Sitting around a campfire, you may hear someone say, “Smoke follows beauty.”
It may or may not, but I do believe it can carry our prayers to heaven. Where there’s smoke, there’s often more than fire — there’s a petition for help just like the smoke signals used by Native Americans conveyed distress.
The burning of sage is also an Indian tradition, but lighting up incense precedes even the birth of Christ. The high priests were required to burn incense before entering the temple and making sacrifices.
In a society where many Christian ceremonies include a priest swinging incense around the blessed sacrament to purify and protect the space, it seems ironic that burning sage, or smudging as it is called, to clear a space of negative energies would be controversial; yet, I have found that it is.
I grew up in a Christian home and didn’t hear of saging until I was in my 20s. None of my friends did it and family members thought it was strictly an occult practice and to be avoided.
It was only after a paranormal experience where an evil spirit entered my home that I began considering the practice of saging to intensify the intent of the power of my prayers. In Latin, sage means “to heal”; however, it’s not the sage itself that clears and protects a space or a person, it’s the intent behind it that is the real power.
Just like lighting a candle at a vigil symbolizes love for a person who died, lighting sage in our homes can be a projection of our intent for protection or for purification. Sure, we can remove toxic energies from our environment without sage. We could wash our clothes without an electric washer and dryer, but I choose the expeditious route. I choose to use sage to encourage negativity to leave just like I would fan a nasty smell out the window. For those of you who burn popcorn, you know how tough this can be.
Seriously though, it’s not the fragrance being burned that has authority anymore than it’s the size of the burning candle that depicts how much the person holding it loved the person who died. It’s the energy of intent that is powerful. Intent attaches to the flames or the smoke like lint collects on a strip of masking tape. A focused intent creates a higher vibration of energy that floats though the ethers and reaches the Infinite himself.
It’s that simple, but remember, simple doesn’t mean little focus or tiny intent. It means having faith in our words, praying the prayer that stirs deep inside our souls and trusting that the vapors rising evaporate into a higher realm we don’t always see, but one that is ready to help us, should we just believe.
Religious practices are determined devout or deplorable—one group’s peace pipe is another’s addiction; one organization’s interpretation of discipline is spanking, another’s is cutting off a thief’s hand. The involvement and outcome of our practices boils down to perception and intent.
Exploring your possibilities can be scary, but the alternative — stagnation — is scarier. It is a fixed location. It means we will never grow, we will never learn, we will never surpass the boundaries set before us.
So in honor of you who aspire to transcend the branded beliefs, light one up for me.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio.
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