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Smudging VS Smoke Cleansing

So I found this on FB and was just wondering what you all think of this? Do you agree or not? I am not sure if I 100% agree with this, since everything is adapted now a days. If one wants to learn about another culture, even if you are not born to it, it shouldn't be not allowed to use the same techniques as that culture, without being disrespectful to it. But being of European descent, I will most likely use the plants that have been used most likely by my ancestors, to make sure I don't contribute to the endagered sage not being affordable to others who atually see it as an important part of their culture. I also couldn't find the correct group to put it in, so just added it as a discussion of itself.


Both the Pagan and New Age communities have been 'smudging' their troubles away with White Sage and Palo Santo for quite some times now.

The last few years have brought about a better understanding of cultural appropriation and how many of us may have unintentionally added to the problem. 

Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture - white culture - begins to adopt ideas, clothing, rituals, etc, from a minority culture - without permission - and knowingly or unknowingly alters the original meaning behind something that is sacred to someone else, consequently, harming the minority culture in question.

You might feel this doesn't relate to you because you 'respect' the culture or 'insert another excuse here' but cultural appropriation has far-reaching consequences, one of those being that these magical plants are being over-harvested and are now endangered. This not only causes a problem to the very earth you're trying to connect to but also means the minority cultures that have used these plants for sacred practices for hundreds of years, now struggle to access these once freely available gifts and often have to pay for them, with white people profiting.

Smudging vs Smoke Cleansing.

Smudging is the spiritual practice of North American Indigenous people of burning white sage, but using smoke cleansing with aromatic plants is something shared by almost every culture, throughout the world. This smoke can be used for spiritual, meditation, ritual, or practical home keeping. It's vitally important that we learn the difference between Smudging and Smoke Cleansing. Smudging does not belong to the white women and men who have immersed themselves in Paganism or New Age Spirituality. We need to do our best to consciously stop saying smudging when we are actually smoke cleansing or smoke bathing.

What's a sustainable alternative?

Any aromatic plant can be burned, and those local to your area and to your ancestral people will likely be the most powerful to you. Being of European ancestry, I have been most interested in the plants that my ancestors may have used. The best thing you can do is grow your own herbs. Your connection will be strongest this way, but failing that, source your herbs locally from a sustainable provider or forage them if possible (only taking what you need and asking permission first).

European Herbs to Use for Smoke Cleansing

Juniper is said to be calming, protective and clears out negative energy. It also helps ward off viral infections and airborne illness.

Pine is said to be grounding, cleansing, purifying and helps to bring forgiveness. It helps to deepen the breathing and clear phlegm and strengthen the adrenal glands.

Mugwort is considered to be a messenger plant and help with lucid dreaming. It is especially cleansing and used to treat parasites. There are varieties of Mugwort native to both the Americas and Europe. Vervain is said to be used for balance, inner strength, and peace. It is a nervine tonic which works on the liver and heart and digestion.

Culinary Sage is not a native to Northern Europe but is commonly grown in the garden. It is associated with clearing, cleansing, fertility, healing, wisdom, mental clarity and longevity.

Rosemary is not a native either, but another common garden plant. It is said to strengthen the memory, helps with energy flow, binds the soul into the body, promotes fidelity and protects space. It also protects against airborne pathogens.

Thyme protects against airborne pathogens as well and is often combined with Rosemary in smudge bundles. It promotes courage and confidence and lifts heavy moods, bringing an increase in energy and vitality.

Lavender is native to the Medetrainean area, but another common garden herbs. When burned, it may impart relaxation and a sense of calm. It can be used to let go of trauma and grief and to help manage anxiety.

(Herb information from Quarter Moon Living Blog)

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  • what do you know, we got the wording wrong.  That being said, I don't think it's an insult to use anothers way of doing things.  I would not expect someone to come up to me and say, 'you're a witch, can I have permissonto do things the wa you do?  rituals should be open to all, not 'this way for sime cultures, and that way for another.'

  • Thanks for the information on smudging and smoke cleansing. I always thought I was smudging myself with sweet grass but I acrually was "smoke cleansing myself."

    I follow my intention and focus while cleansing myself.

    Thanks for posting this article Regine Silverfox 

    Regine Silverfox
    A Bewitching Social Network
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