Cleansing is a very important part of the Native culture, and the most traditional way of doing this is by performing a smudge. Similar to bathing, which cleans your physical body, and fasting – which helps cleanse your internal system, smudging cleanses your spirit. There are many old teachings for the meaning of smudge ceremony, why it is important to smudge, and when you should perform this sacred act of cleansing your mind, body, and spirit.
Mother Earth has provided us with sacred medicines such as tobacco, cedar, sage, and sweet grass. Sacred tobacco is often used by Native American people as an offering in prayer, while cedar, sage, and sweet grass are commonly used for smudging and purification purposes. However, people of many ethnicities have adopted the smudge in their own lives. The cleansing ritual known as smudging involves smoke rising and carrying prayers to the Creator and lifting away negative energies and emotions. The smoke created as a result of burning the sacred plants is often used to purify areas, individuals requiring healing, healers, and objects used in ceremony. The smudging of traditional herbs is believed to balance energies as well as heal the mind, body, and spirit.
Smudging with Sweet Grass
In Native American culture, braided sweet grass is believed to attract good spirits, energies, and influences. Sweet grass, with its sweet aroma reminding people of the love, kindness, and gentleness provided by Mother Earth, is known to have a calming effect and is often used during talking circles and healings. We use sweet grass during smudging to call in the good Spirit.
Smudging with Cedar Cedar is burnt while praying to the creator in meditation, and also to bless a house before moving in as is the tradition in the Northwest and Western Canada. It works both as a purifier and as a way to attract good energy in your direction, it cleanses and chases away life-negative energies and beings.
Smudging with Sage Sage is believed drive out evil spirits, negative thoughts and feelings, and to keep negative entities away from areas where ceremonials take place. In the Plains sweat lodge, the floor of the structure is strewn with sage leaves for the participants to rub on their bodies during the sweat. Sage is also used in keeping sacred objects like pipes or Peyote wands safe from negative influence.