With the discovery of fire, early humans began to notice that aromatic smoke was produced by burning dried plants. As herbs, roots, resins and barks are changed from their physical form (of this world), they are changed by the element of fire into smoke (spirit world form). This transformation is evidence of the spirit within substances. Throughout human history aromatic plants have been used in the daily activities of people from every culture.
The act of smudging is done with a smudge bowl or Abalone Shell with the appropriate herbs directly lit or burned on a coal or Charcoal Tablet. When using charcoal tablets, the bowl or shell should be filled with sand or a flat stone to prevent overheating the container. Smudging is also done with herbs tied in bundles called Smudge Sticks. In either case the smoke is ‘washed’ over the person or object with a Feather or by fanning the smoke with one’s hand.
To do a blessing of a person, begin by looking into the eyes of the person for a moment to ‘greet’ them, fan the smoke first at their heart and then up to the right side (your left) of the person’s head, moving around clockwise (sun-wise), gently washing them with the smoke. Continue brushing smoke down over their left shoulder and the length of their arm and back up again to the shoulder. Wash the smoke down the left side of the torso, left leg and foot. Now smudge the right foot, up the left leg, torso and down the length of the right arm and back up to the shoulder. Now turn the person around, turning to their right (sun-wise again) and repeat these movements as you smudge and bless the person’s back. For objects, bless them moving sun-wise around them also.
Smudging in the Seven Directions
- Facing East – I welcome the energy of the beginning way, the rising sun at the beginning of the day and the light of illumination. Welcome Eagle, flying nearest the heavens, with the clearest of vision. I welcome the energies and spirits of the East.
- Facing South – I welcome the energy of service to all my relatives, the heat of the noonday sun and the spirit of action in the world. Welcome Coyote spirit. I welcome the energies and spirits of the South.
- Facing West – I welcome the energy of looking within to find the gifts of healing. Welcome Bear spirit going deep within to seek the gift of renewal. I welcome the energies and spirits of the West.
- Facing North – I welcome the energy of wisdom and blessing and the Grandmothers and Grandfathers who teach me. Welcome Buffalo and the spirit of giveaway, teach me to be generous and honor all that I receive. I welcome the energies and spirits of the North.
- Looking up – I welcome the energy and spirit of Above. Father Sky, Star people, and Cloud people. Welcome all that is masculine, grandfathers, fathers, brothers, uncles and sons. And that masculine energy that also exists within the feminine. I welcome the energies and spirits of Father Sky.
- Looking down (touching the ground) – I welcome the energy of Mother Earth, the feminine principle, the energy and spirit of Below. I welcome the energy and the spirit of our grandmothers, our mothers, sisters, aunties and daughters. And that feminine energy that exists within the Masculine. I welcome the energies and spirits of Mother Earth.
- Looking within (holding your hands over your heart) – I welcome the energy of Within, the principle of being connected, the energy and spirit of Within. I welcome the gifts of balance, oneness, and the connection with all things, for all things are one and all things are related.