For Self-Care Sunday today, try out a little wildcrafting or practice your herbalism with wisdom from our White Witch, Lori Bradford Miles! The following is an excerpt from her piece "Sacred Smoke" which appeared in our Spring Spiritual Journal.

Smudging, “to smoke or protect by means of a smudge,” dates back thousands of years but has made its way into the mainstream. Burning aromatic herbs and resins from wood was practiced in antiquity and is found in many cultures and spiritual religions. Our ancestors had personal relationships with these plants; an understanding of the function of each and which plant aligned with the intentions for performing a ritual or ceremony.

The Native elders and ancient shamans introduced the magic and medicine of sacred smoke practice with reverence and respect. Bundles of herbs or smudge sticks are burned to create healing smoke from medicinal botanicals, resins and wood. It has been said that “as the smoke rises, so do our prayers rise to the spirit world.” The essence of smoke is a mystical conduit to communicate with and invoke the spirit realm. Throughout the ancient world and still in many places today, sweet-smelling smoke is used as a blessing in temples, home altars and in places of healing.

Lori's White Witch Smudging Practice with Mugwort

In the summer, I make herbal bundles by harvesting herbs from my garden. I always have mugwort smudge bundles on hand. Before harvesting, I always ask the plant for permission first. If I get a yes, then I measure the length I want for my smudge bundle, which is about 4-8 inches long. I cut the fresh mugwort by snipping the herbs at the base of the stem with gardening scissors. While holding the bundle in one hand, I use the other to wrap the bundle with string or twine.

Artemesia vulgaris, or Mugwort, is a perennial, aromatic herb with a variety of uses. It can be used as a sleep aid that enhances dreaming, as a bitter tonic for digestive upset, and the dried leaves have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties as well. Mugwort is also a staple in Chinese Medicine where its therapeutic smoke is applied to the body as an herbal remedy for warming the meridians and to strengthen the Yang and Qi. Mugwort is also known as “the witches herb,” as it deepens intuitive abilities and fosters connections with the spiritual realm to increase protection against evil spirits.

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