Disclaimer: Everyone follows their own truth. The following is one of mine. A thought form is free to hold in your system, to ponder, to analyze, but if something doesn't resonate with you, simply don't invest in it. There are hundreds of ways one might go about doing something, and this is just one of the ways I go about doing mine. Also, for those in the paranormal field, regardless of how “new-agey” the practice of space-clearing sounds to the rational and the practical-minded, smudging is something that has been done by several different cultures in several different forms throughout history. Loathe as many might be to admit it, ghosthunting is indeed the study of energetics. Debunk the phenomena however you wish, but remain conscious of why and how you are doing so. The act of debunking paranormal phenomena has steadily increased throughout the years, ever since a celebrity ghosthunting team decided they needed a little extra attention and stated that orbs were “trash”. Thousands of followers quickly jumped on the bandwagon, storming into local haunts looking to erase any trace of the esoteric and otherworldly.
This is nothing new, as many 19th century mediums were found to engage in fraud during the peak of spiritualism in that age, with all manner of false table-tipping, old-school photoshopping and “ectoplasmic” paper-mache creations. In our present age, a similar peak was reached years ago, though thanks to reality television and movie studios, new generations continue to question myths modern and ancient again and again. The application of discernment is indeed necessary during any “investigation”. Potential clients want to know you’re not going to jump at shadows. They’ll you want your team to bring some air of professionalism and they’ll want to know you can identify a particle of dust or camera strap too close to your GoPro lens. Debunking can make an instant scientist out of anyone, and people do like to feel smart, though the simple act of debunking does not make a team professional. There is a fine line when coming from the age of reason and “taming the natural world”, to simply sterilizing an event of the potentially miraculous, or taking a wondrous experience away from another. You can remain a logical and shrewd investigator, but due to the energetic and spiritual nature of the paranormal field, you obviously have to be open to new parameters of our experience as humans on this plane. As scientists continue to unravel more and more of the mysteries surrounding this and external dimensions, we will continue to remain grateful for the great mystery itself, and all of the many adventures it has offered us.
Creating sacred space is simple. All truth is simple. The act of “smudging”, cleansing yourself, others, inanimate objects and your environment of unwanted energy is something that should be practiced with regularity. I am an Oglala Sioux, born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, so my exposure to this form of energy clearing happened at a very young age. We believed everything contained a spirit, from the rocks to the wind to the water, to fire, so to us in a way, everything could be considered haunted. We burned sage, cedar and sweetgrass before any ritual, setting the space for good spirits and ancestors to join us from their plane. We smudged to remove “bad medicine” during times of illness, to bring ones body back into balance. For us, the spirit world and the astral world of our dreams lied very close together, so it was very easy for spirits to cross these planes and communicate with us. To dream of such a dark entity meant that it had crossed over and had indeed paid you a visit. As such, after any nightmare, we would smudge to cast out “bad spirits”.
We smudged during ceremony, where the smoke of our fires and the intention, requests and prayers we put into it were carried up to the Creator. We even smudged after arguments, when pieces of our spirit were violently expelled from our bodies, becoming lodged in the corners of a room. We smudged after any disempowering event. Even something as simple as a sudden sneeze or an unexpected scare, a good startle, was considered losing a piece of our spirit ( it's why many cultures still bless others after a sneeze ). And when you have an environment which remains uncleansed, with fragments of psychic energy cluttering the space, growing stagnant, becoming toxic, it's like breathing recycled air. You'll continue to process this energy, these vibrations, back through your energetic system.
