What Happens in a Smudging Ceremony?

At Quaaout Lodge and Spa at Talking Rock Golf Resort, we offer complementary daily smudges for our guests. If you haven’t attended a smudging ceremony before – or if you have and you would like to learn more information – read on!

The Purpose of Smudging

Smudging is an important part of Indigenous culture and spirituality that is performed for spiritual purposes. It has become popularized in Western culture the past few decades; however, Native Americans, Traditional First Nations peoples, and Indigenous peoples around the world – including in Canada – have performed smudging ceremonies for thousands of years. Smudging is a cleansing ritual that uses plants to create smoke – which is essentially a type of incense – that helps free participants from any negativity, anxieties, or dark moods or emotions they may be experiencing. In short, it clears negative energy; when you smudge, you call upon the Great Spirit or Creator to help rid participants and their surroundings of impurities.

Herbs Used During Smudging

There are four sacred medicines that are used during smudging:

Sage: Sage (often white sage) is renowned for being a medicine for women and represents the life force. It is typically gathered, bundled, and dried to form a stick.

Cedar: Cedar trees are known for their wisdom, and cedar is known for promoting positivity and connection. It is a medicine for protection that is used to clean, purify, and encourage balance.

Sweetgrass: Referred to as “the hair of Mother Earth,” or “holy grass,” sweetgrass is thought to bring prayers to the spirit world. Before it is burned, it is braided and then dried. It does not produce an open flame, but instead produces smoke that is sweetly scented. Sweetgrass is a symbol of kindness: as this plant only bends and does not break, it serves as a powerful reminder to be kind and not hostile when faced with injustice.

Tobacco: A sacred medicinal plant, tobacco is the ultimate gateway between the human world and the spiritual world. When tobacco is offered with a request that is accepted in return, it is a sacred promise.

The Ceremony

Typically, an Elder or traditional teacher guides participants through a smudge. It’s important to note that all participants should be willing; as respect for all is a key Indigenous principal, no one should ever be pressured to participate in a smudging ceremony.

During a smudging ceremony, the Elder or traditional teacher places one or more of the four sacred medicines in a smudge container such as a shell; a copper, brass, or cast-iron pan; or a stone bowl, which represents the first of the four elements (water) with the sacred plants representing the second (earth). Next, the medicine is ignited (with a wooden match if possible), and smoke rises, which brings forth the third element (fire) and forth element (air). Smudge sticks may also be used in certain circumstances. Hands or an eagle feather are used  to pull the smoke: first, to cleanse the hands, then over the head as a reminder to think good thoughts, then the eyes as a reminder to see good acts, over the ears as a reminder to hear good sounds, over the mouth as a reminder to speak good words, and over the whole body as a reminder to demonstrate goodness. At the end of the healing ceremony, the ashes are typically returned to Mother Earth.

Have a stay booked at Quaaout Lodge and would like to attend a smudge? We would love for you to join us. Contact our cultural department to reserve your exclusive spot today!