The Fine Art of Smudging
by Sam Stevens
An Aboriginal Canadian friend of mine who teaches at the
Whispering Lodge in Toronto was explaining to me how physical
or emotional healing cannot take place until the person
is cleansed of any of the following conditions:
1. Emotional conditions such as resentment, bitterness,
envy, jealousy and guilt
2. Negative thoughts about others or one's past or future
3. Negative emotions such as grief, hatred, desire
4. Bad or evil spirits
5. Attachments or negative energy sent to us from other
In most Aboriginal traditions, a sweat lodge, basically
a tent or teepee or cave filled with smoke and heat, is
used to remedy the sick person of these conditions. In
ancient Rome, buildings called purgatoriums were used
for the same purpose. These smoke and heat filled places
were considered sacred spaces in which the spirits or
God could lift negative entities and energies from an
individual without interference with others. Many indigenous
cultures throughout the world use burning herbs, plants
and resins to accomplish the same purpose. In some cultures
the smoke is taken into one's hands and rubbed over the
body to blacken it. This is where the modern day practice
got its nickname -- smudging.
Below is a list of common herb, plants, grasses and resins
that are commonly used in smudging ceremonies. You can
light these substances yourself and carry a bundle of
the substance around your home in a counter-clockwise
circle to cleanse your space. I highly recommend cleansing
the body outside, however, as I have found that sage can
burn very fast and create a lot of rapid whirling smoke
that easily sets off the fire alarm.
Sage Sprigs - the most common substance used for cleansing
is sage. The word sage comes from the Latin word Salvia
which means, "to heal." There are also varieties
of sage, which are from the Artemisia family of plants.
This includes mugwort which s used for cleansing and protection.
White sage is used for cleansing and protection. Combining
branches of pine and white sages together and burning
them is used to attract prosperity.
Cedar and Juniper branches - These evergreen boughs have
historically been used to help cleanse, purify and protect
ones belongings. Sometimes brooms are made from them to
use the smoke "sweep" to cleanse a home during
a house blessing.
Sweetgrass - This musty smelling grass is used to drive
out bad influences and draw good influences into the home.
It is often used after a prayer or ritual to "hold"
the magic" in its place.
Copal - this aromatic plant resin is mainly used in South
American rituals. The touch of the strongly scented smoke
from burning copal is thought to cleanse and purify any
object or person.
Frankincense and Myrrh - these "biblical resins
are used in Africa, the Middle East and Europe for ceremonies
and rituals. Burned together they are thought to balance
yin and yang, or the masculine and feminine energies in
a place or dwelling. Either is thought to draw blessings
into a home.
Tobacco - Tobacco is burned to float prayers upwards to
the Creator where they will be heard and answered. Burning
a tobacco along with sage, cedar or sweet grass is thought
to enhance the magical intentions of the smudge.
Smudges and resins can be bought commercially from occult,
new age and gift shops. I usually put the branches, plants
or resins in the bowl and blacken my hands and face with
it. While doing this I pray for protection, purification
and blessings from above. If healing another person or
purifying a room I will sometimes use a feather or a branch
to waft the smoke in the desired direction.
Smudging is not all hooey and voodoo. The practice is
also thought to created negative ions in the air that
remove static and create a positive atmosphere. Not only
do people usually feel good afterwards, it also creates
a space for the free flowing of positive energies and
About The Author
Sam Steven's metaphysical articles have been published
in many high-standing newspapers and she has published
several books. You can meet Sam Stevens at http://www.psychicrealm.com
where she works as a professional psychic. You can also
read more of her articles at http://www.newagenotebook.com
where she is the staff writer. Currently she is studying
technology's impact on the metaphysics.