Smudging is a common practice among Lakota people for the cleansing of energy through the burning of sage, cedar, and sweet grass. These substances emit certain smells that are pleasing to the Great Mystery. Sage is the cleanest smell of the desert, and is also given to us by the Creator. Cedar is burned while praying either aloud or silently. The prayers rise on the cedar smoke and are carried to the Creator. Sweet grass grows high in the Rocky Mountains, and is known as the grass that never dies. It is a gift from the Creator, and one of the great smells for reminding us of the mountains and the open air.

It is effective in helping, but it is not a cure-all. Think of it as spiritual “soap” that cleans an area, but if there is too much “dirt” or if you keep doing things that bring “dirt” it won’t last. Things that bring “dirt” are things like evil actions, things like sinfulness, anger, hatred, wrongful sex, drugs, untreated mental and emotional problems, unforgiveness, revenge, …things that harm yourself, others, or the land. And if a spirit is actively trying to get to you there, it can only be kept away so much, and you have to keep smudging. But ultimately it is best to correct the underlying problem.

My personal experiences with smudging were learned through a Jicarilla Apache friend. I’m sure there were differences in prayers and subtle differences in our smudge compared to the Lakota way. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject but want to share what a smudge is with those who are not familiar with it. Again, this is my experience and my experience alone. I am learning and continuing to learn this culture. Living the life of the Red Road is difficult and not easy to do.

When performing a smudge, the sage, cedar, and sweet grass are placed in a bowl or in my case an abalone shell. The mixture is placed in the bowl/shell and burnt in that order. After the ingredients start to smoke use a feather or your hands to fan the smoke over your body. I start by using my hands to bring the smoke towards my chest where my heart is. I continue fanning the smoke over my body and covering it. Your thoughts and prayers are carried on the smoke to the Creator. It is a visual representation of our thoughts and prayers being carried, more so because it carries the two great smells of the mountain and desert … [get the full text …]

Source: Republic of Lakotah

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