Sacred Art of
In this article, we'll take a look at the history and
purpose of smudging, the different herbs used, and how and when to smudge
your self, home, office or car.
Background: A History of Smudging
Smudging shares its roots with incense, which is the burning of natural
substances for a particular purpose.
to Webster's, incense is a word derived from the French encens, or encensen
from the Latin incensus to cause (a passion or emotion) to become
aroused. The English definition of incense is defined as: The perfume
or odors exhaled from spices and gums when burned in celebrating religious
rites or as an offering to some deity.
The use of
incense dates back thousands of years. It can be traced to ancient Egypt
where materials were burned in religious ceremonies, and to drive away
demons and gratify the presence of gods. It is mentioned on an inscribed
tablet that was placed on the Sphinx at Giza, Egypt, in about 1530 BC.
The Babylonians used incense extensively while offering prayers or divining
oracles. It was imported into Israel in the 5th century BC to be used
in religious offerings. At one time the Israelites erected separate altars
for the offering of incense. It spread from there to Greece, Rome and
India, where both Hindus and Buddhists still burn it in their rituals
and at festivals. It was one of the gifts of the three wise men from the
East to the infant Jesus, in the form of frankincense and myrrh. Roman
Catholics still use incense at mass and in many other of their rituals.
The smoke of the burning incense symbolizes the sacredness of a person
or occasion, and their prayers are like the smoke that rises up to God.
Incense is widely used in most Oriental religions and in the ceremonies
of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches.
history, the burning of natural substances has been used for cleansing,
healing and spiritual purposes.
American Smudging: The Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing
is the common name given to the "Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing,"
a powerful cleansing technique from the Native American tradition. It
is a ritual way to cleanse a person, place or an object of negative energies
or influences. The theory behind smudging is that the smoke attaches itself
to negative energy and as it clears it takes the negative energy with
it, releasing it into another space to be regenerated. Sage is burned
in smudging ceremonies to drive out evil spirits, negative thoughts and
feelings, and to keep Gan'n (negative entities) away from areas where
ceremonials take place. In the Plains Sweatlodge, the floor of the structure
is strewn with sage leaves for the participants to rub on their 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.
is very effective when you've been feeling depressed, angry, resentful
or unwell or after you have had an argument with someone. It is also great
to smudge yourself, the space and all the guests or participants before
a ritual or ceremony or celebration. You can smudge your own auric field,
the spaces of your home, car or work area. You can use smudging to cleanse
crystals, gemstones, altars, sacred books, or any other spiritual item.
types of herb for different uses:
Healing, Out with the bad
There are two major genii and several varieties of each genus of Sage
that are used for smudging. Salvia, or the herb sage used for cooking,
comes in two major varieties: S. Officinalis, commonly known as Garden
Sage, and S. Apiana, commonly known as White Sage. Salvia varieties have
long been acknowledged as healing herbs, reflected in the fact that its
genus name comes from the Latin root word "salvare", which is
the verb "to heal" or "to save."
Purifying, In with the good
True cedar is of the Thuja and Libocedrus genii. Cedar is burnt while
praying to the Great Spirit (Usen', the Source--also known to Plains nations
as Wakan Tanka) in meditation, and also to bless a house before moving
in as is the 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
cleanses and chases away life-negative energies and beings.
Blessing, Goodness and Warmth
Sweetgrass is very important to the Sioux and Cherokee nations, its botanical
name is Hierochloe Oderata. Used for general blessing--for making a home
a warm, inviting place. In these tribes, the sweetgrass is braided like
hair. Sweetgrass is burnt after smudging with sage, to welcome in good
influences after the bad had been driven out. Cedar can also be 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 effects.
Ritual or Ceremonial Herbs
Sagebrush (artemesia) is for calling up spirit (empowering) or
calling in spirits.
Mugwort stimulates psychic awareness and acts a strong cleanser
of negative energies.
Lavender restores balance, and creates a peaceful atmosphere and
attracts loving energy.
