Common Sage found along highways in sandy soil. We use sage as a smudging medicine. Smudging is a ceremony all by itself. When that is lit by a facilitator all talking amongst the people should cease at that moment because the ceremony has begun. A smudging ceremony is done as a form of cleansing, to remove something that is negative or bad. It could be a negative energy or a negative feeling or anything that someone else may feel around them. It is used to be used in rooms where sick people were to purify the air. Sometimes people may think those that use this medicine are using or smoking marijuana because of similar smell. Quite typically this medicine is crumpled up to form a small ball if it has to burn a long time otherwise for a simple ceremony all one needs is a couple leaves, a little of this goes a long way. Sometime when a smudge is done to a person they may smudge from head to toe and include the bottom of your feet. Nine times out of ten a person will usually be sitting down and if that is the case the smudge bowl is placed in front of them and they will often cup their hands and sort of pull the smoke towards them and over their head or at least their face. We often say it is like splashing or rinsing their face off with water but in this case there is no water, smoke from the smudge takes the place of water. There are Indian words that describe this action so if the facilitator uses the words as the bowl is placed in front of you just go through the same process of fanning the smoke over you. One should also know that there is other smudging medicine but sage is the most common one. If one is going to smudge a large room or a large group of people perhaps one may want to use a smudge stick because it will burn a long time. Also there is what is often called white sage that comes from the western states and it has a very distinct smell that is different than what is growing here. Years and years ago our medicines were all considered trade items so our people traded with each other and exchanged medicines as well. We never bought or paid money for what Grandmother Earth gave to us so freely.
As I started to say before this medicine is considered to be a cleansing or purifying medicine. It removes things that might be considered bad or have negativity attached to something. The old ones would say something not so good. If we use sage to clean, remove or purify we have to remember that the removal creates a void and that void should be replaced with something good so we complete the ceremony by using sweetgrass as a smudge to bring in something good. That then is known as spiritual strength.