Saging and smudging are terms that can be used interchangeably in our society. While smudging is done by Shamans, the intermediaries between the material world and the spiritual, it is considered the same as ‘saging’ yourself, home, or environment.
No matter your beliefs, there is sometimes an undeniable negative energy to a space. There are also times in which you may choose to simply cleanse a space that belonged to another before you, or recleanse your own surroundings to refocus, re-energize, and feel good again. While some people rearrange furniture, do a deep clean, and take up yoga, many others opt to sage their space. With the start of this new year, I decided to create a more neutral and positive air space in the office.
Shamans use smudges, or bundles of native plants, in sweat lodges and healing rituals, which may be considered if you are pursuing a healthier lifestyle, change in fertility, or chronic ailments. Today, many acupuncturists combine this practice with their own in hopes of cleansing the body to accept treatment more efficiently.
A 2007 study discovered that the Native American practice of smudging showed a positive outcome within this community for those suffering from cardiovascular disease. An early study from 1999 also showed positive health benefits to this ritual. The study compared emergency room patients with healing ritual patients, all with the same chronic ailments. Those who were exposed to the smudging traditions, sweat lodges, and healing ceremonies saw significantly higher rates of increased health than those treated at a hospital. These studies both suggest bridging western medicine with these Native American rituals and healing traditions.
For most of you looking to do a simple cleanse, it is important to know that the herbs and traditions are not meant to be taken lightly. Smudging can be done in a bowl or shell with charcoal, stones, or sand, but most commonly, it is performed with a premade smudge stick of wrapped herbs that you hold and spread smoke with a feather or your hand. It is called ‘washing’ as the smoke washes over the person, walls, or air in need of cleansing. The following herbs are typically found in smudge sticks and can be wrapped on your own if you are interested in doing so. You can create your own combination to include specific herbs not found on this list as well.
· Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
· Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
· Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
· New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
· Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
· Sage (Salvia officinalis)
· Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
· Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis).
· Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinale)
· Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
· Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
· Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
Each of the above herbs has a purpose. Mullein works gently to clear the lungs and make the air more ‘breathable;’ Calendula is an antimicrobial that can aid in healing leaky gut, liver problems, etc but while saging a room, it can act as the healer or the room’s ‘skin.’ Thyme can be smudged to help with physical or emotional pain. It is truly amazing to learn about the history and traditions behind the herbs we overlook every day.