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FEATURE - July 2018

Use Smudging to Create Sacred Space

 By Maya Zahira


Smudging is the ancient practice of using plants and herbs to ward off evil spirits and clear the energy in a particular place. In today's world we call it energy clearing, to create a sacred space. 


How Did Smudging Start?


     Native Americans 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 produced by these plants would transcend them in a different state of mind, bringing them into a deeper part of their souls. They believed that when they opened up in this ceremony, it would bring insights, give them a stronger sense of direction, enhance their intuition and awaken their soul’s desires. “A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal and strengthen,” says John O’Donahue.


As it turns out, the apparent benefits are richly steeped in science---when burned, sage and other herbs release negative ions, which research has linked to a more positive mood. Burning resins (such as frankincense and myrrh) is also an ancient practice done to raise the spiritual vibration through the sense of smell, as well as aiding in healing, grounding and stress. (When it's windy, do you notice that you are more irritable? That's because when the wind blows, positive ions are released, and they adversely affect our mental and emotional well-being.) 


Here are some of the most common plants that are used for smudging. Although sage is the most common, you can smudge very efficiently and specifically based on what you want to accomplish.


(Some of the more resin-based items above are best done on charcoal tablets, so please research what is the safest way to smudge.) If you are able to purchase your herbs from a Native American community, do so. It helps maintain the integrity and sacredness of the plant and the ceremony.


1. Sage is used for cleansing, purifying and “wash off” the residue of 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--calling 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 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 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.


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.


OK, so now you have your herbs and are ready to get started! 


The smudging process begins with purification of the body and mind. Start with a healthy body, pure thought and pure intention. Place the bundle of herbs on a shell, ceramic plate, charcoal tablet or other fireproof surface. Use as natural a surface as possible to help maintain the integrity of the whole process. Use a match to light (but don't blow on the herbs as it's believed to blow away the plant's special healing properties).  Hold the smudge stick over the fireproof container at all times to avoid any lit herbs falling on the floor.


Smudge yourself thoroughly first, taking in the essence of the plant, the smoke and the energy. Offer the smoke to the four directions---beginning in the East, calling in the blessings and protection. Face the East and say something like “Oh, great spirit of the East, we welcome you where the sun rises and life awakens.” Or 

“Spirit Keepers of the South, we thank you for your blessings of warmth and love.” Do the same thing for all 4 directions, saying what resonates in your heart for that direction. "Wherever you are, be there totally,"  says author Eckhart Tolle. 


Start on the door’s left side (stay to the left all the way through the house or apartment) while praying and setting intentions the whole time. Breathe, stay calm, present and connected. Move the herb and bowl in a clockwise circular motion to create the essence of infinity. 


When you get to the front, push the smoke out the front door with the feather and then wait a minute or two. A bowl with sand can be used to extinguish the smudge stick after smudging. Then, go outside and sprinkle the ashes of the herb on the doorstep to protect the entrance.  


 It is believed that your intentions and prayers are carried to Creator through the smoke, bringing in clarity and vision induced by the aroma of what is being burned. The process helps open the mind, soul and senses, which helps bring us into a different state of mind. This can awaken us to gain new direction. Positive spiritual beings are said to like the scent of the plants and are drawn to them, opening a doorway for them to help you!



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Maya Zahira is a visionary teacher who serves as

a spiritual mentor for sensitives, empaths, and spiritual seekers.  It’s her mission to educate and empower people with the most powerful and effective methods for energetic self-care and psychic protection so they can live a healthy, balanced, empowered life.

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