“Smudging” is using the smoke from burning herbs and resins to cleanse and purify oneself and one’s space, often as a prelude to spiritual practices or ceremonies. The burning of incense, flower petals, bark, resins and leaves for spiritual purposes is a universal ancestral practice, and indeed has an enduring tradition of being used even in mainstream religions around the world.
I recently read a disturbing article about people illegally harvesting white sage (Salvia apiana) to make smudge sticks. These are widely sold online and used all around the world, predominantly by people who have no idea where the plant comes from. As a result, wild white sage, which grows only in certain areas of California and Mexico, is dwindling, mainly due to depredation by poachers who then sell it to distributors. Local Native Americans quoted in the article say they themselves are the original users of white sage in smudging rituals. They bemoan the abuse and commodification of the plant; and also claim that the entire practice of smudging should only be done by Native people, and anyone else doing it is guilty of cultural appropriation. [Read more…] about Gaia-Centered Spiritual Practices–Part II–Smudging