The Air Witch & Smudging Ceremonies

The Air Witch & Smudging Ceremonies

 

Smudging involves burning herbs and using the herbal smoke to cleanse and bless areas or people. It is a common and sacred practice.

Native Americans make use of three primary herbs for smudging: white sage, cedar, and sweet grass. The sage removes negative influences, the cedar cleanses the area, and the sweet grass calls in positive influences. The prayers said during the ceremony are lifted to the gods upon the smoke.

To smudge, place sand or salt in the bottom of a fireproof dish. If you are using a smudging wand, you can carry this dish beneath it to catch any hot ashes. If you are using a dried, crumbled herbal mixture, light a charcoal tablet and place it in the center of the bed of sand. Sprinkle the herbs over the charcoal as you move clockwise from area to area.

As you moved around the space wafting the smoke, say aloud, “Only love and light may dwell here. All other vibrations must leave this house {person, etc.}.” You may direct the smoke into corners and crevices with a feather, a fan, your breath, or your hand. When you have smudged the whole area, sweep the negative vibrations out the door and call in the positive vibrations that you want. Try something along the lines of, “Be gone, worry, pain, misery, and strife! Welcome, healing comfort, love and light!”

 

Psychic Protection for the Witch in Everyone!

Psychic Protection for the Witch in Everyone!

Find out more about psychic protection here…

Psychic Protection for the Witch in Everyone!
As part of the launch of my new book, The Witch’s Shield: Psychic Protection and Psychic Self Defense, I wanted to share the techniques that helped me maintain psychic boundaries and a healthy sense of safety. Though few of us learn them when we should, I really think they are basics of psychic hygiene. If you learn to take care of yourself on a daily basis, you can avoid problems in the future. I learned these techniques studying the art and science of witchcraft, hence the book title – The Witch’s Shield. I’ve shared them in classes for both witches and non-witches alike with great success.
Sometimes the word “witch” scares people off. I can understand that. I thought it was silly at first. When my first teacher, a good family friend, revealed she was a witch, I didn’t understand. But I soon found out the spiritual traditions of witchcraft stretch across the globe and throughout time. Witches were the priestesses and priests of the ancient world. They kept the mysteries of magick and psychic ability. A witch is someone who does magick, not only for her- or himself, but for the good of the community. Sometimes the first step in helping our communities, in helping the world, is helping ourselves by finding health, balance, and clarity. Only then can be devote energy to help others.
So, with that in mind, the wisdom of the witch broadens for us. We might not all identify spiritually as witches, but these techniques of psychic protection and magick are universal, and can apply to anyone as long as the person is open to magick, change, and personal responsibility. You will find similar wisdom in the traditions of shamanism, energy healers, ceremonial magicians, and other New Age seekers.

Here are seven psychic protection techniques from which anyone can benefit:

1 – Smudging – Smudging refers to passing yourself or an object through sacred smoke as a means of purification. When burned, certain herbs release a high vibrational energy that is used to purify unwanted, harmful forces – what most people call negative energy. Herbs like sage, cedar, sweet grass, pine, and lavender can be burned, as well as incenses such as frankincense, myrrh, and copal. Simply wave the smoking substance around you and make sure you pass through the smoke. Don’t do too much. It’s an energetic process, not a physical one, so you don’t have to feel like you are asphyxiating.

2- Sea Salt Bath – Similar to smudging, taking a sea salt bath can cleanse the physical body as well as the energy. Put two tablespoons of sea salt or kosher salt in your bath water and soak. Imagine all the stress and harmful energy you have accumulated or taken on from others flowing into the water. Sit in the bathtub as its drains and imagine it flowing down the drain, neutralized by the salt and water. I have a friend who puts a spray bottle of sea salt and water and gives herself a little spritz and sponge bath. The salt neutralizes any harmful energies, and then she just wipes it off. It’s a great way to clear yourself if you’re on the run and a bath is too time consuming.

