Posted by Monica Baker on 12/4/2019 to Cleansing & Smudging
When you hear the phrase, clearing space, a few things may come to mind. You may think of cleaning of your house or maybe organizing that - not so walk-in- anymore- closet, that you've been neglecting for years. But what I'm talking about here is more like a spiritual detox. It's called smudging.
Smudging is clearing out the cobwebs that are built-up and stuck energetically on the emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. This practice is just as important as physically 'cleaning the house.' And sometimes, this can be what we need to get us motivated to get life back on track or just back in balance again.
Smudging is an ancient practice of using the essence of plants, sacred herbs, and resins along with directed intentions, blessings, prayer or affirmation to clear the body of sickness or dis-ease, to clear the mind of negative or old thought patterns, and to clear spaces (i.e. rooms, houses and objects) from stagnant or negative vibrations, energy, spirits, etc.
So why would one feel the need to smudge?
Here are some excellent reasons:
*Before guests come over.
*When moving into a new place.
* If you're feeling stuck, mentally like artists or writer's block... Or emotionally like sadness, grief, or depression.
*After a fight, a sickness or a death.
*Before and during meditation, yoga, ceremony, or healing treatment.
Generally, you can smudge anytime, especially when there's a feeling of stale or old energy. That feeling of 'off-ness' we sometimes get, When we feel a need for that sense of vibrancy or peace that may be missing.
It is also great to clear space when one is trying to manifest new beginnings like starting a new job or venture. Think of it as clearing the path ahead.
Many people typically associate smudging with Native American culture. But the art of smudging has been used worldwide by MANY indigenous native cultures since prehistoric times! Does the story of the three wise men with frankincense and myrrh ring a bell?
Although it was once an ancient practice, as the saying goes, what is old is new again. AND there is still, a new growing interest in the art of smudging as a useful addition to sacred holistic self-care practices. Is it any wonder? We know, plants, herbs, and their constituents have been used since the beginning of time as a means for medicine.
Because of this new growing interest in smudging, the science community has also taken a closer look at this practice. Scientifically conducted studies have confirmed that there are many legitimate benefits to smudging.
Some studies found that smoke from burning herbs and resins kill many kinds of bacteria in the air. So smudging is technically purifying the air. This is how smudging can help clear sicknesses from people and the environment.
Studies also suggest that smudging can induce a sense of balance and relaxation. This is because the process of burning herbs has been shown to produce negative ions! Negative ions are the ions that make us feel good! Ions are also produced by rain or waves on the beach or having a salt lamp in a room, and so explains why smudging is now being promoted as a natural anti-depressant.
Combining these reasons with the undeniable power of scent and its positive effects on the human body, one can understand why smudging is so potent.
Now that we know how smudging can be beneficial as a practice, how does one go about smudging?
Smudging is easy, and you can make it as straightforward or as involved as you'd like.
First, decide on what and why you are clearing and pick out your herbs and/or resins specific to your purpose. You may want to gather the herbs for a blessing smudge after the clearing.
So what kind of herbs or resins can be used in smudging?
Traditionally, Native American cultures typically use white sage, cedar and sweetgrass, and even tobacco. This also varied by what was available and growing regionally. Overall, white sage, desert sage bundles, and cedar and palo santo woods are standard. Some people may find that traditional white sage is too pungent. If that's the case, and sage isn't 'your thing,' you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that there are a variety of sacred herbs and resins that can be used for smudging that smell good! If you want a full list of more to choose from and their qualities, check out the blog about Top herbs and resins used for smudging. If you're new to smudging, I suggest trying it out a few times with a few different herbs to see what you enjoy.
Alright, now time to gather all the equipment.
Here are the basic tools:
*Herbs such as sage bundles or resins that you prefer to burn and are specific to your intention.
*An abalone shell/container you will use as an ash catcher. A shell is traditionally used in Native American culture. You could also use a nice ashtray or metal cauldron.
*Sand for the bottom of the shell or ashtray (this is optional)
*Charcoal (the self-igniting kind), this is used for loose herbs or resins.
*Feather or hand fan used for wafting the smoke around.
*Lighter or matches to ignite the herbs or resin and charcoal.
Next prepare the smudge set-up.
If you're using loose herbs or resin set up your container with some sand at the bottom and then place the charcoal on top. The sand's purpose is to help buffer the heat from the hot charcoal. Light your coal and let it get hot. Drop your loose herbs or resins on top of the hot coal. The herbs or resins will begin to smoke.
Alternatively, if you are using a smudge stick like a sage bundle or Palo Santo wood light it until it catches fire then blow out the fire and let the ember smolder. You are now ready to smudge. Your fan or feather is used to help push the smoke to the intended areas needing clearing.
To smudge a house or space:
First start by opening up all the doors, windows, closets and cupboards. Doing this is important because it allows the smoke and the energy to flow and have somewhere to exit. This also allows fresh air and light to enter. Take the smudge with you around the house and allow the smoke to drift into all areas of the space while keeping your intentions in mind and/or saying your affirmations/prayers. Keep fanning the smoke gently with your feather into the spaces.
Some cultures believe it is a good practice to start in the east and continue with all four directions and some suggest to go in a clockwise direction in each room. Do what feels right to you and continue the process of letting the smoke permeate and clear the spaces until you feel you are finished.
If you want to smudge your body or another person:
Allow the smoke to clear the energy field of the person. Start by bringing the smoke to the head then down to the feet and from the front to the back of the body.
Remember the power of intention is a huge part of the art of smudging.
It is important to think of good thoughts, prayers, and affirmations while the smoke is wafting around. You may also want to consider making it more specific by writing down your smudging prayer to use whenever you do this process.
As I mentioned earlier there is also a blessing smudge. The purpose of this extra step is to now fill the newly cleared space with good vibes. This is the same process as the clearing smudge except one uses specific herbs, along with the intentions or prayers to invite angels, blessings, peace, or sweetness into the now cleared space. Such herbs like sweetgrass or lavender are often used this way.
In traditional Native cultures, smudging is a daily practice. It is wonderful to do daily to help keep the energy field of a person, place or object, clear and positive. Try it out and see how adding this simple yet powerful practice to your life can help keep you feeling fresh and full of all the good vibes! Happy Smudging!
Written by Monica Baker