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Sacred Smudging

May you walk through the world, and know it's beauty all the days of your life. 
- Apache Blessing
Clear Your Energy and Lift Your Spirits With the Sacred Art of Smudging

There is something primordial within us that connects smoke with spirituality. In Native American tradition, it’s seen as a bridge to the higher realms, a way to bring in good spirits and dispel the negative or stagnant ones. The most common smoke-purification ritual used by the northern tribes is a technique called smudging. This practice (or some variation of it) is embraced by almost every one of the native cultures we’ve worked with in the western hemisphere. 

When we see a unique method used by different tribes across multiple continents or land masses, it’s a strong indication that it yields very real physical and/or spiritual benefits.

Smudging can help combat negativity, clear the energy in your field, and help you start anew. Smudging is an ancient ceremony in which you burn sacred plants, such as sage, to allow the smoke to clear and bless a space.


Native Shamans

For insight into the ancient art of smudging, healer and singer Grandmother Wapajea Walks on Water—with lineage from the Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee tribes—shares her sacred way.

Grandmother Wapajea says, “The goal of smudging is to make a place clear of lingering energy that is different from what you may be intending for that space. You want to prepare the space for ceremony, the way you would clean your house, cook, and decorate when your family comes for a holiday. We are welcoming Great Spirit, angels, and ancestors to come and share clean space with us as well.”

What you use to clear a space depends on your location and what plants you have access to. Grandmother Wapajea says that people on the East Coast use tobacco, cedar, sweet grass, juniper, pine needles, deerstongue, cypress, and sage. Out west they use tobacco, pinion, desert sage, sweet grass and Palo Santo.

“My family uses sage and cedar to purify, tobacco to send our prayers to the Chihowa, and sweet grass to attract angels and sweet-spirited ancestors. We also use sweet grass to bring ease to a space when we need to discuss something that is difficult to say,” Grandmother Wapajea says.

Tools for Smudging

  • Sage or other sacred plants listed above. Sage represents the earth element and when burned, the smoke from it represents the air.

  • Abalone shell. This is meant to hold and burn the plants. The shell represents the water element.

  • Candle, matches, lighter. These represent the fire element.

  • Feather. This represents the air element. (Any feather will do - Eagle feathers are federally protected).

  • Drum(s) or sacred drumming music, which represent the beat of the heart.

For indigenous people Great Spirit is in all of nature and creation, each thing representing a different aspect of divinity and sacredness. Therefore they honor the elements, and all natural things, from plants and minerals, to animals and people.






























Tips for Smudging

The art of smudging is a sacred act and Grandmother Walks on Water says these are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Hold sacredness and respect when connecting with the plant people who help you in this ceremony and when you pray.

  2. Remember and honor your ancestors with good deeds.

  3. Honor the divine by caring for what the Great Spirit has created.

  4. See the divine Mother in everything. Women are the embodiment of Great Spirit’s creation on Earth, thru the gift of birth, so women are holy. We are all from the same womb.

  5. Everything is related to everything; nothing is random.

  6. Caring for creation is everyone’s responsibility.

  7. This will is not religion; this is love.


The Smudging Process

Often, smudging involves a four-direction ceremony. 

Clear your space of clutter and open up windows and curtains to allow for clean air to enter. Light the end of your sage stick on fire (or other herbs) then blow out the fire so there is smoke, actively flowing, and then fan the smoke with your feather, or hands, around your body and anyone else in your space.

Clearing Your Body

Smudging is not only for spaces; it’s also for clearing your body, mind, and spirit of any negativity, stagnation, or energetic disturbances within or surrounding you. Make sure to invite the sacred smoke around your body from head to toe and front to back before smudging your space.


Wapajea’s Smudging Process

  • “We start in the East where the sun rises, and brings us the opportunity to begin again with each new day. This is Breath

  • We go to the South and honor our creativity, our children, the child in us, our playfulness, joy, and hope.  This is Earth.

  • We go to the West where the sun goes down, and the blackness of introspection begins when the day is done. This is Water.

  • We go to the North where our rest awaits us. Knowledge, stamina, compassion, silence. This is Fire.

  • We use a feather to fan the sacred smoke in each direction, one drums, one sings, one dances, one prays, until we have circled back to the east.”

A Smudging Prayer

May your hands be cleansed,
that they create beautiful things.

May your feet be cleansed, that they might
take you where you most need to be.

May your heart be cleansed, that you might
hear its messages clearly.

May your throat be cleansed, that you might
speak rightly when words are needed.

May your eyes be cleansed, that you might
see the signs and wonders of the world.

May this person and space be washed clean
by the smoke of these fragrant plants.

And may that same smoke carry our prayers,
spiraling, to the heavens.

May this person and space be washed clean
by the smoke of these fragrant plants.

And may that same smoke carry our
prayers, spiraling, to the heavens.

Using charcoal when Smudging - How to Guide

You can alternate between resins and botanicals during burning session, filling your space with cleansing and healing from sacred smoke. 

When smudging for sacred smoke, you can use a smudge stick for a faster session, or use a dish and charcoal for a longer session or when a long burn and lots of smoke is desired.   

You will need:

Fireproof container, charcoal disc, lighter, tongs, salt or sand, resin or incense.

Fill your fireproof container with a small mound salt or sand to ensure your charcoal will not get burned.  

Holding as much charcoal as you will need with tongs (one disc will burn for approx 1 hour), lite charcoal, and set onto mound of salt or sand.  Place charcoal with curve side down and indention side up.  This creates a well for your incense to burn. Wait for charcoal to get white hot, this can be between 4 to 8 minutes, depending on size of charcoal.

Place incence into charcoal well and allow to burn, trying not to overload charcoal.  The more incense you add, the more smoke you receive.  

Once finished with session, extinguish responsibly - pour additional salt over charcoal, or run remaining charcoal under water.  

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