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Smudging Ceremony
Smudging Ceremony

Needed: Sage, sweet grass, cedar, or tobacco, singly or in combination, or other herbs; a shell or a natural-made bowl (clay, pottery); a feather or fan; matches; sand or fine soil.

Estimated time: 5 minutes if alone, more time if with a group.

1. Mix together the plants you will be using, placing them in a shell or sturdy bowl, and light them. Some mixtures of herbs do not stay lit well. You may need to put a charcoal briquette in the bowl first. Before lighting either the charcoal or herbs, make sure there is some soil or sand in the bottom of the bowl or shell. This will keep it from being too hot to hold.

2. When the herbs are lit, use a fan or feather from a domestically raised bird* (chicken, turkey, pheasant or duck) to fan out the flame. Throughout the ceremony you will need to fan the herbs to keep them smoldering.

    *Non-Indians are not permitted to possess eagle feathers.

3. Once the herbs are smoldering, draw the smoke (not the bowl, just the smoke) to your heart, then over your head, down your arms, and down the front of your body. Now move the smoke over the back of your body toward the ground. If you need special balancing or healing in some part of your body, you can emphasize by pulling the smoke to the area.

4. It is your responsibility to cleanse your own energy field. The plants help. They do not do it for you.

5. Next, offer smoke to the six directions: up to the Creator, down to the Earth, and then to the north, east, south and west, in that order.

6. After you have smudged yourself and offered the smudge, you can hold the bowl while others smudge themselves, or you may smudge them. They should draw the smoke to themselves, first to the heart, over the head, down the arms, down the chest, and down the back.

7. You may now walk around the area you will be using, wafting the smoke as you go. If you are inside, smudge around the walls of the room, paying particular attention to the corners.

8. Smudge any medicine tools you will be using during ceremonies.


    CENTERING

    There are many ways to center yourself in a ceremony. Using one of them is critical because the more centered you are, the more powerful the ceremony will be. Basically any centering technique helps to bring all your energy together, allowing you to let go of the everyday world and thus enter the sacred space. Some of the ways we often use to center energy is to drum, rattle, and/or chant.

    A. DRUMMING

    Needed: A drum and beater, or chanting or drumming tapes.

    Estimated time: 15 minutes minimum.

    1. To begin drumming, you should quiet yourself and listen to your heartbeat.

    2. Begin to drum your heartbeat on the drum.

    3. As your heartbeat shifts, allow your drumming to change.

    4. Do not try to change the drum beat rapidly. A slow, repetitive beat is more effective.

    5. If your drumming is accompanying a chant, listen to the chant first. Make the drum beat complement the chant, not compete with it. Under no circumstances should you drown out the chant with the drum.

    6. You can become more proficient at drumming by listening to chanting or drumming tapes and drumming along with them.

    7. At the end of a chant you should make several rapid beats, which serve the purpose of sending the song out to the Great Spirit and announcing the song is completed.

    B. RATTLING

    Needed: A rattle

    Estimated time: 15 minutes minimum.

    To learn to rattle, follow the same instructions given for drumming. It is more difficult to get a heartbeat sound sound with many rattles, so go even more slowly in your learning process.

    C. CHANTING

    Needed: Your voice, knowledge of the chant, and if desired, chanting or drumming tape, rattle, or drum.

    Estimated time: 15 minutes minimum.

    When you chant properly, you take the energy of the earth in through your body, magnify it, and send it out to all your relations on the planet. This means you should feel the chant throughout your whole body, not just your throat. It should cause a vibration that touches all your energy centers. It does not matter if you think you can not sing. Chanting is a way of centering and sending energy, not a way of proving your vocal ability. However, if you are going to sing a chant, you should show respect for it by learning it before you sing. Listen to the person leading it until you are sure you know the words and the tune. Some chants change words and tune unexpectedly, so don't be too quick to join in. When you are sure of the chant, sing it with gusto. Most chants are repeated in sets of four, with the person who began the chant determining when to end it and signifying this by saying "Ho!"

    D. BREATHING

    Needed: A comfortable quiet place.

    Estimated time: Fifteen minutes when beginning; five minutes when proficient.

1. Many traditions throughout the world use breathing as a method of centering. To begin, relax your body. If this is not easy for you to do, begin with your toes, tighten your muscles as tight as is possible, then release them. Tighten the muscles of your calves, release them. Do the same with your thighs, buttocks, stomach, diaphragm, chest, lower back, midback, upper back, shoulders, neck. Finally, tighten your scalp and release. Now do your face muscles and release.

2. Allow your breath to go through as much of your body as possible. Visualize it as a hollow vessel. Fill the vessel with air. Remember to breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.

3. Take long, slow, deep breaths.

4. Pay attention to yourself relaxing as you breathe.

5. Feel your breath fill you and connect you with the earth, the sky, and all that is around you.