While it is much easier to use a Smudge wand for most smudging ceremonies, and using them allows for more freedom of movement, some people prefer to select from an assortment of loose or crushed sage and other herbs to carry out their smudging ceremonies. To use dried herbs and sage leaves in your smudging ceremonies, several additional smudging tools will be needed in order to safely and successfully create aromatic sacred smoke.
You will need a dedicated place to burn your herbs, perhaps in a fireplace, or some other safe, fire-proof, highly heat-tolerant surface where you can place your loose herbs or smudging vessel during the ceremony. If you are not familiar with burning dried herbs, start with just a single sage leaf or a pinch or two of your crushed herb selections. You can always add more as your ceremony progresses. BE CAUTIOUS! The objective is not to start a fire! You want your herbs to smolder, not flame up, or explode.
You may need a feather or a fan to direct the smudging energy as the smudge smoke rises from your smudging vessel. Plan not to touch or move the vessel or the herbs once you have ignited them. One traditional method is to use a half-shell as the vessel to hold the herbs you have selected to burn. And one of the most popular shells to use is the abalone shell.
Some of the American Indian Shamans prefer not to use a shell and choose other man-made, fire-resistant vessels to use in their ceremonies. But, those who do prefer the shell believe that using it brings in a balance of the four elements to the ritual: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
You may, instead of a half-shell, choose to use a fireproof bowl, plate, ceramic pot, small baking dish, censer, brazier, or other vessel in which to burn your loose or crushed herbs. And you can, of course, place the dried herbs on burning logs in your fireplace.
If you would like to try that, place the loose herbs on a piece of wood that is glowing (not flaming). The scent of the burning herbs will enhance the aroma of the smoke from the fire, and create a healing energy in the room.
As you commence a Personal Sage and Smudge ritual, while you are carrying out the ritual, and at the end of it, say or read (out loud) the appropriate affirmations, prayers or words you have prepared. You can do this as concentrate on the burning herbs - or as you move around the room clearing and healing energy with your ritual. You may want to write down the words on a sheet of paper or parchment. Or, if you keep a Smudge Journal, have it open to them, so you can say all you have in mind while the smudge smoke is rising.
When you study the examples of personal Sage and Smudge rituals and ceremonies described in Sage & Smudge: The Ultimate Guide, you will find suggestions for creating affirmations using clearing and healing words for your own ceremonies. And you will find additional tips, techniques, and suggestions related to using loose herbs in your personal sage and smudge ceremonies in the book.