If something happens with a high degree of psychic energy to it, such as a fight during the breakup of a relationship, the frequency at which heavy depression resonates, or even the psychic imprint of a death, it will remain stuck in your space and will most likely influence your mood and your thoughtforms. If you're allowing a lot of anger and frustration to build up in your home or office, you will continue to absorb these lower, unhealthy vibrations until, just as you would clean your home with name brand products, you do the same on an energetic level. Just as mold in an old building would have a negative impact on one’s health, an environment harboring a lot of dark energy can lead to illness and depression. You might have already witnessed this in cinema by watching what happened to Jack and Danny in The Shining, both of whom who were very sensitive to the energy of the building they were living in. Although this was a fictional event, there are several fictions regarding the use of sage, incense and oils. I can tell you from a Native background that contrary to popular belief, when burning sage you don't have to burn only sage which has been blessed by a medicine man from a nearby Indian reservation, or by a "Cherokee princess" who owns a white buffalo. These are myths. They make for dramatic conversation, but there are no princesses or princes in our nation. That part of our history has been “Disneyfied”. If you want to make a Native American laugh, claims of a Cherokee princess in ones heritage will often do the trick. You are responsible for your experience. You are responsible for being a channel of light. Trust your importance in this universe and you won’t need to feel someone much “higher” on the spiritual or religious ladder has to bless something for you to make it “work”.
When smudging, you also don't need to create a complicated grid aligning yourself with Jupiter or the Pleiades. You don't need to turn clockwise 12 times while pressing your third eye. You don't need to do the hokey pokey. True, some greater ceremonies require more elaborate steps, but for the simple act of "smudging", I will focus on the basics. And this is one of the reasons why:
I'll often hear something like this at the metaphysical store I manage:
"So, I light this and blow on it, and hold the feather with my right - or left hand, then turn to the west, or is it north, counter-clockwise, 7 times? And I'm fanning the smoke 12 times per room? Or is it 7 times and I chant 12 times?"
What do you think this sorely misinformed person is really generating here? Are they really going to cleanse their space doing this complicated ritual, or are they actually filling their environment with confusion and frustration? Again, the simple truth is that you can hold yourself completely still in an authentic state of grace and be a true channel for light without doing the Macarena. Intention is key and what we believe ( or don’t ) has the greatest power over us.
When preparing to create sacred space in my home, my tools will include sage, cedar, a white candle, a heat-safe bowl or dish, sweetgrass, a bell or rattle, a feather and a quartz crystal. Sage is the main ingredient when smudging, though other cultures have used palo santo wood, Nag Champa, sacred oils and even alcohol. Cedar I use to help with “deep cleaning” when I feel the presence of “bad spirits” or “bad medicine” practiced by another. Both of these I will burn in a bowl or dish I can conveniently set aside here and there when needing my hands for the bell or rattle. I use bells and rattles before, during and after a cleansing to invoke spirit, then to sonically loosen and shatter any unhealthy vibrations which have accumulated about my space. The white candle stands for purity and the light I will be bringing into my domain. Sweetgrass I will burn after I have smudged the rooms, following through with its light, sweet scent to bring positive energies into the home. Many times I have walked into invisible clouds thick with the scent of sweetgrass, or driven through them, knowing full well there was none was growing anywhere nearby, knowing that a sacred figure was present. An eagle feather was passed down to me by my grandfather, and this is what I use to fan the smoke about the rooms, about myself, my roommate, about any object I feel has picked up any negative energy. I have wrapped a quartz crystal around the handle as quartz is for directing energy and intent, for transmitting and transmuting energy.
These are tools, however, which will only work with batteries. I am the battery and my intention, will, my prayers, anything I recite as I walk through my home is what will ultimately transmute the energy. Smudging isn’t simply lighting sage and waving it about. It cannot be done unconsciously. If done in a hurry and without thinking you might have better results burning a newspaper. Try to remain positive, perhaps thinking of a happy memory, holding onto that feeling, casting waves of love from the inside out. Smudging can and is supposed to be a transformative experience, especially for those willing to go within. After all, the Latin name for sage ( salvia ) means to be saved.
