WitchyWomen Wednesday

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Jenna Fox is employed as a writer and educator described by her community college students as “sympathetic, but with a blunt sense of humor.”  As a queer adult adoptee, reuniting with her biological family has helped her reclaim the ancestral witchcraft practices of tarot and folk herbalism native to Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Czech/Slovakia. You can listen to her podcast Leo Rising: Living Tarot & Creative Intuition, on any major podcasting app. To schedule a tarot reading with Jenna, reach out on Instagram @leorisingtarot or her website: www.leorisingtarot.com.

 


Is  the white sage used for smudging practices actually endangered? Is using white sage, or palo santo, as a practice, actually engaging in cultural appropriation of spiritual traditions that are not my own?  If you run in New Age spiritual or witchy circles, you’ve probably at least encountered the practice of smudging with white sage, if not encountered these two questions.

What if I told you there was a way to embrace smoke cleansing that was rooted in traditional European folk medicine/witchcraft ancestry, that was both sustainable and not appropriative? Wouldn’t that be lovely?! And what if it was as easy as going to your local grocery store? Would you be into that? Who wouldn’t want to jump on this easy, sustainable and conflict free form of spirituality?

So, a few years ago, a trusted witch friend from high school posted on Facebook about her practice of smoke cleanings (smudging, without that label) using traditional European herbs, and I was intrigued. I love the practice of burning sage, but hadn’t thought deeper about the fact that many tribes were criminalized until the 1970’s for these very same spiritual practices.It seemes wrong that my 20-something spiritual white girl body was able to do these practices without a second thought about the bigger picture. The more I sat with my friend’s words, the more I was impacted by the colonial mindset that had permeated my spiritual practice of smudging.

And thus, entered my experiment with “returning to my roots.” There are many herbs that were used in ancient and medieval Europe for the same spiritual and practical purpose that white sage and palo santo are used by new age spiritual communities today. And so I began my own practice of tying and burning herbal bundles that my witchy ancestors would have used. Some grocery store versions are:  

  • Garden or cooking sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Yes, just like the song! Cheesy, but maybe the hippies were on to something…

Below I’ve outlined a step by step guide for tying your own herbal bundles from ingredients easily found in grocery stores. And for those that are more foraging inclined, herbs like mullein, lavender, or mugwort were also traditionally burned to clear spaces of negative energy.

Step 1: assemble materials. I use cotton twine for “sausage making” found on Amazon, scissors, garden sage, and rosemary.

 

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Step 2: Identify size of herb bundle that you want to make. Remember, it shrinks when it dries!
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Step 3: Tie a knot at the bottom of the bundle, begin winding the twine around the bundle, tightly packing the herbs together.

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Step 4: Once you’ve wound all the way to the top of the bundle, wind back down and tie off at the end. Leave some room on the string to hang it to dry.

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Step 5: Hang to dry in a sunny window. I choose my kitchen window because blinds are so handy for hanging. It take a week or two to get fully dry!

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Once they’re dry, they can be burned just like a white sage bundle. Make sure to have a bowl/dish below the bundle to catch any ash, and don’t leave unattended!

There are so many different traditional herbs that can be used for this spiritual smoke cleansing practice, so feel free to experiment (but do your homework and be safe!). I’ve found this practice of connecting with my ancestry, rather than just easily adopting a spiritual practice that comes from a different lineage, to be really rewarding for me. Not only do I feel more connected to my lineage, I also feel more connected to the plants. There’s something amazing about the smell of sage and rosemary lingering on my fingers for hours after I’ve tied my last bundle, and the reward I feel when I take one of my dry bundles and light it to clean my house. Short of growing these herbs myself, I’ve had an intentional hand in the tying, drying, and frying of them, which leaves my house smelling great and feeling light and free.