3 – Amulet – Symbols and charms have long been lauded for their protective powers. In almost every culture, there is a tradition of wearing or carrying a particular amulet, often blessed by a priest/tess, to confer the powers of divine protection upon the wearer. Take a symbol you find sacred and divine. Find it in a jewelry or pendant form. If you cannot, try drawing the symbol on a piece of paper or wood, and carrying it with you. If you are Christian, use a cross. If you are Wiccan, use a pentacle. Hindu, try the Ohm symbol. There are a variety of symbols, from the Star of David to the Hammer of Thor. Find the one that speaks protection to you. Smudge the amulet and hold it in both hands. Think about protection and infuse your thoughts into the amulet, activating its power to protect in the name of your divinities. Carry the charm with you to receive its protection.

4 – Protection Stone – Like a symbolic amulet, you can carry a stone known for its protective and grounding qualities with you. Most dark colored stones have magical associations with protection. Some of my favorite choices are hematite, smoky quartz, onyx, obsidian, jet, and aragonite. Other stores that are protective include red jasper, amber, citrine, and clear quartz. Like an amulet, cleanse your stone and infuse your intention into it.

5 – Meditation – Meditation is one of the greatest keys to psychic defense. Regular meditation practice leaves you clear, centered, and in a mental place where you can respond to potential threats, rather than unconsciously react to them. It doesn’t matter the style or tradition of meditation. Regular practice is the key. You will not get the long term psychic protection benefits of meditation by doing it only once every few weeks. It must be like exercise, done regularly. I suggest at least three times a week. If you can do it daily, so much the better.

6- Healthy Emotional Boundaries – Emotional boundaries are not the most esoteric form of psychic defense, but one that quite a few people leave out. Sometimes psychic defense – particularly from people who are harmful to us, intentionally or unintentionally – is the ability to say “no” and stick to it. If someone asks you to do something or go somewhere, and you only say yes because you are afraid of being “mean” or “letting them down” but you know its not a good situation for you, you must learn to say no. As an adult, only you define what is acceptable and unacceptable in your life. Draw those boundary lines and stick to them.

7 – Living Your True Will – The best form of psychic self-defense is to live out your true will. What is your divine purpose? Find it! Then actually live it. If you are doing what you are meant to be doing, the universe will support you and very little anyone else does or says will be able to stop you. You true will, or what some call your magical will, is not your destiny. It doesn’t happen regardless. This your partnership with the divine. You must choose to fulfill it. But once you choose to be a full, conscious partner with the divine, you will have a divine protection that will help you in all of life’s difficult areas.

For more information and an expanded view on these techniques, and a whole philosophy on psychic protection, look to my full length work, The Witch’s Shield: Psychic Protection and Psychic Self Defense. May the divine guide, bless, and protect each of your steps.

Drying Herbs

Drying Herbs

Any fresh Herbs can be dried. They should be picked and tied in small bunches. Hang them in the kitchen or a well-ventilated shed to dry. As soon as they are dried out, they should be crumbled into jars and stored in a dark place–they might look decorative hanging up, but will soon become dusty and begin to deteriorate.

Grounding Your House: Creating the Right Energy Field for Your Home

Grounding Your House: Creating the Right Energy Field for Your Home

by Sienna

Home Sweet Home. Home is where the heart is. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

Humans pride themselves on living in large homes. We are the only species that creates homes much larger than the space that we need for sleep. Bees and ants create large homes, but only as the swarm or tribe grows. We don’t hibernate, nor do we share our stores with large groups. Therefore, we make sure that our homes can keep us warm in bad weather, provide us with a place to prepare meals, hold all our stuff and be a safe haven when the world outside turns bitter.

But if you are energy-sensitive or emotionally sensitive, you want to make sure your home is a pleasant place to be, a place of contentment, happiness and peace. Sometimes this is more difficult than it sounds, as negativity comes and goes through our lives. A bad day at the office can come home with us, make us slouch around the place, slam doors, insult the pet. If we live with others, their bad moods can affect us more than is commonly recognized. So how do you keep that energy from affecting your peaceful place of solace?

There are many ways to cleanse energy, such as smudging with sage, cleansing with sprinkled salt and water and doing banishment by a rote working. But trying to do these things while the thoughts of traffic jams and crappy work schedules cloud your mood is usually counterproductive. Who wants to go through the hassle of lighting that sage bundle when all you really feel like doing is lighting your boss’s house on fire? Usually, when we come into our houses feeling negative from the outside world, all we want is to sit undisturbed for a few minutes and get rid of that feeling. If your house is full of that feeling anyway, it makes finding a peaceful mood even more difficult.

