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Song Magic News


March 2003
Issue 16

In This Issue

The Ancient Arts of Smudging - Part 1 of 3

Never Stop Dreaming The Dream


(excerpt from a lecture by Kay Whitaker from her Teacher Training Program.)

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, tobacco leaves.

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 Sundance ceremony.

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 Sundance?

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 smudge.

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 area.

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.

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Never Stop Dreaming The Dream

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