What does the "smudge kit" symbolize?
of the smudge kit signifies an element, that becomes transmuted into the
fifth element: ether, or life energy:
- The shell
represents the element of WATER
- The unlit herbs and ashes represents the EARTH
- The lit herb represents the FIRE
- The smoke represents the AIR
to Smudge: Before you
- Make sure the area you are smudging is well ventilated. This is a
health precaution, as well as a spiritually practical one as well, as
the negative energy will need an "escape route."
-Do not use near infants or very young children; people with respiratory
problems such as or asthma, or pregnant women.
- Never leave burning smudge unattended.
- Place some sand or soil or even salt in the bottom of the container
to provide insulation as otherwise the container could scorch a surface
it is placed upon.
- Clean the area to be smudged. Remove unnecessary clutter that creates
energy blockages. Vacuum and dust if possible.
- If you prefer additional guidance during this process, Psychic Medium
John Edward provides guided instruction for smudging, and additional
protection rites on his audio tape sets "Developing
Your Own Psychic Powers."
on your intent:
Any action, undertaken with intention and belief can become a potent
ritual. Consider your intention before you smudge and hold it clearly
in your mind. You may wish to invite the spirit of the herbs to join
you and guide and assist with your intention.
A candle flame is recommended to light the herbs as it may take a little
time to get the herb smoking. Once there's a flame, put it out so that
the herb is smoldering, not burning. Wave the flame with your hand or
feather to put out the fire. Allow the smudge herbs to smolder, freeing
the smoke to circle in the air.
If you are smudging a group, smudge yourself first. Offer smoke to the
seven directions (east, south, west, north and up, down and center)
sometimes called the cardinal directions.
Fan the swirls of smoke around your body from head to toe with your
hands or feather. (Blowing the smoke is not encouraged as this is considered
as blowing negativity into the smoke.).You may want to especially focus
on chakra areas where you feel there are blockages or where there has
been or is physical, emotional, or psychic pain. Visualize the smoke
lifting away all the negative thoughts, emotions and energies that have
attached themselves to you. If you are feeling depressed for instance
you could visualize the smoke carrying away all your feelings of depression.
It is often appropriate to smudge guests as they enter the space at
a ritual, ceremony or special event. Smudge as if you were smudging
yourself, fanning the smoke all over their body. You may want to speak
an intention or a suggestion for the smudging as you do it. For instance,
"Allow the sacred smoke to cleanse your body and spirit and bring
you present and available into this moment"
During healing work, the smoke may be fanned over the person either
by your hand or with feathers. This clears out unhealthy energies and
brings in the special attributes of the herbs. You may also direct smudge
to each of the person's chakras and as you do so visualize each chakra
coming into balance as it is purified by the smudge. If you can see
auras, look for discolored places in the aura and direct the healing
smoke towards those places on the patient's body.
a room or space
For cleansing a house, first offer smoke to the four directions outside
the house, starting with the east, then south, west and ending with
the north. Beginning with the lowest level of your house, and moving
upward, light the smudge and walk about the perimeter, giving special
attention to the corners and the places behind doors. You can also fan
the smoke throughout the room with a large feather. Repeat the following
either out loud, or in your mind:
I break up and release all negative and stagnant energy in this place.
May peace light and divine love protect us and be ever present.
Hold the objects to be purified in the smoke or fan the smoke over them.
If you are clearing your crystals prior to programming them thank both
them and the herbs for helping you to realize your goals.
Have ready a fireproof receptacle such as another shell or a glass or
ceramic dish to put the smudge in when you've finished. It's ideal to
damp the herb out in sand, or earth or you can just press it against the
bottom of the receptacle. Always make sure that a smoldering smudge herb
is out before leaving the room where you keep it.
should I smudge?
At least at the beginning of every season. You can smudge once a day if
you like, and is recommended daily for health or spirit practitioners.
Disclaimer: Cautions are provided in this document, but good sense
and responsibility on the part of the user is expected.
Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
For more information on the web, see:
Make your own smudge: