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. In Catholicism the use of incense is likened to one’s prayer being kindled by fire in the heart, spoken by the lips resulting in the odor of Christ on the breath.
As time has passed, this connection between people and plants is being forgotten. We are drifting further and further away from the ways that connect us to the plant and animal spirits we share the earth with. We are losing our understanding of the physical things around us connect us to the spirit of life. People native to Turtle Island (The Americas) understand that the influence of plant medicine is very real in their daily lives.
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.