Bonnie Moss 2003-03
Smudging is the process of burning herbs, in the Native North American tradition. It is a way
to cleanse negative influences from the body,an object or a given area.
Smudging is a preparatory process for Vision Quest, in Sweat Lodge, in rituals and ceremonies.
Smudging is a sacred ceremony, a tradition dating back to hundreds of years. It has its roots in
the indigenous cultures of the world. Archeological digs reveal evidence of incense burning
during rituals or ceremony. The priest waves his incense around the altar, then waves it in
front of the congregation.
In Bangkok, the evening breeze carries the smell of burning incense,the smell seems to
pervade through the whole city.Some cultures perform a form of smudging after burial of a
loved one, every member of the family is smudged prior to entering the house after the funeral.
This is to ward off negative spirits roaming around the departed prior to death, especially
after a prolonged illness and difficult death.It is also believed to banish lost souls who
wander in the cemetery and "cling" to the grieving relatives.
SMUDGING can be used to shield and ground us, strengthen our intentions before and after
healing, initiation or ritual.It helps clear a room after an argument, protect a room from
negative and other unwanted energies. Some herbs are believed to help in psychic
work, visions and prophetic dreams.
The surrounding area around the home, even he vehicles we own can be smudged for protection
and to clear away unwanted and negative influence.
Draw upon the power of the elements to enhance the smudging process. Burning on a shell uses
the water element.Water is flowing and filling. Use sand to line the bottom of the shell or ceramic
container to represent Earth. The herbs are gifts of the Earth, this represents strength and creativity.
Fire stands for courage, passion, and stamina.Lighting the herbs invoke this element.
The smoke that rises from the herbs represent Air, this carries the prayers,intentions and
release the negative energies. Each plant energy belong to one of the elements Drawing
upon the element enhances the holistic energy the plant has to offer.
The ancients used this knowledge in their workings,we can rely on their experience and
wisdom.Trust that through the plant, we make a connection with the greater spiritual realm
that stand behind the whole of existence.
There is a fifth element- the Spirit.
Smudging invokes this element. Combining the energies of the elements and that
of the plant penetrate the physical and spiritual world.
How to Smudge
There are different ways to smudge, as there are herbs to use.Trust your intuition, be
guided by your Spirit. Before smudging, prepare everything needed- the shell or ceramic
container, sand or charcoal for a base, matches, decide what herb to use, feather or
It is not advisable to breathe on the herbs, this introduces unwanted influence. Fan with
your hands if you do not have a feather available.But do not blow on the herbs. A
moment's meditation to state the purpose of the smudging gives the process sanctity,
reverence and it defines the sincerity of purpose.
Invoke the power of Love and Peace as you smudge. Drive the smoke with the feather or
your hands over the person, object or room to be smudged.
To smudge a house or room:
Start at the main door. Go clockwise, thoroughly fan the smoke to the walls, around the whole
perimeter of the room. every window, every door. Concentrate on your intention. You may
want to do one room at a time. Give a good dose of smoke, think of the positive energy, positive
thoughts as you wave the smoke throughout the room. Leave a small opening in the window to let
the air take out the negative energy. Some will argue this point. Close the window,smudge again,
this time with window closed to keep the positive energy in the room. After the process, light a
white candle to "seal" the effects of the smudging. Do not forget to say a prayer of thanksgiving.
A room can be smudged for different reasons- after an argument, when one feel something unpleasant
or a negative energy around, smudging can help alleviate the negative effects.
Herbs used for smudging:
AMBER is a sweet resin that can be burned on charcoal to release fearful and painful energy.
It is often crumbled into massage oil as a healer for the skin or it can be rubbed directly onto
the skin as a sweet subtle perfume. It brings a wareness and joy.
BAY LEAF is traditionally used to protect against colds and flu.
COPAL ESSENCE is the traditional incense burned by the native peoples of Central and South
America.This rich and fragrant smoke can be used for initiations and clearings,before and
after healing experiences.
Copal is resinous incense and must be burned on a charcoal tablet.
FENNEL is effective in repelling negative energies and calms the nerve.
CEDAR,CYPRESS,JUNIPER Some Junipers are called cedar.Cedar is used as cleansing herb
especially the desert white cedar. For smudging, the western red cedar. It is used to bless a house
before moving in. It helps purify and "clear" the air as well as attract good energy.
It is available in chipped form. Sprinkle it over charcoal in a brazier.Burning cedar with sage
in a bundle is effective. Cedar and Sage Bundles are long, thick bundles that are individually
wrapped and carefully decorated.These are especially helpful for burning to purify
intentions or "clear the air," psychically.
LAVENDER It is one of the most useful herb- it can be used for healing, helps promote good
wishes and sleep, it can also help attract men.
MUGWORT is probably the most widely used herb by witches. It promotes psychic ability and
stimulates prophetic dreams. Mugwort is used for healing, divination.
It is very good for astral projection. It can be burnt for rituals or before sleeping. Some
find it mind-altering,so avoid using it before driving.
MULLIEN is an effective herb for healing emotional trauma. It is used for courage and
protection from wild animals and evil spirits. It is useful for cleansing and purifying ritual
tools and altars, sacred spaces and psychic places. It guards against nightmares.The smoke
is believed to have a calming and grounding effect. It is often used at the end of a ritual,
especially if mugwort was used at the beginning.
MYRRH used with frankincense,it is protective and purifying.
ORRIS ROOT The powder is used as a love drawing potion and increases sex appeal.When
burned with celery seeds, it increases psychic gifts and concentration.
PINE It helps in finding focus, it helps in cleansing the atmosphere where it is burnt.
The sawdust is used as a base for incense, and it is particularly associated with money.
SANDALWOOD This has a high spiritual vibrations, advisable to burn with frankincense at the
time of full moon. It is believed that anything visualized at this time will come true. It clears
away negativity, it is good for protection and healing workings.
SAGE there are two major genii and several varieties of each genus. Salvia, the herb
used for cooking comes in two varieties, the Garden Sage and the S. Apiana. Sage is
hand gathered and sun dried on sacred land. It's abundant smoke can be used for clearing
the energy of your aura, crystals and rooms. It is also wonderful for preparing sacred space
and sacred time. The White Sage has long been known for its healing . (This is not the
same as the Garden sage)In the Sioux nation, the sacred pipe is kept in a bundle of sage
boughs. Special crystals can also be kept this way.Sage is good for protection, and promotes
CAUTION ABOUT SAGE:
Some may be allergic to the smoke of sage,as with any allergic reaction,it is important
to make sure it is safe to use this herb for smudging.
SWEETGRASS is important to the Sioux and Cherokee nations.Its botanical name is Hierochloe
odoratis. It is braided like hair. It could be burnt by lighting the end or by shaving bits onto
Sweet Grass Braids are hand gathered by native people of Canada. It is traditionally burned
while offering prayers of thanksgiving. It is also given away as gifts to the nature spirits and
our other teachers. Sweetgrass is burned after smudging with sage to welcome the good and
positive influences after the negative has been driven away.
YERBA SANTA This herb has many medicinal uses.Burn it to nurture and protect that which is
ancient. When you are feeling discouraged and you need a boost, use this herb for courage.
ALOE VERA is not used for smudging- it is used for protection, success and peace. It is widely
known for its healing qualities, for treating wounds and for maintaining a healthy skin. Keep a
pot of aloe vera in the house in ceramic pots, never in metal or plastic containers. Treat this
plant with respect, ask permission when you cut a leaf off , respect the protective power of this
plant is used to banish unwanted influence.