By Susan Seddon Boulet
The smoke from burning herbs has been used for healing, protection, magic and ritual since pre-historic times. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and put you back into a state of balance. It is the psychic equivalent of washing your hands before eating and used as an essential preliminary to almost all Native American ceremonies.
The word 'smudging' is Native American and the name given to the sacred smoke bowl ceremony where smoke from burning herbs are offered to the Great Spirit in worship, to heal and for the protection of people and their camps. The herbs are traditionally burned in an abalone shell or smudge pot and the smoke is wafted with a feather, it is belived that when using a feather the magical properties from the bird would be added. Another reason a smudge feather or fan is used is that a person should never blow the smoke as they would be blowing their own energy into the smoke, if you prefer not to use a feather the smoke can be wafted using you hands.
Smudging can be used for a number of things and anybody with the right intention can do it. All you need to get started is a large shell or heat proof dish, a smudge feather (which could simply be a single feather) and a bundle of herbs known as a smudge stick or loose herbs with a charcoal disc can be used. The most common herbs used are sage, cedar and sweetgrass although there are many others. I would suggest starting with sage as is was the most sacred to the Native American tradition and is a very powerful cleanser and healer which can be used for any purpose, sage dispells negativity and invites positive energy. Below I have listed some examples for which smudging can be used:
• Cleansing your home / workspace
• Preparing a ritual space
• Cleansing a tarot deck, crystals or any healing or magical tools
• Dispelling a negative situation
• Attracting positive change and inviting blessings to your life
• Healing and aura cleansing
How to smudge yourself
If you are not comfortable with the Native American terminology just adapt the words to suit your own beliefs, the most important thing is your intent
Firstly light the end of your smudge stick and let it burn for a few minutes until the end starts to smoulder. You may need to fan the flames get the it really smoking. Then you call on the spirits of the smudge herbs to cleanse and protect you, saying: "Sacred Sage, please drive away all negativity and bring me into a state of balance". Then begin to waft the smoke towards your heart, simply hold the smudge stick in front of you (not too close) and use the feather to waft the smoke towards you. Then waft the smudge smoke over your head, down your arms and down the front of your body. Imagine the smoke lifting away all the negative thoughts, emotions and energies that you are carrying, see it cleansing you from the inside as you breathe in the smoke. Now bring the smoke down the back of your body towards the ground, imagine any negativity being taken away and down into the earth. You can use the same method to smudge someone else and to use as a healing the smoke can be wafted to each chakra while asking that the spirits of the herbs cleanse and heal.
Smudging your home or space
Light smudge stick and smudge yourself as shown above then walk around the room wafting smoke
into each corner. Again call on the spirit of sage to drive away all negativity from the room and to bring harmony and balance. Turn to the east of the room and fan the smudge smoke into that direction four times, saying: "Spirit of the east, Great Spirit of air, cleanse and inspire this space." Adapt the words to suit yourself. Turn to the south and smudge four times, saying: "Spirit of the south,Great Spirit of water, strengthen and bring peace to this space." Now turn to the west and smudge four times, saying: "Spirit of the west, Great Spirit of fire, energise and protect this space." Turn to the north and smudge four times, saying: "Spirit of the north, Great Spirit of earth, ground and cleanse this space."Then look upwards, sending smudge up tothe ceiling four times. Say: "Great Father Sky, guard this space from above." lastly waft the smoke down towards the floor four times,saying, "Great Mother Earth, nurture this space from below."
I have listed a few herbs that can be used :
Sage - dispels negative thoughts and feelings
Cedar - a purifyer and a blessing
Lavender - love, protection, peace and happiness
Sweetgrass - usually used in conjunction with Sage. This attracts positive
energy, good vibrations and balance
Bay leaf - used against colds and flu
Fennel - useful for repelling negative energies and calming nerves
Copyright Rebecca Holland 2008
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