We try it!

We Try It – Smudging

I see this move that my boyfriend and I are making as a fresh start.  I don’t know why since nothing is changing besides our apartment.  But I really want to take the opportunity of the change of environment to try to change some bad habits and negative, destructive thoughts and patterns.  Maybe that is why I felt compelled to smudge the apartment with sage before we move in next weekend. 

Smudge Stick
Smudge Stick

This is not something I have ever done before and I can’t say exactly why I wanted to do it this time. Maybe it’s because we are moving into an older building, maybe I just wanted the ritual, but ever since I decided to smudge the apartment I have been beyond excited to do it.  I bought some smudging sage at Whole Foods for $4.99 for a 3 pack of smudge sticks, which it turns out will be enough to smudge every place I ever live in for the rest of my life.

If you’re not familiar with smudging, it is the process of burning sage around a dwelling or area where people are residing.  It comes from Ojibwa and Cree tribes who burn sage and other herbs in cleansing ceremonies.  It was picked up by Pagan and Wiccan beliefs and can be also used in non-denominational ceremonies.  The thought is that the sage smoke picks up any bad energy and takes it out the window or door.  We started by smudging ourselves, then around the front door and all the other doors and entrances.  Then we did the four corners of the room and around the center of the room in a circle.  We ended the smudging ceremony by saying a little house blessing we found.  Neither myself nor my boyfriend are particularly religious or spiritual so it didn’t feel like there was much of a spiritual presence during the whole process.  I tried to imagine the smoke grabbing on to any negative energy and sucking it away, but my boyfriend just stood there humoring me.

Word to the unfamiliar: It really smells like pot.  Like, really a lot.  Overall, it was pretty underwhelming.  Everything that I read on the internet said that you and the environment should feel cleansed, but it felt the same.  I will say this for it though, almost immediately after we were finished our down-the-hall neighbor Judy (How long are you planning to live here? I mean, I don’t know if you’re planning on getting married. But of course it’s none of my business) Levine stopped by.  I at first thought she was coming to yell at us for smoking grass, but it turned out she just wanted to see how they had updated the apartment.  A result of the smudging or a nosy neighbor?  There’s no way to know, but I will say this ““ in over a year of living in my current apartment I have never even seen my neighbors on either side and have only caught a few glimpses from the other 10+ residents on my floor.  But the very least we were able to say a nice secular blessing about our new home.  And I’m still pretty psyched for the fresh start.

We believe in living deeply, laughing often and loving always. We believe we were brought together to support and care for each other. We believe in celebrating together — our faith, our heritage, our traditions. We believe that everyone’s feelings count, and that the uniqueness of each of us strengthens all of us. We believe in the power of forgiveness to heal and the power of love to carry us through. We believe in one another, in this family, in this home.

2 replies on “We Try It – Smudging”

Luci, I am curious about your background or personal experience with these practices. I am not accusing you of cultural appropriation, am genuinely interested.
But I have seen how Americans climbed on the “new wave” (WTF) trend of feng shui in the 90’s. As a Chinese-American it was weird. I wasn’t personally offended until I saw an American celebrity insisting that the pronunciation of the phrase was Feng Shooey. No, it’s Fung Shway. Holy Moly people. My native beliefs are not here for your amusement. I don’t wear crosses as jewelry. Orientalism = ick, nast.

Sorry for the delayed response, I just saw this.
That’s a good question. I’m going to try to answer it without sounding completely ignorant.
I think in a sense it really is cultural appropriation, which I guess I don’t always see as a negative. I think that part of the negative of what I did with the smudging is that it was a more watered down version of smudging. I don’t have all of the background and I don’t have spiritual leaders that have made this a part of my spiritual identity. So it’s just me kind of winging it. That said, I would never try to act like I knew all about it.
For me, I really don’t have any personal experiences with any religious or spiritual practices. I grew up in an atheist home, we didn’t pray or talk about God or spirituality. We didn’t have rituals or beliefs that were rooted in any larger tradition. My mom often took pieces of beliefs of other cultures and wove them into our family mythos – for example, herons are good luck. I always thought this was just the Furious family belief and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that herons as good luck are seen in Greek mythology, Ancient Egypt, Maori, etc. And I think as an adult I am always looking for practices which resonate with me in some way and make me feel connected to the larger universe. I am not beyond thinking critically about my motivations for doing so and the cultural implications of those practices. But, I guess I am just continuing the Furious family tradition of picking pieces of different cultural and religious practices, seeing what sticks, and incorporating them into my larger beliefs.

I hope that answers your question. Thanks so much, this really got me thinking. I might try to write a lengthier, more articulate piece about it.

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