I first light the white candle and after ringing the bell, shattering the silence and invoking spirit into my realm, I then call upon the Creator, my ancestors, spirit guides, guardian angels, any friendly beings in spirit who are of the light and wish to help. I call upon their help and guidance and can usually feel another stronger presence in the room. When I know they are there ( and even if I feel unconnected, I trust that every prayer is heard ), I light the sage / cedar and begin fanning the smoke about my body. I imagine white light all about me and ask that any illnesses and imbalances be cast into the light, that I be filled up with light and love for healing and balance. I might put the feather aside for a moment, taking the smoke cupped in both hands and moving it about my body as if it were water, washing any energetic impurities from my system. I might imagine the most sacred, holy place I can, placing my spirit into an Angkor Wat temple, a cave in Mount Shasta, within a circle of stones at Salisbury, a Monastery overlooking Shangri La. I focus on those sacred sites and bring their energy and purity into the present, into my now. When I feel awash with that purity, connected, aligned, centered, I can be a vessel for light, and I begin to do the same for another person or an object. I would do the same for a room, fanning the smoke in every corner, every closet, every cupboard. I voice my intent for my surroundings to be cleansed. This can be said however you feel most comfortable. If you are performing a smudging for others, have confidence in your words and their power, don’t worry about sounding silly. If I am in an area which requires silence, I simply state the blessing in my mind. If not, I can state the following aloud:
”For the highest good, I ask that any negative energy, vibrations, thoughtforms, entities, emotions, spirit parasites, any unhealing or unloving echoes from the past be removed from this space and cast unto the light. I call upon the light of all light, the holy of holies, the greatest love and the most sacred of existence to fill this room with positive energy. I call upon the energies of safety, protection, good luck, abundance, fertility, creativity, movement and miracle, to transform this space into a sacred realm where I, my animals and my guests may exist in happiness and peace.”
I ring the bell a final time and move from room to room, opening the windows and opening the doors to let the smoke out. Of all the tools I use, however, my intuition is still the best of all of them. Should it inform me that a room still feels dense with something uncomfortable, I will continue with the rattle or bell, flooding it with bright white light and being more specific with the prayer I am voicing. I have previously felt instructed to trace sacred symbols on the walls, imagining light pouring from my finger while drawing symbols such as the medicine wheel, a pentagram, pyramid, cross, ankh. I have in the past also imagined creating a grid of light around my home, made up of lines of angelic fire, tracing lines of pure light around my home that no evil can cross, a pyramidal shape focusing the energy upward while receiving blessings of safety and protection like the transmissions from a satellite or cell tower.
After the smoke has aired out, I will burn the sweetgrass in the same way I burned the sage, concentrating on positive energy, positive thoughts and memories, deep love. I end with a statement such as:
“I pour my love and gratitude into the world and I thank those in spirit who have assisted me. So be it, so be it, so be it, thank you.”
I may substitute phrases or requests based on the situation, I may use Sioux words, I may chant or use mystical sounds, anything which conveys respect and recognition of the spirit will have power ( which covers the actual act of smudging, but you may wish to read further for instruction on investment of energy for creating an authentic sacred space within ).
Again, my intuition will inform me whether or not I have been successful, whether or not the negative energy has come from the environment or generated by myself. Intuition is not something only gifted sages are allowed to use. It is simply one of the senses we were born with, though as important as it is, we often use it the least. Why? Intuition sends us uncomfortable impressions and signals, or uses that nagging little voice that tells us we are unhappy with our mate and should move on, but we are too fearful to go it alone. It’s the little voice that reminds us how unhappy we are with our job and how unappreciated we are there. It’s the voice which tells us there is no more in our particular state to offer us and we must move on. Who has time for that? Many of us constantly shut out that voice and symbolically stick our heads in the sand, thinking ignorance is bliss and we don’t have to be responsible for our experience, perhaps only God is, so that if something “bad” happens we can remain a victim and bask in all the attention that gives us. And then we reprimand ourselves with the smallest examples when shouting, “I KNEW I should have turned left!” Or, “I KNEW I should have brought that with me!”
The next time you have some solitude, look in your wallet or your purse. You can identify each of those contents. Then, close your eyes, take a moment, and do an energetic inventory of your spirit. That means you pay attention to any emotions you begin to process and trace it back to it's source. Again, it's the best exercise in the morning when you're still detaching from that astral plane, before your rational mind comes in and begins to dominate the conversation.
