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The Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing

Smudging, a ritual to remove negativity, is the common name given to the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing, a powerful Native American cleansing technique. Smoke attaches itself to negative energy, removing it to another space. Smudging is a wonderful way to cleanse an object, place, your spirit, mind or body. Read further to learn information about herbs, tools needed and how to perform the ceremony.

Smudging is the common name given to the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing, a powerful Native American cleansing technique.

It is a ritual to remove negativity. Smoke attaches itself to the negative energy and removes it to another space. Cleansing is the word traditionally used, but you can think of it as a shift in energy from any bits of negativity to a more positive, peaceful state.

Smudging can be used to cleanse an object, a place, or your spirit, mind or body. Native Americans often use smudging in association with other ceremonies.

Smudging involves the burning of sacred herbs and grasses. Native elders teach us that, before a person can be healed or heal another, one must be cleansed of any bad feelings, negative thoughts, bad spirits or negative energy - cleansed both physically and spiritually. This helps the healing to come through in a clear way, without being distorted or sidetracked by negative "stuff". The elders say that all ceremonies, private or tribal, must be entered into with a good heart so that we can pray, sing and walk in a sacred manner, and be helped by the spirits to enter the sacred realm.

In many traditions, smudging involves a four directions ceremony or prayer. This sends specific kinds of smoke or prayer into the four different directions. Of course, different tribes have different smudging prayers, but the smoke is typically directed or programmed to do a specific action or a specific direction, aiding in divination. However, in general smudging is used to maintain balance and shield against negative energy. As has been noted above, it is often used as a cleansing agent.

Smudging is an age-old tribal tradition which has been used for centuries to create harmony and peace. There are many different shamanic smudging ceremonies, and different tribes use a variety of herbs for smudging. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to do it.

Smudging is very effective when you've been feeling depressed, angry, resentful or unwell, or after you have had an argument with someone; if you're going to have a special ritual or ceremony, as part of a general spiritual housecleaning, or to clear your crystals of any negative energy.
You can use smudge sticks (herbs that are tied into a bundle for easier handling), braided herbs and botanicals (like sweetgrass) or loose herbs like mugwort (burned on charcoal or in a firepot). Shamanic smudging releases the energy and fragrance of the herbs and botanicals so they can heal, cleanse and purify.

Herbs used for Smudging

Smudging HerbsThere are many ways to smudge and a variety of different herbs may be used.

When the herbs used for smudging are tied into a bundle and allowed to dry they are called a "smudge stick". In traditional societies, the herbs used for smudging are considered sacred and the smudge stick is treated with great respect.

Different tribes and traditions use different herbs for shamanic smudging. Some of the most popular herbs include cedar, sage, juniper, pinion pine, sweetgrass, copal (in resin form), mugwort, lavender and sacred tobacco.

It is also not uncommon for people who are carrying out modern-day aromatic sacred smoke ceremonies - cleansing, clearing or energy healing rituals - to combine loose sage leaves with other dried loose herbs. Many believe that burning two or more of the herbs simultaneously is a powerful way to combine the energy of the different herbs in the ceremony, ritual or process they are performing. You will find people using dried White Sage leaves and Mugwort, Cedar, Sweetgrass, or Tobacco (powder or leaf form) from the Native American tradition of the Shamans and people of North and South America. And it is also common to find people combining Sage with Juniper, Lavender, Rosemary or Thyme to create modern day aromatic smoke rituals and ceremonies in accordance with the ancient religions and traditions of their forefathers from other parts of the world.

The following is some information on the most common smudging herbs.


For driving out negativity and for healing, white sage is preferred.

The botanical name for sage is Salvia (e.g. Salvia of%uFB01cinalis, Garden Sage, or Salvia apianaSalvia comes from the Latin root salvare, which means "to heal".

There are also varieties of sage which are of a separate species such as sagebrush (e.g. Artemisia californica) and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris).


