Are you familiar with smoke medicine ceremonies? Perhaps, mostly as a result of geographical location, you may be more familiar with the sacred First Nations term “smudging.” Smoke medicine ceremonies are a traditional spiritual practice that have many different interpretations and are used by many cultures around the globe. The First Nations community in Canada refers to their sacred interpretation of smoke medicine as “smudging” and I would like to emphasize that this practice deserves the utmost amount of respect and acknowledgement as it is, by their own right, the First Nations culture’s revered medicine. “Smudging” is a term that this community holds dear to their hearts and it is not a word or a practice that should be used without respect or understanding of its history and the depth of meaning behind it’s existence.
Smoke medicine is a powerful and therapeutic tool that uses specifically chosen medicinal plants to help you enter into a different state of mind and which subsequently leads you into deeper parts of yourself (4). Michael (Mike Holmes Jr.) and I have had the astute honour of being introduced to smoke medicine from our dear friends and family who are members of the First Nations community. It has become a primary part of our own spiritual practices and as a result we included a smoke medicine ceremony on our wedding day as a tribute to the land that we were married on.
Michael and I also did a hand-fasting ceremony and welcomed all 4 elements on our wedding day. We were surrounded by the earth (we were at the centre of a forest in the Blue Mountain region and I was barefoot!), air (the warm breeze), water (we were married on the side of a river bank), and fire (I lit a candle to honour those who could not be with us, especially my grandfather who I was always closest with) which is important to me as I felt the need to be deeply connected as I said my vows. We used sweet grass as a part of our hand fasting ritual and a hand made white sage bundle that was gifted to us for our smoke medicine ceremony. We asked our very dear friends if they would do the honour of leading the smoke ceremony as we wanted the wedding space to be filled with clear, loving, and vibrant energy, and of course, we welcomed our ancestors as I know my grandfather wouldn’t have missed it even coming from the spirit world. Having the powerful scent of sacred white sage covering me from head to toe was the very last thing I remember before walking down the aisle and marrying my husband. The whole wedding was truly a powerful experience.
These unique and special details were incorporated into our wedding day as we truly believe that our bodies and environments are more than just physical entities. Everything, including us, the plants, animals, earth, and the stones, vibrate with an invisible energy and if you are able to connect to their frequencies it can be a powerful and enlightening experience (2).
If you are interested in learning more about smoke medicine and how you can incorporate the practice into your daily life, here are a few of my own personal tips:
1 - When I lead a ceremony, I always request that each person set a positive intention for themselves, the group, or the greater consciousness. Or, for beginners, simply picking a kind word and repeating it over to themselves may be easier. A word like “love” or “gentle” or
”peace” or “healing” can be very effective for deepening the experience. I encourage each person to focus on their word or intention and make it their mantra.
2 - By setting a positive intention and combining sacred herbals, negative energies can be cleared and the healing power of the sacred ceremony can bring balance and harmony between the physical and spiritual worlds. This practice is a beautiful way to bless and purify ourselves, special objects, and the land around us (1).
3 - Smoke medicine ceremonies can be done by using a variety of different medicinal plants including, tobacco, sweet grass, lavender, cedar, sage, and juniper.
4 - Understanding that what you take from the earth you must too give back. If smoke medicine is a practice that interests you, here is what I have been taught to do before taking from the earth. First you must ask permission from the plant if you can use it. I know this might sound silly but when you develop a connection to the plants you will find yourself easily talking and singing to them. I have spoken to many grandmothers that say when they sing to their plants they grow more abundantly - old wives tail? Perhaps, but I don’t think so - remember that plants have their own vibrational frequency too and are highly intelligent. Science has proven that plants are aware of their environment, they are highly adaptable, they communicate with one another and they have memories too! They are truly conscious species. Secondly, take time to understand the sacred ceremonial herbals that you are using. By learning about them you will quickly connect with them and see how much energy and knowledge the plants embody.
5 - Lastly, respect the plants as they are directly connected to the spirit world and are our greatest allies in healing ourselves, each other, and everything within Mother Earth.
Some very important things to note about smoke medicine and using plant medicine in general:
Being aware of the types of plants you are using is very important as the over harvesting of herbals can quickly become detrimental to the survival of that species. For example, white sage is a primary plant used in smudging ceremonies; however, as a result of its commercialism and ignorance from the consumer, it is quickly becoming over harvested and has been placed on the “watch list” for at risk species (3). Furthermore, white sage is one of 4 sacred medicines cherished by the First Nations community and should be respected accordingly.
xoxo Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes
Source 1 - http://ammsa.com/node/12407
Source 2 - https://powwow-power.com/smudging/
Source 3 - https://unitedplantsavers.org/species-at-risk-list/
Source 4 - http://www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/medicines.php