What is smudging – Native American

The ancient tradition of smudging has been a way that people have been cleansing, healing and welcoming into their homes for centuries. It is one of the most significant rituals of native american culture that is still practiced today. In this article, we’ll learn about the history of smudging and what it means to its practitioners.

What is Smudging

Smudging is a ceremony that can be found in many cultures. Some practices may include burning sacred medicines or prayer while others may differ. The practice generally involves praying or other actions such as burning plants to cleanse, purify, and bless the area or participants. While colonialism has repressed such traditions, the practice of smudging has survived to the present day.

The word “smudging” comes from  “smudge,” which is English in origin. However, the term has been used widely to refer to the smudging ceremonies of Indigenous peoples, in which sacred herbs and medicines are burned as part of a ritual, or for cleansing or health purposes. In addition, Indigenous peoples have their own terms and phrases for smudging, including atisamânihk (Cree for “at the smudge”) and nookwez (Ojibwe for “smudge medicinally”).

How is smudging practiced? 

Although many Native American Indians have their own, independently developed smudging rituals, the ceremonies all share very similar teachings. For example, everything about a smudging ceremony requires a vessel to contain the medicinal herbs. Examples of permissible vessels include special containers, shells and/or a “smudge stick” that burns. The smoke from the smudge stick is said to produce healing power and properties. The person holds the feathers or uses their hand as they guide the smoke across their body toward the burning herb container. They inhale and exhale as they practice this ancient spiritual act. 

When a room or place is being smudged, the smoke is directed around the location. The person conducting the ceremony prays for negative energy to leave and for positive energy to remain. The ashes of the burned medicinal herbs are not discarded in a typical garbage receptacle; rather, they are put outside, onto the earth. This signifies that negative energy is placed outside of our lives.

Smudges can be performed by average citizens when they feel the urge, and they are especially common during a prayer.

The purpose of smudging

In Indigenous cultures, the act of smudging is often significant in spiritual and theological beliefs. Burning herbs over a fire purifies the body and soul and provides clarity of mind. Indigenous people also use smudging to help cleanse places said to hold negative energy, as well as to improve spiritual health during times of crisis, ill health or death.

Smudging is used as part of ceremonial practices for people who identify with Indigenous culture. People believe that burning herbs creates a cleansing smoke that purifies, cleanses, or infuses places said to create negative energy. 

Smudging is also conducted to restore physical health For example, ojibwe teachings advocate smudging the head to provide a renewed sense of self, while smudging the back causes a release of troubles that can weigh one down. Smudging in the ears, eyes and mouth improves hearing and brings better visual and language skills.

We hope you found this short introduction into What is smudging – Native American, if you are looking to try some native American smudge sticks make sure to check out our store. 

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