Drives out negative energy and brings in good influences.

Cedar is burned while praying either aloud or silently. The prayers rise on the cedar smoke and are carried to the Creator. Cedar branches are brushed in the air to cleanse a home during the House Blessing Ceremony of many Northwest Indian nations. In the Paci%uFB01c Northwest, the people burn cedar for puri%uFB01cation in much the same way as sage - it drives out negative energy; but it also brings in good in%uFB02uences. The spirit of cedar is considered very ancient and wise by Paci%uFB01c Northwest tribes, and old, downed cedar trees are honored with offerings and prayers.

Cedar is primarily considered a fire element, though it is often used for general, four-element purposes. It is known for its sharp, piney scent and is believed to aid clairvoyance, revive the tired mind, body, and spirit, and stimulate contact with other worlds.


Sweetgrass is used for blessing after sage has been used. It brings in the good spirits and the good influences.

Sweetgrass is an important part of Sioux and Cherokee ceremonies. One of the most sacred plants for the Plains Indians, sweetgrass is a tall wild grass with a reddish base and perfume-like, musty odor. It grows mainly on the eastern side of the Rockies in Montana and adjacent Alberta, Canada. It also shows up in some small areas of Wyoming and South Dakota. Its botanical name is Hierochloe odorata. Some common names for it are Seneca grass, holy grass and vanilla grass.

On the Plains, sweetgrass is usually braided together in bunches as a person's hair is braided, although sometimes it is simply bunched and wrapped in cloth. Either way, it is usually burned by shaving little bits over hot coals or lighting the end and waving it around, letting the smoke spread through the air. Elders teach that it is good to burn sweetgrass after the sage or cedar has driven out the bad in%uFB02uences.
As with cedar, burn sweetgrass while praying sends prayers up to the Creator in the smoke. Sweetgrass is can also be put in pipe bundles and medicine bundles along with sage to purify and protect sacred objects.


Mugwort is a variety of Sage (Artemisia vulgaris).

Often regarded as the traveller's friend, Mugwort is used to promote physical wellbeing, endurance and protection. This ancient herb can also encourage prophetic and happy dreams and act as an aid to astral travel.
Also, when you want to cleanse the atmosphere of your space and need something super-heavy-duty, beyond normal white sage smudging, Mugwort is the herb to use.

Mugwort is perfect for anyone wishing to develop their conscious or lucid dreaming experience.

All of the smudging herbs and tools mentioned in this article are available at

How to do the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing

Or Smudge, in simpler terms.

Burning a sage smudge stickAs with any action, when done with intention and belief, smudging can become a powerful and uplifting ritual so consider your intention before you smudge and hold it clearly in your mind. You may even wish to invite the spirit of the herbs you are using to join you and assist you with your intention.

In Native societies, the herbs used for smudging are considered sacred. it's good to treat your smudging herbs with respect, as well as being respectful about the act of smudging itself. It is particularly centering to have an intention in mind. For example, if you are feeling depressed, visualize the smoke carrying away all your feelings of depression. If you had an argument, imagine yourself and the person with whom you argued being at peace with each other.

Materials Needed

An assortment of herbs can be used for smudging. Cedar, Mugwort, Sage or Sweetgrass to name a few and they can be used loose or in bundles.

Smudge sticks and herbs are most easily lit from a candle, match or lighter flame. Long wooden matches are the best because a candle can add dripping wax to the process and a lighter, is well, kind of out of character.

If you are going to select from an assortment of loose herbs, you will need several additional items in order to create aromatic sacred smoke. One traditional method is to use a half shell such as Abalone or a Bear Paw Clam shell as the vessel to hold the herbs you have selected to burn. Traditionally, the abalone shell shouldn't be used for burning since the holy men have said the shell represents Grandmother Ocean and they should be used in ceremonies for water, not burning. However, there are no "right" or "wrong" tools to use. While some of the American Indian Shamans prefer not to use a shell and choose other man-made, fire-resistant vessels to use in their ceremonies, those who do prefer the shell believe that using it brings in a balance of the elements - Earth, Air, Fire and Water - to a ritual.

