Smudging: Should you really try this at home?
The word “release” in the headline should have tipped me off. As in 13 Ways to Release 2013. But how could the article, written by a perky blonde life coach, be anything but deeply enlightening? Release 2013. Let it go, mindfully, intentionally, with gratitude. And if all that doesn’t work, special pricing for one-on-one coaching.
I couldn’t help but click. As one does during the first week of January, I had been eating right, replacing evil incandescent bulbs with LED, and organizing closets as if the fate of Earth depended upon my ability to locate a single set of matching sheets on command. I was ready, desperate even, to get rid of the old and usher in the new. Be gone old nasty. Bring on the glistening fresh 2014.
I was curious, too. How does one shed last year? Isn’t it already… gone? But I felt confident the wise one knew some secret magic for saying a permanent farewell to 2013. And of course, by magic, I mean concrete advice that could be accomplished without using my credit card or a hiring a domestic staff.
I had to know.
At first skim, the oracle’s advice looked promising. Much of it consisted of making lists of different types, and then accepting, celebrating, or burning said lists. (Ritualistic dancing optional.) Lists I can do. Lists are my oxygen. Lists are humanity’s greatest technological feat. And burning stuff is fun. So far, winning.
From there, however, our fearless leader’s tips became increasing less illuminating. There was some vague advice to “feel grateful,” followed by a suggestion that we might quite literally wash away the past year with a salt bath. No offense to the wise one, but I prefer a salty martini.
I read further with the beginnings of a eye roll forming on my I’m-cynical-because-I’m-alive face, when our resident font of wisdom blasted my optimism into a pile lifeless fairy dust. The pinnacle of her system, after I had presumably made my lists and lit them on fire while feeling grateful in a salty tub, was to “smudge” my home.
Call me an over-achiever, but at this point—with one husband, two teenagers, a dog, the occasional uninvited pest, and my a seasonal aversion to cleaning products—my home is already quite adequately smudged. The last thing I need is more mud on the floor and makeup on the countertops. Not to mention whatever substance keeps causing my dog to drag her ass across the carpet.
But this wasn’t what our guru was talking about. Sadly, she was also not referring to any kind of eyeliner, which is unfortunate because, never mind release, a trip to Sephora is always cause for celebration. And not just because I could have made a list. There’s not much in this world that can’t be improved with plumping lip gloss, black eyeliner, and a steady hand.
The smudging our authority suggested was the ancient practice of bundling sage or other herbs, lighting them afire, and using the resulting smoke to purify the area (or aura) of any negative energy, bad feelings, yucky thoughts, or wayward spirits. For centuries, respected religions and native peoples around the world have practiced some form of smudging, which is pretty amazing when you consider that they DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THE INTERNET to teach them how to do it. And smudging is just one way to release the year gone by. How primitive cultures ever figured out the other 12 without the aid of wifi and broadband is inconceivable.
Unlike practitioners of olde–whom I imagine gathered their herbs mindfully, in a sacred place, perhaps on a day ordained by one god or another—the modern medicine woman has to remove her negative energy in between work, school, mani-pedis, and catching up on Downton Abbey. Lucky for her, a 2-pack of smudge sticks goes for less than seven dollars on Amazon. (Who said that Prime account wouldn’t pay for itself?) Or, if she’s more committed to the lifestyle, she can pick up her sticks from the Shaman’s Market, a highly reputable online retailer that reminds customers, “smudges put out a lot of soothing smoke.”
Soothing, said no evil spirit ever.
Pre-internet, in a faraway land called the west coast, I witnessed plenty of smudging, mostly practiced by people next to me at outdoor concerts. Oh, the sage I’ve inhaled and the floaty-dancing I’ve observed. In hindsight, perhaps I was the evil spirit these liberated souls were attempting to purge. We’ll never know for sure. All I’m certain of is that, unfortunately, the poultry seasoning high does nothing for me. So, enticing as the idea of lighting yet another thing on fire in service of clearing out the old sounded, smudging probably wasn’t for me. I’m not native peoples. And I’m not a girl in a flowing skirt and a halter-top. By the looks of it, neither was our coach.
Why had she embraced smudging? Was it simply another bullet point to round out the article? No one could blame her for that. But why not, “Light a candle from Bath and Body Works”? That might have been more on-brand.
I’m no coach in the game of life, but I say release all you want, make the lists, clean out the cupboards, drink the kale juice, but leave the smudging to professionals. Most of us have no business burning herbs for bad-mojo-removal sake. That goes double for accountants, engineers, people who would ever precede the written “smudged” with a hashtag, and anyone with an asymmetrical bob.
Sorry, coach, I’m sitting this one out.
Did you like it?
I hope the fact that you read to the end means you enjoyed this post! If so, you probably know someone else who enjoys my particular brand of humor. I would be eternally grateful to you if you’d pass it along to one or two or ten of your friends. Who knows, I might even light a candle.
If you post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social platform, please tag me so I know where to channel the love.
Finally, if you want make sure you don’t miss a single post, please join our motley little crew.
Thanks for reading and spreading the good word.
Photo Credit: HannahAradia via Compfight cc