 

WitchyWomen Wednesdays

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 7.29.09 PMRenee Watt is a Clairvoyent who specializes in energy readings, spirit guides, and chakra assessments. She began reading tarot at age 10 and picked up her first book on witchcraft at 12. Her knowledge ranges from essential oils, crystals, and intuitive magick to energy healing and beginner astrology. When she’s not giving readings and selling jewelry from The Crooked Path in LA, you can find her doing standup comedy. Her podcast “Witch Doctorate” takes the structure of a university with an esoteric twist exploring a new witchy topic each “semester” (season). “Astrology 101” debuted in February of 2018 giving novice listeners a digestible introduction to understanding the cosmos. Find her on Instagram @rainbowglitterstar and @witchdoctorate, or online www.reneewattentertainment.com and www.witchdoctorate.com.


Sage Advice

Smudging is an ancient custom that has been practiced for centuries to help clear away negative and harmful energies, acting as an energetic bath for yourself and your home. When one makes the decision to smudge, they’re mentally and energetically stating their intention to release anything that may be weighing them down. Smudging in large concentrations has also been shown to reduce airborne pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, pollen, and dander.

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To perform a smudging of your own you’ll need the following:

1- A Sage bundle (which can be found at your local witch shop or health food store)

2- A clay pot or bowl to catch any rouge ashes or embers

3- A feather to help direct smoke in the direction of your choosing (optional)

Open a few windows before you begin and unwind with a moment of quiet—a few breathes amongst the fresh air will help center your intention. Once you feel at ease, light the end of your herb bundle, working the smoke in a counter clockwise motion to send any unwanted vibes back from whence they came!

Still unsure of where to start? Here’s a list of places one might not think to sage, but probably should.

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The Car

Considering all the anxiety, road rage, and rushing around that happens in your four wheeled comrade it’s a good idea to get rid of any lingering energies to make your commute feel more relaxing. It’s especially good to do this after a road trip, travel is taxing on the psyche because there are so many energetic shifts, give your car the tune up it deserves.

Your Vanity

Mornings can get a little hectic when we find ourselves running late for work or important commitments. A good smudging will help bring peace back to your morning rituals.

Cosmetics

Us witches love our cosmetics,  but when you think about all the activity that goes into making them it’s not a bad idea to clear away the energetic unknowns of production. Follow up with a nice charging under a full moon and you’ll be looking like a true daughter of mother Luna.

The Couch

There’s no shame in taking some time off to zone out on the couch while binge watching our latest idiot box obsessions. The problem is, the relief of watching tv can be slightly addictive and if we don’t watch it we may dull our senses by spending too much time in front of it! You can get caught up in a cycle of abandoning projects in favor of your favorite show and before you know it you’ve gotten caught in a tv rut! Sage away the inviting yet unproductive lure of your couches (make sure you get under them as well), then go do some exploring outside or finally finish the latest entry in your grimoire!

Your Closet

There’s a reason children are often afraid of what’s lurking in their closets at night, low vibration energies love the dark inactive sanctuary of a closet. Take care to sage away any bad vibe stuff that’s no longer serving you, and while you’re at it take a look at your wardrobe and get rid of anything you haven’t worn in 6 months… Then treat yourself to something new!

The Bed

The bed is such a sacred and intimate place for witches everywhere… it’s where we connect with mates and our vehicle to dreamland. Our subconscious works out so much stuff for us while we’re astral projecting away, we may as well give it a hand in the dream world. Also, if you’ve had an intimate interaction that you just can’t shake no matter how many times you boil your sheets saging will help banish any lingering regrets you may have.

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A few final Witch Tips

Sage is energy bleach, however, you may not always want to completely wipe an area clean. If you don’t feel like getting super hardcore with your cleanse, go with a juniper or mugwort smudge. It won’t get rid of the nice energy you want to keep around, but it’ll have any bad vibe stuff running for the scary woods. After a smudging session your space is totally clean, and you don’t want to leave a blank canvas. Make sure you follow up all sessions with some sort of blessing. Many people are fond of Palo Santo for this, but I’m partial to burning some nice Venus incense and lighting pink candles to bring in all the loving and gentle vibes the planet of harmony provides. Work in a counter clockwise motion while smudging to send bad juju away, then bless your space in a clockwise motion to invite in the lovely energies you seek.