Thursday, 12 May 2011
Smudging has been used since ancient times by many people as a ceremony of purification.
It can be made of a variety of fragrant plant materials. Among the plants used for smudge are tobacco, sweetgrass, calamus, red willow bark, red osier dogwood, cedar needles and probably the most popular amongst witches - sage.
The chosen plant material should be dried and tied into bundles with cotton string or any other natural plant fiber. Perhaps use four colours of string to honor the four directions or three colours to represent trinity, or just black to represent banishing. Or the material can be crumbled, cut or coarsely ground and stored in a container that prevents the loss of the aromatic oils that give sage its characteristic fragrance.
If you are using the herb loose a natural container is needed to hold the mixture as it burns or smolders. Some prefer a large shell, others use an earthenware bowl or a hollowed rock or your cauldron.
You will need a way to fan the embers to keep them burning. In some traditions, it is considered disrespectful to blow upon the smudge with one's breath. You can use your hand to sweep air into the embers, but a feather or a fan are much more effective. If you are using a smudge stick, bound with string you can hold it in your hand.
You can use this ceremony to purify and cleanse people, places and things. Smudging brings an awareness of the sacred and should be performed with sensitivity and respect.
Offer the smoke to the four directions--East, South, West and North. Cleanse yourself by drawing the smoke over your head, over each shoulder, and over your heart. If you also want to, with the help of another, you can be cleansed under each foot, along your legs and across your back. Sacred space can be smudged before it is entered by others or at the beginning of the ceremony. Pass through the smoke whatever ceremonial instrument you wish to use – a wand, an athame, your hands.
When the ceremony is complete, the ashes should be totally burned (avoid using more than you will need) and respectfully returned to Mother Earth, perhaps at the base of a tree, a shrub, or rock. Never dump the ashes into the rubbish or trash.
I regularly smudge my house with a sage smudge stick, I start at the heart of my home and work my way around each room, wafting the smoke into each corner, giving a blessing and asking that all negativity be removed and replaced with happiness and love.
Folk names – garden sage, red sage, sawge
Gender – masculine
Planet – Jupiter
Element – Air
Powers – immortality, longevity, wisdom, protection, wishes.
Magickal uses – Sage has been utilized to ensure a long life – sometimes even immorality. This is done by eating some of the plant every day, or at least in May, for:
He who would live for aye
Must eat sage in May
Sage is carried to promote wisdom, and the leaves are used in countless healing and money spells. To guard yourself against contracting the dreaded evil eye wear a small horn filled with sage.
If you desire to make a wish come true, write it on a sage leaf and hide it beneath your pillow. For three nights sleep upon it. If once your dream of what you desire your wish will be materialized; if not, bury the sage in the ground so that you do not come to harm.