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The End of Winter

It may not completely feel like it, but Winter is in the rear-view mirror and Spring waits before us heralded by the Vernal Equinox. The word “equinox” comes from the Latin meaning “equal night”.

There are many ways to celebrate this transitional period. It can be taken as an opportunity for new beginnings and balance in one's life. It can be a chance to re-connect with Mother Earth or do some serious Spring cleaning physically, emotionally and spiritually. There are plenty of Spring Equinox rituals and traditions to consider, like planting a garden or starting seeds, brainstorming new goals and projects, or simply waking up to greet the sun. Smudging or cleansing with smoke is an ancient tradition found in many cultures across the globe and is often a part of equinox celebrations. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the verb "smudge" is an English word from the 18th century that originally meant to obscure or smother something with smoke and was often used in terms of filling an area with smoke to get rid of insects or to protect plants from frost. Native American culture has long been associated with smudging and smoke cleansing as a pre-ritual activity incorporating the use of many different herbs, in particular white sage.

One of the earliest written records of smoke cleansing comes from the Vedas. These ancient Hindu texts written in Sanskrit detail the use of incense as a healing tool to support recovery from illness and, equally important, to create a clean, peaceful, nurturing space in which to heal. I personally use the strong aromatics in incense as a way to create sweet smelling smoke for my altar and my home. When my children were younger, I would often use a light incense in their room to clear negative energy, create an atmosphere of healing and quiet restlessness. Today I do the same for myself.

Smoke cleansing can be a powerful, renewing and healing practice for many people, particularly when they are embracing a form that reflects their personal culture and unique heritage. If you have never smudged or used smoke to cleanse, plan on trying it out this month as we make this seasonal transition to warmer days and shorter nights.






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