I grew up in a very conservative religious, and political minded family. For all intentional purposes, it was the center of the Bible Belt.
I never really witnessed, the ritualistic use of smoke in prayer and ceremony. For me, when I was a member of the Episcopal Church, it was frankincense and myrrh incense, burned during Mass that connected me to the community and the Holy Spirit.
But when, I experienced my first Native American, smudging ritual, done with the burning smoke of sage, something about it was primordial to me. I was at once, purified and connected to the smoke and with spirituality, the Source of all that is.
In Shamanism, and Native American traditions, the smoke dispels negativity, stagnant energies, and bridges across and beyond the “veil”, that separates the mental world of ordinary thinking and things from the Spiritual Realm and Goodness.
The most common smoke-purification prayer ritual used is a technique called “smudging”. Their unique concept and method used by many different tribes across multiple continents, throughout the ages indicates that “smudging” has some real mental\physical, emotional and/or spiritual benefits.
How can smudging be so powerful?
The answer lies in the atomic and subatomic worlds of subtle-spiritual energies. Our homes, bodies and relations are not just made of pure physical matter; they also made of invisible pulsating energy. Purifying, a our mental, and physical bodies with smudging clears away the destructive emotions and negative psychic energies that clings to our physicality. Left, untreated, it can drain us of our vitality.
Like spiritual spring cleaning, I smudge myself, home or a family members, visualizing the smoke sweeping away debris. The ritual can help you banish stress, ease tensions, attract love, and give you energy, and bring you into balance with the healing rhythms and seasons of the year. I use it often in my sacred space, however humble, to purify a sanctuary – a place to meet up with my spirit guides, and for renewal and happiness.
How to Smudge
- Use an abalone shell is a traditional Native American vessel for holding the sage. However, a small, flat, heat-proof container will also do.
- Light the end of your bundled sage and let it flame for a few moments, then extinguish the flame so the sage is smoldering and smoking.
- Smudge with the smoking sage in the vessel. Use circular clockwise movements, encircle yourself with the smoke. Native American, First People often used a very large feather from a bird, such as a turkey. Fan the smoke, with the feather all around the yourself and the room going around windows and doorways. I always say a prayer, giving thanks, asking for all negativity be released, and to open up for all that is good and holy. If possible, open some windows and doors to allow the smoke to leave. Could set off a smoke alarm.
- You can do this for the whole room and even the whole house. Start at the most northerly of the house, or room, moving clockwise, let the smoke from the sage move throughout the home. Try and finish off the smudging process by ending up at an open door, or window. Making a full circle around your home.
Sage is the most potent herb for smudging but you can also use cedar and sweet grass. Cedar and sweet grass used after smudging with sage, is used to invite spirit guides, good energies and to revitalize.
I always like to say a little prayer over and over, while I am smudging, giving thanks, asking the ‘powers that be’ (Great Spirit) to remove all negativity and unwanted energies, and asking for a blessing.