Creating your own smudge ceremony is a great way to start the New Year. Anyone wishing for new beginnings, or continued success, will gain from the benefits smudging can provide. This Native American tradition is easy to adapt to fit your own unique needs. So many occasions can benefit through smudging, and some suddenly arise, so you’ll want to have the supplies you’ll need on hand.
Smudging has been practiced for thousands of years by Native Americans. A blend of dried herbs are burned as part of a cleansing ritual. Early smudge ceremonies used herbs that were loose and contained in a bowl or shell. In more recent times, these herbs are gathered together into a wand which is held in place with colorful string or a strip of leather. The smoke created from these burning herbs is wafted around the space, person or object wishing to be cleansed.
Although smudging finds its roots in Native American practices, the act of using scented smoke in a holy place has occurred used around the world. In many Christian churches, scented smoke is released during services. Visit a Hindu temple and you will find the air thick with incense. Buddhists leave offerings of incense sticks in front of giant images of the Buddha. While trekking in Bhutan, I learned that the Bhutanese make offerings of scented herbs and woods each time they start a fire. The blending of special scents to cleanse, ask for protection or to carry messages to God has been practiced in most cultures at some time.
The blend of herbs you choose to use during your smudge ceremony is somewhat a matter of preference. Sage is always included in most bundles and it is known for its healing properties. Sagebrush is also a foundation of any smudge stick as it is know to help transform energy and to bring about change. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, you made add other herbs. Sweetgrass is a popular choice as it is said to attract positive energy. Cedar may also be chosen for its ability to purify and to clean away negative emotions. If you wish to create a safe space, you should add juniper to the mix. And lavender is combined when you wish to draw love to you and create a peaceful atmosphere.
There are many occasions and situations when you might want to smudge. One of my friends always smudges her home every New Years Day. It is the perfect time to symbolically start a new year fresh with positive energy in your nest. For the same reason, many people will smudge themselves on their birthday. Smudging can be done anytime you wish to have the air cleared and to start anew. You can smudge a person, a space or an object.
The ritual of smudging can be used in a space for many reasons. When I purchased my house, my friend gave me a smudging kit so I could clear my home of all past energies. You can think of using smudge as a reset button. If someone has been ill, you may want to smudge the room they are convalescing in to welcome healing energies. Some people also like to smudge their bedrooms to create a peaceful sanctuary. I also smudge at my office anytime I feel we need to be renewed. If someone has left on bad terms and there is negativity in the air, I will smudge the spaces they had worked in. If we seem to be stuck in a problem and not moving through it, I will smudge the office. You may also smudge for joyous occasions like preparing a nursery for a baby’s arrival.
Smudging objects is also common. If you keep an altar in your home, you may want to smudge the items in the space as part of a cleaning and purifying ritual. Spiritual objects like statues or tarot cards can benefit from smudging. While I am in the office, I sometimes smudge a copier or printer if it is jamming or breaking down regularly. If you plan on acquiring a new car, you may want to smudge it and begin your ownership with positive energies, especially if it was previously owned.
Lastly, you may choose to smudge yourself, another person or group of people. At the start of a journey you may wish to hold a smudging ceremony for protection. Or once you’ve returned, you may want to release any stress, tension or bad energies you picked up along the way. Maybe you are starting a new business, you and your partners may want to begin the venture with positive energies. A marriage would be a perfect time to smudge the couple as they begin their life together. In reverse, if a friend is going through a divorce or separation, smudging may help heal the heart and give them strength to begin anew. If someone has been fighting a serious illness, smudging could provide a meaningful milestone where from this moment on they begin to heal and get better. Smudging can have a powerful influence on our ability to move through life with balance.
If you would like to try smudging, you will want to put together a kit of items to be used. First you will need either a smudge stick or a loose blend of the herbs. If you will be using loose herbs, you will need a bowl of some kind to hold the smudge while it burns. Often you will find a large shell is used for this purpose. I always like to use the shell, too, when I am using a smudge stick as it allows me to capture the ashes as I walk around a space. A fan is regularly used to help the smoke drift around the person or space. Often feathers, either a single plume or a bundle, are used for this purpose. A candle is often present to represent fire as well as providing a decorative and sustained way to light your smudge stick. Crystals may also play a part in your smudge ceremony. Include those that are meaningful to you such as rose quartz for drawing love. Some people also like to include their favorite essential oils into the ritual. For healing ceremonies, you may want to include Bach Flower Remedies and mist it onto the person or into the space. Think about your intentions and include what feels right to you.
