Smudging is a powerful cleaning technique from the Native North American tradition. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and restore balance. It is the art of cleaning yourself and your environment using simple ritual and ceremony.
The Power of Smudging
How can smudging be so powerful? The answer lies in the subatomic world of subtle or spiritual energy. Homes and bodies are not just made up of purely physical matter; they also vibrate with quiet, invisible energy. Cleansing a space or our bodies with techniques such as smudging clears away all the emotional and physic “garbage” that may have gathered (sometimes over years).
Smudging isn’t airy-fairy of new-age waffles that makes you raise your eyebrows! Native North American traditional dates back millennia and most traditional cultures – from the Zulus to the Maoris, from the Chinese to the Balinese all have age-old forms of cleansing and blessing rituals.
Tradition from the Mists of Time
It’s impossible to say when smudging began; maybe it was through trial and error using the smoke from particular herbs that we discovered certain beneficial effects for ourselves and animals around us. Nowadays modern science has proven that certain herbs do indeed have cleansing powers, acting as strong pesticides. Aside from this beneficial and practical aspects of burning herbs, human have become aware that smoke ascends to the heavens – the world of the spirits – almost as it if were acting as a spiritual messenger.
The Native American Way
Originally, mixtures of sacred herbs and resins were burned in a special bowl. Smoke was then wafted around the person or place needing purification and cleansing. However, smudge sticks (bundles of dried herbs tied together) offer an easier way of smudging that is just as effective.
The herb most often used in smudge sticks is sage. Sage drives out any negative thoughts, energies, spirits and influences. Native Americans also see smudging as a way of shifting between various levels of reality – connecting us here in the material, physical world to the subtle realm of spirits.
- Light the end of your smudge stick and let it burn for a few minutes until the tip starts to smoulder. You may need to fan the flames for a while. Then extinguish the flame by blowing it out (don’t use water!) so that the smudge stick smokes.
- Call on the spirits of the smudge to clean and protect you, saying: “Sacred sage, drive away all negativity from my heart; take away everything unworthy and impure.”
- First waft the smoke toward your heart. Hold the smudge stick away from you and use a feather (or your hand) to waft the smoke towards you. Then take the smudge smoke over your head, down your arms, an down the front of your body. Imaging the smoke lifting away all the negative thoughts, emotions, and energies that have become attached to you.
- Breath in the smudge, visualising the smoke purifying your body from with (NB be careful if you suffer from asthma or respiratory difficulties – experience cautiously.)
- Now bring the smoke down the back of your body toward the ground. Visualise the last vestiges of negativity being taken back into the earth, and away into the air.
- Repeat the smudging once again and imaging yourself surrounding by gentle, loving energy – breath in positivity, courage and love.
- When you have finished, place your smudge stick in a ceramic bowl or large shell. Put a little sand in the bottom to allow your smudge stick to extinguish safely.