Among the many world cultures, I find Native American history to be the richest and most profound of all. Deeply rooted in the great land that makes up the United States, their culture and practices are the foundation of our American civilization. Much is credited to Native American history and traditions. Many of their practices we still use today (think moccasins, teepees or dream catchers) but others are unfamiliar and worth exploring.
Continuously aware of the spirit world and connected to the purity, symbolism and value of each nature element, Native Americans believed in the worth of life—most importantly the manner in which one conducts his life.
As an immigrant who has grown up with a varied cultural background, I find the Native American culture both fascinating and mysterious. Although many of their practices could be viewed as religious, their ceremonies and rituals were very much a way of life. Their beliefs and traditions were an integral part of their being, much of which integrated with the way they led everyday activities such as hunting and relationships.
During my research I’ve come across Diane Simon, the owner of Nature’s For You. In her blog she introduced a simple yet powerful Native American cleansing technique. It caught my interest because even as a Catholic I’ve been able to relate to this ritual with the understanding of its sacredness and core purpose. When I asked Diane if this ritual can apply to anyone no matter their faith system, she explained, “I definitely believe and know that the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing can apply to absolutely anyone. I lived near two First Nations reserves in Ontario where I had a store from 2004 to 2009. I sold white sage and other supplies to many of their people. I also had the honor of becoming friends with a few of the woman elders and was invited to several full moon ceremonies where smudging was part of the ritual. An amazing thing was that most of the women there were just ordinary folk like me and not from the Reserve, nor Native American. I discovered that First Nations people are happy to share their knowledge with anyone and everyone.” The cleansing of an individual or sacred place is an invitation to be open to the mercy and blessings ready to come upon us. It is interesting to see how cultures and religious practices overlap in similarity even through a large span of differences.
The Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing, also known a Smudging, focuses on smoke attaching itself to negative energy and thus carrying it elsewhere. This shift of energy, from negativity to positive, is meant to alleviate the troubles of the mind, body and spirit or to purify an object or place. Smudging is often associated to cleansing the mind when it’s feeling depressed, attacked or angry. This practice, often associated with other Native American ceremonies, must be performed by a healer whose own energy, spirit and heart are cleaned cleansed from all negativity.
During the ritual sacred herbs and grasses are utilized. Smudge sticks, herbs bundled together, most commonly contain cedar, sage, sweetgrass, lavender and sacred tobacco, but in each smudging ceremonies there could be variations to the herbs used. White sage is often used to driving out negative energy and the main herb of this ritual. Sweetgrass is also very popular and is an important herb for the Sioux and Cherokee ceremonies.
The Smudging ritual resulted in immediate success for Diane and her family. When asked how long after the blessing she could sense a shift in energy, she shared some personal experiences. She said, “From my own personal experience, [the ritual worked] immediately. Years ago, my youngest daughter had taken to sleeping on the couch and not her bedroom anymore because she had had a bad dream. Months had gone by and we both agreed it was time for her to try to sleep in her own bed again. So we got rid of all the clutter and then smudged it with white sage afterwards, absolutely everywhere – under the bed, in the closet, opened the dresser drawers …And she was able to start sleeping in her room again that very night.”
It’s important to remember that an essential element of the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing is the intent of the healer. The direction of this process is based strongly on the purpose of the person conducting the ceremony—meaning, the positivity and balanced energy of the healer will enhance the success of the blessing.
The Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing has been an ancient tradition that is becoming popular in our society. When asked about the popularity it may be gaining, Diane was again very insightful. “I personally think it’s becoming more popular because more and more people are coming to realize that there is more to life than what we see with our eyes and that it’s more about energy – positive and of course its opposite – negative energy.” She continues, “Smudging is an easy simple way to truly get rid of any kind of negativity. Cleansing is the word traditionally used, but you can think of it as a shift in energy from any bits of negativity to a more positive, peaceful state – something we all need on a daily basis!”
To find more detail information about the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing, check out Diane’s Smudging Page, where you can find step by step instructions on cleansing, purchase herbs and much more.
Article published for Mind Key 9/29/15