Alan Wood – Smudging Ceremony

During the Newark Well Being Show, Alan Wood performed a Lakota Indian Smudging Ceremony.

Alan has travelled numerous times to America to talk with the famous tribes. Over the years he has built a special relationship with the Lakota Tribe: and is fortunate to taken part in some of their ancient ceremonies.

During the Newark Well Being Show, Alan performed an authentic smudging ceremony.  Alan confirms people can follow this description and achieve excellent results.

The herb used for this smudging ritual is North American sage. Although, some tribes prefer sweet-grass or cedar wood. American white sage is used because this ritual follows the Lakota method is to add tobacco leaf. 

The purpose of smudging is the remove evil spirits surrounding the body. Another use is for the cleansing of one’s living area. The principal is the same; dried herbs are burned. And the smoke cleanses the living area, by absorbing the negative spirits and taking them to the Great Spirit whey they are dissolved. Be careful not to focus solely on the word Spirit, removal of negative vibrations, energy, poor attitude, aggressive thought, selfishness is the intention.

For reference only: 

A traditional understanding is: the smoke carries prayers into the spirit world. You can use white sage for this purpose and take this aspect as far as your spiritual imagination will take you!

It is essential to understand that while the leaves smoulder the healing spirits of the plant are asked to cleanse your spirit. So, how are the leaves prepared? Alan surprises us as he took the smudge stick apart! He selects enough leaves to cover the bottom of the shell, and then he adds a pinch of tobacco! 

“The Lakota consider tobacco leaf as a sacred herb. Do not forget tobacco is native to the Americas”.

Some tribes consider the shell as holding the spirit of a sea creature. This is why you’ll see some people performing the ritual using a clay bowl. The shell is fine if you thank the spirit of the sea creature for its gift. Again we learn the lesson of thanks and gratitude to the Great Spirit and Mother Earth. 

A lighter sets light to the mixture and once a decent flame takes hold Alan blows it out. The mix continues to smoulder, and a considerable amount of smoke is produced. Its aroma is enjoyable, the two herbs producing a unique fragrance. Alan keeps the leaves smoking by fanning the shell with bound feathers. Alan provides an insight into the feather fan.

“These are traditional eagle feathers found in woods. No way would a Lakota or any native American harm the sacred bird. The feathers have to be ‘found’ and therefore highly prized. Any feather or a few feathers bound together will make an excellent fan. Remember to use ‘found’ feathers and thank the spirit of the bird for its gift. All the traditions and rituals show incredible reverence to the Earth, mother nature, and animals. Respect of life is fundamental to native mysticism.” 

The Solo Ritual:

Remember to ask the healing spirit of the herbs to cleanse your spirit. As the leaves burn place your hands into the smoke and rub your hands on or around your body. ‘Cupping’ the smoke and offering it to The Great Spirit is another option.  As already mentioned: when herbs are burned for prayer, imagine the smoke taking messages to the spirit realms. 

Ceremonial Ritual:

Alan first discovers the direction of north. The man who he is working withstands before him with North behind him. Alan holds the shell and fans the smoke toward the man from his feet to his head: he says “Great Spirit cleanse the spirits to the North.” Alan move’s around the person in a clock-wise direction repeating the words to The Great Spirit. Once the four incantations are made Alan spend some time in deep thought and finishes with words of thanks: “

I comment that the ritual is surprisingly moving – Alan replies:

“Consider this simple ritual is hundreds of years old. It passes down through the Native elders. They teach that before a person can be healed the person must be cleansed of any bad feelings, thoughts or spirits. This ritual is focussed on this intention. Once cleansed, the individual can be healed physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Question: Can follow this simple ritual?

“Why not? The Elders teach their rituals are for all men. The Great Spirit sees all life as equal. Why should there be limitations? All humanity can find the sage, tobacco shell and feathers; therefore all who source the items can perform the ritual. Remember, we are not only using smoke to cleanse our spiritual self. It is a precursor to healing. It does not heal; it clears the body in preparation for healing. When a person uses the ritual for self-clearing of negative spirit, attitude, thoughts: he wafts the smoke around his body with the intent of purification. When the ritual is finished, the healing can begin.”

Question: “What about clearing a living space?”

“It is the same principle. The smoke carries the negativity out to the Great Spirit. Always remember to thank the spirit of the herbs: and the tools of the ritual if Mother Earth provides them. Enter each room in turn with the intent that the smoke is carrying the negative spirits up to Great Spirit. This is why you should open all window and doors after the ritual; the smoke  takes the negative spirit out of the living space.”

Question: “Do you have to use sage and tobacco?”

“This is my way and the way of the Elders who taught me the simple ritual. Remember, in Europe, The Middle East and Asia powerful incense is used in many religious and spiritual rituals. Indeed, Frankincense and Myrrh are mentioned in early religious texts. The word incense is derived from ‘frank-incense’. A sage smudging ritual is not exclusive; a good quality incense in a similar ceremony can be used for the same intention. Do not make the common mistake of believing the Native American Rituals are any more effective or authoritative than others.”

Alan Wood is an amazing man. His dedication to understanding native American traditions has enabled him to take part in rituals with this incredible tribe. His last statement is balanced and typical of his attitude of fairness, kindness and love.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting insights into Native Americans’ cleansing and healing . Alan Wood is a knowledgeable gentleman indeed–a true shaman!

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