Think about how you feel when you have spent time in the presence of positive, uplifting people.

Whether it’s a compliment from a stranger that leaves you smiling all day, or an evening spent laughing riotously in the company of loved ones –

Have you felt that energetic shift?

We all carry energy.

As much as we’d like to abandon negative, low stagnant energies, both of our own and fragments of others’, and only carry the positive ones with us, this isn’t always the case.

What is Smoke Cleansing?

Cleansing spaces, items or energies through smoke cleansing is an ancient practice stemming from multiple cultures over thousands and thousands of years. Catholics burn frankincense and myrrh as a symbol of veneration in churches as proclaimed in the Old Testament. ‘Saining’, a syncretic practice used by Celts as a method of purification or blessing, often used fire or water. Sticks assembled from fresh marigold flowers and sweet grass are burned during Dia de los Muertos, the smoke an aid for leading loved ones back from the dead during celebrations. Brazilian tribes historically burned Palo Santo wood for healing purposes. Certainly not last, but possibly the most well-known, Native American traditions have used sage in their sacred ceremonies for centuries.

Wait, there are a few things to educate yourself on before lighting that match!

Ethics of ‘smudging’

Until the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978 was passed, many practices of Native Americans including smudging and other ceremonious activities, were illegal.

It is contested that the term ‘smudging’ itself is cultural appropriation, imploring terms such as ‘smoke cleansing’ are used instead. The genuine concern from many tribes over the increasing popularity of their practices in Western culture revolves around the fact that many individuals many ‘sample’ sacred spirituality without making endeavours to acknowledge the significance of indigenous groups and is valid. The obligation is on non-Natives, and indeed anybody who does not have direct affinity with an original practice, to respect these cultures and honour the history in their own usage.

And there are many ways to do it!

Benefits:
Use smoke cleansing for:
-Cleansing your spaces
-Cleansing your crystals
-Charging objects
-Releasing negativity
-Aromatherapy
-Stress relief
-Symbolism during your own spiritual practice
-Reducing harmful airborne bacteria by over 94% (if using sage)
-Neutralising positive ions in the room

 

What to use:

The most common smoke cleanses are made from White Sage or Palo Santo, but there are bountiful alternatives to use, many of which are local to or commonly grown in the UK! Do your best to ethically find your cleansing material, as many are not sustainably sourced.

Some extra plants to consider are:
-Black sage
-Garden sage
-Wormwood
-Pine
-Cedar
-Rose
-Lavender
-Mint
-Mugwort
-Rosemary
-Lemongrass
-Cinnamon
-Eucalyptus
-Bay

…To name a few. Different plants are often used for different purposes and you can combine plants together to get a fuller effect e.g. Catnip is said to be burned for love and beauty, Pine is traditionally burned to bless a new home, Rosemary is used for removing negative energies, Bay leaves bring victory and success, and Cedar (popular due to its slow burn) is commonly used for grounding. Other plants, such as lavender, blue spruce or lilac are often used for their aromatherapeutic purposes.

How to cleanse a space:

All you need:
-Cleansing stick
-Matches/a candle
-Fireproof bowl
-A method of extinguishing the flames (e.g. a bowl of earth or sand)

To set an intention, or to not set an intention:
It is up to you whether you wish to say something before you begin, whether it is an intention, an affirmation, a prayer, or simply take a few moments to feel grounded.

If you’re not sure, something simple like:
‘Please cleanse my room/home of any energies that do not support me’
‘Please cleanse this space of any energies that are not harmonious with a deep, restful, restorative sleep’
‘Please cleanse my home of any energies which are blocking my flow of creativity’

Open some windows or doors to assist in smoke and negative energy leaving easily.

Light your cleansing stick over the fireproof bowl until a small flame has caught. After a few moments, gently blow on the end until the flame expires. For the majority of plants, the stick will gently smoke (similar to an incense stick).

The purpose is not to fill the whole room with smoke – merely to allow a light amount of smoke to move around the space. Moving around the room clockwise, you can either gently wave the stick to the edges of the room or use your hands to waft the smoke around.

Don’t forget smaller spaces like behind doors, corners and even in cupboards or wardrobes!

When you have finished, ensure your cleansing stick is totally extinguished by either pressing it against the fireproof bowl or by immersing the end in earth or sand.

And that’s all there is to it!

Happy Cleansing!

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

by Robert M. Sapolsky

What is it about?

It may be easier to discuss what this book does not cover.  Put simply, this book is an amazing and mind altering of the whole science of human behaviour. Astounding and evocative, Sapolsky brings the science to life through simple language, engaging stories and irreverent wit, it offers the fullest picture yet of the origins of tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, war and peace.

What makes this work especially fascinating, is the way in which Sapolsky moves backwards in time from the moment a neurone in the brain sparks to react in a certain way, and then hops back in time from there, in stages (adulthood, adolescence, childhood) ultimately ending up at a deep history of our entire species and its evolutionary legacy.

Why should you read it?

Simple really, it’s utterly fascinating and worth the investment in terms of time. So many behaviours that may seem impulsive or meaningless actually have deep rooted origins – when you have the chance to puzzle that out, it really does make you contemplate our entire species and the way in which we interact with the world. Wise, humanising and often funny, this is a tour de force in human psychology.