12 October 2010

Sage Smudges

A couple weekends ago we attended one of our favorite autumn events,
a primitive skills rendezvous.
Or, you could call it a gathering,
since it wasn't what folks typically think of
when they think of "rendezvouing"--
buckskinners, black powder competitions, tomahawk throwing.

Nope, we are talking aboriginal here.
Flint knapping (making arrowheads from stone)
bow and arrow making--then friendly competition!
blowguns made from rivercane with cattail tipped darts,
wild edibles and medicinals,
making cordage and baskets from found natural materials,
making fire by rubbing sticks together...
(seriously! it's called using a bowdrill!)
making pottery from clay you dig out of the ground
and fire it in a campfire...
hide tanning with brains, the native way...
you get the idea.

I was privileged to spend several hours with a lovely
Native American woman who taught me to make
a basket from pine needles.
(Which will be another post!)
During my class time, we were bothered with a lot of flies
who were doing their usual thing.....flying around and bothering people.
My Native teacher pulled out several sage smudge sticks,
lit them and laid them around the area where we were working...
I was amazed at how effective they were in discouraging the pests--
and I fell in love with the scent of burning sage smudges!
They have such a delicious aroma,
definately puts me in the mood for all things autumn
and I think enhances my creativity...

As I asked my Native teacher questions about the smudges,
I learned that she collects the sage herself from New Mexico
and sells them at pow-wows and rendezvous
that she attends throughout the year--
so you can be sure I brought a few home!

While on our most recent "moving" trip to the farm,
I noticed a lot of plants that appeared to be wild sage
and so I decided to gather some
and make some smudges for out of them myself.
I haven't been able to positively identify the plant I gathered, yet,
but it has a very strong and sage-y scent and I like it!
It may actually be a type of wormwood or artemesia
rather than the wild sage I think it is...
I'll try to identify it again in the spring when it comes up
and I have more time.

The smudge sticks are quite easy to make,
you just gather the plant material into a bundle,
stem ends together,
tie some string
(feed sack string or crochet thread works fine)
around the stem end and start wrapping.
When you get to the blossom end,
start wrapping back the way you came
and tie the ends together when you reach the stem end again.
Hang them up in a warm dry place with good ventialtion
and in 1-2 weeks they should be done.

I made several bundles, and they have hung for about 10
days now, so I decided to light one up and try it.
It is a bit different scent from the ones I brought home
from the primitive skills gathering...
I think I like the smudges from New Mexico better...
but these will definately work for me.

I don't use these in exactly the same way the Natives do...
I don't worship the "spirits" of the plants or animals...
I worship the God in Heaven who created and sustains
all plant, animal and human life...
but I am respectful of all created life,
and I am incredibly grateful for all the good things
the Creator has placed in this world for my health and happiness.

The smoke from these burning smudges
helps keep the pestilence away...
and the scent brings me joy...
both are benefits that make me healthy and happy!


  1. You're going to laugh at this. I was reading your blog and leaving a nice long comment this morning before I trekked off to my teaching job at our homeschool co-op. I was so into your post that I failed to look at the time. (Who's writing about scheduling????). I was 20 minutes late to my first class. Not good.

  2. Yup, I did giggle! It is sooo easy to lose track of time when reading in blog-land...I'm guilty, too! So, do we get to actually SCHEDULE any blog time?! (I'm trying to use it as a reward for getting X-amount of things done first...)

  3. I've thought about that too. Actually did well for about two days. This morning,,,,,not so much.

  4. Ummm, let's see: I'd say blog-reading this morning is a great way to reward yourself for all your hard work yesterday! :D