Once you have gathered together your smudge kit you are ready to hold your ceremony. You will want to begin by visualizing your intentions for the smudging. You may even speak out loud what you want to accomplish. Light your smudge stick and let it burn for a few seconds until the embers glow. Your smudge stick will not actively be on fire just smoking steadily from the lit end. Blow on it from time to time to keep it going. Feel free to relight it as you need to if it goes out, there is no harm in doing that.
If you are smudging a room. walk around the parameter in a clockwise manner. Pay special attention to windows, tracing their outline as you come to them. You want to make sure smoke reaches and lingers in each of the corners of the room. Smudge furniture as you come to it. As you walk about the space, continue to visualize your intentions. Say goodbye to the past and old energies and welcome in the new. If the smoke travels sideways, you will want to linger in those spaces and continue to message what you seek. When the smoke drifts up to the sky, that area has been cleansed and you can move on. If you are smudging an entire house, start your smudging in the kitchen which is the heart and center of power for your family.
If you are smudging a person, you will want to start with the smudge behind their head. Move slowly down their neck and back. If you find the smoke travels more horizontally, linger in that spot and continue to focus on your intentions. Once the smudge smoke travels up, you may continue on. Smudge both sides of their body as well as limbs and digits. If you are smudging yourself, you can smudge your back by creating a wall of smoke and then walking through it. Address this through your intentions that you are smudging your entire body this way.
The smell of burning sage is sweet and smells similar to cannabis. Whenever I am going to smudge in the office, I always stop by my property manager’s office first to let her know in case she gets complaints. Her usual response is to ask me to come and smudge her office, too! I was thrilled when I discovered a smudge spray. Made from essential oils of sage and other herbs, the spray gives you all the benefits of smudging without the smoke and odors. I use that now most of the time I smudge at work. At home, I still prefer to work with a traditional smudge stick. You can learn more about the smokeless sage smudge at Mother Anita’s.
There are many great resources if you would like to learn more about smudging and smudge ceremonies. One book I like is Jane Alexander’s The Smudging and Blessings Book: Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal. She gives a lot of information on smudge traditions as well as rituals you can perform for different situations. I also really like all the color photographs. Alexander also explores energies, chakras, spirit animals, traditional smudge holidays as well as how to make your own smudge sticks. Another resource I often find with smudge supplies is Donna Stellhorn’s booklet Sage & Smudge, Secrets of Clearing Your Personal Space. I like that Stellhorn’s pocket sized book covers history as well as practical how-to’s for smudging and smudge ceremonies.
Not everyone will have access to the fresh herbs needed to create their own smudge stick. Luckily they are easy to find. The holistic health center I visit for my massages always carries smudge supplies in their gift shop. You may also find them in women’s bookstores or health food shops. Anyplace that embraces alternative forms of wellness is likely to carry smudge sticks. You will also easily locate smudge sticks online. Anytime I come across a smudge stick I like, I pick it up so I will have it when I need a smudging. Before a recent massage, I discovered that Triloka offers a smudge kit in a lovely gift box which included a smudge stick and a shell. Amazon offers a number of Triloka Smudge Products including smudge sticks, smudge bowls and other items. I also recently found a really nice White Sage smudge stick on Etsy at Coyote Rainbow which is offered in three sizes. Several of the crystals featured in my photos were also purchased from Coyote Rainbow.
Pausing from time to time in our busy lives to pay attention to the subtle energies around us allows for correction and balance. Smudging for a special date like a birthday or New Year or because things “just don’t feel right” will allow you to address negative energies around you and to heal your space. You may be interested in learning about how the Hmong in Laos address these needs. A couple years ago, I took part in a Baci Ceremony and shared my experience in an earlier post. I hope I’ve inspired you to think about your own healing rituals. What do you like to do?
Until we shop again,