WHAT IS SMUDGING?
...answering a few FAQs
Smudging is a traditional, ceremonial method of burning sacred herbs to produce aromatic smoke
which is used for cleansing and purification
before prayers or healing rituals.
Smudging is particularly used by some Native American tribes whilst many other cultures throughout the world practice similar smoke cleansing rituals.
Smudging is the ritual cleansing of the mind, body and spirit.
Herbal smoke can also be used to cleanse
and purify objects, rooms and spaces.
Smudge is the name given to the dried herbs used in a smudging ceremony. These can be loose leaves or a bundle of herbs wrapped with cotton which is known as a smudge stick.
The most commonly use smudging herb is
Californian White Sage followed by Sweetgrass,
Cedar and Palo Santo.
Some other popular herbs are Yerba Santa,
Blue Sage, Mugwort and Osha Root.
Each one carries its own vibration and has specific properties.
(Sage, Cedar, Sweetgrass and Tobacco, are the four
'Sacred Medicines' in Native American culture.)
Smudging herbs can be put together in a variety of combinations to create your desired fragrance or to suit your energetic smudging requirements.
How to Use Smudge
*Place loose smudging herbs in an abalone shell or heatproof bowl on top of little soil or sand and ignite using a match (which is traditional) or a lighter.
*Herbs and incenses will usually burn well on their own, however resins burn better when placed on a lighted charcoal disc. Do exercise caution with these as they burn fiercely hot.
*A smudge stick should be lit and allowed to smoulder.
The shell or bowl may be held under the smudge stick if you are concerned about falling embers.
*Never blow on smudge to increase the smoke
Use a smudging fan, smudging feather or your hand to fan the flame.
*It is not necessary or advisable to burn a whole smudge stick in one go.
(Smudging is NOT the same as fumigation - which DOES involve a great deal of smoke!)
*Smudging is intended to be a sacred act and as such should be conducted with respect;
in reverence and with prayers of gratitude to the Creator.
*An important part of Native American ceremony is the inclusion of all four elements and directions:
Your chosen herb represents the earth
Using an Abalone shell to hold the lighted herb introduces the water element.
Burning the herb represents the element of fire
And using a smudging feather brings in the element of air.
Respectfully set your intentions before you begin the ceremony.
Throughout the ceremony visualise negative energy dissolving and being replaced with positive energy.
*First cleanse yourself by using a feather/fan or your hand to direct the sacred smoke around your body: from head to toe and from front to back. Do the same if cleansing another person.
*Then direct the smudge smoke towards the Four Directions:
Begin in the East which represents Air
Turn to the South - Earth
Move on to the West - Water
Continue on to the North - Fire
Then return to the East to complete the circle.
*If you are working indoors move the smoke into each corner of the room.
Your space is now ready for prayer, sacred or spiritual work or just cleansed ready for everyday life.
*If smudging an object direct the smoke all around it
*Following an indoor smudging ceremony open the window to allow the smoke to carry unwanted energies out into the open air to be dissipated.
Remember to give thanks to the Creator, Great Spirit or The Universe.
*When you have finished smudging, the smudge stick or herbs will gradually extinguish on their own and once cooled a smudge stick can be safely stored and used again.
*Never use water to extinguish the flame.
Never leave burning herbs/smudge sticks unattended
Be sure that the smudge stick has gone totally cold before storing it.
*If it is possible - return the ashes to Mother Earth by tipping them out in the garden.
Don't worry if this is not an option the ashes may be disposed of respectfully in a waste bin once they have gone completely cold.
Benefits of Smudging
Our modern world is filled with electrical and other items which create an energetic soup of positive ions in our living spaces. These can have a detrimental effect on our health.
Smudging or smoke cleansing can help combat this by releasing negative ions. A higher concentration of negative ions may be linked to better health and cleaner air.
It may also be a chemical free way of cleansing the air of the bugs and germs that can cause ill-health. The following study using an Ayurvedic herbal mixture - Havan Samagri - showed that air within a confined space can be cleansed of bacteria and pathogens when medicinal herbs are burnt:
"We have observed that 1 hour treatment of medicinal smoke emanated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 hours in the closed room........We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.”