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Smudging is the common name given to the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing, a powerful Native American cleansing technique and ritual to remove negativity. Smoke attaches itself to the negative energy and removes it to another space. Cleansing is the word traditionally used, but you can think of it as a shift in energy from negativity to a more positive, peaceful state. Smudging can be used to cleanse an object, a place, or your spirit, mind or body. Native Americans often use smudging in association with other ceremonies.
Smudging involves the burning of sacred herbs and grasses. Native elders teach that, before a person can be healed or heal another, one must be cleansed of any bad feelings, negative thoughts, bad spirits or negative energy – cleansed both physically and spiritually. This helps the healing to come through in a clear way, without being distorted or sidetracked by any negative “stuff”. The elders say that all ceremonies, private or tribal, must be entered into with a good heart so that we can pray, sing and walk in a sacred manner, and be helped by the spirits to enter the sacred realm.
In many traditions, smudging involves a four directions ceremony or prayer. It, thus, sends specific kinds of smoke or prayer into the four different directions. Of course, different tribes have different smudging prayers, but the smoke is typically directed or programmed to do a specific action or a specific direction, aiding in divination. However, in general smudging is used to maintain balance and shield against negative energy. As has been noted above, it is often used as a cleansing agent.
Smudging is an age-old tribal tradition which has been used for centuries to create harmony and peace. There are many different shamanic smudging ceremonies, and different tribes use a variety of herbs for smudging. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it.
Smudging is very effective when you’ve been feeling depressed, angry, resentful or unwell, or after you have had an argument with someone; if you’re going to have a special ritual or ceremony, as part of a general spiritual housecleaning, or to clear your crystals of any negative energy.
You can use smudge sticks (herbs that are tied into a bundle for easier handling), braided herbs and botanicals (like sweetgrass) or loose herbs like mugwort (burned on charcoal or in a firepot). Shamanic smudging releases the energy and fragrance of the herbs and botanicals so they can heal, cleanse and purify.