Herbs and trees are our ancestors. They were here before animals.
There is much to learn and respect from the ceremonies established around herbs by Native American Culture. I have always been intrigued by ceremonial smudging which uses natural materials such as sage, sweet grass, tobacco, cedar, feathers, and abalone shells to clear negative energy from people, homes, and objects in an effort to claim sacred space. I knew the basics of what was involved in smudging, but I wanted to go deeper and learn even more about this ancient ritual.
As I sat in a recent workshop given by Lozen Brown Bear, an inspirational Native American woman of Apache decent, I was consumed by stories of her extended family and how she was raised in a family rich with Native American Culture. At the helm of her family is her mother whom she spoke of often during the workshop with great respect and homage. The narrative of her family and the ritual of smudging and claiming sacred space were intertwined in the lessons imparted during this workshop. A person needs to be grounded and anchored in their own space in order to perform this ritual. It was very clear that Lozen’s mother took great care teaching this integral lesson over the course of her life, even to this day. What a wonderful culture so rich in love and tradition to produce such a beautiful ritual, and what an amazing family to share this bounty in such a loving way. I appreciated every word Lozen spoke.
During the workshop, Lozen led a Four Directions Ceremony to begin the ritual which pays homage to each direction and what it stands for. The East symbolizes the sun rising, new beginnings, energy, faith and renewal. The South represents animal teachers, guardians, instinct and the love and patience granted to us all. The West represents The Council Fire, great wisdom and power and the opportunity to learn more. And finally, The North represents the physical here and now and our sacred bodies.
The four herbs used during the ceremony each have a specific role and work together to pull out negative energy, replace the void with positive energy, honor the ancestors who have given us this ritual and anchor us so we can learn from these lessons.
It’s important to acknowledge Mother Earth during a smudging ceremony and thank her for her compassionate love for not only each other, but also for her. We need to ask her for forgiveness for what we do to her and thank her for her beauty and bounty.
There is so much more involved in a smudging ceremony, and everything I have stated here I have learned directly from spending time with Lozen Brown Bear. I want to sincerely thank Lozen for her guidance and wisdom and I look forward to spending more time gaining wisdom and guidance from her in the future.
I now use smudging in my work with people as I begin to dive deeper into my energy healing work. I’ve learned so much from the healers and other guides whom I’ve been working with and learning from and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn even more as I continue on my journey.