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Smudging and Sacred Medicines

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I just attended an amazing talk on Native Indian Herbal Medicines and Smudging, given my two very gifted Native Indian leaders. My knowledge of smudging, I thought was enough to get me through cleansing my home and myself and others. Little did I know how much more there was to it.

 

The Elders say that the Spirits like the aroma produced when we burn sacred medicines.

 

Many cultures and religions use sacred smoke made from the plant medicines. This is called smudging in Native America. Often incense is burned during rituals, both for purification and to symbolize the prayers of the worshiper, which are then carried to the Creator along the smoke.

 

In ancient Greece, smudging formed part of the rituals to contact the dead, following long periods of fasting and silence. Their sacred smoke was born out of sulfur and minerals in lieu of herbs to part the veil between the worlds of the living and form a bridge to the other world.

 

While much is written on the use of smudging to cleanse negative energy, one of its main purposes is to bring vision, aided by the sense of smell.Besides producing visions, smudging is used to purify tools and people before an important spiritual ceremony. It is also used to clear sacred space and open the soul before calling upon the Spirits and their healing powers.

 

There are Four major medicine plants; tobacco, sweet grass, sage and cedar that we natives use frequently in ceremonies.

 

TOBACCO (SEMAH)

Sacred tobacco is used to make smoke, is one of the most sacred of plants for Native people. It is said to be the main activator of all plants. It was given to us so that we can communicate with the Spirit world and when you use it, all things begin to happen. Going to ceremonies you would offer tobacco to the Elder leading those ceremonies along with an honoring gift. This announces your intention and the Elders may ask you of your intentions with this offering.

 

SWEET GRASS (WEENGUSH)

Sweet grass is the sacred hair of Mother Earth; its sweet aroma reminds people of the gentleness, love and kindness she has for the people; this is why Native people pick it and braid it in 3 strands representing love, kindness and honesty. Sweet grass is used for smudging and purification of the spirit; when Sweet grass is used in a healing or talking circle it has a calming effect. It is said that it attracts the good Spirit, so use it to call in the Spirit. It is also said that the braid represents; mind, body, spirit.

 

CEREMONIAL SAGE(SUKODAWABUK)

 

Sage is used in many different ways, it helps the people prepare for ceremonies and teachings. Because it is more medicinal and stronger than Sweet grass, it tends to be used more often in ceremonies, it also has physical healing properties, you can boil sage and drink it as a tea. Sage is for releasing what is troubling the mind and for removing negative energy, it is used for cleansing homes and sacred items.

 

Ceremonial use of Cedar (Keezhik)

Like Sage and Sweet grass, cedar is used to purify the home, it also has many restorative medicinal use. When mixed with sage for a tea, it cleans the body of all infections, cedar baths are also very healing. When cedar mixed with tobacco is put in the fire it crackles, this is said to call the attention of the Spirits to the offering that is being made. Cedar is used in sweat lodge and fasting ceremonies for protection, cedar branches cover the floor of many sweat lodges and some people make a circle of cedar when they are fasting. It is a guardian spirit and chases away the bad spirits.

 

Smudging has to take place every few days, because the protection from negative energies does not last very long.  Some people smudge everyday and if they are healing someone it has to be done after finishing the healing process.