A smudge stick is a dried and bundled plant. One can also use loose leaves in smudging, but before we get to the particulars of such a ceremony it will help to have an understanding of the origins of this Sacred practice and how it will cleanse, heal, and consecrate an energy field, or thing, or space.
The Origins and History of Smudging
People commonly credit smudging as being a Native American practice, but the use of rising smoke in Spiritual Rituals has been practiced across many cultures for thousands of years. The Ancient Hindu texts reveal this was practiced 6,000 years ago with the burning of incense. Smoke purification was performed in Egypt, with the burning of aromatic resins for religious ceremonies. It was practiced in Babylonia, Greece, Rome, Japan, Tibet, China, among the ancient Hebrews, and among indigenous tribal cultures around the world, with the Native Tribes of North America being only a portion. Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, which are an amalgam of pagan beliefs and practices, use incense in religious Cremonies, adapted from the pagan rituals popular when the Christian theocracy was legalized by the pagan-turned-Christian, Roman Emperor Constantine, in 325 AD.
So the use of smoke to purify in a spiritual way is not exclusive to the Native American tradition, although we have them to thank for the wonderful and deeply spiritual practice of burning sage and other sacred plants as a purification practice. This tradition is a very beautiful gift and the most effective method commonly used in spiritual cleansing ceremonies today.
How it Works to Cleanse and Purify:
Smudging is an intrinsic part of shamanism, the world’s oldest medicine. Shamans recognize that every form of life on this planet has a spiritual purpose and a sacred consciousness. They know that plants have invaluable healing properties. Human animals, as it turns out, are not the top rung of creation’s ladder even though we think we are because we have big brains and walk on two feet. All beings, whether plant, animal, or mineral are divine and have sacred right to life; all have something to offer to the manifest “other.”
To approach a smudging ritual and to be effective in cleansing away negative energy, one must be reverent of the plant being used and even the energies being cleansed. All energy is divine at its core, whether Light or Dark. Respect for all life is essential to any smudging that you undertake. If you cannot feel reverent about this sacred practice, don’t do it. Find someone who is spiritually qualified and energetically prepared to do it for you.
Although many different plants can be used for smudging, indigenous American tribes consider four plants to be especially sacred: sage, sweetgrass, tobacco, and cedar. Each plant is considered to have a special function and this can vary by tribe and tradition. While sage is used for purification, sweetgrass is used to bring in positive energies, and its smoke is considered to carry prayers to the Creator.
When to Use Smudge
-If you are feeling down, negative, stuck, or in a spiritual low place, smudging is an excellent way to change things for the better.
-When your house, your property, or any place or space has been exposed to heavy and negative energies, or painful experiences and even illness, they should be cleansed with smudge.
-When you move into a new location, it should be smudged to cleanse the psychic imprints of previous occupants.
-If you feel the presence of bad energy in your living quarters, or if a solitary room makes you feel bad or uneasy by being in there, it’s time to smudge.
-If you want to create a protective barrier against outside negative influences, such as neighborhood issues, it’s time to smudge.
-If you want to make your prayers stronger and if you want to feel more connected to Spirit, it’s time to smudge.
-If your vehicle has been in a fender-bender or you’ve had a close call in your car, smudge it, inside and out, to remove negative energetic imprints that can attract more negative experiences.
-Cleanse second-hand items with smudge to remove psychic imprints of previous owners.
-You can consecrate and energetically charge your garden by smudging.
-You should smudge to clean yourself and your space before engaging in any psychic contact or spiritual ceremony.
-You can smudge anytime just to connect to a state of spiritual clarity and harmony! Remember, you “clear the air” in your life with the help of sacred smoke!
Important: smudging is the safe/contained burning of the dried sage, cedar, sweetgrass or other plant material so that the cleansing smoke is released, active flames are discouraged, once lit you can blow out the flames and embers will continue to release smoke in a good way - You can use a abalone shell, clay saucers, fireproof glass or other ceramic materials more appropriate for containing burning material. You clear with sage using a feather which represents air, the shell represents water, sage represents Earth and the burning itself represents fire. Traditionally, you would begin by opening a window or door in each room and begin there. This is also where you will end. This is done in each room walking clockwise. With the feather you wave the smoke gently affirming your intentions of cleansing that space leaving only positive energy. We leave a window or door open because the healing properties of the sacred smoke collect and transmute the positive ions and the ions get dispersed into the fresh air . Its what happens during a thunder and lightening storm where the negative ions leave the atmosphere cleansed and refreshed. Make sure to put it all out afterwards - dip in water, or carefully crush out the embers to make sure all the embers are extinguished. -This is a powerful tool to be used wisely and for the good of All Beings!
Buy sage or gather sage & dry it out. If you can go outside, the best is to be on bare feet to connect to Earth, grounding oneself. Remove all metal jewels from your body because it can affect the energy. You can use an (eagle) feather to bring sage smoke towards your eyes, ears, mouth, hands and overall whole body, you can also smudge your feet and back to remove energy. Feel what is needed. Ask Great Spirit to be cleansed and purified from everything that is no longer needed. Take a moment to come at peace and to thank the spirit of the plant. Fill your heart with gratitude.
Sacred sage and other wonderful herbs are Earth Mother’s gift, and once you understand how important a tool they are in your own spiritual welfare you will never be without a supply on hand. They are a fundamental part of your spiritual first-aid kit, given by Creation to heal wounds upon the Soul.
**Article taken from Wild Woman Sisterhood**