Indigenous cultures believed that by burning sage and other plants, it would ward off evil spirits and provide safety and protection for them. They believed that the plant gives up its life so that they could use the smoke for prayers and cleansing. The aroma that is produced by these plants would put them in a different state of mind by bringing them into a deeper part of themselves. They believed that when they opened up in this ceremony, it would bring insights, give them a sense of direction, enhance their intuition, and awaken their soul.
There are many Herbs, Flowers, and Resins used for Smudging.
Here are some of the most common plants that are used for smudging. Although sage seems to be the most common, you can smudge very efficiently and specifically based on what you want to accomplish.
1. Sage is used for cleansing, purifying and healing...to 'wash off' the outside world and create a sacred space, when one enters ceremony or other spiritual space.
2. Cedar is a medicine of protection. Cedar trees are old, wise and powerful spirits. Cedar is often used to cleanse a home or apartment when first moving in, clearing unwanted spirits and protecting a person, place or object from them.
3. Sweetgrass, (also called Seneca grass, holy grass and vanilla grass) is called 'the breath of Mother Earth' 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.
4. Lavender is a native of Europe often used for invitation of the spirits-bringing in angels, archangels, religious leaders (like Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Krishna, etc.) and other spirits of the light.
5. Copal's smoke has an earthy fragrance similar to Frankincense and is used to bless, cleanse and heal the person or object being smudged. It is sacred to the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and the Mayan culture 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 the tree people of our planet.
6. Frankincense-This ancient essence is hard to extract and has been considered more valuable than gold. It is believed to cleanse and protect the soul, attract abundance, ease depression and promote clairvoyance.
7. Myrrh-connects one to the spirit of youth and clears the path of debris that stands in the way of one's truth. It is said to help one maintain a state of enlightenment.
8. A Smudging Feather (any bird's feather) is traditionally used to 'brush' the smoke over the person or object being blessed. Use the underside of the feather to wash the smoke over the object of blessing. It's the underside of the bird (and its wings) that faces Mother Earth as it flies. This surface of the feather offers the blessing medicine of the bird.
(Some of the more resin-based items above are best best done on charcoal tablets, so please research what is the safest way to smudge.)
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