- This event has passed.
March 2 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Many customs have been handed down from Native Americans to modern day people who appreciate such things, among them sweat lodges and totems, but one very well-known tradition still in wide use is the smudge stick. Interestingly, this practice is not limited to North American indigenous cultures, but appears all over the world in many widely varying cultures and times. Many religious and spiritual ceremonies and practices use the smoke from sage and other herbs as a means of purification and for other reasons. A basic approach to understanding these uses is the idea that the smoke from the burning of these natural, powerful substances has a power – the ability to root out and take away negative energies.
A smudge stick consists of dried sage and other herbs such as lavender, cedar, mugwort, and cilantro, tied together with twine or string in a bundle, usually small enough to hold in the hand. White sage has been the traditional herb used in purification rituals by Native Americans, and contemporary practices have added more aromatic herbs to the list. The main criterion for an herb to be used for this purpose is the fragrance – they give off a strong yet pleasing smell as they burn.
The word smudging is used to describe the use of a smudge stick in a ritual or ceremony, and is closely related to the use of incense in many spiritual traditions around the world. While purification is the primary power of smudging and the smoke produced by it, the symbolism of the rising smoke from incense is important even to established religions. Catholicism, for example, has a long tradition of using incense in masses and at other holy celebrations – it not only has a strong fragrance, but the visible smoke going up to heaven symbolizes the path the soul takes to heaven.