Native American Smudging Ceremonies and Rituals
Native Americans posses a profound respect for mother earth and for using the gifts of the earth on their path for physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. Native Americans use fragrant natural herbs like sage, sweetgrass, juniper, cedar and pine/pinion needles to help cleanse and clear the air of negative influences and attract positive energy.
Native Americans find that sage, when properly and safely burned, helps to rid a space of negative energy. Native Americans tightly tie and dry sage into bundles known as smudge sticks. Though a different technique is needed to burn and keep smudge sticks burning, smudge sticks are considered a form of incense. The process of burning the smudge stick is known as smudging. Lavender, Sweetgrass, Juniper Needles and Cedar Leaves can also be combined into smudge sticks. Each botanical is believed to help ward off negativity, clear the air and/or attract positive energy.
When purchasing smudge sticks, particularly those consisting of White Sage (Salvia apiana), it's very important that you ensure that you are purchasing sustainably sourced smudge sticks. There are growing incidents of white sage being illegally wildharvested without proper permit, causing a dramatic reduction in the population of this sacred plant. For more information, read What is going on with White Sage? by Susan Leopold, Executive Director of United Plant Savers.
Sweetgrass is also commonly used by Native Americans. It is thought to cleanse a room, ground it, and make the space sacred. Unlike smudge burned in bundles, sweetgrass is generally braided into sections that are approximately 12" in length.
It goes beyond the scope of AromaWeb to provide the depth of coverage needed to discuss smudging rituals in detail or all of the plants that are used. For more information, I recommend the books Sage & Smudge: The Ultimate Guide by Diane Ronngren and Sacred Smoke by Harvest McCampbell.
Exploring the Benefits of Sage and Sweetgrass without Burning Them as Smudge
Both white sage and sweetgrass are available as hydrosols. Hydrosols can be lightly misted in a room in place of smudging.