Do you feel anxiety today? Alright, why? Perhaps your rent is due but there's a conflict with another bill. Peel back another layer. Something to do with finances? Perhaps your mother relentlessly compares your wages to those of your brother in law and even though you have a full life without the yacht you shouldn't be as happy as you are. Or should you be? Thoughts can be like unruly children and unless we discipline ourselves to take control of our minds, we can never truly live in present time where we are most needed. None of us are even truly where – or when – we think we are. Our minds are infatuated with the past, with why you didn’t get that job or why your ‘merch didn’t sell. Your mind may be too tangled in how come your mate left you the way they did or why a business opportunity didn’t pan out. Adversely, you are often too wrapped up in the future. What am I going to feed myself or my family? Did that package arrive today? Is _____ going to call me? Has _____ emailed me? I wonder what my paycheck is going to look like?
We spend so much time in the past or the future that we’re rarely ever in the now where we need to be, where our energy is, where events need us to make them happen. We begin the day with so much life force, so much prana, yet we squander it shooting energetic arrows at past foes and sorrows or future ailments and breakdowns. Were we able to contain our minds and our energy in the present, we would truly have all of the fuel necessary to power a creative project, to meet deadlines with ease, to reach the finish line with gratitude. And should we squander all of the energy we’ve been given, we begin to “borrow” it. We take it from other people until they feel smothered. We become needy, suffocating people with our wants until we lose our friendship with them or our marriage ends. Worse, we take it right out of our cells, like living off of our fat, until illness creeps in and we have no defense. When you take no responsibility for your experience, you will become a perpetual victim. Something will always be someone else’s fault and you will use the misfortunes in your life to garner attention. If someone doesn’t snap to your defense or your misguided cause in an instant, you will brand them the enemy as they will no longer offer a battery to power your campaign.
Unfortunately when operating in such a manner you will not be able to truly grasp anything and your growth will come to a screeching halt. You can plug your tribal energy into a church, Meet Up group or any other organization you feel can give you power and which you may be able to manipulate, but then you will also evolve as slowly as everyone else. Your energy will be plugged into people who have silently agreed to energetically come to your defense in less than a second. When you agree to this tribal situation, your energy also has to pass through each and every person before returning to you. Taking on their energy, their ideas, their beliefs, you will find yourself becoming impressionable. You will stand up for things you don’t necessarily believe in, though you know there is strength in numbers and therefore power, and these people are your “family”. You will be unable to grasp new concepts until they all have. You won’t want to. You will have a new family, a new support system to soothe wounds that in fact will never heal because you honestly enjoy the endorphins they bring with their compassion, those many circuits of electric attention only Facebook and Twitter can bring.
Imagine stepping out of that dynamic and truly creating your own experiences, working hand in hand with the Creator and exploring the true power of thought. We are the battery and thought is the applicator. Had you all of your energy in present time, say, when smudging, you could honestly get by with a piece of paper with the word "sage" written on it. You could get by with nothing at all but your intention. Tools are handy, however, when they're more than studio props, but something we can pour our energy, our batteries, into. A hammer is handy to have if you want to hang a picture. A piece of paper with the word HAMMER written on it probably isn't going to do you much good. But if the nail is something as weightless as a thought, then you won't have much trouble. Until that thought holds more weight. Say, 666 is an unlucky number. “That was my total at 7-11 this morning so the devil must be nearby and is going to make bad things happen to me today”. If you’re giving way to superstition and are unwilling to recognize numerical synchronicities as a part of deep magic then yes, you'll most likely find a way to make “bad things” happen.
If you believe that someone has cursed you, then they have. This is another thing I will hear often, claims of curses coming from those who almost make it sound as if they were simply bored and are now enjoying living within this drama. For others, they simply haven’t any self-worth and in some way feel they deserve to be cursed. Additionally, if you believe you will continually draw in the wrong kind of men or women, then you will. If you believe you're just getting by, no matter what you do, perhaps coming from an impoverished family whose ideas on manifesting wealth were out of balance, then you will most likely continue to live a life where you’re barely making ends meet. We are what we eat. What we put out comes back in energetic ripples. If you're continually a "victim" to repetitive patterns in your life, then life is trying to show you something you need to learn from. If you believe in reincarnation, think about the lifetime after lifetime you've already spent attempting to grasp a simple concept. Are you really going to waste another one grappling with the same simple lesson?
