The ancient art of smudging, uses the various types
of Sage, white Sage most popular. Smudging with smoke from the Sage is a form of
cleansing and sweet aroma for relaxation, the cleansing of houses or objects,
and cleansing and creation of purity, spiritual enlightening in preparation for
ceremonies, meetings, and gatherings. The protocol for smudging varies from
tribe to tribe within the Indigenous/Native American Indians.
The attention, awareness, and the spiritual values of
smudging have been adopted by large numbers of non-Indian populations. These
groups have defined their own protocols and uses, which unfortunately is done
for non-Native healing, and require payment. The traditional Native American
takes ceremonial smudging very seriously and does not request payment.
Recently there was an incident where there was a
situation where a female with smoking Sage began smudging an on duty Police
officer. This brought a strong reaction from the officer. Media outlets picked
up the story and spun it in a way that made the officer look like a bad guy.
I originally thought about writing an article
directed as a training tool of emergency services personnel, dealing with and
understanding of American Indian traditions specially 'Smudging'.
I talked with a number of law enforcement and fire
rescue leadership and training officers. One used the comparison of smudging an
officer while the office was working to walking up to a professional golfer on
the green preparing to putt. The resulting distraction could negatively change
outcomes. While the smudging can have a positive affect on the recipient, it
must be done with the permission of the that person. Most emergency services
leaders vehemently remind that in this day and time emergency services
particularly the police have become targets and victims of deadly attacks. Their
position is that it is not necessary to train the culture and tradition of
Native America and non-Indian Spiritualists. When on duty these emergency
services people are to be diligent, vigilant, and 100% focused on personnel
safety, the saving of life and property, and protecting the public wherever they
My conclusion is heightening the public and Indian
awareness of the potential in random smudging. If approached the potential
recipient can wave off persons before they get into their personal space.
Persons attending events and may be warned they may be smudge at random, event
sponsors should warn participants and emergency services via signage, ticket
information, and announcements. The best case scenario would be having a
specified place that those who want smudging can go to be smudged, cleansed, and
enjoy the sweet and relaxing smell of Sage.
In her article in Spirituality & Health Lisa
Cat Criger, aboriginal elder-in-residence at the University of Toronto: “Native
American medicines must be treated with reverence” This is a key point for all
read, mark, and inwardly digest.