SMOKE & FLOWERS; burning as ritual with our botanical smudge wands
THE CONCEPT OF SPACE CLEARING
A wand of dried flowers and herbs tied together with cotton string - a fairly simple arrangement, used to accompany rituals and ceremonies rich with intention. Botanical wands as we like to call them, better known as smudge sticks, are used to clear (or burn) away negative energy to make space for renewal.
You may choose to clear spaces when moving into a previously lived in 'new' house, after guests have been to stay in your space, after home renovations/painting, after home invasions, after any kind of trauma has occurred in the space, after you or someone in the house has processed heavy emotions there, at the change of seasons, after you've gone through a positive transformation. There are no hard and fast rules about when to clear your space. You may even decide to introduce space clearing or smudging as a monthly or seasonal ritual in your home.
White sage (different to the herb we cook with) is universally associated with energy clearing and cleansing, but closer to home Imphepho is the medicinal herb traditionally burned in African rituals. It is used for its purification quality (it's both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial), and is known to restore a sense of calm. Imphepho is also used to call in ancestral spirits or guides. When we choose to carry out our own rituals, using precious healing herbs and flowers, we should honour the wisdom of ancient cultures who passed these practices on to us, as well as the healing wisdom encoded in the cells of the plants and flowers we are handling.
SMOKE & SCENT MEMORIES
Once humans learned to harness fire, it could be used to cook food and thus began the ritual of lighting fires to gather and celebrate in the warmth of flames (a warm welcoming quality more than a physical heat) or to burn away things that no longer serve us, both literally and energetically.
It is no wonder then that most humans are strangely attracted to the scent of a wood burning fire. Chemicals, plastics and cigarette smoke are not so appealing, but burning wood harkens to sitting around camp fires, being in the mountains and a sense of primitive nostalgia linked to conjuring a fire with bare hands.
While smoke isn't a smell we prefer to have clinging to our hair and clothes (as it does) it has emerged as a prominent theme in fragrance creation over the past 5 years. The kind of smoke associated with the flavour of food being smoked, with the use of woods like cade (from branches of juniper) and gaiac. We feel that the smoke theme speaks to our innate desire to link to universal human heritage and tradition; to include some kind of cultural practice in our daily lives that connects us to earth and to each other through the familiarity of the way we harness nature's elements to create, build and nourish.
INTENTIONAL SPACE CLEARING GUIDE
*make sure all the windows in the space you are clearing are open
* before lighting your smudge stick hold the botanical wand in your hands and gaze at it, silently acknowledging the gift of beauty and healing from nature
* bring to mind your intention or reason for clearing your space
* keep a ceramic or non-flammable container with you to catch the embers that fall while smudging
* light the smudge wand and blow out the flame. The smoke will start to rise. Holding the container just below the lit end of the wand, move from one end of your space to the other, moving the wand in a clockwise circular motion.
* make sure you allow smoke to rise up towards corners and behind doors, all the while holding in your heart your true energy, the energy you want to invite back into the space
* once you're done, put out the end of the wand by pressing it into your ceramic container. Your wand should last ages, only a small amount will actually burn down each time
* to bring a pleasant scent back into the space, light a fragrance candle, again bringing to mind and heart the new energy you're inviting into your space
* all the above also applies to using Palo Santo to clear your space. The exception is that Palo Santo itself has a lovely fragrance rather than a smoke smell