Smudging Rituals – A practical guide
When it comes to Smudging rituals, the best ones are those you have designed yourself. They will be personal, positive and focused, helping you to develop your skills and adding power and influence to your Witchery. There are of course some basics so if you are new to this activity, here’s a few ideas based on how I like to do things. If you are already an expert and do things differently then feel free to ignore my ramblings!
First off is the cleansing ritual. This one we do most often because there will always be negative energies, left over emotions, staleness from trapped energies, and so on. For us the most need is in our mobile healing sanctuary Dilly the Magickal Caravan. Out on the road we get many visitors with illnesses, distress, stress, and all sorts of emotional upheaval and thankfully many of them leave refreshed and relieved from the amazing healing energy that dwells in Dilly. When we get home Dilly is often saturated with all the energies and troubles that our visitors have been able to set down on their journey. A thorough cleansing and purification is absolutely needed to recharge Dilly’s energy. You could try something similar in any space that you want to use for meditation, shamanic journeys, or casting circles.
For this we will use a singing bowl, incense, and smudging. First a physical cleansing and tidying up is most important. You may also want to use a besom if you have one. This already sweeps away any staleness and refreshes the atmosphere. All the windows and doors are open and we will invite the elements to join and bless our ritual. I will light some resin based incense, usually Frankincense or Sandalwood, Palo Santo wood is also good. I like to start by using my sound bowl to set up a positive vibration. By this time you should already be feeling the energy lift and raise your spirit. Now you can light the smudge wand. Mugwort can take a bit to get going but once started can smoulder for a long, long time. Fire is dangerous so take care to ensure sparks or burning fragments don’t fall off and land on your carpet or sofa. Anything non-flammable will do. A saucer or ashtray is fine, some people have lovely abalone shells but these often have holes in so you still need to take care. Next you need a feather or two to waft the smoke into every nook & cranny and if you have a chant or a spell you like then this is the time to use it. I use one of my Smudging fans because I love the energy from the Hawk totem present in the feathers and the embracing warmth from the Ivy handle – it just adds to and amplifies my intent.
Move all round the space getting into every corner, finish the smudging ideally at the exit, finally sweeping out the last of the old negative and unwanted energy. Move back to a comfortable spot that you will use for any spell work or divining you plan to do and allow the Mugwort smoke to drift around yourself. When you are done, extinguish the smudge wand in some sand or dry earth. (Do not extinguish with water it will make the smudge wand mouldy and unusable.) Reflect on your intent and feel the energy around you, do some breathing exercises and perhaps meditate for a while. Finally, acknowledge and give thanks to the elements and tidy away your tools.
Smudging for Shamanic Journeying
Shamanic rituals vary widely across many cultures and smudging and burning of sacred herbs may be used depending on the purpose of the ritual. In many cases it is an aid to the Shaman in inducing the altered consciousness that allows communication with the Spirit Worlds.
Most Shamans will use a drum but smudging can be a powerful addition for both the Shaman and the individual they are working on behalf of. Some use traditional entheogens or psychoactive substances like Silvia divinorum, Ayahuasca, and Mescalin, however most are proscribed in the UK so not easily available. However, we do have easily obtainable herbs that can be used and have excellent properties to aid Shamanic Journeying. Foremost of these are Mugwort and Wormwood. More details of these herbs are found in my article on native smudging herbs.