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Incense, Smudge & Prayer Feathers

Incense

Incense, resins and botanicals are still used today in various Native American, metaphysical ceremonies and rituals to promote the state of mind necessary to rouse and direct personal energy. The fragrant smoke purifies a room of negative vibrations. Incense is used for meditation or for simply scenting a room. The aromatherapy of scent can be used by burning candles, incense and also, resins and herbs available in their raw form by placing them on top of burning charcoal tablets.

The ancient Chinese believed that different scents induced different reactions such as tranquility and peaceful solitude. You may want to develop a signature scent or scents in your home of office so people will be instantly transported to a time they are reminded of happy times in the company of friends.

Ten Virtues of Incense 

By an anonymous 6th Century, Zen Monk

1) Incense brings communication with the transcendent.
2) It purifies the mind and body
3) It removes unseemliness.
4) It brings alertness
5) It is a companion to solitude.
6) In the midst of activity, it brings a moment of peace.
7) When there is plenty, one never tires of it.
8) When there is little, still one is satisfied.
9) Age does not change its efficacy.
10) Used every day, it does no harm. 
                                                              

 

 

 

Smudges and Smudging

Smudges are used to cleanse, purify, protect and remove negative energy. It has been used by Native American and others for thousands of years. The smudges most used by Native Americans are sage, sweet grass, cedar and in central and South America copal resin. In the East Frankincense and Myrrh resins have been used by Christians and Jews for purification and protection. The most common smudges used in smudging ceremonies are, Cedar, Copal, Sage, Lavender and Sweet Grass.

Sage, Cedar and Sweetgrass can be purchased and burned in small bundles. These can also be cut up and mixed together and burned. Sometimes these mixtures will contain Lavender flowers, as Lavender is used in love and healing rituals and promotes sleep and peace. 

It is traditional to burn the smudge in something made of the earth such as an abalone,  clam or oyster shell, clay pot or flat or concave rock. These can be purchased at most metaphysical stores and some rock shops.  Pour a small amount of mixture into the shell and light it on fire. Let the mixture catch on fire and then gently blow out the flame and let the smudge herbs smolder. This will create a small stream of smoke.  Now, you will use your feather to guide the smoke around yourself or the room.  

To Sage Your Home:

After lighting the bundle of sage and other herbs and blowing it out, take the smokey mixture and your prayer feather (any feather or fan will do) and walk from room to room in your home.  

Hold the shell in one hand by the edge. Be careful, for the bottom of the shell will be hot.

Use the feather to guide the smoke in a clockwise fashion in every corner of the room. Use the feather to guide the smoke and sweep the negative energy out. Say a prayer or say what it is you intend the smudge to do. For example if you are removing negative energy, set an intention to do so. Say and think it, while you are smudging the room. You may also ask for protection and purification while smudging.

Remember, you can also ask your Angels and Guides to help you clear the negative energy from your home or any space. 

When you are done smudging the room,  your home or other space, simply snuff out the end of the bundle or place a bigger bowl over your mixture in the shell and it will extinguish itself.

Resins, such as copal, frankincense and myrrh are burned on tablets of charcoal.

