Follow up to, Why I don’t use White Sage.
A sweet friend of mine who read my last post about not using White Sage asked me some thoughtful follow up questions, that had me thinking & I thought I’d share them again with you.
She asked, “Why can’t I call it Smudging or Saging and how is it different from what you do? She also added, "I think the practice sounds beautiful & I would like to experience it for myself"
Great questions & they made me realize, that I don’t think I’ve adequately explained either.
One reason why I don’t think we should call what we’re doing Smudging or Saging is because we’re not doing what those words represent. Yes, it might look like it because of the similar elements & we burn them, but that’s where the similarities end.
To my limited knowledge, the Saging or Smudging ceremonies actually start with gathering and preparing the elements in special ways. The plants need to be collected in particular ways, along with certain blessings and prayers before any burning occurs. The rituals as I have read are typically done in groups led by a holy person of that group. The ceremonies are done in specific ways according to that tribes traditions and teachings.
Side note, you might compare it to any religious tradition like passover, a christening, or saying of the rosary, they’re all beautiful traditions, but unless you’ve been educated in them, they’re just not going to mean the same as someone who has grown up in that faith. Yes, you could google the information and elements, but is it really going to be the same for you?
Besides the fact we’re not doing the actual things in the way Native people are, for me the most important reason to not use the words Saging or Smudging or to try and copy the Native people’s ceremonies is because we have been asked not to. Some Native American people don’t mind sharing information, and that is how some of that information has gotten out, but, and it’s a big BUT, many groups do not want to share their traditions, and have been vocal about feeling their culture is being appropriated.
I can’t speak for anyone except myself, but I have seen and heard enough to believe a good portion of Native people do not want to lend out this information, and because they have asked us not to, I will respect their wishes.
I wrote in my last piece, that it has been less than 50 years since the United States government passed legislation to “allow” the Indian people freedom to practice their religion. With the rise in wellness and spirituality, more people want to participate in what they imagine these ceremonies to be. I recognize the American Indians as a marginalized group, so if some of them have asked us to not use terms, or elements sacred to their culture, I will respect that.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use a ton of different plants in your own way, for your own personal reasons. We’re human, we’re drawn to nature, to plants, to the elements, those things are essential, and there for all people to utilize. The use of medicinal plants and herbs known for their antimicrobial properties (bad germs = bad vibes in my book) We can use these to cleanse our minds, bodies, and spaces.
Since the beginning of time fire has represented cleansing, renewal, and source energy, that is the same in all cultures across time. Our ancestors sought out plants that would represent and do different things, we are no different.
If you admire what you have heard about the practices of the Native and Indigenous people, honor their beautiful examples with creating your own expressions, true to your own experiences and connection to your source.
No one person or group is more spiritual than another. You were created, you have the full access to God, the Universe, whatever you want to call your creator so how you pray, meditate, and talk to God is just as sacred as anything or anyone else.
You can create your own ceremony, your own way to connect. In my next post, I will give examples of how I use smoke cleansing, they might help guide you to create meaningful rituals for yourself.
Hoping you find yourself surrounded by good energy!