You may, instead of a half shell, choose to use a fireproof bowl, plate, ceramic pot, small baking dish, censer, brazier, or other vessel in which to burn your loose or crushed herbs, and you can, of course, place the dried herbs on burning logs in your fireplace. If you would like to try that, place the loose herbs on a piece of wood that is glowing (not flaming). The scent of the burning herbs will enhance the aroma of the smoke from the fire, and create a healing energy in the room.
A Personal Clearing

During a smudging ritual, you may want to include a Personal Clearing for yourself. Breathe in the essence of the sacred smoke herbs, and focus on yourself and your body for a moment, then bend and allow the wand or the feather (or fan) to move the smoke down as far as possible, to your ankles and feet. Move the smoke from that position near the floor slowly up the length of your body to the top of your head. This helps to cleanse your aura of any disturbances you may have experienced that day.

Finish your Personal Clearing, holding the wand or the feather in front of you at the level of your heart, and watch the sacred smoke rising up. Repeat any affirmations you say for your own well-being and spiritual purpose. Breathe again deeply, and then complete the ritual.

Hopes this helps with anyone who is feeling negative energy! It works for me!
Blessings of Love, light and peace,

One Eternal Flame

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Comment by Eternal Flame on March 2, 2012 at 3:29am

You're welcome sweet Nancy...this is a beautiful story of courage and love for humanity...thank you so much for sharing...I'm in awe of just how wonderful your spirit touches so many! 

Comment by SwanRa on March 1, 2012 at 11:55pm

Thank you dear heart - I love this post.  I use smudging a lot. You will appreciate this memory. When I went to China just a few months after Tieneman Square...I brought with me a whole lot of Sage to put in the square. No tourists were there other than my little group of 13! We were widely flanked by hundreds of soldiers. And twenty or so broke rank to stand with us.

As I stood in the square.....that is at least three football fields wide - I could hear the echos of the students still in the wind. But I did not know how I could get the sage out of my pocket to sprinkle it in front of the statues where so many students rallied and many were killed.This was my commitment to be there then to do this in their memory. Remember the man who stood in front of the long line of tanks???

I found a way. Divine inspiration. I had a friend take my picture in front of the statue and invited a soldier to have his picture taken with me. The last thing i wanted was to put more fear into the Square....and a miracle happened: The soldiers and my group were all laughing over my boldly going over to the only tall guard and using hand gestures (all polite) to invite him to pose with me. 

Laughing is good energy clearing too....While our picture (s)  was being taken - all of my group took some too of us...... I took some sage out of my pocket ---- and sprinkled it behind my back while doing my clearing prayers. 

It was not noticed and I breathed a huge sigh of relief amazed at my small courage in doing what I did. To think of the courage it took for all of those students to do what they did.....I still am in the highest of respect and awe.   This day changed me in many ways as did China  and Sage was my companion!

Comment by Eternal Flame on February 28, 2012 at 5:19am

It sure does....You're welcome Ommi!! OM....

Comment by Ommi on February 28, 2012 at 5:10am

creates a  peacefull atmosphere.............very conducive for meditation.

thanks for the post One................OM.

Comment by Eternal Flame on February 28, 2012 at 3:20am

You're welcome, Wisa. Well you know there is a ritual to clean out your living space as well, I use a fan when I'm blessing my house. The idea is to get rid of all the smoke the negative energy is attached too!

Comment by Being on February 27, 2012 at 4:56pm

Detailed and educational.Thank you. I  love the smell of sage and sweetgrass but better to light it up outside I found out the hard way a while back.

Comment by Eternal Flame on February 27, 2012 at 2:04pm

lol, love that word... Fantabulous....You're welcome Skywriter...and Thank you for being you!

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