Spiritual and Magical Properties Incense and Smudge

AFRICAN VIOLET: used for spirituality and protection.
ALOESWOOD: used for spirituality, meditation, luck, love and to strengthen other incenses.
AMBER: used in healing, meditation.
APPLE:
used in love, peace and happiness.
BAMBOO: Bamboo is the stick used to hold the herbs and resins in most stick incense. It has magical uses of its own. It is used in divination in Chinese Temples. Used in luck, protection and hex-breaking rituals.
BANANA: used for fertility, potency and prosperity rituals.
BASIL: used for happiness, peace and money.
BAY: used for psychic awareness and purification.
BENZOIN: used for purification, prosperity, knowledge, peace, and psychic protection
BERGAMOT: used for peace, happiness, restful sleep.
CAMOMILE: used for sleep, meditation and peace.
CAMPHOR: used for purification, physical energy and celibacy.
CEDAR: used for purifying, protection and to banish bad dreams. Used by Native Americans in sweat lodges to release heavy emotional energies.
CHAMPA: used for meditation and for creating your sacred space. An auric energizer. It brings one's energies into harmonious balance.
CHERRY: used to attract love and divination.
CINNAMON: raises spiritual and protective vibrations, stimulates psychic powers, physical energy.
COPAL, BLACK: used in immunity, heart rituals, purification. An earthy, spicy Copal. Burned during "Day of the Dead" Celebrations.
CLOVE: used to drive away hostile, negative forces, a psychic enhancer. It is also used to produce spiritual vibrations and to purify the area.
CLOVE: u
sed to drive away hostile, negative forces, a psychic enhancer. It is also used to produce spiritual vibrations and to purify the area.
DESERT SAGE: used to drive out bad spirits, feelings and influences. An important, strong, herbaceous Native American Plant. Burned for wealth, wisdom, knowledge, protection, and purification.
DRAGON'S BLOOD: Resin from the palm tree. It is used in rituals involving love, protection and exorcism. Burned for consecration, protection, good luck.
EUCALYPTUS: used in healing and to maintain good health, purification and protection.
FRANGIPANI: used for psychic work to restore peace and harmony with its soothing vibrations.
FRANKINCENSE: used as an incense for purification, spiritual growth, knowledge and meditation. Has been used for over 3,000 years and is still burned in Catholic churches.
FRANKINCENSE & MYRRH: A powerful combination that is used for spirituality, healing, protection and exorcism. Used as an incense for purification, spiritual growth, knowledge and meditation.
GARDENIA: used in love spells and to attract good, peaceful spirits during rituals. Possesses very high spiritual vibrations. Also used for peace and love.
GERANIUM: used for happiness and protection.
GINGER: Used in money and success rituals, for psychic growth, success, sex, love money and courage.
GUM ARABIC POWDER: used in protective and psychic awareness rituals. Burned for purification.
HONEYSUCKLE: used for love, fidelity, money, protection and clairvoyance. A mental stimulant that aids intuition and psychic perception.
HYACINTH: used for love, protection, happiness and overcoming grief. Guards against nightmares.
HYSSOP LEAF: used for wealth and psychic protection
IRIS: used for love and psychic awareness.
JASMINE: used to create prophetic and psychic dreams, love, peace, spirituality and raising vibrations.
JUNIPER: used to promote psychic powers, protection, purification and healing. Guards against evil and sickness. Used in sick rooms throughout Europe.
LAVENDER: used in love and healing rituals. Used to attract and protect relationships. Promotes sleep and peacefulness.
LEMONGRASS: used for psychic awareness and purification.
LILAC: used for love, protection, exorcism and protection. Brings peace and harmony into everyday life.
LIME: used for purification, physical energy and protection.
LOTUS: The Lotus has been long revered in the East as a mystical symbol of life, spirituality and the center of the universe. Burned for protection and as a sacred offering to the Gods. It is said to attract good fortune and love while promoting long life.
MACE: used for psychic awareness.
MAGNOLIA: used for fidelity and love.
MELON: used for healing and health.
MIMOSA: used for psychic dreams and love.
MUGWORT: used for psychic awareness, psychic dreams and astral projection. MUSK: used for protection, enlightenment and sexual magnetism. Stimulates self-confidence, determination and enhances extroversion.
MYRRH: Was used in the temple of Isis. Great meditation and contemplation incense. Used or protection, spirituality, healing and stimulates crown chakra. NAG CHAMPA: A blend of costly, highly fragrant rare gums, resins & powders for meditation and for creating your sacred space. An auric energizer. It brings one's energies into harmonious balance.
NUTMEG: used for physical energy, magical energy, psychic awareness and money.
OSHA: A plant revered by all Native American healers for its powerful healing abilities. Used to treat respiratory and rheumatic complaints.
ORANGE: used for beauty, luck, fidelity, love, purification, joy and physical energy.
PEPPERMINT: used for healing, protection, prosperity, growth and renewal.
PINE: used for healing, purification, protection, grounding, physical and magical energy.
PINEAPPLE: used for luck, money and chastity.
PINION PINE: used in healing, money, exorcism and protection rituals.
PLUMERIA: used for peace and love.
ROSE: used in love, luck, grief and healing rituals. Induces thoughts of loving affection and peaceful harmonious vibrations. Used for prophetic dreams.
ROSEMARY: used as powerful cleansing and purifying vibrations. One of the oldest incenses. Used in love, healing and mental rituals. Stimulates memory and clarification.
SAFFRON: used for love, healing, happiness, lust, strength and clairvoyance.
SANDALWOOD: used for spiritual awareness, meditation and psychic development.
STAR ANISE: used for psychic awareness. Sacred Japanese temple incense used to drive away negativity and to bring good luck
STRAWBERRY: used for love and luck.
SWEETGRASS: used to purify spaces and to attract positive influences.
SWEETPEA: used for happiness and courage.
TEA, GREEN: used for money, courage and strength.
TUBEROSE: used to ward off evil and negativity. It restores happiness, peace and harmony.
VANILLA: used for love, lust, healing, luck and mental powers.
VERBENA, LEMON: used or carried for protection and love.
WHITE SAGE: used to purify and protect objects, places and people.
WISTERIA: used for protection and calling higher spiritual forces.
WOOD BETONY: used in protection and reunion rituals.
YARROW: used for psychic awareness, courage and love.
YERBA SANTA LEAF: used to drive out negative influences and restores a guarded boundary of protection.
YLANG-YLANG: used for peace, sex, love, calming and tension relieving.

