Some of you reading this blog are regular attendees to my monthly shamanic journey nights and will remember that we smudge first before we call in the directions or journey. Many other people reading this may be curious about what it is and why we smudge, or what we use to smudge and why. So, I thought, I’d write about that today.
The process of burning plants and herbs and wafting the smoke over one’s body to cleanse negative energy is ancient. The Sumerians, Egyptians, Babylonians,Chinese, Indians, Greeks, Romans, Israelite’s, N. and S. Americans, Africans and Europeans all smudged. They burned offerings to theirs gods believing that the burning smoke captured their god’s attention to their prayers and that the smoke cleansed negative energy from spaces and people as well as many others benefits.
In the present, the use of smoke or incense placed on an altar is part of most major religions. The custom of blowing out candles on a birthday cake and making a wish is one of the most endearing and hopeful methods of using smoke to carry our wishes and prayers to the heavens.
We use a variety of herbs on our shamanic journey evenings to cleanse negative energy in our space and our bodies and to calm our minds in order to prepare us to journey. I like to grow my own lavender, tobacco, sage and other herbs here on my own place so that I know they were grown and gathered in the most ecological way.
The most common herb we use to smudge with is sage, not the garden cooking sage, but the wild sage. This is a very sacred herb and many people have benefited from its powerful cleansing effects.
Another wonderful and fragrant herb that is often added to the sage is lavender. It has a very calming effect on the chattering mind. It can help prepare one to journey and has the added benefit of giving psychic and spiritual protection.
A third very powerful smudging herb is tobacco. Tobacco has a very bad reputation in our modern world. It must be used with respect and not abused or adulterated. It is a powerful aid to bringing peace and understanding to people with different perspectives. Maybe we should introduce it to the UN. Its smoke is often blown in the four directions before a ceremony or gathering begins.
There are many more herbs and plants that are excellent smudging tools; for example: juniper, cedar, pine, fir, spruce and rosemary. They all have unique properties but also many overlapping characteristics. If you are interested in learning more about these and other herbs for smudging a good book to start with is called “Sage & Smudge The Ultimate Guide” by Diane Ronngren.
One does not need, however, to be doing a shamanic journey to use smudge. There are many times when the use of smudge can be helpful. Anytime there is a build up of negative energy in a space like one’s home, business, car or person, smudging can be very helpful in clearing that energy. If there is a need to make a space sacred or holy smudging is great. Any time a ceremony is held smudging adds greatly to the effectiveness of that ritual. Many people use smudge before they walk in their front door after work to cleanse themselves of negative energy and tension accumulated during the day.
There are a couple of ways to use smudge. Some people like to use loose herbs and burn them in a fireproof bowl. Others like to use smudge wands. The wand is a bundle of herbs tied together and burned. All one has to do is light the loose herbs or wands and let them burn for a short time and then blow out the flames and the smoke will continue to rise so that one can smudge. Often people like to use a feather fan to waft the smoke over themselves or their environment.
I hope this little essay was helpful to one and all. Best wishes and good smudging to everyone.