Smogen: Cleansing with smoke
The burning of herbs for psychic and spiritual cleansing is found in many religions but the term smudging which is often used, seems to now refer to the Native American practice that uses herbs that are burnt and waved through the aura to cleanse the energy field if a person, object or room.
However, on doing some research, I found the word ‘smudge’ comes from the old English word smogen. It is cited in several dictionaries (such as Merriam Webster, Collins, thefreedictionary.com and Dictionary.com) as coming from 1400-50 late Middle English. It means to smear, blur, obscure, to smother with smoke, to use dense smoke to protect an area from insects. Another meaning is also ‘taken by surprise’. In English the term ‘smudge’ also means to smut or dirt. It has been in use since the 15th century, and first appeared after the Norman conquest, so it’s certainly of Germanic origin.
The theory behind this type of cleansing is that the smoke attaches itself to the negative energy and as it clears it takes the negative energy with it. It is a good idea to perform this ritual on yourself on a regular basis as well as your home and workspace. Make it part of your weekly housework. After you’ve dusted and vacuumed smogen your home and yourself with an incense of your choice.
Many indigenous peoples of the Americas used sage, sweetgrass or cedar to make a smudge bundle, but you can use whatever you have to hand. Ancient Vikings used mugwort. I use whatever I have in the garden, which is often garden sage, lavender and rosemary. You can make your own bundle by cutting stems of the plants, tying them together with wool or twine and leaving them to dry. Once dried, it is ready to use. Please don’t import dried herbs from across the globe. Use an herb or plant that grows locally to you. A local herb will have more personal energy but will also be far more eco-friendly without all the transportation damage.
Light one end of the bundle and then blow out the flame so it is just smouldering, it is wise to hold the bundle over a bowl to catch anything bits that may fall off, it saves burning holes in the carpet. You can guide the smoke over yourself by using a feather or your hands (whichever you prefer). Bring the smoke up over your head, down your shoulders and your arms. Around your torso and your back, down your left and your feet, not forgetting to do the soles to ensure that you walk on the right path. Visualise the smoke lifting away all the negative energies, thoughts and emotions that have attached themselves to you.
When you are smogening your house make sure the smoke gets into all the corners, around the windows and doors, and if you want to be really thorough you can waft it in all the cupboards and drawers too.
When you have finished make sure your herb bundle is extinguished using a bowl of sand or earth. Make sure the herb stick is completely out before leaving it.
Of course, if you are like me then you will find the herb bundle a bit awkward to use sometimes and that’s when you can use loose herbs on a charcoal block or for even more convenience a shop bought incense stick will do the job just as well. It is your intention and the smoke that is important.
If you can’t stand the smoke, then try with an oil burner or scented candles. You can also pop loose incense onto an oil burner, allowing the candle to just warm the mix without the smoke. If you can’t work with smoke or scent, then perform the same ritual but use salt or saltwater.
I wrote a blog with alternative suggestions here https://www.patheos.com/blogs/beneaththemoon/2019/11/smokeless-incense-and-other-options/
Text taken from Curative Magic by Rachel Patterson
Curative Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Self-Discovery, Care, & Healing
Tap into the power of nature and learn how to unleash your inner magic to navigate modern-day life and the issues the universe throws at you. Curative Magic shows you how to work with the tools that witchcraft provides, including spells, rituals, and herbs as well as meditation and recipes.
Nature is incredibly clever–plants, herbs, crystals, and other natural materials can improve spells, provide guidance, enhance your personal health, and help you work through life’s challenges. Kitchen witch and author Rachel Patterson shares her own experiences, personal rituals, recipes, and remedies to help you manage depression, anxiety, insomnia, ailments, and many other common issues we confront.