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A smudge stick is a bundle of dried herbs, most commonly white sage. Often other herbs or plants are used or added and the leaves are usually bound with string in a small bundle and dried. Some other herbs and spices that are often used include cilantro, cedar, lavender, and mugwort. They have a strong pleasant aroma when burnt.
The term “smudge stick” entered the English language through Indigenous American Indian traditions in America via cultural exchange and were propagated in New Age traditions of shamanism. The binding of smudge sticks for many traditions was a sacred intentional process in and of itself. The process of employing scent in rites of purification, be it in censers, through burning incense or smudging (the process of using a smudge stick) is endemic throughout traditional rites captured by Ethnography, Anthropology and Sociology.
Smudge stick ceremonies are quite significant at aphelion (when the earth is furthest from the sun), perihelion (when the earth is closest to the sun), equinoxes, and solstices.
Ojibway and Cree ceremonies often use smudges of sage, sweet grass, and/or juniper to cleanse with, and to give prayers to the Creator, or Gitche Manitou. Smudges with hot coals underneath can provide a lot of smoke for many hours or days to repel mosquitos and other insects.