Go Smudge Yourself?

Image by @bettyalexandra

The act of smudging has mostly been historically documented from a non-POC perspective. The word “smudging” is technically a colonial word and its better and more accurate to call it Cleansing or Purifying Herbs.

Even with this shift in relabeling, Cleansing Herbs are still viewed by many as a woo woo witch doctor sham. Using a bundle of herbs to cleanse a room or space around a person has and still is being used by many different indigenous groups around the world. They each have their own name for the cleansing herb ritual as well as their own geographically selected herb bundle and their own reasons for using each selected herb.

The most famous cleansing herb is White Sage {Salvia apiana} not to be confused with cooking sage {Salvia officinalis}, native to Southern United States / Mexico and according to the United Plant Savers is on the watch list for going extinct. Most recently, Palo Santo from South American also started to get popular and also said to be over harvested. There ARE alternatives we can all use like Mugwort, Cedar, Rosemary and Pine. The truth is each use of cleansing herbs was based on the plants that grew around you, not what you can get online. So its best to use the ones native to where you live and EVEN better, grow them!

Politically speaking, Canada, in an attempt to redress historical practices of assimilation, have established policies that support Indigenous traditions. Specifically allowing public schools to offer cleansing herb practices to their majority indigenous student body AS WELL as allowing the use of cleansing herbs in public spaces or even your own rented apartment.

But at the end of day, do Cleansing Herb rituals actually work?

Well, a comprehensive study was done on mixtures of odoriferous and medicinal herbs. It was published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health and they concluded that:

“using medicinal smoke, it IS possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.”

What they observed was the cleansing herbs had the ability via smoke to purify and disinfect the air by a 94% reduction of the airborn bacteria. It also had the ability for the smoke to make the environment cleaner for up to 24 hours in a closed room.

This is a great example of “modern western science” catching up with indigenous wisdom. All of our blends have the same result if you use as a smoke, tea or as a cleansing herb. The blends are formulate to evoke a specific energy, so if you inhale them in a spliff or while sprinkling them over a heated coal, the effects will be the same. The ones I highly suggest is CENTER for balancing the energy of a room or person, CALM for de-escalating stress, REVIVE for “cabin fever” in the winter and SYNC for inspiring creativity.

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