Smudging is a sacred tradition which has its roots and beliefs in the depths of time. A smudge stick consists of a bundle of dried herbs, especially sage. Small bundles of leaves are tied with a string or hide and then dried. Often, other herbs are also added. In the present-day procedures, herbs and spices like lavender, cedar, and cilantro are also used. When burnt, the smoke has a very strong, yet pleasant smell. This ritual is used as a powerful form of cleansing, and is an integral part of the native American tradition. Sage is a sacred herb which is said to drive out negative energies and thoughts, and also bad spirits and evil influences. Another herb that is used in this procedure is called sweet grass, which is said to have powers to attract positive energies. Burning smudge sticks is believed to help reinstate the balance in your life. It is an art of cleansing yourself and your environment. The ritual of using sacred smoke for purification is not restricted to native American herbs. The incense and herbal smoke mixtures have been used for thousands of years in different parts of the globe, including Asian countries like China and India, and also Europe and other western countries.
Making These at Home
For thousands of years, smudging has been a part of the native American tradition, however, it has now become popular everywhere. Given below is the method to make smudge sticks at home.
- Cut the sage branches 7 to 10 inches in length.
- Take a string measuring two and a half times the length of the branches that you have cut.
- Hold 2-3 branches, with the end or the base facing upwards and the tips pointing downwards, and your thumb in an upward position.
- Start by wrapping a small amount of string around the base in order to hold the branches together. Wrap it tightly and go downwards.
- Make sure the string is firm but not too tight. If the branches are tied too tight, they will not dry properly, and if they are too loose, they will fall apart when they dry. Hence, use the right amount of pressure.
- Move towards the tips of the branches. When you reach them, work backwards and continue tightening the string upwards to the base. This will give you a zigzag pattern.
- Now tie the two loose ends of the string at the base.
- Place the wrapped branch in the sheet of paper or sushi mat about a quarter way up, and roll the stick into the paper firmly. When the paper is used up, you have a smudge stick ready.
- As flat surfaces burn better, you can trim the edges of the sticks and make them flat.
- Use a flat basket or screen to dry them. It usually takes a week for drying herbs depending on their moisture content, and the surrounding temperature.
Remember that some plants may have toxic fumes. Do not burn herbs unless you have enough information about them. As this is a sacred ritual, people who make smudge sticks are encouraged to take the permission of the plant and thank it before plucking it--as a part of the procedure.