Smudging: What are the benefits and how does it align with Biblical Truth?
Smudging, as it has commonly been known from its indigenous roots, or smoke burning, which we will utilize here for politically correct reasons, has been around essentially since the beginning of time. This practice, the burning of various medicinal plants, was utilized to cleanse ourselves, or a space, and connect us with Spirit, the Creator, or God.
This practice however is often shunned by the church but today I wish to demonstrate how it was actually utilized in the Bible, as well as sharing the history, and methods, to best utilize this practice as a tool to assist you in living a harmonious, peaceful life.
Incense burners have actually been found that date back to Egypt’s dynasty, around 4500 BC. The Celts had a practice of “saining” that involved sprinkling water from a stream, combined with burning juniper, to bless a person or a home. Palo Santo was and is used by Amazonians for healing and in shamanic rituals, and in fact, the tree of palo santo wood is in the same family that is the source for frankincense, which is traditionally combined with myrrh, and was a practice to burn such both in the Bible and by Catholics! The term itself for smudging was practiced by Native Americans and traditionally involved the use of sage, cedar, tobacco, yarrow, or sweetgrass to bathe away negative energies, purify spaces or people, as well as marking the beginning of a ceremony. This tradition was actually originally deemed illegal until 1978 and these traditions had to be maintained and passed down in secret.
So how is this practice utilized in the Bible?
Exodus 30 describes how there was a specific oil blend that was sacred to anoint the priests, and items in the temple; there was also a sacred incense blend that was to be burned as an offering to God. Deuteronomy 33:10 states, “…they shall put incense before You (God)…” Luke 1:9 describes how an individual was chosen by lot to enter the temple and burn incense.
There are many other verses describing these practices, however, I do wish to note that in Hebrews 9:11-14 it states how these practices are no longer required, but that the Blood of Christ can purify us so much more.
In this, what is the purpose of burning incense today? What would be the benefits? And how can we utilize it if we so choose?
First, I wish to state the burning of incense is not a necessity; God himself has the power to cleanse, to purify, to banish spirits and entities simply with prayer.
It is important to recognize that smoke cleansing does not have the power to increase your prayers, or make them more pleasing to God. It is also important to recognize to whom you may be directing your intentions towards, or giving power away too, while burning sage, palo santo, etc.
That being stated I personally love to use, smoke cleansing as a tool to train my mind to center, or ground, myself before prayer and meditation. Sage itself has antimicrobial properties keeping infectious diseases at bay, and white prairie sage is also antibacterial. While scientifically unproven burning sage is thought to release negative ions, and can be of benefit to those with asthma, allergies, and bronchitis. Some types of sage, including salvia sages and white prairie sage, contain thujone, which is a mild psychoactive thereby allowing one to better quiet the mind, and enhance your intuition.
In addition, a 2016 study at the University of Mississippi established that white sage can activate certain receptors in the brain responsible for elevating mood levels, reducing stress, and even alleviating pain.
It is important to remember that God has given us dominion over the plants and animals (Gen 1:26-28) and just as certain foods, or plants, have medicinal benefits, so too could the burning of these plants have benefits given to us to cleanse spaces, as well as to enhance, and ease, connection with God along with a myriad of other benefits.
Feel free to share your own personal thoughts on smoke burning, and how you may utilize this in your own practice.