As long as time has existed for the Aboriginal, smudging, (purifying), with the four sacred herbs has been a part of their lives & rituals. Not only is it used by us but by people of other teachings as well. So many of our teachings are similar that we all hold a kinship to each other in this.
To smudge is, shall I say, an awakening of the mind & spirit. It creates an atmosphere of peace, tranquility & harmony amongst those who participate in a smudging cerimony. My children & I perform this cerimony regularly to bring about calmness of spirit, drive out negative thoughts & feelings, bring about unity in our family & ourselves. Even before bed, many times we will bring out what is needed & quietly honour each other & the Creator with the Sacred herbs. Because of life's pressures, I always take my herbs, medicine bag & bowl with me when I travel.
I would like to teach here what those herbs are, what they are used for, & about the smudging cerimony itself. One doesn't have to be Aboriginal nor Wiccan to perform this rite. Honour & love come from within, not what we believe or who we are.
The four Sacred herbs, as we believe are the gifts given us by the Spirits of the four directions. They are sweetgrass, sage, tobacco & cedar. Each herb has a place in the rite & they also have their own healing properties, whether it be for the physical, the mind or the spirit.
Tobacco ( real tobacco) represents the Eastern direction & the mind, because it opens the door to the Creator.Tobacco used in the cerimonies is of a different species.This plant is also used as an offering when planting, fishing or other activities. It is the most sacred of the native plants. The use of tobacco was originally not intended as it is today. It was revered as sacred & kept that way. Use of tobacco in the cerimonies invokes a relationship with the energies of the universe & the Creator.
We believe that the smoke that rises carries our prayers & thanksgivings to the Creator & to our ancestors whom have gone before us.
Cedar represents the Southern direction & the soul.It is also a healing herb that is very powerful when used correctly.
It works as a purifier & a way to attract good energies to yourself.
Cedar has a tradition of being used as a purifier in meditaton.
Sage represents the Western direction in our teachings.White sage is the best for smudging & can be used as a singular leaf, combined with the other four herbs or in a sage smudging stick. All ways are acceptable. When ever I hang a new dreamcatcher in a room I always smudge it with the herbs to cleanse it & make it pure, creating only good energies. Sage is also used in the healing arts The dried plant is usually braided but can be used also in pieces in a bowl mixed with other herbs or shell.
Sweetgrass is of the Northern direction & represents the body. The smell of sweetgrass is utterly soothing as it burns, literally creating an atmosphere of peace. I use his herb all the time. It has the ability to dispel any negativity, sadness or emotional upset. I can speak from experience here as many times I have turned to this herb to help me. It has never failed me yet.
When using sweetgrass in smudging, the proper way to do it is to fan the smoke, first to the heart, secondly to the mind for cleansing, thirdly fan it around the body to purify your whole being & lastly return to your heart. Sweetgrass is sometimes tied & worn on dancers regalia in the dances. Braiding the herb not only makes it easier to use but represents unity as opposed to division.
As I was about to write this artical, I had just finished lighting incense, & preparing myself for the task ahead. As I did, I noticed a morning dove perched on my window not four feet in front of me, peacefully cooing to herself. This may not mean much to alot of people, but to me as an Aboriginal, it was as if the dove came with her symbol of peace for a blessing on what I was about to do.
We all have our teachings & beliefs. Whether it was as it appeared or not, it was still a comfort & encouragement to me.