(an excerpt from Gail's book, Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs)
Burning dried herbs, or smudging, is an ancient method of nourishing the spirit and invoking the sacred. People all around the world burn herbs during ceremonies. I feel instantly reverent when I smell frankincense which was burned in our Catholic Church during my chilhood. Many cultures believe smoke from the burning herbs clears unwanted energies and carries our prayers to Great Spirit. I know people who smudger before important meetings, and others who smudge their house each day. Sometimes I smudge in the morning as a blessing on the new day, in the evening to relieve accumulated stress and tension, or at night to inspire dreaming.
Any very dry herb, flower, bark, resin, or root will burn, but some are more aromatic than others. Some scents are known to have certain effects, but you don't need to be an expert. Just go ahead and burn some herbs in a fire-proof bowl or shell, or light up a smudge stick. See what you like. Experiment. What smells good to you? Burn well-dried springs of your herbal ally.
When I smudge, I let the smoke go over and around my head and I inhale the aroma. I offer some smoke to my heart area, around my back, and down my arms and legs. I pay special attention to parts of my body holding tension or in special need of nourishment or healing. I offer a prayer of thanksgiving each time I smudge. I let the smoke carry my prayers to the heavens. Some of my favorite herbs for smudging are: lavender, mugwort, sage, rosemary, vervain, peppermint, cedar, juniper, St. John's wort, and hyssop.
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