Shamanic smudging or just 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.
To define it more clearly, shamanic smudging is the burning of herbs
or incense for cleansing, purification, protection of physical and
spiritual bodies, banishment of negative energies and creation of
sacred space. You can use smudge sticks (herbs that are tied into a
bundle for easier handling), braided herbs and botanicals (like
sweetgrass) or loose herbs (burned on charcoal or mugwort, or in a
firepit). Shamanic smudging releases the energy and fragrance of the
herbs and botanicals so they can heal, cleanse and purify.
Smudging Four Directions
In many traditions, shamanic smudging involves a four directions
ceremony or prayer, which sends specific kinds of smoke or prayers
into the four directions. Different tribes have different smudging
prayers that program the smoke to do a specific action, such as
cleansing or aiding in divination.
In general, shamanic smudging can be used in daily life for practical
purposes: to restore physical, mental and emotional balance; to shield
against negative energies; to cleanse yourself, your magickal tools
and your space; and to restore you sacred space.
You can burn these common smudging herbs singly or in combination with
each other. One good combination that covers all four magical elements
of air, fire, water and earth is pine resin and sage (either desert
sage or white broadleaf sage). This combination is appropriate for
general use, cleansing, ceremony and ritual.
When to Smudge Yourself
Smudging yourself on a daily basis can be very helpful in keeping
yourself balanced and maintaining a peaceful state of being. However,
you should definitely use shamanic smudging techniques when youíve
been around people who are ill, depressed, fearful, angry or generally
emotionally unbalanced; before meditating to create a calm state of
being; when youíre feeling blue or depressed; or when youíve been
under a lot of stress.
Smudging yourself is easy. If you're using a smudge stick, light the
smudge stick on a candle flame. Hold the stick in the flame until
there is a lot of smoke and the stick is burning well (thatís why a
candle is better than a matchóit can take a while to get the stick
really smoking). Using a feather (or feather fan) or your hand, gently
fan the smoke onto your body, starting at the top of the body and
moving downward. Get the back of your body as best you can (it is
often easier to use a smudge pot and loose herbs for this). When
you're done, inhale a little of the smoke (just a little!) to purify
If you're using a smudge pot or firebowl and loose herbs, light the
herbs (using self-lighting charcoal, not the barbeque kind!) until it
is smoking well. Then, put the firebowl on the ground and stand over
it with your legs spread and feet on either side. Weave back and forth
in the smoke until you have been thoroughly cleansed. Clothing is
optional for this approach, and smudging in the nude is recommended
for a more thorough cleansing. Again, when you're done, inhale a
little of the smoke to purify your insides. People often feel more
relaxed, lighter and brighter after smudging.
If you're going to use the smudge smoke during meditation, use a
charcoal burner or firebowl, light the herbs and enjoy the scent and
smoke as you meditate. Meditating with these herbs often produces a
deeper and longer-lasting state of relaxation and contemplation.
Love and Light