A smudge stick is a bundle of dried herbs, bound with string into a small bundle. The herbs are burned as part of a ritual or ceremony. "Smudging" is the common name given to a powerful cleansing technique from the Native American tradition; however, the burning of herbs for emotional, psychic, and spiritual purification is a common practice among many religious, healing, and spiritual traditions. It is a ceremonial way to cleanse a person, place or an object of negative energies or influences. It is also an effective method for energizing or blessing a person, place or object.
The act of smudging is done with a smudge bowl or Abalone Shell with the appropriate herbs directly lit or burned on a coal or Charcoal Tablet. The smoke is 'washed' over the person or object with a Feather or by fanning the smoke with one's hand. Smudging yourself or another, fan the swirls of smoke around your body from head to toe. You may want to especially focus on areas where you feel there are blockages or where there has been or is physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Imagine the smoke lifting away all the negative thoughts, emotions and energies that have attached themselves to you. If you are feeling depressed, for instance, you could visualize the smoke carrying away all your feelings of depression.
You may want to speak an intention or a suggestion for the smudging as you do it. Repeat this process with your guests as they enter the space at a ritual, ceremony or special event. When smudging a room or space light the smudge stick, and walk about the perimeter, giving special attention to the corners and the places behind doors. You can also fan the smoke throughout the room with a large feather. If you are amenable to the notion, you should state a prayer of gratitude for the cleansing and keep in mind your intention of removing any negatively inclined energy from the area during the ritual.
Smudging and Blessing Herbs:
•Sage: The use of sage is for healing. The smoke is used to bless, cleanse and heal the person or object being smudged. Sage is used to 'wash off' the outside world when one enters ceremony or other sacred space.
•Cedar: Cedar is a medicine of protection. Cedar is often used to cleanse a home or apartment when first moving in, inviting unwanted spirits to leave and protecting a person, place or object from unwanted influences.
•Sweetgrass: Also called Seneca grass, holy grass and vanilla grass. This very special herb's sweet vanilla-like scent is the breath of the Earth mother, bringing the blessing of Mother Earth's love. Sweetgrass is burned to remind us of essence of the feminine and that the earth provides us with everything we need.
•Lavender: This native of Europe is often used for invitation of the spirits.
•Copal: Copal is sacred to the native peoples of Mexico, as it is a gift 'pleasing to the gods.' Because copal is the blood of trees, it is offered to honor the enormous gift given to us by all of the tree people of our planet.
•Frankincense: At one time both Frankincense and Myrrh were considered to be more valuable than gold, this tree resin is considered to cleanse and protect the soul. Frankincense is said to ease depression and promote clairvoyance.
•Myrrh: This tree resin is said to help one maintain a state of enlightenment. It also connects one to the spirit of youth and clears the path of debris that stands in the way of one's truth.
•Smudging Feather: It is traditional to use a bird's feather to brush the smoke over the person or object being blessed. It is important to use the underside of the feather to wash the smoke over the object of blessing. It is the underside of the bird and its wings that face the Mother Earth as it flies and it is this surface of the feather that offers the blessing medicine of the bird.
Last but not least the best way of lighting smudge stick is to either use a blow torch lighter, or just hold the smudge stick over an open flame such as over a candle. The only way to extinguish a smudge stick is by suffocating the flames and making sure it is fully extinguished.