The method I present can help you keep your house clear all the time. It doesn’t hurt to smudge or cleanse or banish daily as well. However, if you don’t have time, or you want to create that mellow feeling in a new place, this method really works.

I recommend doing this practice with any new home before you move in, while the place is still empty of furniture. Once you have the keys to your new place, you can slip in before the moving van shows up. It only takes a few minutes, and you can have all the necessary articles in a gym bag or other “incognito” carrying case if you don’t want to alert your new neighbors to your paganism. It works just as well with apartments on the fifteenth floor as it does with entire houses. If you want to ground a home that you already occupy, take into account the furniture layout and try to get as close to the walls with the cleansing as you can. In either case, if you’re concerned about neighbors’ opinions and are using a smoking sage bundle, keep it below window level until or unless you have privacy blinds or curtains in place.

Start by smudging, banishing or cleansing with salt and water, as you might already do. If you don’t know these methods, the easiest one to learn is cleansing with salt and water. Use sea salt and ordinary tap water or rain-caught water, and combine them in a special bowl or chalice. Then walk around the interior walls of your home clockwise, sprinkling the water sparingly as you go. The thoughts in your head should be of clearing out old negativity. Imagine the negativity scurrying out through the walls as you go around the edges of all the rooms, through doorways and past windows. Don’t skip over alcoves, closets or small rooms.

Once you have made an entire pass around the outer rooms, go to any rooms at the center of the home and make sure they are cleared also. You should feel a difference immediately. Next, find the middle of the floor plan. You can do this by looking around the place and estimating (if you have lived there long enough, this should be easy). By examining the floor plan on paper or measuring the distance between all the outer walls and calculating the center mathematically, you might be more exact, but you may also find that your center point is in the middle of a wall. If that is the case, then pick a point just to one side of the wall. If you have several floors, do this on the lowest floor or in the basement.

When you have located the center point of your home, sit there. In your typical meditative posture, calm yourself, center yourself and begin visualizing a large tree root growing from your body down through the floor and into the Earth. If you are above the ground floor, make that root go through the floors below you in a straight line downward. See that tree root go all the way to the hot molten center of Mother Earth, creating a flow of energy downward. You may be surprised when that warm Earth energy travels back up the root. This is clear, clean energy and will replace any negative energy you removed with the cleansing. If the flow upward doesn’t happen automatically, use your visualization ability to make it happen.

When you have established the flow of energy to and from the heart of the planet, use your mind to attach the energy permanently to the floor space you are sitting on. You can see it attached biologically (tendons), mechanically (bolts) or electronically (circuitry), whichever suits your personality best. Next, imagine that smaller roots reach sideways from the main root to the outer corners of the home. See these roots attach to the edges of the home in the same fashion, as many as you think necessary. When you are done, the system of roots might resemble a tree with your house perched in its branches.

Activate these smaller roots with the same flow as the main root. See all the energy from the corners of the house following the smaller roots to the main root, then down the main root to the heart of the Earth and the positive Earth energy following it back again. If you have several floors, make sure the small roots reach all the way up to the attic. If you are in an apartment, and you have people living below you, remember that the root is astral and will not negatively affect anyone or anything below you.

When you have that visualization in place, emphasize its permanence within your mind. Know that it will be there daily. Then open your eyes, and consider yourself finished.

This working will create an atmosphere in your home that is self-cleansing. All negativity will be funneled away and replaced with that good, clean Earth energy, every day, without you having to lift a finger. It is still a good idea to smudge or cleanse on a regular basis, but now you won’t have to do it until your mood is right.

When you come home each day from your daily schedule, remember that the root system is there, and allow it to pull that negativity from you as you settle in. This practice will go a long way toward helping you keep a peaceful, mellow atmosphere in your home.

Earth Herbs

Earth Herbs

 

 

Alfalfa: Alfalfa is kept in the home to protect against hunger and poverty. It is frequently burned and the ashes scattered around the home for the same reasons. It works well in money spells as well.

Barley: Barley is a healing herb and is known specifically to relieve toothaches. It is absorbent and will remove negative influences. Barley also can be scattered for protection.

Beet: Beet juice is sometimes used as magickal ink and as a substitute for blood in magickal use. It is known to attract love.

Buckwheat: Buckwheat is most often used in spells concerning money and/or protection. IT can be scattered, carried or burned.

