A friend sent me this question the other day in a message and in the usual new style of quick response to text messages I sent back my first response but it has been on my mind ever since.
My first response was a true one but I’m not sure it was enough. I hope she understood my meaning. The response was as follows:
“Long subject. In short, it is not the smudge or the prayer or the deliverance but rather the state of mind and the spirit that accompanies the ritual. There is also something to be said for the smell. Really does clean the air.”
While this particular question was about the native practice of smudging the bigger question is about the ritual and the reality of it working.
Much of our modern society has dismissed ritual as archaic and empty practice. I will give them room to believe that because that is what much of our ritual has become. Sending white sage smoke through a room to purify it is not going to clear away evil any more than daddy scaring the boogie man from under the bed is going to keep us safe for the night. However, the ritual has merit because it solidifies faith in our heart with action and I believe it also has the power to manipulate the power of the positive and negative air or spirit around us.
Don’t tell my you don’t believe in that hocus pocus because every one of us has felt the mood of a room when we stepped in the door. Our sixth sense knows when there is danger or anger in a room. You have also sensed joy before you have seen it’s manifestation. I don’t know the science of it all but I’m sure there is some. We get strange premonitions. Stuff happens which we cannot explain. Whether it’s God, science or airwaves doesn’t really matter. It is, however, undeniable that there are forces at work in the air which we cannot identify but we certainly can feel.
Religions are filled with ritual and while it may seem archaic to some, when the background of it is studied and the true meaning examined there is a richness to the practice. The simple act of genuflecting may be a meaningless gesture but for those who practice it as truth rather than rote it is a prayer which invokes the power of heaven.
As for the smudge, I don’t really understand the full meaning but I have been witness to its power. It has a way of grounding people and reminding them of their duty to others and to the earth. Besides that, the sweet smell of the smoke really does clear the air of bad smells.
For more about the ancient art of the smudge try these sites: