Saturday, August 2, 2014

Smudging


Ritual purification is a feature of many religions.  The aim of these rituals is to remove specifically defined uncleanliness prior to a particular type of activity, and especially prior to the worship of a deity.  This ritual uncleanliness is not identical with ordinary physical impurity, such as dirt stains; nevertheless, body fluids are generally considered ritually unclean.

3252225_orig.jpgPreparing for a ritual includes clearing ourselves of our mundane thoughts and stresses before we begin any devotion, magic, or other spiritual practice.  Grounding, centering, and smudging are all popular ways of doing this.  A ritual bath is also a powerful component to add to this clearing of daily stress before your rite.

Smudging is the burning of certain herbs to create a cleansing smoke bath, which is used to purify people, ceremonial and ritual space, and ceremonial tools and objects.  There are different ceremonies and rituals that can be done.  But it is basically a ritual for cleansing, purifying and protecting the physical and spiritual bodies.  The effect of the smoke is to banish negative energies.

A smudge stick is a bundle of dried herbs, usually bound with string in a small bundle and dried.  The burning of smudge sticks is believed by some Indigenous peoples of the Americas to cleanse an area of any evil presence.  Many different cultures and peoples have their own methods and herbal mixtures for this purpose.  Smudging, done correctly, can bring physical, spiritual and emotional balance.

The principle herbs used are sage, cedar or juniper, lavender and sweet grass.  Generally, sage, sweet grass, and cedar are burned to purify and protect one's living area, self and sacred tools.  Pure tobacco is also used by some Plains tribes and copal in South and Central America.  Mugwort rouses prophetic dreams and Lakota Indians believe it will make bad spirits ill.

Smudging is often used by healers.  During the healing the smoke may be fanned over the person by the healer either using their hand, feathers or a fan.  But even the happiest homes accumulate in time negative vibrations; it is good to smudge your home thoroughly at least several times a year.  You can also smudge your office space; as well as use smudging to clear your own energy or the energy of other people.  Or smudge a ritual space.  Rooms and psychic tools, such as crystals and other objects that hold energy, are often smudged and cleansed on a regular basis.

P1010491.jpgSmudging can sound a bit intimidating to many people.  It can also look unsafe or too complicated to be practiced often.  Rest assured this is not true.  Smudging is not complicated, not hard and totally safe if you follow several very simple steps.

 

Place the smudge stick in a fireproof container such as a shell or clay pot.  It is best if you create a sense of ceremony when you smudge your house, as well as find time when you will not be disturbed; 10-15 min should be enough.  Light the tip of your smudge stick with a candle or match, then gently wave the stick in the air till the tip begins to smolder.  In olden times, the end of the smudge stick or braid was lit from the central or cooking fire.  Resist the urge to blow on the end of your smudge stick - it is considered disrespectful - fan the end instead.

Loose dried herbs may also be placed directly onto the burning wood in an indoor fireplace or crumbled between the fingers over a piece of charcoal.  Again, the container used for the charcoal and herbs needs to be fireproof.  Ceramic or glass bowls with a layer of sand or salt work well.

Hold the smudge stick over the fireproof container at all times in order to avoid any lit herbs falling on the floor.  You can use a feather, if you have one, but usually just gently waving your hands to disperse the smoke is enough.  Remind yourself to stay connected to your breathing throughout your smudging session.

Go clockwise around your house (usually starting at the front door), and gently wave the smoke into the air.  Spend a bit more time smudging the room corners, as they tend to accumulate stagnant energy.  Keep your thoughts positive.  Be sure to also open the closet doors and carefully smudge inside.  Do not forget about spaces such as the laundry room, the garage or the basement.

"This sage is cleansing out all negative energies and spirits... all negative energies and spirits must leave and do no harm."

When you have smudged all areas of your house, come back to where you started and gently extinguish your smudge stick, dipping it into sand while applying a bit of pressure usually works well.  Using water is messy and not generally recommended.  Wait a bit, and then pack your smudge stick, as well as the container, till your next smudging session.  Some people like to re-visit a cleansed house by going back into all of the rooms with pleasant incense such as lavender while inviting all loving, protecting, positive spirits into the home.

 

To smudge yourself or somebody else: Once your smudge stick is lit and smoldering, direct the smoke waves to the overall energy field around your body, starting with the area above your head and continuing down to your feet.  Cup the smoke with your hands to direct it.  Prayers are be chanted or crystals can be held in the hand.  The same steps apply when you are asked to smudge somebody else.  It is usually a good idea to smudge yourself before, as well as after you smudge the house or do a ritual.

 

Smudging should be done with care, reverence and in an attitude of love.  Close a smudging by thanking the Divines.

 

Negativity that invades my sacred place
I banish you away with the light of my grace
You have no hold or power here
For I stand and face you with no fear
Be gone forever, for this I will say
This is my sacred place and you will obey

 

Remember that the container may be come warm enough to scorch a surface or burn your hand.  Never leave your smudge sticks, candles or charcoal unattended to avoid fire hazards.  Always use caution when working with fire.

 



 







 

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