Smudging is the common name given to the indigenous American tradition known as the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing. This is a powerful spiritual cleansing technique which calls upon the spirits of various sacred plants to drive away negative energy and to restore balance to an individual, a group, a space, or all three.
This tradition has been a part of the spirituality of indigenous Americans for thousands of years, and now this cleansing ritual is available to anyone who is willing to give it a try. The ritual is very simple and very empowering, and you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to start doing it in your own home.
Smudging is effective because it allows you to effect the world of subtle spiritual energies using the spirits of various powerful, healing plants. If you have ever worked with yoga or meditation, you will understand that your body, and indeed, the spaces that you occupy, vibrate with invisible energy currents that can be strongly effected by outside forces, both physical and spiritual.
Smudging allows you to wash away all the emotional and spiritual negativity that gathers in your body and your space over time. It’s a little bit like taking a spiritual shower! The effects of smudging can be very effective, often banishing stress almost instantly and providing energy and peace. Smudging can also help your body and space to adjust to the healing rhythms of the seasonal cycle. More than anything, though, smudging can turn your space, and your body, into a peaceful, beautiful temple in which you can rejuvenate yourself and fine happiness.
The smoke from dried sage actually changes the ionic composition of the air, and can have a direct effect on reducing our stress response, and for those who aren’t into the woo woo side of things, recent research has shed light on the popularity of smudging, revealing that burning certain plant matter actually clears harmful bacteria. So whether you want to de-stress or simply just disinfect your space, light up that smudge stick and get to smudging!
BASIC SMUDGING FOR SELF-CLEARING
There are many ways to use smudging. I suggest this as a simple way to get started. As you become more proficient, you may well find you want to use different words or actions. That’s fine – just be guided by your intuition. But always treat smudge with great respect.
YOU WILL NEED: smudge stick, matches, a small ceramic or stone bowl, or a large shell (a saucer will do), a large feather.
Light the end of your smudge stick and let it burn for a few minutes until the tip starts to smoulder. You may need to fan the flames for a while to get the smudge really smoking. Then extinguish the flame so the smudge stick smokes.
Call on the spirits of the smudge to cleanse and protect you, saying: “Sacred Sage, drive away all negativity from my heart; take away everything unworthy and impure.”
First waft the smoke towards your heart. Hold the smudge stick away from you and use the feather to waft the smoke towards you. Then take the smudge smoke over your head, down your arms and down the front of your body. Imagine the smoke lifting away all the negative thoughts, emotions and energies that have attached themselves to you.
Breathe in the smudge, visualizing the smoke purifying your body from the inside. (Note: be careful if you suffer from asthma or respiratory difficulties. Experiment cautiously).
Now bring the smoke down the back of your body towards the ground. Visualise the last vestiges of negativity being taken back into the earth, away into the air.
Repeat your smudging once again, this time calling on the spirit of Sweetgrass in this way: “Sacred Sweetgrass, bring me the positive energy I need to do this work. Help me to come into balance. Purify my soul.” As you smudge, imagine yourself being surrounded by gentle, loving energy. Breathe in positivity, courage and love.
USING SMUDGING FOR SPACE CLEARING
Smudging not only cleanses people: it can also clear a room or area of any old or stagnant energy. All rooms need cleansing – just as much as they need physical cleaning. If your life feels stuck or things just aren’t going according to plan, you may just find that simple space clearing solves the problem. Clearing the space around you is also an important part of most rituals and ceremonies.
YOU WILL NEED: smudge stick, bowl or shell, feather, matches.
To cleanse the space in which you are working, light your smudge stick as described above (Self-clearing) and smudge yourself and anyone with you.
Walk around the room wafting smoke into each corner. Call on the spirit of Sage as in the Self-clearing to drive away all negativity from the room. Then repeat, asking the spirit of Sweetgrass to bring harmony and balance to the room.
Come to the centre of the room and stand quietly for a few moments. Turn to the East of the room and fan smudge out into that direction four times, saying: “Spirit of the East, Great Spirit of Air, cleanse and inspire this space.”
Turn to the South and smudge four times, saying: “Spirit of the South, Great Spirit of Water, strengthen and bring peace to this space.”
Now turn to the West and smudge four times, saying: “Spirit of the West, Great Spirit of Fire, energize and protect this space.”
Turn to the North and smudge four times, saying: “Spirit of the North, Great Spirit of Earth, ground and cleanse this space.”
Return to your original position and look upwards, sending smudge up to the ceiling four times. Say: “Great Father Sky, guard this space from above.”
Now finally squat towards the floor and send smudge down to the floor four times, saying, “Great Mother Earth, nurture this space from below.”
Put down your smudge stick and stand quietly with your eyes shut. Visualize the great spirits you have summoned standing guard around your room. You could imagine them as the great archangels or the four animal spirit keepers of Native American tradition (Buffalo – North; Eagle – East; Coyote – South and Grizzly Bear – West.) Visualize the loving energy of the Mother and Father Spirits above and below you. Give thanks to all of them.
Note: You should also smudge anything you will be using for your blessing – i.e. crystals, candles, flowers, stones etc.