Corn: Corn works well in matters involving fertility, luck and protection. It is frequently used in Sabbat rituals and as an offering.

Cotton: Cotton is known for it qualities of luck, healing and protection but has other specific uses as well. Burning cotton is thought to cause rain, while scattering cotton seeds assures a productive catch when fishing and repels ghosts. Cotton cloth is excellent for magickal use, as it is completely natural.

Cypress: Cypress is both a death herb and an immortality herb. It is a symbol of the crossover between the planes of life. It is a healing herb and is thought to increase one’s life span.

Fern: The fern improves health and increases luck and prosperity. It is an herb of exorcism and can banish any negative influences. It is said that burning the fern’s seeds will cause rain to fall, whereas carrying them will rend one invisible

Honesty: Also known as the silver dollar plant, honesty is used in prosperity spells and rituals.

Horehound: Horehound is protective and healing and is used in exorcism rituals. Drinking it is said to improve one’s mental powers.

Horsetail: Horsetail is used in fertility rituals and spells.

Knotweed: Knotweed is used in bindings and health spells. It is absorbent and therefore protective.

Loosestrife: Loosestrife holds within it the attributes of peace and protection. Simply scatter it around. It can also be given to someone to cease an argument.

Mugwort: Mugwort aids in astral projection, increases strength and psychic powers, and is protective. It is very useful in any type of intuitive work. (Note: Contact with mugwort may cause dermatitis. Also do not ingest.)

Oats: Oats are used primarily in money and prosperity spells.

Patchouli: Patchouli is useful in spells involving fertility or money. It is good substitute for graveyard dust.

Potato: The potato is often used as a poppet for image magick. It is also protective when carried.

Primrose: The primrose is carried to attract love. When growing in the garden, it attracts fairies. It also is said to protect against madness.

Quince: Eating quinces is said to promote love. If eaten while pregnant, it is thought to increase the intelligence of the child. The quince can be carried for protection.

Rye: Rye bread served to a loved one will ensure that your love is returned.

Sagebrush: Sagebrush, also known as white sage, is a cleansing herb. It has long been used by Native Americans in smudging ceremonies to drive away any negative influences.

Tulip: The tulip serves in matters of love, prosperity and protection. It may be carried or placed on the altar.

Turnip: Turnips is the home protect against every type of negativity. They are also used as poppets in image magick.

Vervain: The magickal use of vervain has been well documented throughout the ages. It was considered the most prized of the herbs among ancient Druids. It contains the magickal qualities of love, protection, purification, peace, youth, chastity, money, healing and sleep.

Vetivert: Vetivert is most useful as a curse-breaking herb. It also attracts money and luck

Wheat: Wheat attracts money and fertility.

Wood sorrel: Wood sorrel is a healing herb when placed in a sick-room or carried.

Beyond the Smudge Stick

Beyond the Smudge Stick

Author: Amy

Do you find the smoke of smudge sticks to be, well, wimpy? Is what you need a truly cleansing smudge? Then try some Hibachi Herbal Magic. Tossing loose herbs on hot charcoal is style of smudge favored by the Mesoamerican indigenous for a few thousand years, like this recent experience of mine in the Mayan Yucatan:

A red glow danced across Paloma’s dark skin as she leaned toward the modest bonfire, using a small stone rake to draw steaming embers to the edge. She deftly a large terra cotta chalice with one hand to scoop up hot charcoal and tossed on copal granules from a bowl with the other, quickly rising up and walking toward me in a cloud of thick white smoke. With a few swift motions up my body, she enveloped me in swirling copal fumes.

To become immersed in smoke is a baptism, a complete submission to another world. The animated smoke feels alive with strong aromas that can transport the mind and liberate the spirit. If you have herbs, a fire container and charcoal, you can do this, too.

More Than Sage

In making a smudge stick you’re limited to herbs still on their stems. But with loose herbs on hot charcoal, the possibilities are boundless, with not only leafy herbs but resins such frankincense, sandalwood and other woods, plus seeds, flowers, berries and a plethora of essential oils.

Ooomph up a sage smudge with super purifiers like blue vervain. Add in protective herbs so that the vigorous cleansing doesn’t leave you vulnerable. Tailor the smudge for your event, using a rich, sweet myrrh and mugwort-based blend for the emotional openness of Moon ceremonies. Salute the Sun with a mix emphasizing rosemary and bay laurel for a sharp aroma that will quicken the mind.

