That is a great question! I bet many of you have heard of smudging and wonder what it is, what it's good for and how to do it, etc...
I am here to explain what I know about this traditional, spiritual ritual. I don't claim to be an expert in any way; I have learned what I know because of my overwhelming interest, belief and respect for this custom and the people whose culture it came from...and from lots of reading!!
Smudging has been used for thousands of years. Basically, it is the burning of herbs or incense in a sacred pracitce. MANY cultures perform this type of ritual, most notably Native North Americans.
These ancient traditions, along with proof from modern science, have taught us that cerain herbs do in fact, have cleansing powers. Many people also believe that smoke asends to the heavens as a spiritual messenger.
The way smudging is done, or the way the ceremony is performed, is different for different cultures. Some, tie herbs into a bundle called a "smudge stick"; some cultures braid herbs to burn them, others place branches of herbs into a camp fire or a fire in an indoor fireplace, still others sprinkle herbs over hot coals fresh out of a fire.
Ohhhhhh, the list is long! Smudging can be done for many reasons!
It is often performed during healing work, such as Reiki, to connect one's self with one's higher power, and to cleanse the area from any negative engery. After lighting the smudge, the smoke can be directed around the room and over the body by fanning with the hand or feathers.
It can be used for 'self-clearing' or clearing someone else before a ritual or ceremony. Similar to washing your hands before eating a meal, Native North Americans would smudge themselves and others before any type of ceremony (which we will do for our Yoga Nidra specialty workshop!) in order to drive away negatiavity and put you back into a state of balance, it is said to drive away everything unworthy and impure that has become attached to you.
Space clearing is another use for smudging. It can clear stagnant energy from a room, office, car or any other area. If your life feels stuck or things aren't going as planned, sometimes a space clearing is all that is needed!
Smuding rituals are also performed to promote deep relaxation, cleanse auras, sheild your home, bring in the new year, new month or new season, say good-bye to the deceased and welcome the newborn. It can be used as a birthday blessing, a ceremony upon selling/leaving a home or even when going through a divorce or changing jobs.
There are many ways to smudge, as touched upon in the 'background' section. There are also MANY different herbs to smudge with, and each has its own purpose! I could go on forever, but for the purposes of this blog, I won't!!
I prefer to use a smudge stick/bundle. I make my own bundles from herbs that I lovingly grow and nurture in my own backyard. I cut, wrap, and dry them, then when ready, I smudge away!! (I also sell them at the studio!!)
A fireproof receptacle is needed for catching the burning herbs. Ceramic bowls, glass bowls and abalone shells work well. I use an abalone shell I purchased in Cape Cod because it has a special meaning for me. I also use several peacock feathers (collected off the ground!) tied in a bundle to fan the smoke around, as I smudge.
Once I have all my supplies, I take the time to think about what my wishes are for my home and family. Intention is key, very key. There is no proper, perfect way to smudge; but if it is done with intention, respect and from a place of love, then it is beautiful, meaningful, ritual.
I smudge my home or a room, beginning with the door and lighting the smudge and moving around the room in a clockwise direction, I spread the smoke around by gently waving the feathers to send the smoke around, even into the dark, hidden spaces, corners and closets!
Moving around like this is called circumambulation and it is a centuries old practice that is performed to make spaces more sacred. I will also repeat my intention as I do this. It might be a favorite Sanskrit mantra, or it might be something simple like, "Please remove the negative thoughts in this room...please remove the negative thoughts in this room...", or any other mantra, intention, prayer, poem, or words that I feel connected to at that time or for that purpose. I might ask that the space be filled with positive thoughts and love...it is up to me! To end the smudging, I speak my intention once more when I complete walking around the room or house.
Smudging can be done in any space, and even on people, pets and objects. It is an ancient ritual that speaks to me, so I perform it in the most respectful and well intended way. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I will answer to the best of my ability. If you are ever in the area, stop by and check out the home-grown and hand-made smudging supplies I have for sale at the studio. I would love to meet you and chat!!
the SMUDGING and BLESSINGS BOOK Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal by Jane Alexander
Sacred Smoke The Ancient Art of Smudging for Modern Times by Harfest McCampbell
"Trying to decide what to use for Smudging?" on www.mythictreasures.com
"THE SCIENCE OF SMUDGING:Scientific Facts and Citations" on www.ilmypsychicjane.com
"Herbs for Smudging and Cleansing Purposes" on www.ilmypsychicjane.com
"How to Smudge Your House to Invite Positive Energy, A Feng Shue Practice for Clearing Your Home" by Anjie Cho on www.thespruce.com
"The Magic and Medicine of Sacred Smoke" on www.happyherbcompany.com
"Ritual Cleansing: The Power of Palo Santo" on www.houseofintuitionla.com