Prayer and Smudge Feathers

Prayer and Smudge feathers are traditionally used with burning sage, herbs or incense during prayer or cleansing ceremony.  The feather directs the smoke where you want it to go such as to the Great Spirit or to cover yourself or a space for protection.

“The smudging ceremony has been a sacred ritual for the Native American and for many other tribal peoples for thousands of years. It is a ritual of cleansing and purification for the physical ands spiritual bodies. Smudging is used to cleanse energy fields of each person, animal, rock, plant or home,” Silver Wolf Walks Alone.

The feathers used for a ceremony are as important as the smudge. The Prayer feather has a vibration just as the cleansing herbs it is used with. These are vibrations from the color of the feather and the aura of the bird in which the feather came. The feather not only guides the sacred smoke around your body or room, it also fluffs up your auric field.

Birds of prey may be the most revered bird of the Native Americans and many tribes used their  feathers for decoration and ceremonies. Game and song birds were appreciated for their different qualities, symbols and totems in Native American culture. Turkey, Goose and Duck feathers are often used in Native American feather work such as ceremonial fans and headdresses. Song bird and exotic bird feathers from Central and South America were often traded among tribes and were considered very special for the medicinal qualities. In Mayan culture the Turkey was used to serve the elite and used in ceremonies for healing, planting and praying for rain according to Mauricio Espinoza.

Native peoples believe that all living things have lessons to teach us. Feathers can remind us of the wisdom, experience  and medicine power of  a particular bird.. Each bird has something they can teach us or has a special significance to each of us. Below are the meanings and special medicines and traits that are associated many types of birds. The birds highlighted in the color red are feathers we will work with to make your own Prayer or Smudge feather.

"If today I had a young mind to direct, to start on the journey of life, and I was faced with the duty of choosing between the natural way of my forefathers and that of the... present way of civilization, I would, for its welfare, unhesitatingly set that child's feet in the path of my forefathers. I would raise him to be an Indian! We learned to be patient observers like the owl. We learned cleverness from the crow, and courage from the jay,  who will attack an owl ten times its size to drive it off its territory. But, above all of them ranked the chickadee because of its indomitable spirit." Tom Brown, Jr., The Tracker.

References:

Magical Aromatherapy, by Scott Cunningham

The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, by Julia Lawless

The Smudging and Blessings Book, by Jane Alexander

Sacred Sage; How it Heals, by Silver Wolf Walks Alone

Spirit Herbs, by Mary Dean Atwood

Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews, 1993, Llewellyn Publications

Understanding Northwest Coast Art, by Cheryl Shearar

Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power through the Ways of Animals, by Jamie Sams, et al

The Essence of Incense, by Diana Rosen

Magical Aromatherapy, by Scott Cunningham

The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, by Julia Lawless

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