How to Smudge Your Home With Indigenous Medicinal Plants

As more and more people turn to spirituality and the power of positive energy, the spiritual practice of incense used by indigenous peoples has become more mainstream. We sat down with Angela DeMontigny, a Canadian-born fashion designer of Cree-Métis heritage and creator of LODGE Soy Candles, to learn more about how to properly participate in incense and incorporate other Indigenous wellness practices into your home.

What is smearing?

The first thing to know about incense, commonly referred to as burning sage, is that Native Americans look to nature as their pharmacy. “Everything we need for our health is grown on Mother Earth,” explains Angela. “Our knowledge of the healing properties of plants has been passed down from our ancestors for generations.”

As explained in the Indigenous Inclusion Directorate’s Provincial of Manitoba Smudging Protocol and Policies, smudging is a First Nations tradition of burning one or more medicines found in the earth. “Forms of smudging vary from country to country, but are all seen as a means of self-cleaning,” the report says. Indigenous nations use different medicines depending on where they live. Sweetgrass, sage, and cedar are some of the most commonly used medicines in First Nations incense ceremonies.

Angela has always considered incense to be an important spiritual practice. “Smearing is one of the simplest things you can do to shift the energy in your space. It removes spirits and negative energies from your home, which can affect your physical and mental health,” she says, adding that it’s been passed down from her ancestors for millennia.

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See also: Is home your happy place? Here’s how to organize your home to support spiritual well-being

The healing properties of sage in indigenous culture

“Sage is one of the most grounding oils that calms the nervous system and balances your hormones. It activates intuition, wisdom, calm, contentment, self-love and sexuality. Sweet grass also has similar healing properties,” explains Angela.

A bunch of sage in a white background

How to ethically handle smudge in your home

As described in the Smudging Protocol and Guidelines, “The act of cleansing the air, mind, spirit, and emotions can be accomplished in a number of ways, but according to First Nations practice, a smudge is directed by a person who has an understanding of it what a stain is and why it is made.”

If you’re looking to soil your home, Angela recommends starting at your local Indigenous Canadian community center. You will likely be able to find an elder who can help. In fact, a lot of work goes into the right incense rituals, which can take several hours if done correctly.

“For example, you are moving to a new home and want to remove negative energy. In this case, you need to blur very systematically. You need to open every room in your house: every drawer, every closet door, and every place where negative energy can hide. Smearing means moving clockwise, starting from the east of your house.” Although Angela explains that you can use smudging for your physical and mental well-being, such as when you are scared or want to smear a small space, this is only considered temporary viewed.

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Much like any spiritual or cultural practice, smudging must be treated with reverence. However, there is another level to consider when it comes to Canada’s Indigenous history.

Related: The best herbs and medicinal plants to grow indoors this spring

Defamation Practices in Canada

“It’s often forgotten that it was illegal for Native Americans to perform ceremonies and use our medicines during the Indian Act,” says Angela. The Indian Act gave the Canadian government power over First Nations identity, governance, and cultural practices from 1876 to 1985. “We were jailed for something as simple as burning sage or sweet grass. This is also why it is harmful for many communities to buy something from indigenous cultures and sell it for a profit.”

It’s also important to make sure you’re buying sage from an authentic indigenous brand or individual. “When mainstream retailers sell things like incense burner kits for your home, it becomes a commodity that sells for a profit,” says Angela. “There must be a recognition of a connection to Native Americans and the importance of Indigenous cultural practices.”

Also, wild sage will not regrow if overpicked. Purchasing sage from an unethical source could mean you are funding the decontamination of vital medicines for indigenous communities.

Bring indigenous wellbeing into your home

Using her knowledge of Mother Nature’s healing properties, Angela began making all-natural soy candles from indigenous medicinal plants. As the pandemic began, she realized she could help people calm their fears during a challenging time and LODGE Candles was born.

A candle called CEREMONY was made to capture the scent of a traditional lodge ceremony, sitting next to a sacred fire. Designed to improve the mind, body and spirit, CEREMONY uses cedar, sage, sweetgrass and tobacco essential oils.

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LODGE Ceremony Candle

CEREMONY, LODGE Soy Candles, $72.

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Unsplash and LODGE Soy Candles.

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