In preparation for our new moon ritual, we wanted to make our own smudge sticks. If you’re unfamiliar with smudging, it’s an Indigenous ceremony for purifying or cleansing the soul with the burning of sacred medicines like sage, tobacco, sweetgrass and cedar.
First off, we are not of Indigenous background, nor have we been trained by an Indigenous elder. As a result, we’ve done our best to link to a number of resources from those within the Indigenous culture as part of this post. We also welcome any feedback via the post comments or email (via our contact page).
If you’re interested in smudging, we recommend learning more about it before you get started. This video from Edler Lawrence Wells from Membertou, First Nation talks about the significance of smudging and is a great introduction.
We’ve also shared a slightly condensed excerpt from the Canadian Encyclopedia below that outlines the intentions and benefits of smudging:
Smudging serves a variety of functions in different Indigenous cultures. As a ritual event, it is considered significant to spiritual and theological beliefs. Smudging connects people to the Creator and provides communities with a way to gain spiritual protection and blessings, as well as to improve spiritual health. The smoke created by burning sacred herbs is thought to purify the body and soul, and bring clarity to the mind. In this way, smudging is also used to cleanse places said to hold negative energy. Consequently, smudging was (and still is) performed during times of crisis, ill health and death. Smudging is also practised to restore the physical self. Associated with targeted parts of the body, such as the head, feet, back and sensory organs, smudging provides the whole body with a renewed sense of self.
The reason we chose to make our own smudge sticks for our new moon ritual is that there are so many retailers that sell smudge sticks that aren’t ethically sourced, or are sold in a manner that isn’t respectful to the Indigenous culture. For example, Sephora’s “Starter Witch Kit” which included a bundle of white sage (which has since been pulled from shelves due to protests from the Indigenous community).
You can use one or a combination of the below items:
- Mint flowers
- Blue Spruce
- Cotton string
- Paper clips
How to make smudge sticks:
- Gather a bunch of one type of herb or combination of herbs.
- Position the herbs so they’re all at the same level as one another.
- Wrap the herbs in the cotton string. Tie a knot at the bottom of the bundle to bind it together.
- Start wrapping the bundle from the bottom up, tucking in the herbs along the way. Once you get to the top, continue wrapping towards the bottom, criss-crossing on your way down.
- Once you’ve reached the bottom, cut the string and tie it to the original string at the bottom.
- Open up a paperclip and open it up to an “S” position. Tuck it in to the string for easy hanging.
- For best results, hang your fresh smudge stick and allow at least 3 weeks drying time.
How to smudge:
The below is an excerpt from a blog post on smudging from the Indigenous Corporate Training Inc:
During a smudge, plant leaves or stems are placed in a container and ignited (preferably with a wooden match). The flames are then gently blown out and the smoke, which heals the mind, heart and body, is wafted over the person, either by hand or with an eagle feather. The person being smudged pulls the smoke to them and gently inhales it. The ashes traditionally are returned to mother earth by disposing them outside on bare soil – it is believed that the negative thoughts and feelings have been absorbed by the ashes. A person can smudge themselves, or, someone can lead a smudge by holding the container (like a glass or clay bowl) and directing the smoke over others.
We sipped on the most incredible cocktail while making our smudge sticks: the cedar sour. It’s made with cedar infused rye and it tastes like a sauna. It will have you looking forward to burning that cedar in your smudge sticks.
New Moon Ritual
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