Smudging: A Native American traditional way of using smoke to purify a space. It is a ritual of burning herbs, and using the smoke produced to alter energy for one’s self or another, or to cleanse the energy of a specific space. Smudging is commonly used today in Wellness facilities to clear out any downbeat energy and to purify the space so that guests are welcomed to a pure environment in which they will not be affected by any negative “stuff”. Many herbs can be used for the smudging ritual cleansing. The most common ones include sage, and sweet grass, or cedar. Sage is used as a part of many Native American ceremonies because of its purification powers. In the Sun Dance Ceremony, the dancers wear wreathes of sage on their heads, and chew the leaves to alleviate their thirst. Sage is associated with purity, with things of the spirit, and of the heavens.
Sweet Grass is another herb used almost universally among North American tribal peoples. Its fresh, clean smell, which is something like new-mown hay, is said to drive away negative thoughts and ill spirits. It is used in the sweat lodge, in healing ceremonies, and in many kinds of purification and dedication ceremonies.
Cedar is especially effective in dispelling negative energy. The evergreen needles of the cedar, rather than the bark, are used for smudging. When working with an herb that comes in loose form, such as evergreen needles of the cedar, it is necessary to vary your smudging technique somewhat from that used with herbs which can be bound into bundles.
Lighting the Herbs (bundled herbs): To create smudge smoke, light the bundle of herbs. When the herbs are ignited, blow the fire out and the bundle will continue to smoke. With your free hand, hold a fireproof bowl underneath the smoking herbs to catch any sparks. To get the effect you are looking for, most of the time all it takes is a quick waft of the smudge stick throughout the area you feel needs cleansing; however if you feel the space needs additional work, then additional time, energy and a potential smudging ceremony is the way to go. Information on how to do a smudging ceremony is available online.
When you are completed with your smudging, tap the smoking herbs firmly in the bowl in the kitchen sink, just in case they are not completely out.
If you are working with loose herbs: You will want to place the herbs in a fireproof bowl, which can be placed on safe surfaces. After they ignite you can gently blow out the fire and leave the herbs smoldering within the bowl. The bowl is likely to remain very hot, and you could burn yourself if you try to pick it up. So it is necessary to leave it on a heat-proof surface.
A word of caution about smudging: herbs can continue to smolder for a long time even after they are apparently completely extinguished, so it is very important never to leave them unattended because of the risk of starting a fire in your home.
If you are curious of where to purchase herbs for smudging, check out your local health and wellness store. We at Kneaded Relief use Community Pharmacy here in Madison, WI.