You continue to draw in the same experiences because you haven't completely learned from them. Those people who have caused you harm aren't necessarily "negative", they are your teachers. They don't know it, but they have made a spiritual contract with you before incarnation to lead you to spiritual enlightenment. You both did. Enlightenment can come as easily as learning to say no. It can mean allowing someone else to do the heavy lifting if you find yourself spiritually bankrupt, having supported so many people and never directing that nurturing energy toward yourself. It can be letting go of a disempowering figure in your life because the energetic exchange you share with them is too toxic. It can be as easy as discontinuing the gossip you keep finding yourself involved with at work and instead start praying for those who are going through a difficult time.
Thought forms are very powerful, the mind is capable of so much more than we may ever know in our present incarnation and there were those in some races and cultures who were very adept at utilizing its power. Yogis, for instance, who could levitate three feet off the ground during meditation, who were “astralnauts”, able to visit other planetary bodies during their sleep and accurately report the atmospheric conditions of those planets. Tibetan masters who knew how to manifest a thought form into a being with a short life span, a tulpa. Padre Pio, a saint who was well known to bilocate, administering to the sick and the poor from his room. And yet with all of this largely unrealized power we have such a tremendous knack for pouring it into the useless or the negative. Just think of the power we give to our illnesses, the way we wear them almost like badges. Hello, my name is “INSERT DISORDER HERE”. People almost define themselves by the illnesses they carry, showing them off almost like tattoos or piercings, hauling them out during small talk with total strangers. Think of what a physical wound would look like if gone unhealed for such an amount of time. It would fester, would develop gangrene, would require the amputation or removal of said part.
And yet day after day, year after year, we carry this dead weight, never really thinking about what it means to take responsibility for a dis-ease, one of the many teachers in our lives. We lug around the pain of a break-up or divorce from 10 years ago, the way we allowed ourselves to be mistreated at a job we held for 20 years, the fact that we can’t express our true selves to family members or friends. Certainly there are chemical and mental imbalances we have been born into, things we have inherited, allergies and intolerances we cannot help, things we feel we have no control over whatsoever. Say we have suffered some abuse when we were young and forming our ideas about healthy relationships. From that point forward, every day when we first wake up, we will be transmitting negative thoughts about such an experience toward our teachers, psychically reminding any guilty parties that we are mad at them and they will not be forgiven. What do you think the energetic returns will be for such an investment? When we continue to plug into something toxic day after day, the outcome will lead to the development of an illness within our own bodies. We might choose to forgive, to release, to challenge oneself to help others through the same experiences, but we simply don’t operate that way. Our way says, “I'm sick, give me a pill, or a shot, and heal me. I'm hungry, take me through the drive through and feed me. I want something NOW so I should have to do anything more than click a few boxes or press a few buttons until I have it. This is not taking responsibility for your reality.
So, what is spirituality to you? To dispel some misinformation, spirituality is not about comfort. It's not incense and Enya, or a Nag Champa-scented something you put on your nightstand to do your healing for you. It is not Home & Garden for the soul. It’s not the sparkling amethyst choker you’re flaunting or the henna artwork. Take all the mudbaths and light all the candles you want, but know you’re simply setting the mood. The real work comes when you find yourself, a friend or a stranger in a crisis and whether or not you are approaching that situation with dignity and compassion. Creating a sacred space has to go beyond houseware to have any effect.
