Because the paranormal exists in all of the cultures of the world, it is only fitting that the plethora of cultures should also contribute some mystical and magical method of dealing with said phenomena. As far as I am concerned, since there is no scientific basis for ghostly encounters in the first place we should all feel free to try anything once, and most paranormal groups have. We use all sorts of meters, devices and superstitions to increase our chances at capturing the ultimate in phantasmic evidence. While trying anything is certainly an acceptable strategy for covering all of the bases, my suggestion is always to know what you are getting; especially if you paid for it.
One of the most common suggestions for ridding oneself of ghosts has always been to burn some sage in your room. The application of the sage varies from placing it in a shell or pot and letting it smolder to fanning it with an eagle feather into the four corners of your room. No doubt this practice has its roots in Native American mythology. American Indians tend to be the “Sam’s Club” of the paranormal. We spit out lake monsters, bigfoot, little people of the forest, giant birds who feast on thunder, you name it, we got it at a bargain. But is smudging smoke really a good method for removing ghosts?
If you search solely within the New Age movement, no doubt you will be told that burning plants is definitely the way to go. Invariably, the first Google search you try will send you to one of two places. Either a Caucasian couple who resemble Bob Ross and Mama Cass Elliot (before the ham sandwich), who are celebrating 18 years of bringing you the finest in mystical ceremonial products to explore your inner peace and light or the most uncomitted transgender person in the United States with, as my Vegan friend once said, “An inch of cover-up and an inch and a half of stubble.” You will immediately be relieved to find a full set of instructions and magical words to say in order to perform the ceremony to it’s most effective climax. You will also be referred to an Amazon.com location where you can purchase the perfect synthesized native flute music to heighten your experience. If you find that the ceremony itself has too many steps remember: “Regarding the smudge ceremony, remember that no matter the details of your actions, God knows what you are trying to do, and in the end you can’t do it wrong, there is no wrong, God and the master spirit guides in the world unseen will understand your actions and bless your efforts.” Along the same repercussion free lines, please remember that Peace, Love and Light Communications LLC. is not responsible for any demon activity, loss of sexual desire, or closing of bronchial tubes that may result from your mishandling the sacred medicine bundle. Ok, I made that part up.
So what is this smudging then if it is not the miracle cure for poltergeists that I was looking for? Well for that I imagine we have to go to the source and by that I mean to accounts of Native Americans using sacred smoke prior to the influence of “Dances With Wolves.” I found many references to using smoke as purification but none had anything to do with cleansing a location of spirits. In fact, the majority of references were pretty practical, mostly having to do with biting insects and flies. Some were a bit more spiritual but still centered around the idea of keeping the fire lit. In 1534 the following honor was bestowed upon a woman who kept her fire going for 3 days in the rain, thus making the fire sacred. “We would suck in the smoke and keep it in our mouths, and one by one we would puff it out into the face of the woman who had preserved the last spark, telling her that she was worthy above all to share in the benign influence of the sun sinch she had so skillfully preserved his emanations.” Certainly not a ghostly use for smudging, however, I imagine anything would want to leave if you performed this ceremony after a meal containing a lot of garlic.
So why did smudging become so popular? Well, I found a quote by a native named Arguimaut in the year 1534 that just might explain why everyone seems to be burning sage and tobacco in their homes these days. “Fire, grant that by sucking in thy goodness,under the cover of smoke that hides thee from our eyes, we may become strong and vigorous and always be able to know our slave-women and the wives of our bed.” Now where did I put that lighter?