© Copyright: 1994, 2012 S. Tephyr Burgess
Ever since someone tossed some into the fire, we have been burning herbs and other plant materials. We do this to actively change the energies surrounding and on our person, our homes or our belongings for Ritual or Energy Cleansing or to just make the place smell good.
No one really knows how long this has been going on, but its been pretty much since the Dawn of Humankind.
Matter attracts energy. Whether it is electromagnetic, ionic or emotional energy it will effect, negatively or positively, whatever it is "clinging" to. Smudge and other forms of incense are used to cleanse matter of negative energy fields as well as to create and buildup positive ones.
Repelling and attraction the undesirable and desirable. You should Smudge when ever you feel negative energy is effecting you, your possessions and your surroundings. Smudge whenever you feel you need to create or enhance positive energy around you. It is all in the intent and focus of the herbs and the one who is smudging.
Anything and everything. Anyone and everyone who wants or needs it. Smudge yourself, your home and your possessions. Smudge the people you live with (if they allow it). Smudge your pets (again; if they allow it).
You can do it on a regular schedule or just when ever you feel it is necessary. I like to Smudge my home both before a thorough cleaning and after. Before: to repel negative energy to help me get rid of unwanted stuff along with the dirt. After: to attract and enhance the positive energies that I want around me now that the house is cleansed: it is the final cleansing.
Smudge before Ritual or Ceremony: no matter what your Religious expression. Before Church or how/where ever you worship. This is a good way to prepare both your personal energy field and your focus before you open yourself to your personal interpretation of The Divine.
Smudge when you are down: If you are depressed or feeling the blues, Smudging is a great way to focus on removing the emotions and energies and concepts that are making you feel that way. When you or someone else are feeling ill. Smudging in itself might make a person start to feel better if it is believed that the negativity is an aspect of their feeling unwell. Just be careful of persons who are having respiratory problems; one woman I know brought on a sever asthma attack in her husband when she was trying to smudge the house.
Anywhere. The only things that should keep you from Smudging are;
If the other people or entities (including pets and plants) around you dont want it. Dont intrude on other peoples space.
If it is dangerous. If the environment is easily combustible. Like in very dry weather outdoors. Or around combustible materials: like near gas pumps or propane tanks. Use your head: you are dealing with Fire; a very powerful entity. Take it seriously and use it respectfully.
Again, do not smudge near people with respiratory problems.
I am not a very orthodox person; my belief system is more what you would call Eclectic more than anything else and I dont believe there is any one way to believe or to do Ritual. As long as your not hurting anyone or anything and those involved with you are consenting; then there is no wrong way. Lots of people will probably disagree with the way I am presenting this; all I can say is you do your thing Ill do mine and isnt it beautiful! (did I just date myself?).
Smudging is a Sacred Act. The act itself as well as the use and involvement of the plants and herbs. Do not use this lightly or just as a lark.
My technique is to place my Smudge Stick or loose herbs in a shell (though many cultures consider this disrespectful) or a small metal caldron. Clay, or stone bowls will work also. You may want to fill the clay or stone with sand or small stones to keep the heat buffered so you don't crack the bowl. If I dont have a fire source near by then I will use a match to light it. The intent is to get it to smolder: not to burn with an open flame.
If your Smudge will not burn it is because;
1) it is too moist (perhaps you didnt dry or store it properly).
2) There is not enough air (perhaps you rolled it too tight). Loosen it or break it up and burn it loose.
3) It is not supposed to happen. Be accepting of this. Dont force it, there are probably things going on that you are unaware of. Trust.
Decide for yourself how you feel about blowing on it to get it going. Many feel this is pushing it. I like to use my Smudge Wand* to fan it. If it wont smolder without it then I figure it is the above #3.
Once I have it smoldering, I focus on my intent. That is if I am repelling negativity than I concentrate on that, if I am attracting positively, then that is my focus.
When Smudging myself it is more difficult to get the "hard" places like my back than if I am doing someone else: the easy way around this is to get someone to Smudge you. But if one is alone you have to make do. Use your hands to "wash" the smoke around your person. Lower you head and wash the smoke behind you. I like to bring the smoke over my Chakra points, going up from the Earth and down again from the Sky.
When smudging another person, have them stands before the "Smudger" with their arms slightly out. Or the person can direct the smoke towards their self with their hand(s). Whether for another or myself, I start on the feet; using the Smudge Wand and "waft" the smoke towards them, either with my hand or smudge wand. I move up the legs to the torso and up towards the head. I smudge the arms and then walk around to the back of the person and then repeat only from the top to the bottom. First sending the energy from the Earth, up through their body and then down from the Sky, down through their body.
I use the wand to direct the smoke in the general direction and focus my intent towards either repelling or attracting the energies. Focus and Intent are very important. I like to see the negative energies being brushed and cleaned away when I bring up the Earth's energies and then positive energies coming in from the Sky energy. This, however, is just the way I like viewing it: you should incorporate your own vision and intent.
Preferably the Smudger and Smudgee (so to speak) need to be concentrating on the removal or attraction of whatever energy you are working with together. But it is essential that the one Smudging is paying attention and is totally focused on the act. Focus on any areas that seem "sticky" or dark. As when I smudge myself I pay attention to the Chakras as well.
As I said above I like to first Smudge my house for negative energy first:
Leaving a window or door open to the outside in the last room; I start in the West and move around the directions in a counter clock wise motion: I do this around the house, room to room repeating the counter clock wise motion in each room. So, I am in a sense spiraling around the house. I use the wand to push the smoke around each room: up, down, in corners, under beds, in closets, everywhere.
Again Focus on your intent. In the last room focus on the negativity leaving your home; never to bother you or anyone else again; it helps to ask that the negativity is removed from the Earth entirely. Ask that it Evolve into a higher, more positive energy form.
Next, repeat the whole thing but going East around the directions in a clockwise motion. You are now focusing on attracting whatever positive energies you want in your home and even room to room. Happy, jovial conversation can be envisioned in the dining room. Relaxed, content emotions for the living room..... whatever you want or need around you.
The only final thing is to be careful of sparks and cinders, as well as the Smudge Bowl can get hot; be careful of holding it and of where you put it down.. Always be very conscious of what you are doing when using fire.
Try it, I think you will find it rewarding on many levels. Enjoy.
Feel free to email me with questions or comments.
Smudge Wands are usually the tail or wing feathers, wing or tail of a bird. Your hand works just as well too. Asian style fans can be used also. I believe if you use feathers, wings and tails they should be found: not purchased or from hunted animals. It is *my* belief that objects used for sacred uses, whether animal, plant or mineral should be given to us freely. I realize that not everyone feels this way; follow your own conscious.