With the gifts of summer in full bloom, it’s a wonderful time to make smudge sticks. A tradition I’ve adopted from First Nations is to burn bound bundles of dried resinous botanicals for cleansing and purification.
At the Summer Solstice, I picked a variety of botanicals: two kinds of lavender at a friend’s house, mugwort at the back of a cemetery, a rose from my garden and juniper from the bush behind my condo.
Chances are good that you can find enough ingredients to make at least one smudge stick.
Other possibilities frequently mentioned for the making of smudge sticks include white sage, cedar, pine, rosemary and sweetgrass. One source also added sweet clover, thyme, mint and catnip to the list of herbs that can be burned.
I made bundles in various combinations: lavender and a rose, mugwort alone, juniper alone, and a combination of all four.
The thicker the bundle, the slower it will burn.
Using one strand separated from a cotton cord, I tightly tied one end of the bundle. Grasping the bundle with one hand, I began winding the string on an angle to the other end, then wrapped it back down again, forming a criss cross pattern, and tying it off – all as tightly as possible.
I trimmed off some stray pieces, evened off the ends and then left them to dry. It will take several weeks before the bundles will be completely dry and then ready for use. I’m planning to burn them at Lughnasadh as a reminder that the wheel is turning.
Some common sense actions to take into consideration include picking herbs when it’s dry and sunny – not after a rain or when covered with dew – and when harvesting in the wild, to not over-pick from one plant or from one patch.
And merry meet again…