A smudge can be fashioned for any sabbat, with Beltane and Summer Solstice bonfires having strong herbal traditions. A male-honoring smudge might be musky with highly spiced overtones. One for women could reflect their complexity, with sweet and warm aromas brightened with elements of green herbs and grounded with earthiness.

Here’s an example of a woman-honoring smudge:

Feminine Focus

Aroma: resinous – sweetly musky with spicy overtones
Ceremonial Use: purifications; Venus, Moon and women’s ceremonies
Significant Days: New and Full Moons; goddess and divine feminine days

Preparation Notes: Crush the cardamon pods, myrrh, sandalwood and valerian root, if necessary, and grind into a rough powder. Add thyme and blue vervain and blend.

cardamon (or cardamom) pods1/2 cup 1 part
myrrh resin 1 cup 2 parts
sandalwood 1/2 cup 1 part
thyme 1/4 cup 1/2 part
valerian root 1/2 cup 1 part
vervain, blue 1/2 cup 1 part

The warm aroma and purifying qualities of the lunar myrrh and sandalwood are paired with purification punch of blue vervain and thyme. Valerian provides relaxed grounding, while cardamon adds spice and pays tribute to Venus, the goddess of love. (See note about balancing with solar blends in Lunar Purification, below.)

More Than Smudge

You can push smudges a step further with adult-only blends that I call immersents. The smudges are done naked or lightly clothed. Active ingredients in the smoke are absorbed through bare skin and inhaled into the lungs. They should only be done with lung-buffering herbs like coltsfoot and great mullein to counter the stress of inhaling smoke.

Immersents are ideal for situations when you want to create a mind-altering effect in participants in a mild and gradual way so the gathering doesn’t go all wacko. Hibachi Herbal Magic is not for parties, but can be used to take your mind to new places.

Psychotropic herbs can be used to foster passion and induce trances, deepen divination and cause prophetic dreams. Some facilitate deep meditation. None should be used if driving within three hours of partaking.

Even if mind altering is not what you seek, you can guide your gatherings with non-ceremonial inhalants for sharpening the mind when folks have gotten too loose or chilling out when overly revved up.

It’s Better Together

One of the cool things about Hibachi Herbal Magic is the way it puts the herbs and their power at center stage. When being blessed with a smudge stick, I’m always aware of the person who’s doing the smudging. But with loose herbs on a hibachi of hot charcoal, it’s just the smoke and the smudgee.

Everyone’s been through the interminable wait while the circle is smudged with a stick. But with Hibachi Herbal Magic, to smudge a group of people they just have them stand downwind, or use large hand fans to direct the smoke. Using the Mesoamerican chalice technique you can still smudge people individually, while doing it quicker and with a more potent smoke.

Hibachi Herbal Magic can also sub for a Beltane or Summer Solstice bonfire in places where open fires are not allowed. A leap through the smoke of special seasonal herbs can be a perfect conclusion to a ceremony. It’s very tactile and memorable!

But the technique also excels for individuals and small groups. It’s an awesome experience to do Hibachi Herbal Magic alone; it’s like a dance with the smoke. Either way, you can even straddle the hibachi and smudge the goods!

Fire Up!

The whole igniting-charcoal-in-the-hibachi thing can be intimidating for the barbeque-impaired. It all depends on the charcoal you use. Self-lighting charcoal briquettes are a breeze; one flick of a Bic will get them started.

Natural charcoal or regular briquettes are by far the more environmental option. Both use waste from lumber processing, with pre-charred wood scraps making natural charcoal and sawdust mixed with binder for briquettes. Or look for treeless briquettes made from coconut shells, which have a great aroma.

Use ethanol a plant-derived lighter gel, which is essentially liquefied Sterno, for the complete green approach. Using a charcoal chimney can will help the lighting process immensely.

Charcoal fires can a bit of an art, and a messy one at that, but worth it. The poised glowing fire of the hot embers provides a powerful focus point for any gathering. The clouds of smoke redolent with complex aromas can focus and entrance a crowd, quickly transporting them out of the ordinary in a very whole-bodied way.

