My sage plants –who have seemed to play dead in past seasons– decided to go crazy this year! So Robin and Lynn from RL Linden & Co (you know, the awesome plant ladies who make amazing products and we all absolutely adore) came over to show me what I could do with them. I was super stoked they were up for doing this with me bc they’re currently prepping for their Autumn Witch & Bitch class they hold in collaboration with the lovely Shae from DRAM Apothecary. The focus this session is fire and they’ll be teaching a more in-depth look at smudging traditions.
In my yard I have Russian Sage with flowers, Silver Sage, and Lavender. We decided to use these plants to make smudge sticks. I have used smudge sticks of sage in the past to clear the air: lighting it I slowly and prayfully take it around the house and the corners of the rooms to refresh the stale air both literally and spiritually. I did this a lot when I was readying for Harriet’s arrival. And I recently did it when I had uneasy exchange with a stranger who was in my home to clean my couch. For me, it is a reset button of the energies in the home; making space for the good vibes I want to be surrounding my family.
I am not Native American and I understand I am not necessarily using smudge-sticks (not a Native American term) in the original way. Using the spirit of the tradition I must say here that I AM appropriating it for my use and do not claim to be adhering strictly to any historical cultural rituals. I mean not to offend and do believe strongly we all have a lot to learn from other cultures and spiritual practices. Being a Christian, I find that smudging my home –as well as meditating and celebrating new and full moons, among other non-Christian practices– has led me to a much deeper love of the God I serve of the world He created and all that is in it, as well as a deeper respect for the mysteriousness of the spiritual and mystical realm.
Robin and Lynn explained that first, before I begin harvesting the plants, I must give an offering to the ground from which they came. This time with them I gave a couple strands of my hair. When I went out another time, I spread cornmeal around the plants. Breast milk, they said, would also be a very meaningful option. Then, as I cut each stem I said a silent thanks for what I was able to receive. I must say this was my first time talking to plants and I felt humbled and grateful.
In addition to my sage and lavender, Robin brought some herbs from her home garden. Clockwise starting from the left and looping in is: || mugwort || silver sage (female) || lemon thyme || lavender || flowering oregano || lemon balm || motherwort || yarrow || spearmint ||
We laid them out and got to work. Essentially, you make a thick bundle of one or multiple herbs. I discovered that the smell of flowering oregano is quite heavenly indeed and the aroma that sage leaves on my fingertips is one I want to carry around with me everywhere. You can cut the plants to any length before you bundle or choose to have long bundles. I quickly took the cue from Lynn and Robin that there is no wrong or right way to do it. One thing for sure, it was a beautiful way to slow us all down in the middle of our busy day.I felt so blessed in this moment: crafting this useful and beautiful item while communing with women I greatly admire.
Once you have your bundle ready, tie a knot with your string (100% cotton) at the bottom around the stems leaving about 2 inches of loose string. Then tightly wind the string up around to the top of the bundle and then back down, overlapping the wound string, creating a criss-cross-like pattern. When you get back to the bottom, tie this end with the 2 inch loose string. You can choose to trim both ends to make them even, or let the tops frill out more wildly.
Once done, I tied more string around the bases and hung them from hooks in my porch to dry. I left them there just a little over one week. If you live in more humid climate (Denver is dry dry dry) then leave them hanging to dry for longer, or find a dry spot inside to either hang or lay them out. If you do lay them out, make sure you turn them throughout the week so that all sides can properly dry out.
We made lots! And I’m stoked to be offering one of the smudge sticks we made to one of you readers! In addition to a smudge stick, RL Linden & Co is adding their roll-on Ironwood Signature Perfume Oil to the pot. But wait! There’s more! DRAM Apothecary is also throwing in a tin of DRAM Woodlands Loose Leaf Tea.
Please leave a comment below saying what ceremonies or rituals (traditional or personal) you practice at home to focus yourself or calm yourself or get centered or send out good juju. Want more ways to win?
I’ll pick a winner next Friday!