Smudging is used in many ways, such as, ceremony, in cleansing homes, before meetings and it can be done on your own. Smudging as a concept is like bathing in the medicines.
In practice you wave the smoke from the smudge over you as though you are washing away “dirt” or cleansing yourself. It is meant to create a safe space in which people can share freely and respectfully with one another.
In Anishnaabe tradition in this territory, according to the teachings of the Medicine Wheel the four sacred medicines that may be used in a smudge are tobacco, sweetgrass, cedar and sage. These medicines are gathered fresh in nature in a ritual where only what is necessary is taken and something is often given back. For example, a tobacco offering may be made in thanks.
The burned smudge is then offered back up to the earth when you are finished.
“I was afraid and nervous to try to smudge when I first got here because I thought I’d do it wrong. But I tried and felt better. Now I am really good at it, I think.” Child & Youth Client- Aged 6
Variations: You may also see medicine bundles instead of a bowl or shell with loose smudge. When smudging some prefer to light a sage stick and use the resulting smoke. The smoke then acts as the container in lieu of the shell and holds the smudger’s experiences as they practice a smudge.
All my Relations
Smudging as purification or healing practice is offered at Anishnaabe Kwewag Gamig Inc. in keeping with the practices of the Michi Saagiig, Anishnaabe (Ojibway) People of this territory. Smudging is considered a spiritual practice not to be confused with a religious practice. Many Indigenous Nations respect peoples’ right to their own religious and spiritual beliefs, while still allowing participation in a smudge.
In an Indigenous worldview, the power of talking, as well as, listening in a safe environment is important to creating healthy individuals and communities. Our experiences and memories shape us. In a circle, we can safely release and explore our emotions. Historically, the ancestors sat in a circle to talk things out. This is how problems were solved and healing could take place.
When smudging, one will place the grounded medicine in an abalone shell or smudge dish. Open the windows and light it carefully and let the smoke start to rise, as it carries your words to the Creator.
Using an Eagle feather (connection to the Creator) typically held in upright in your right hand, one will keep the smoke active. In a circle, the person who lights the smudge travels clockwise around the circle (for the Anishnaabe tradition) and offer a smudge to all those included in the circle.
In is important to note that there is no wrong way to smudge if you are coming at the practice in a respectful way and with a good heart and mind. Some examples of techniques include, “washing” your hands in the smoke, before bringing some to your eyes, mouth, ears and heart.
We do this to ensure that we are speaking, hearing and seeing kind and respectful things and also to protect us against words of others that might offend us, to find the words we need to share and to protect us against visions which may trigger us.
You can also “wash” smoke over your head, have someone circle around you washing smoke over you, or carry smoke up your left arm and down your right, then up to your heart and down your legs.
Finally under the feet, this way the dark side of your soul and the world will not follow in your footsteps. At the end of your smudge it is customary to say “Miigwetch” or thank you.