

4.  Walk into the first room and set your intention for that space.  You can say a cleansing prayer or the intention out loud.

5.  Walk around the room, wave the sage stick in a slow circular motion so its smoke circulates into the corners, along the walls, and washes around the windows.  Visualize the smoke absorbing negativity, problems, toxicity, and anything else you want to release. Watch as the smoke dissipates, floating out the windows,  making room for positive, fresh energy.

6. Repeat in each room.

I found this cool guide on herbs and their ruling planets. Use it to guide your selection of herbs and create your own rituals.