Desert Sage Bundles

Desert sage also clears energy but in a different way. While white sage purifies by lifting vibrations and dissolving negativity, desert sage moves the vibrations around in a happy way so that bad vibes just naturally don’t feel like hanging out. For this reason, it has been used as a magickal “road-opener.” If you’ve been feeling stuck in your life, and you’d like to clear the way for new opportunities and unexpected avenues, burning desert sage in your home and around your aura is a good idea. Concentrate especially at thresholds and doors, in order to open new doors in your life. Its smoke has a very sweet personality and can create feelings of safety, coziness, and playfulness. Desert sage is good to burn in a new place to help you feel relaxed and at ease in the new environment, and to help make it your own. It can also call spirits of ancestors and deceased loved ones into your space.

White Sage Bundles

If you only have one magickal housekeeping tool or ingredient, a white sage bundle should be it. This is because burning white sage lifts vibrations, releases stuck energy protects from negativity, and creates sacred space. If any sort of negative events takes place in your space, you can burn white sage to quickly and effectively purify the residual energy from the event. It is also just a good practice to burn it periodically for general purification. After you burn it, you’ll definitely notice a positive difference in the feeling and atmosphere of a room.

To burn it, just light the bundle and carefully shake it over a dish or the sink until the flame goes out but it is still smoking. Carry the a dish under the burning up tip to catch any falling ash, and move around the perimeter of each room you’d like to purify, taking as much time with each area as your intuition guides you to. You can also burn it around your body to purify your energetic body and aura.

Smudge Sticks

Smudge sticks are tied-up or braided bundles of dried herbs that care carried and burned like incense around a room or area in order to create energetic shifts with the magickal power of the smoke.

You can purchase smudge stick online or at many health and metaphysical stores,  or you can make your own. To make your own sage smudge stick simply cut fresh sage and tie firmly into a wand like bundle with hemp twine or  cotton . Then  hang it up to dry. For sweetgrass braids you’re on your own–I’ve never made on of the ssweetgrass braids, but I would imagine it’s pretty easy if you know where and how to find fresh sweetgrass.

Personal note: I prefer to use sage. I know most spells that use sage call for the use of white sage. But I have found that every type of sage works. I planted a garden full of sage. In my opinion, you can never have enough sage. You use it to cleanse and you also use it in your spells. So the more sage you have, the better off you are.

 

Smudging as an Air Ritual

Smudging as an Air Ritual
 
Smudging is an easy Air ritual designed to purify, provide balance, cleanse, or sanctify a sacred space. You can smudge a room, a piece of furniture, or even yourself.
 
Let’s say that you inherit a bookcase from your in-laws. You need the extra room, but you want to eliminate their essence. A smudging ritual can purify the bookcase and bring some harmony back to your living space.

There are any number of smudging herbs, but some are more traditional than others. These three are most closely related to the Element of Air:

Sage–There are several different kinds of sage, and all types work for smudging, but perhaps the king of sage is white broadleaf sage. It is the most aromatic and is excellent not only for smudging to cleanse and purify, but also for meditation.


Sweetgrass–As its name suggests, sweetgrass produces a sweet, light fragrance when burned. Believed to attract only positive spirits, it is excellent for cleansing a sacred space.
 
Lavender–Most useful for attracting peace, happiness, and restful sleep, lavender imparts a lovely aromatic, refreshing scent when burned.
 
Smudging can be accomplished by using a smudge stick or by burning loose herbs in a smudge pot or a firebowl. First dry the herbs by hanging them upside down in a still room, a pantry, or some other dry room where they won’t be disturbed. They will need to dry for several weeks.

If you want to use a smudge stick, cut your dried herbs into 5- or 6-inch lengths, bundle them together , and bind them tightly with red thread, which represents the Fire Element. Use a candle to light the bundle because you will want to hold it in the flame long enough to get the stick really smoking. The combination of Fire and Air purifies the space or object and disperses negative energy. Use a feather or your hand to fan the smoke into the corners of the room you’re purifying. Smudging is the equivalent of spritual spring cleansing. You might find that the house feels cleaner and brighter, even though you haven’t dusted or vacuumed.
 
Sweetgrass is often braided into a small rope to be used in smudging. Tie off the ends with red thread. Although you can find sweetgrass growing wild in some prairie places, it’s rare; you might have to grow your own.