The smoke from herbal incenses of all kinds has been used since
times to cleanse people and places, and as offerings to deities,
spirits, and non-physical forces.

The term "Smudging" has come into common usage within
Shamanism; and approaches influenced by this; largely through
its Native
American derivations. Native American cultures, beliefs and
practises hold much appeal- they are strongly earth orientated
respecting, and express an underlying philosophy which is very
earth related. Hence the use of various herbal incenses has
commonly known as "Smudging". However, herbal incenses have been
used in
sacred ways by all peoples all around the world for millennia,
and so
this is an ancient and widespread traditional practise.

For example Neolithic, Celtic, Scythian, Norse, Anglo-Saxon and
Germanic peoples are known to have used herbal mixtures which
they would
throw onto a fire or onto hot rocks within a Sweat Lodge so that
could bathe and purify themselves in the resultant fragrant

 ‘Smudge’ is generally used in two ways: Either as a bundle of
herbs held together with twine which is ignited at the end,
blown out
and allowed to smoulder, or else as loose dried and
semi-powdered herbs
and other materials which are burnt on charcoal blocks in a dish
earth or sand. Native peoples sometimes take coals from a wood
fire, put
that into a dish and sprinkle ‘Smudge’ onto those so that it
and smokes. ‘Smudge’ sticks are also sometimes known as ‘Smudge
I find that though bundles and wands are good, there is a danger
small, smouldering bits falling off onto people, furniture or
most distracting. Whichever way you smudge, do be careful.

To Smudge is to purify and cleanse yourself, and to make contact
the spirits- however you conceive them to be. From this we can
see that
Smudging is a powerful but simple way to use ceremony of
connection and
grounding in ones life. Smudging is also prayer- many native
consider that the smoke of the smouldering smudge mix is taken
by the
spirits in good ways, and if you make such offerings then the
will know you and want to help you in your life. There is a
that one should only ask for ‘Help & healing’ through ceremony
of this
kind, and so if you need help with problems, need guidance or
or ask for healing for yourself or others, then it is fine to
ask the
spirits for their help in these ways.

Many Smudge mixtures just use herbs that are sacred to Native
such as Plains Sage, Cedar, Sweet Grass, or even Lavender now.
These can
be bought commercially, or grown and dried for yourself. Most
of Native American crafts sell Smudge mixtures, and they are
obtainable. If you as I seek to set such wisdom within the
spirit of my
own land, you can also use other herbs such as Rosemary, Mugwort
true Sage as they have strong healing and purifying
associations, or you
can research herbs to use that have been traditionally used in
this way
in Britain so as to connect with this in good ways.

Smudging is simple:

You need:-

Smudge mix..
Charcoal discs to burn it on. Means to ignite the charcoal disc-
lighter is best for this as sometimes they can be long-winded to

A dish with sand in on which to place the smouldering charcoal,
or to
rest your Smudge stick/wand in.
Good spirit/intentions.

Having gathered all of these things, you simply need to make
comfortable, light the charcoal disc and ‘Smudge’.

A good way to approach this is to start by offering the smoke to
each of
the four compass directions in turn, and then to the heavens
above, and
the earth below. Then follow this by wafting the smoke over
yourself so
as to purify yourself and your body. You can also waft the smoke
the room you are in so as to purify that as well. In what order
you do
this is really a matter of personal predilection- some people
smudge the
place, then the people, and then make directional offerings, and
prefer to smudge to the directions first. Perhaps if you are new
smudging you might like to try  different ways and see what
feels right
for you.

Many people use a special Fan or feather for moving Smudge smoke
as it helps to be able to direct it by fanning. How you feel is
best is
best in this, but you will find that a fan or feather does work
than using your hand alone.

Smudge smoke is cleansing, purifying and healing. Many people
that on its own it is sufficient for minor healing and balancing
and I must say that if I am unsettled or indecisive about
something, or
if my mind is troubled by problems, then a simple smudging
ceremony such
as I have outlined is often sufficient on its own to bring me
peace of
mind and calm. I have heard of people smudging troublesome
machinery and
suchlike, and indeed once used smudge on someone’s
recommendation with a
sporadically faulty photocopier- and it worked fine after that!
I feel
that the simple ritual itself, its quietness and connectedness
helps me,
but the fragrant smoke magnifies and focuses that, as well as
in spiritual power to help even more.

For healing also, and for people whom are bereaved, troubled by
relationships, and similar problems a simple smudging ceremony
brings balance and calm. Many Shamans use smudging as an
integral part
of more lengthy and complex healing rituals, and indeed it is
used in
this way by native cultures all around the world.

Smudging can also be used to cleanse and purify special items
such as
Crystals, Shamanic tools such as Rattles, Drums, Wands, etc, and
esoteric and magickal items. If you are involved in healing,
then you
can simply but powerfully cleanse yourself, your tools and your
that you use for such work. It’s good to do this before seeing a
and of course afterwards to shift any negativity or negative
energy that
may have been left behind. For this you would simply waft the
around the room, over yourself or other people, and pass items
such as
your Rattle through the smoke.

For me, the essential principle of all Shamanic techniques,
rituals and
ceremonies is simplicity. I therefore like to keep Smudging as
simple as
possible. I like to use special items within a simple ceremony;
such as
a Fan with a beaded handle, a carved wooden bowl to burn smudge
in, and
a special cloth on which to lay out the items I use; but
rhetoric in foreign languages holds no power for me at all-
along with
the inspiration that many people draw from Native American
wisdom comes
a feeling that words are more powerful if spoken within
ceremonies in
for example Lakota (Sioux), or even Gaelic for those with Keltic
inclinations. Well, for the Lakota, that language is their
everyday one,
and for me English is my everyday speech. The expression "All my
relatives" is as valid if spoken in English as it is if spoken
Lakota, and it certainly actually feels more so if spoken in the
language of my own native people. Each of course must make up
their own
minds in such as this, and indeed if you use such ceremonies as
a part
of your life, you will undoubtedly find that guidance for what
do to and
how to do it will proceed from that.

Incidentally, "Sage" as used by Native Americans is a member of
Artemisia family, and not Sage as we know it in Britain- Salvia
American "Sage" is a relative of Mugwort, Southernwood, and
which are ingredients in Native British herbal 'smudge' mixes as
from at least the Middle Ages. So any of those would make
indigenous alternatives to use in smudge mix.