To smudge is to pray. When we, as Indigenous people, burn our medicines, we are praying. While I cannot speak for all Indigenous nations, generally our spirituality encompasses Creator, Grandmother moon, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth. Likewise, we attribute much spirituality to the animals - especially the Eagle.
The context behind the Eagle parallels with the spirituality of smoke from our burning medicines, sacred fires and pipes. That is, smoke goes up and the Eagle is the animal that flies the highest. What can travel closest or to the Spirit World or Sky World is sacred and is used as a connection to communicate our prayers of gratitude, worries and intentions.
To smudge is to wash away residual negative effects of thoughts and behaviours by you or those you surround yourself with.
While we should always aim to walk our path practicing seven teachings: respect, honesty, bravery, wisdom, love, humility, truth - sometimes we are presented with challenges that make us deviate from our path. Sometimes we create the challenges and other times the people we surround ourselves present us with challenging actions and words.
To smudge is to renew and refresh; from sickness. Sickness is manifested in many ways; physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. It is taught that one type of illness is a result of not being healthy in the one or all of the other 3 ways. For example, if you are physically ill, it comes from not being spiritually, mentally and emotionally healthy.
Negative energies can come from you (anxiety, stress, worry) or it can come to you from others. Negative energies can also come from the spirit world as I've been told, but it is in our translation of those energies that we become the carriers of the negativity.
Teachings on both the medicine wheel and seven Grandfather teachings differ from community to community. Do your research from your own territory, consult your Elders. If you do not have connections to your own territory, use traditional and authentic teaching resources to the best of your ability and adapt them to suit your needs. Walk in a kind way, respect others, be honest and speak the truth, love everyone you encounter and most of all, love yourself and remain humble.
South | Sweetgrass | Emotional Health
Burning sweetgrass is aromatic, calming and comforting, promoting emotional health and sits in the south. It reminds us of community; the love, kindness and kinship that we should have for ourselves and others. It is the sacred hair of Mother Earth - one strand if fragile but a braid of it is strong and unbreakable; unity and respect.
Choose your medicines well and with care. Respect the medicines.
Our practice of smudging is not to be confused with what is done in many Pagan and New Age communities - that is where the definition has been adopted and modified.
It is my personal opinion that if you are doing something with good intentions and your actions do not cause physical, mental, spiritual or emotional to you or others, continue.
Burning any of Creator's medicines (plants) should be done carefully and with some authentic knowledge given to you by a knowing source.
This practice is not for sale, neither is Creator's medicines. Medicines are not to be wasted or overused. Keep them sacred.