The ritual of smudging can be defined as "spiritual house cleaning" and to help center ourselves. All ancient cultures burned various herbs and resins for spiritual reasons. Incense is thought to have 'pleased the gods' with its fragrance. Resins such as frankincense and myrrh were considered suitable gifts in the Christian religion.
HOW TO USE A SMUDGING WAND--
Light the end of your wand. After it is ignited for about 10-15 seconds, extinguish the flame. You may wish to use an abalone shell or some other heatproof container to catch falling ash and ember. You may also set the wand in the container and use a "smudging feather" or your hand to direct the smoke.
We then smudge the room, slowly walking clockwise around the perimeter of the room, fanning the smudge pot, and keeping it lit and wafting the smoke about. Smudge any medicine tool you will be using such as pipe jewelry, outfit, etc. "It is a good practice to smudge each person in a group. Starting from the East and holding the smudge pot lit, each person can bathe himself or herself in the smoke. Many people smudge the heart area first, next the head area, and then the arms, then downward toward the legs. This isn't the only way you can smudge. It is not wrong to smudge another way.
To smudge is to purify and cleanse oneself, and to make contact with the spirits- however you conceive them to be. From this we can see that Smudging is a powerful but simple way to use ceremony of connection and grounding in ones life.
Smudging is also prayer- many native people consider that the smoke of the smoldering smudge mix is taken by the spirits in good ways, and if you make such offerings then the spirits will know you and want to help you in your life. There is a principle that one should only ask for ‘help and healing’ through ceremony of this kind. So if you need help with problems, need guidance or direction, or ask for healing for yourself or others, then it is fine to ask the spirits for their help in these ways. You might want to smudge when: You’ve been feeling depressed, angry, and resentful. You've had an argument with someone. You're going to have a special ritual or ceremony or as part of a general spiritual housecleaning and to clear your crystals of any negative energy.
(From "Smudging" by Elaine Lunham)
HOW TO USE LOOSE HERBS AND RESIN ON CHARCOAL---
Remove tablet from sealed roll and place charcoal, the round side down in a "fireproof" dish lined with sand. Handle the charcoal with a pair of tongs, as it will become very hot. Light the edge of the tablet by holding a match to the edge of the charcoal until it begins to sparkle. The sparkling will continue across the charcoal. Once the tablet is lit, take a small amount (1/2-teaspoon) of burning herbs or resins and pour onto the lit cake of charcoal. The incense will burn/melt and smoke, releasing its scent into the air.
You may use a "smudging feather" or your hand to direct the smoke as you move the smudge around the body and/or space you are smudging. These will burn for several minutes and then you may add more. You may want to remove residue before adding more material. The tablet should be left to burn out and cool in the center.
To extinguish a tablet before it has fully cooled, quench in a container of cold water. NOTE-When you are finished, you need to be sure your smudge is COMPLETELY EXTINGUISHED.
SAGE 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. Objects are likewise washed off with sage medicine smoke to rid them of unwanted influences.
SWEETGRASS --Rich in scent, sweetgrass will infuse any space with its unique fragrance, even when not burned; it is the breath and blessing of the Earth mother. Sweetgrass is burned to remind that Mother Earth provides us with everything we need. Just as the sweet scent is attractive to people it is attractive to good spirits. Traditionally braided like hair by the Sioux and Cherokee nations and was use to smudge after sage or cedar to welcome in peace and harmony. When burned it does not produce an open flame but smolders, light the end of it or more economically by shaving little bits of it onto charcoal in a heatproof container. Hang in a musty closest or among linen to freshen.
CEDAR--Cedar trees are very old, wise and powerful spirits and are a medicine of protection against negative influences.
COPAL RESIN--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.
LAVENDER-- Lavender is a sacred plant, which shares it healing properties, and will bring inner calm and wisdom. Some Christians still regard the scent of lavender as a safeguard against evil.
FRANKINCENSE-- A tree resin is considered to cleanse and protect the soul. Frankincense became important to most every major religion in the world and is still used in Muslim, Jewish and Catholic rituals. Frankincense is said to ease depression and promote clairvoyance.
MYRRH-- A 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 one’s truth.
JUNIPER-- Junipers gives us strength and purity in all endeavors.
SMUDGING FEATHER-- It is traditional to use a bird’s feather to wash around the smoke. Use the underside of the feather to wash the smoke, 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.
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