Native American Smudging: The Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing
'Smudging' 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.
Smudging 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.
Different types of herb for different uses:
Sage: 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."
Cedar: 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.
Sweetgrass: 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.
Other 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.
I have recently begun the ancient ritual of smudging the Berkley Center each morning with Lavender sage to help create a loving energy for patients,practitioners and staff.