What is it and How to do it
Smudging is a way of using the smoke from burning herbs as a way to cleanse the body, an object, or a given area of negative influences.
I myself use smudging to remove negative energies and influences from homes and businesses, food and to help me get better fast when I am sick.
I imagine that the skillful use of the proper herbs could help in warding and banishing ceremonies as well, if used properly and with reverence.
The three most used plant material for smudging are sage of all types, cedar, and sweetgrass.
Types of Sage
There are two major genii and several varieties of each genus of Sage that are used for smudging. Salvia, or the herbsage used for cooking, comes in two major varieties: S. Officinalis,
commonly known as Garden Sage, and S. Apiana, commonly known as WhiteSage.
Salvia varieties have long been acknowledged as healing herbs,
reflected in the fact that its genus name comes from the Latin rootword *salvare*, which is the verb "to heal" or "to save."
Artemisia is the genus commonly considered "Sagebrush", and is more common in the wilds out in California. There are two major varieties to the Artemisia genus: A. Californica, or Common Sagebrush, and A. Vulgaris,or Mugwort. There are many other varieties of both Salvia and Artemisia, and all are effective in smudging.
Sage is burned in smudging ceremonies to drive out evil spirits, negative thoughts andfeelings, and to keep Gan'n (negative entities) away from areas where ceremonials take place. In the Plains Sweatlodge, the floor of thestructure is strewn with sage leaves for the participants to rub ontheir bodies during the sweat. Sage is also used in keeping sacred objects like pipes or Peyote wands safe from negative influence. In the Sioux nation, the Sacred Pipe is kept in a bundle with sage boughs. Iwould think special crystals could be so protected this way as well.
True cedar is of the Thuja and Libocedrus genii. Some Junipers (Juniperus genus) are also called "cedar", thus complicating things some. Some Juniper varieties ARE cleansing herbs,especially J. Monosperma, or Desert White Cedar.But for smudging, the best is Western Red Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and California Incense Cedar (Libocedrus descurrens).
Cedar is burnt while praying to the Great Spirit (Usen', the Source--also known to Plains nations as WakanTanka) in meditation, and also to bless a house before moving in as isthe tradition in the Northwest and Western Canada. It works both as a
purifier and as a way to attract GOOD energy in your direction. It is usually available in herb stores in chipped form, which must be sprinkled over a charcoal in a brazier. I like a piece of charcoaledmesquite for this purpose, rather than the commercial charcoal cake.
Very important to the Sioux and Cherokee
nations, its botanical name is Hierochloe Oderata. In these tribes, the sweetgrass is braided like hair braids. It could be burnt by lighting the end of it, or (more economically) by shaving little bits of it ontocharcoal in a brazier. Again, use charcoaled Mesquite to burn it, not pressed charcoal tablets.
Sweetgrass is burnt after smudging with sage, to welcome in good influences after the bad had
been driven out. Sweetgrass is very rare today, and traditional Plains people have been attempting to protect the last of it. Myself, I believe that Cedar, which is not endangered, can safely be used this
way. Also Pinon pine needles (used more frequently by the Southwest Teneh, like the Navajo and Apache as well as the Pueblo people and the Zuni) and Copal (used by the Yaqui and in ancient times by the Azteca and the Maya) have similar effect. The three mentioned here are redily
available either through gathering yourself or, in the case of copal resin, from any good herb shop.
How to Smudge
Burn clippings of the chosen herb in a brazier...not a shell as some "new age" shamanic circles do...it is an insult to White
Painted Woman (The Goddess) to do this, especially with the abalone shell which is especially sacred to Her. If the chosen herb is bundled in a"wand", you can also light the end of the wand that isn't woody and use that. I like the latter way.
Direct the smoke with your hands or with a Peyote (feather) wand over the person or thing you wish to smudge. Ifyou can see auras, look for discolored places in the aura and direct the healing smoke towards those places on the patient's body.
For cleansing a house, first offer cedar smoke to the four directions outside the house. Then, take a sage bough and go throughout the inside of the house, making sure the smoke penetrates every nook and cranny of the house. It might help also, if you have an ally or power animal, to visualize your allyl doing these things, and if youhave a power song, to sing that, too.
Then to finish, go through the house with a lit white candle to "light up" the house.
Smudging should be done with care, with reverence, and in an attitude of LOVE. Show your respect and honor to the plants that Usen' has given us for our healing, and they will return the favor by keeping us well and free from disease and negative energy. Aloe Vera plants, though not to be burnt, are good for thecleansing angle as well. Keep one or more potted Aloe Veras in the house (modern varieties are too tender to plant in anything but full shade outside) in organic (wood or ceramic, never plastic or metal) pots.
To honor the plant when you transplant it, sprinkle the roots with corn meal and smudge it with cedar once it is transplanted. The spirit of Aloe Vera is a good protective spirit, and if you burn yourself, can also be used to heal your skin.
BE SURE TO ASK THE PLANT'S PERMISSION before cutting part of the leaf off for the healing juice. If you don't, the protective power of the plant will cease, and
you will be left with but an inert houseplant...and perhaps some bad
karma to boot. Hi-dicho, it is finished....ENJU