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Author Topic: Burning sage: Universal to all fluffs or specific to some Native American cultures?  (Read 11479 times)


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Quote from: Bastemhet;8429

I'm asking if it makes sense out of the historical context/belief systems (i.e. it's said to work thanks to spirits of plants, so why use it if you're not an animist?).  

It does to me, yes. Because It's not about the spirit of the plant, it's about the properties of the plant. I'm one of those who chooses what plants to use for what purpose, based on some of the physical properties of the plant. I use that as a guide to magical properties.
For example, I use orange (oil, peal, juice, etc.) in a healing spells, because vitamin C boosts the immune system. I use rose thorns in protection spells because that's what thorns are for, they protect the plant. I've used morning glory in bindings because that stuff will twist around anything... you get the idea.

Sage has antiseptic qualities. So, taking sage into the magical realm to cleanse my environment makes perfect sense to me. Especially burning it, because you're adding the element of fire (also purifying), and smoke that can seep into cracks and crevices.

Did I know the history of smudging? Basics, yes. But I didn't need to know and understand the entire historical context. I'm not trying to recreate a NA ceremony. I'm using the same plant for a similar purpose, but in a completely different ritual context. Now, if I were trying to preform a NA ceremony, that would be appropriation, IMO, because I'm not NA.

Anyhow, I hope that helps to answer your question of why anyone would use sage outside of an NA context.


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Quote from: Catherine;9511

Thanks for this.  As a fair chunk of the academic work on plant/herb folk medicine and magic attests, it's very, very common for the physical qualities of a plant -- antiseptic, astringent, purgative, etc. -- to be extrapolated onto more spiritual concerns.  It's one of the standard ways that plants acquire meaning in folk magical practices, and I'm not sure why this is so baffling.  

The line between folk medicine and folk magic is often a fine one in many cultures.  For example, garlic has some powers of warding off physical disease, and it makes sense that people frightened of other types of evil plagues would turn to it.  In a lot of cultures, there wasn't a hard and fast division between physical illnesses and spiritual/supernatural torment -- disease was often attributed to hostile, angry, or evil forces, and it's not surprising that spiritual malaise/negativity was fought with the same tools that worked for physical illness.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 03:50:24 pm by catja6 »


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Quote from: Bastemhet;8049
OK, so recently I was in a discussion about whether one could use sage to cleanse negative energies even for people who are not working within a Native American practice/context.

My thinking on this is like someone chewing willow bark.  It doesn't matter what culture you're from, you're going to get a dose of acetylsalicylic acid.

Things in the mint family (which includes sage) are commonly used as cleansers--think of breath mints and room fresheners, for example.  So it seems logical to me that sage would be used even as a spiritual cleanser.

Some things are what they are, regardless of cultural beliefs.  Things have their own inherent properties, regardless of who discovers them.

If you understand, things are just as they are.  If you do not understand, things are just as they are.


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