Performing spiritual-cleansing ceremonies with herbs is common among many spiritual traditions. According to Jane Alexander, a spiritual living expert, Chinese, Native American, Maori, Zulu and Balinese are just a few of the cultures that continue to practice these ceremonies. One of the most common ways to cleanse with herbs is by smudging. Smudging involves immersing oneself or an item in the smoke from a burning bundle of herbs. However, there are a variety of ways to use herbs for spiritual cleansing.
Rosemary is a common culinary herb that is also used widely for spiritual cleansing. In addition to its powers of purification, rosemary is thought to be a protective and healing herb. Burn dried rosemary needles on an incense charcoal to smudge a place, item or person, or brew a strong tea with fresh or dried rosemary and pour it in a bath for personal cleansing.
Sage has been used for centuries by Native Americans as an herb for purification and healing. In their article published on the website Asunam, Native American spirituality practitioners Adrienne Borden and Steve Coyote share that leaves or branches of dried sage are burnt in sacred ceremonies to "drive out bad spirits, feelings, or influences and to keep bad spirits from entering the area where a ceremony takes place." The variety of sage used by Native Americans differs according to what is available in the region. All varieties contain cleansing properties, including sage's cousin, Artemisia. Wrapping fresh sage leaves around an item is believed to cleanse the item, and wands or wreaths made of sage are hung in the home for continuous spiritual cleansing.
Cedar is a power herb for clearing negative energy and promoting healing. Indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest burn dried branches of cedar in the same way other tribes burn sage. Fresh branches of cedar are waved throughout a home to cleanse it of bad energy and welcome good influences. Boughs of cedar are sometimes used as a bed for someone receiving healing or as ceremonial "base" during a vision quest where the quester can receive purification.
Thyme is especially helpful for spiritual cleansing when matters of love are involved. Use thyme tea in a bath to cleanse yourself after a difficult break-up. Purify any gifts you might have received from an ex-lover but want to keep, by washing them in a strong decoction of thyme or lay them in a living mound of thyme during the full moon.
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