SMUDGING AND THE FOUR
Back before recorded time, in the time of spirit, ceremony and belief,
Turtle Island's Indigenous people adopted four sacred plants
to be used in ceremony. These medicines
were meant to be used in prayer and for other peaceful purposes.
When combined the smoke carried our prayers to Great Mystery. Today,
what is often called a "Sweetgrass Ceremony" opens many gatherings, powwows, meetings,
conferences anywhere people are gathered together in a good way. The
word 'smudge' is a bit of a slang term when describing the four plants as
a group; 'smudging' means the action of fanning or pushing the smoke over
you to create harmony mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
the hair of Mother Earth and the power of emotional healing.
literally is sweetgrass and often grows in dark, marshy places. It is
braided to signify unity and strength. A single blade of grass
represents an aspect of the living world, when separated it can be
broken, but when braided it cannot be broken. When in ceremony, human hair is
usually braided to signify that we are all one people and that our world
vision is one of strong, united, supportive communities. Sweetgrass is a tangible
metaphor for a unified world. Our task is to work
towards a world community that is in harmony with itself. Sweetgrass soothes the emotions,
calms the nerves, brings down the heart rate. Its perfume drops your
shoulders in relaxation as you move into the rhythm of the Earth.
power of physical healing.
It's sweet smell and healing
properties are used in physical healing. Bathing in a cedar bath or the
occasional cup of cedar tea helps to cleans the internal and external
body. Feel its power seep into your pores. Feel the pulse of your
heart as your body embraces its own health and wellbeing. Line the floor
of a sweatlodge with Cedar so that its sweet smell can imbue
the bodies of those
sitting inside. It is refreshing, it invigorates, it heals.
SAGE - The
power of spiritual healing.
As the white sage
(salvia apiana) wafts across your body, breathe
it into your soul. Let your spirit find its balance with the emotions and
the physical body. Feel its power raise your spirits, feel yourself
stand taller and stronger in your own truth. There are holes in the spirit when it is sad,
let the sage fill those holes with good thoughts and positive attitudes.
power of Mental Healing.
Ah, the most powerful of all, it gives thanks to the Ancestors. Often
considered to be the oldest plant on Turtle Island, it was never meant to
be smoked for commercial purposes! Sacred tobacco is pure and colled 'Kinnikinnik'.
It is comprised of Tobacco, bear berry leaves, red willow and alder
bark, among other things. It is smoked in sacred pipes and given to Elders or
Traditional Teachers when requesting assistance or information. Tobacco is
sprinkled in thanks to the Earth Mother, to Great Mystery and to the
Ancestors for gracing us with their presence. Tobacco should be held in
the left hand, closest to the heart. Raise your hand, it should be offered
to the four directions before being scattered on the earth.
HOW TO SMUDGE:
Place cedar, sage,
sweetgrass into a clay bowl. Light it carefully and let the smoke start to
rise, it carries your prayers to your Ancestors.
-Rub your hands in the smoke to cleanse them; scoop the smoke into your hands and
bring it to your head, so you will think good thoughts - no anger,
-To the eyes so you will see the world around you in a
good way, in other words beyond cultural and human
diversity, beyond wealth, beyond poverty. All the matters is "heart to
-To the throat so you will speak always in kindness and in
non-judgmental ways - no hate, no criticism, no
-To the ears, so that you will listen truly listen
to each other instead of "waiting to speak" which we so often do.
Truly hear each other, listen to the joy, the pain, the music of another
-To the heart so you feel connected to all living
beings in a loving way. First Nations people know
they are only one part of a wide world, open acceptance of all others
keeps the world in circular balance.
-To the solar plexus so your emotions connect
with the Earth Mother.;
-Women to the womb, so your life giving energies
go out into the world in balance and harmony.
-Finally under the
feet, this way the dark side of your soul and the world will not follow
in your footsteps.
Ah, do you hear that?
Listen carefully, for the Ancestors have awoken from their deep sleep and
have come along with the spirit of the
smudge. They are here to help you heal. As is the way with all
things sacred, great respect must be given to the process of smudging for
a relationship is being formed between you, the plant spirits, the
Ancestors and all that is unseen. It is powerful and must be respected.
shells are used for smudging; big, beautiful abalone shells. In my Pacific Northwest tradition, shells once contained the
spirit of a living being. My heritage is borne of the seas and oceans, streams
and rivers; respect for all living beings that reside there is paramount
for they offered themselves so my people could eat and live well.
result I do not use the shells for they once contained the
living spirit of a relative! To burn the bottoms of these shells is to
burn the spirit that once lived there.
years I have been given a number of these beautiful shells. I use them to
hold my healing rock crystals, or as a prayer bowl which contains the names of those who require
healing, or I simply pass them on to others,
clay or pottery bowl is my choice for smudging.
For this is
the way of it.....wilwilaaysk, all my relations