(excerpt from a lecture by Kay Whitaker from her Teacher Training
KAY: Right now Iíd like to get into the smudges and how
smudges, the smoke of the different herbs, changes your vibration. The
smoke of the different herbs carries the medicine thatís in the plant.
It carries the chemicals. It can carry the spirit of the plant. And it
can carry their medicine energies.
Smudge changes your vibrational levels - of your aura, your body,
your brain: everything. Very much in the way that sound does. It can
clean your entire auric field and your body - if you let it. Big key
right there. Youíve got to let it. It can carry with it any of the
healing medicines that come with the plant, qualities that are known to
be with the entities of that plant nation. You can call the spirits of
the smudge plants. You can clean the energy fields of a space, a room.
You can clean the energy field of a space outside. It can energize,
relax, heal, remove shock.
Many different plants have been used as smudge or incense world wide.
One of the most common, well-known on all the continents, are resins of
trees. Other forms are the leaves, flowers, roots, stems, seeds. In
America sage is a very big smudge. Big favorite. And sweet grass. Cedar.
Juniper. In some places other conifer trees are used because they donít
have cedar or juniper. Whateverís local tends to be used. Oak leaves are
used. Eucalyptus leaves. Mullein leaves. Osha root. And of course,
In Central and South America, especially South America, tobacco is
the favorite for smudge. And they use profuse quantities of it.
Sometimes they get it smoking on a coal. But most of the time, what they
do is they roll it up like a cigar. They roll up big leaves like a cigar
and they puff and puff and puff and puff. They blow it all over their
subject and they really cloud up the whole area.
All of these different smudges work very well. They all have
something special about them as to why you might use one instead of
another at a different time.
Sage cleans. Itís like a psychic sanitizer. Itís extremely healing,
nourishing to your energy parts, your cell parts. Itís a protector. Sage
changes your vibration very rapidly. Itís pretty hard to resist if you
get a good dose of sage smoke. Itís pretty hard to resist the
vibrational change. It goes through and changes the vibrations in your
cells, brain waves, through your body, your whole energy field. It
shifts and lightens everything up - helps pull those masks aside a bit
and pry them loose. When you smudge a room with sage, you can clean out
all those nasty thought forms that are hanging out. A lot of the North
American Indians that use sage use quite a bit of it. And they use it to
cleanse, to sterilize, to re-energize, to fix the vibrational level of
just about anything.
When I was living on the Sundance grounds - there was a Lakota
Sundance ceremony being held there - one of the women was in labor in my
trailer and we had to keep a large amount of sage going. But what the
medicine man and his daughter did not tell me at the time, if she had
delivered in that trailer I would have been required by Lakota tradition
to take everything that was washable out and wash it. And for everything
else make huge pots of sage tea, scrub everything down - the walls, the
ceiling, the floors - every object. Then I would have to get these big
empty coffee cans punched full of holes and put charcoals inside with a
ton of sage. Thereís a wire put on top for a handle. You swing it and it
makes giant clouds of smoke. Really giant clouds. And I would have had
to go through the entire trailer inside and outside, over and over and
over again with this cloud of sage smoke.
STUDENT: Why? Because of her bleeding power?
The bleeding, the birthing power, yes. If she had delivered during the
STUDENT: Oh, during the ceremony. Okay.
KAY: It was the middle of the Sundance.
STUDENT: How does that make a difference in the middle of the
KAY: As it was, she finally decided that she would go to the
hospital, so we piled her in my car and she was lying down in the back.
There was a nurse and a midwife with her in the back, and the car behind
her full of men drumming and singing. I donít know if she could hear it,
but it did the men a lot of good. Meanwhile, everything that she had
been touching, wearing, laying on - all those blankets, the bedcovers,
all the clothes, all the towels - everything had to be bundled up in big
garbage bags and taken off the grounds immediately. And we just had to
do a mild smoke smudge all through the inside of the trailer.
STUDENT: Is it nasty or something?
KAY: No, itís not nasty. In these particular ceremonies, they utilize
what would be defined as a male energy. The Sundance ceremony has a male
orientation in its energy. And itís run by a man, a medicine man. A
womanís bleeding and birthing power is far, far more powerful than any
medicine man or anything he can conjure up. Or than any group can
conjure up. And whatever sheís thinking at the time, thatís where all
the power gets redirected to.
Everything that the ceremony is being put together for - everybodyís
prayers - instead of going to the healing and the well-being of their
family and all those things that they usually pray for - all the power
would go to whatever she was thinking. Thatís why they smudge to change
it, switch it. So then she has her power going to her birthing, to her
baby and her health and not the rest of the ceremony or somewhere else.
And the ceremony energy building and all of the peopleís prayers and
thoughts go to what they want to pray for, their intentions. Itís not
all mixed up. Thatís the way they think about it.
Cedar is another really big favorite in North America. It is also a
psychic sterilizer on a big scale. It has a slightly different vibration
than the sage. Each smoke is going to carry the medicine of the plant
used, just as if you were making tea out of it or you were trying to
make an ointment out of it. Many of the same qualities are available in
The cedar is a different spirit than the sage Ė a whole different
nation of beings. It has a different vibration to it, a different
signature, a different quality, a different entity involved. It is
extremely potent in its delivery of psychic cleaning. It can create
sacred space and hold it. It can clean through your cells, your whole
auric field, the whole space of a room or area outside.
Itís another favorite in Sundance. These swinging cans, making these
huge clouds of smoke, they usually burn sage or cedar with these things.
They donít mix the two; they keep them separate. But those are the two
big favorites for cleaning everything. The helpers at these ceremonies
have the big cans and anybody that comes on the grounds gets thoroughly,
thoroughly smudged before they can step anywhere in to the ceremony
One of the old stories about cedar is that Thunder Being, the big
Thunderbird, lives in the cedar tree. So cedar is connected to
lightning, storms, electricity, lightning medicines, fire. If you want
to wake people upÖput a lot of cedar on the charcoal, cedar is very
stimulating in that way, and it can help wake them up. By smudging you
can shift the vibration. When the smudge is outside the altar, the altar
itself will either let the smudge in or it wonít, and you have to leave
it up to the personís own spirit helpers as to whether or not theyíre
going to allow that smudge to get inside the altar. If you donít have
any cedar and you have sage, sometimes sage helps there. Sage tends to
be a little slower, quieter, smoother - so it doesnít give people that
boost of faster vibration or waking-up vibration that the cedar does.
STUDENT: Would cedar help when, Iím thinking of a situation when
people are edgy coming on to a thunderstorm and you can feel them
getting that edgy feeling? Will the cedar then help them calm down from
it? Or the dogs, or whatever?
KAY: Yes. Especially if you talk to the cedar. Sage would help also.
Each one of these smudges is an entity, and any time you use any herb,
whether youíre making a tea or youíre going to chew the herb, or youíre
going to put it in food, or youíre making some kind of an ointment, or
youíre using it as a smudge - this is like a person. Thereís an entity
there. Thereís a consciousness there. A whole personality.
Every single time you use them, you want to make contact with that
being. You want to greet it, and talk to it, thank it for being there,
and then would you please help me with cleaning this space out? Would
you help me wake this person up? Would you help me heal this person?
This personís really sick today, would you take that sickness away? If
you talk to the spirit of the smudge, you have a hundred times more
power than if you were just waving the smoke. Thereís medicines in the
smoke, and they do their thing. But if you leave the spirit out of it,
youíre leaving the best part out. Youíre wasting something.
Part 2 will be featured in one of the next issues of Song Magic News.