Indigenous peoples have always used the plants as nourishment and as medicines. The plants have kept us alive for tens of thousands of years. The knowledge of the plants sometimes came to people in dreams or visions. As well, the knowledge of medicinal practices was honed down by daily use and results throughout the millenniums. The teachings on plants are so accurate that many of the traditional uses of plants are the basis of modern pharmaceuticals.
Smudging botanicals – Sage & Sweetgrass
There are many varieties of sage, and most have been used in smudging. The botanical name for true sage is Salvia (e.g. Salvia officinalis, Garden Sage, or Salvia apiana, White Sage). It is interesting to note that Salvia comes from the Latin root ‘salvare’, which means “to heal”.
Sage is burned in smudging ceremonies to drive out bad spirits, feelings, or influences, and also to keep bad spirits from entering the home or special area.
To do a smudging ceremony, burn the bundle of sage, rub your hands in the smoke, and then gather the smoke and bring it into your body, especially onto any area you feel needs spiritual healing. Keep praying all the while that the unseen powers of the plant will cleanse your spirit. Seek out an Elder for guidance.
The lesson sweetgrass teaches us is kindness. When sweetgrass is walked upon, it bends, but does not break. One of the lessons of sweetgrass is that when someone does an injustice or hurts us, we are to return it with kindness; as does the sweetgrass, by bending, not breaking when it is walked upon. It is often referred to as the hair of our mother, the earth.
It is good to burn sweetgrass to bring in the good spirits and good influences. It is a ritual cleansing that promotes the healing of the mind, body, and spirit. The burning medicine stimulates our brains to produce beta-endorphins, which are part of the normal healing process of our bodies. Burning sweetgrass while praying send prayers up to the Creator in the smoke. Seek out an Elder for guidance.
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