Have you ever felt depressed? Surely, everyone has. However, not everyone knows about the ritual that can not only help relieve that emotion, but bring positive into their life and space. Smudging is a spiritual cleansing technique that originated from the North American tradition and has existed for thousands of years. Until recently, it was not recognized by the West, and therefore may seem strange to some individuals. However, smudging is a helpful and sacred ritual that can be performed by anyone. Smudging consists of lighting herbs, usually sage or sweet grass, to produce smoke and spreading that smoke wherever the individual feels energy needs cleansing. Smudging can also subtly remove ghosts from a particular area, as some believe the scent of herbs is disliked by spirits. Others believe it is simply the intent behind the smudging that ushers out negative energies and undesired spirits. Either way, the smoke created by smudging can produce miraculous results by leaving behind a trail of positive, renewed energy.
Firstly, a smudge stick must be obtained. A smudge stick is a bundle of dried herbs (usually sage or sweet grass) bonded together with thread or a strip of hide. To ensure the ashes are contained, a special container or shell can be used to set the smudge stick in. Another option is to place the loose herbs onto a dish. Placing coal beneath the herbs will ensure that the ritual will not be interrupted due to the herbs having to be constantly relit. It should be noted that smudging should not occur around individuals with respiratory issues and that smoke alarms may need to be turned off.
The smudge stick or loose herbs are then lit with a regular lighter. However, the flame is unimportant. It is the smoke that the flame creates that is significant. This means that the herbs should not be relit unless the smoke has stopped. Before starting the process, some choose to say a small prayer to intensify the process. Others may say a prayer throughout smudging and some may just trust that the smoke will clear out anything necessary.
The process of smudging depends on what you want to smudge. You may smudge people to clear their energy and bring a sense of refreshment. Alternatively, smudging secondhand items can also be very helpful as it will clear old energy and renew the object. Perhaps most important, houses can be smudged to bring in positive energy and force out spirits.
Smudging yourself or others can be done by moving the lit bundle or dish of herbs so that the whole body is immersed in smoke. This is usually done by passing the bundle or dish from hand to hand around the body from top to bottom. More smoke can be pushed towards areas of the body that experience physical or emotional distress. Alternatively, if you want to smudge second hand items, simply move the lit bundle or dish so the whole item is touched by the smoke.
Smudging a house or room is a little more complicated and time consuming, but still rewarding. First, slightly open a window or door to provide an exit for the negative energy or spirits that will be ushered out by the smoke. Then, after lighting the herb, pick a room to smudge first. The order in which you smudge the rooms does not matter. Next, move the bundle or dish around the perimeter of each room, placing emphasis on each corner. Some people like to walk around the room counter-clockwise as they believe it will 'undo' any negative energy. However, you may also walk clockwise if you feel it is more appropriate. When smudging a house it is important to remember certain areas that may be overlooked. For example, energy can be hiding under furniture, in closets or in attics. In addition, it's best to let your intuition guide you to what areas may need more smoke.
When you are done smudging, set the smudge stick or dish down. The smoke will soon stop. To close this ritual, some choose to say a thank you prayer. You may smudge again whenever you feel it is necessary. You can smudge on a regular schedule (ex. every month, season, etc.). Or, you can smudge when you are feeling depressed, moving into a new house or after a big change (divorce, death, illness, etc.).
Whether the effects of smudging come from the smoke itself, or if the smoke just acts as a placebo, a substance to merely calm someone, is not known. However, the technique of smudging is sacred and powerful for both people of the North American tradition and Westerners alike.
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