Spirituality is also not about ever having to be inconvenienced again. In fact, when you are asking your creator for help adhering to a more spiritual life, you will no doubt be inconvenienced an extraordinary amount of times. This happens because we need challenges in order to express what we have been taught. We need all of our buttons pressed in the deepest, most annoying ways in order to show ourselves and our author where we are at on the spiritual scale. Many would consider themselves “highly spiritual”, though this may in fact only be so up until someone cuts them off in traffic, until they’re made to wait in line, until even a vending machine refuses their bill, then they resort to the most primitive and entertaining fits seen outside of zoos and playpens. It's baffling how everyone wants and needs to be and come FIRST, whether in traffic, in a department store, in a restaurant. And it’s highly upsetting to come across so much of this entitlement from people who should know better, who should be expressing the true spiritual virtues of patience, compassion and above all humility, but it’s much easier to imagine these qualities can be found in a charm and will simply rub off on you if placed in your pocket or your purse. Again, it’s a matter of wanting an external source to do your work for you.
These people will point their fingers at another’s behavior because it draws attention away from their own disempowering choices they are making. Say one goes to church every Sunday as a devout Christian but spend the rest of the week talking trash and treating people just as bad. It’s ok, they might think, my God is a forgiving God and my soul is saved. I’ll go back next Sunday and sort it all out then with prayers, praises and donations. And then by Tuesday they will have managed to once again alienate their co-workers or cut a family member to pieces. Do you think they are really learning something there? Just as bad are others who seek spiritual alternatives to religion, who know better, guilty of judging the actions of said churchgoers yet expecting to be treated like divas, as if respect is not a reciprocative act. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and if we can’t even make it out of a post office without initiating a little grace, then we can’t expect to reach any “higher states”, no matter what our mantra that evening, no matter how much we spent on a particular crystal, no matter how we change our diet.
Your recognition of the “good” or the “bad” is built in. Act with grace and trust your intuition. When praying for a solution to a problem, most times we will receive our answer immediately, but we will doubt it, we will run it through our tribe and then discard it. I often find that the best time to grasp a solution, idea or way is just after I have woken up and left the astral realm. In this state I am still closest to the spirit and the ethereal, way before I have had my caffeine, turned pessimistic about the day and have begun doubting my abilities and fortune. I emerge from my dreamtime like a child, still full of wonder and precious possibility and I hold onto that feeling for as long as I can before anything or anyone can take it away.
How often do you find yourself in the morning doubting a certain hairdo or something in your wardrobe because of what your coworkers, family or friends might think? You are energetically tied in to these people. And even if you're not in the same room with them, or the same time zone, you are still engaged in an energetic form of communication with them constantly. Whether you're blessing them, or jealous of the summer selfies they keep posting from overseas, whether they betrayed you once and you have to keep reminding yourself of that, our thought forms can grow as toxic as anything else our bodies can expel.
Again, because we are energetically linked to others in our tribe, in our country, around the globe, we will frequently take on their thought forms as well. Thoughts which we might not necessarily believe, but are a popular trend nonetheless, so, when in Rome... It's how we act on these thoughts that make a difference. You are what you eat. You reap what you sow. Whatever you put out, comes back. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the world to remain positive.
One of my favorite observers of the human condition, performance artist Laurie Anderson, talks about a book called the Gospel Of Germs in one of her recordings. This is the story of how germs were first discovered in the early 20th century and how a big campaign was launched to convince people that they actually existed, that there were these tiny invisible animals that could kill you. In most parts of the world, France, Italy and China, the campaign was a complete failure. But, it really caught on in the United States, where people said, “tiny invisible things that can kill you? I don’t see why not!” After all, it’s a place that already believes in a lot of invisible things, and yet that which is invisible will paradoxically always have more power than the visible. I thought of that while watching Interstellar recently, pondering concepts such as love and gravity traversing and transcending time and space. When faced with the echoes of people, of ancestors, from long ago, in places old and in need of a good smudging, I think of such transcendence while stepping on invisible chords of time. I bless these people for whom they were, pray that they completed their journey back to the light, and express gratitude that I may know more because of the knowledge they continue to push forward through the ages.
I have followed the observances of Caroline Myss, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Shirley Maclaine and others who have explored energy, archetype, spirit, healing and synchronicity. I thank and honor these authors as well as the sages, elders and ancestors who have influenced my journey throughout my experience in this and other vehicles.
Thank you for reading.
Christopher Allen Brewer, January, 2015