“Smoke is prayer. Silver curling smoke seems to lift me closer to the Great Spirit.” -Lynn Andrews
I was at Barton Springs yesterday (if you’re not from Austin, Barton is THE meeting place for souls looking for repose in cooling spring waters) and as I walked down to take a dip, I stopped and closed my eyes as the smell of sage smoke entered my nose. I felt like I was home. After 2 months of travel and work and a busier-than-usual schedule, I have realized that the one thing that I must do, no matter where I am, is smoke. I’m not talking cigarettes or mary jane, I’m talking about the ancient art of smudging. This simple act, of lighting a specific herb or grass or wood, has changed my life for the better. There are many reasons to use smudge wands, and many different types of wands- I use a few different ones throughout my day and have incorporated it into my rituals for a balanced spirit, each morning, afternoon, and night.
I smudge to release energy.
This is the type of smudging that I use the most often. As a healer and teacher I often work directly with those who are suffering- it’s important for me to release both my energy and theirs before and after we work together. Before I work with a client, or teach a yoga class, I smudge both myself and the space with White Sage. You’ll often see White Sage smudge sticks as they’re the most popular. This herb is cleansing both for physical spaces and energies. When I used to work a desk job for someone else, smudging myself with Sage when I got home allowed me to fully decompress and release any negative emotions I had about the day or about those I came into contact with. Each time I have guests over to my house, whether I love them or not!, I smudge my home when they leave- releasing any energies they left behind. Pro Tip** White Sage is seriously AMAZING for getting rid of smells. So if the spiritual uses don’t resonate with you, you can still use this herb to get rid of any smells in your home, A/C vents, car, closets, etc. Smoke the space and once the smoke leaves, the smell goes with it!
I smudge to adorn myself.
Smoke has a way of seeping into the soul, leaving pieces of it behind. I use Palo Santo to adorn myself with positivity and with confidence. This smell is a favorite of my students; I burn it during Savasana in my classes. Palo Santo is both uplifting and mysterious. The smell stays behind and leaves a Cedar wood scents that feels clean and rich. As Palo Santo has become increasingly popular as a smudge tool, illegal harvesting methods have increased. Palo Santo is supposed to only be cultivated from fallen branches of the trees (in Peru) if it’s wildcrafted. Since it’s hard to determine if wildcrafted Palo has been cultivated ethically, many folks (like myself!) purchase this sweet wood from specific farms in South America that plant Palo Santo trees to make sure there is a future supply.
I smudge for clarity.
Seeing clearer through the smoke may seem counterintuitive. But people have been using sacred smoke for centuries, for that exact reason: clarity. My favorite tool for a clear mind is Mugwort. This musky smoke was traditionally used for lucid dreaming and I find that smudging my bedroom at night allows me to see the stories and lessons in my dreams. I had a client come to me last week and I had a feeling that I should give him a Mugwort smudge wand. Before I handed it to him, or told him why, I asked him to tell me his intention for the session and for speaking with me. He said, to gain clarity. That is what Mugwort helps with- before we can really start to move towards our desires or goals, it’s important to first be solid and stable in what they are. By using this ancient herb, we can see through our ideals and hardened beliefs, into what Spirit wants for us- and what our Souls know is best.
I smudge for healing.
Last year, I moved into a new place with a partner and my kitty. The situation was very wrong for me, although I didn’t know it at the time, and only a few days after we moved in, my kitty- my best friend of 14 years, died. I immediately got bronchitis from the stress of the situationand needed some deep soul healing. So I went into the forest and gathered Juniper. With my Juniper smudge wands I created ceremony for myself. I let go of any anger I had about the situation. I asked for healing and peace and a centered heart. I inhaled as the sweet scent of Juniper wafted around my body. I exhaled the sadness and the pain and the fear. Juniper was a spiritual safe haven. Now, I needed to heal my body and the terrible infection in my lungs. So I turned to Osha root, a very traditional Native American herb. This root is found in both the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest of America. The root of this herb is used for respiratory ailments and is amazing at fast healing. I both smoked and smudged Osha root for a few days during the worst parts of my illness. There is a cooling sensation that comes from this smoke and the smell is both like celery and vanilla, but also smells medicinal at the same time. By using both Juniper and Osha root, I was able to take care of my body and soul in the most mindful and mysterious way. I was alone for the 10 days after kitty died, and the smell and Juniper and Osha still bring me back to the feeling of pure self-care and healing.
Mother Earth provides so much for us- we just have to use what she gives us. There is a freedom and a rebelliousness that comes from healing ourselves using ancient rituals. Whether you are new to smudging or want to continue your practice, I hope that you do so with an open heart and a loving spirit.
Interested in your own smudge wand?
Try a few out! Click here or the image below to get a wand, or try all four (White Sage, Palo Santo, Mugwort, and Juniper) in a sweet ritual bundle.