Making Magic


It’s been a funny sort of month. A mixed bag, if you will. Oh, nothing too full on awful – simply a combination of things that have left me feeling a bit down, less inspired than usual. But really, who am I to complain? With the state of the world as it is, I know that I, in my comfortable life, am very fortunate. Plus, I think a post with me burbling on about general feelings of malaise just wouldn’t be that interesting, to be honest.

So today I decided to make some magic. Now, before we go any further, I don’t consider myself any sort of expert practitioner. I have read and experienced some fairly esoteric things, and I certainly believe in Shakespeare’s assertion that ‘there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ I’m also open to the idea of changing one’s energy, of choosing to pursue a more positive path. I know that there are things in life for which it is just not possible or easy to say ‘oh well, I choose to be positive about this,’ but for general feelings of just being a bit down, a bit off, I believe that focus and a positive attitude can make a difference.

And so what is magic, after all? There are varied schools of thoughts on this, but most seem to agree that it comprises both intent and ritual. Intent, in that there is something you wish to achieve, and ritual, a series of steps which focus power and attract the right sort of energy to get things done. And when you think about it, intent is another word for choice, at least when it pertains to our own lives. And ritual is a route to focus, which is what we need to effect change.

Our whole family has been sick this month with a virus that refuses to go away, mutating and moving from head to throat to chest, a fever that comes and goes, chills and tiredness. A month of spluttering and coughing and broken sleep, the house closed against the cold weather. So this morning I woke up and said to my husband, ‘I think I might smudge the house today.’ He nodded in agreement. You see, we’ve had success with this ritual before. When we bought our first house in Australia, it was a busy time. We were both working and living in Melbourne, planning our wedding, then heading down the coast on weekends to renovate our new place, supposedly getting away from the bustle and stress of city living. Yet, every time I slept in our new house, I had the most awful blood-soaked nightmares, the kind from which you wake shaking, wondering what the hell is going on. Our new neighbours had told us some of the history of the house and its previous owners, and what was clear was that it was a place that had not been loved for quite some time. So I decided to give smudging a try. I had read about it but never tried it before – if you’re not familiar with the practice, it involves burning a tightly tied bunch of herbs (usually sage and/or lavender) then wafting the smoke through the rooms of the house, letting open windows take the smoke away and with it any ‘bad energy’ that might be bringing the place down. So I smudged our little beach house, lavender and sage wafting through and out into the blue yonder. Then I slept the most peaceful sleep I’d had there. We ended up living in that house for seven years, and people would always comment on what a nice feel it had. The nightmares never returned, either.

What’s really interesting about smudging is that, even though it’s an ancient practice dating back several thousand years, scientific research has recently discovered that the medicinal smoke generated by the burning herbs actually does cleanse the air of harmful bacteria and pathogens, with the effects lasting up to a month after the initial smudging process. Sounds about perfect for a house full of sick people, don’t you think? So this morning I dug out my smudge stick, picked some extra herbs and flowers then took advantage of the fresh breeze, opening doors and windows and letting the warm scent of burning sage fill the rooms. The house certainly does feel fresher, so it will be interesting to see how my family react when they get home later. And, interestingly, my mood has lifted with the cleansing, my writing kicking back into gear.

That seems pretty magical, don’t you think?


24 thoughts on “Making Magic

    • Thanks Miriam – it’s worth a try, definitely πŸ™‚ I went to Spell Box in Melbourne for my first smudge stick, plus you can talk to them about anything else you might need. Of course there are plenty of other places that sell them too.

  1. Very interesting. Never thought of trying that, because, dontcha know, foreign (pronounced “furrin”); I’ve really only studied European herbology. But it makes sense that the smoke would release useful properties. Plus, I bet opening the windows and letting the air waft through does its own thing, quite apart from any medicinal/spiritual implications!
    Incidentally, I very much agree on the “more things in heaven and earth, Horatio” bit.

    • Yes, I agree about the fresh air – I think that would blow a whole host of stuff away by itself. The testing was done in a sealed room, and they found that several sorts of herbs and incense had cleansing properties, removing most of the harmful bacteria from the air. Just goes to show our ancestors knew what they were doing, doesn’t it? And you are probably very well placed in Canada for some First Nation traditional smudging πŸ™‚

      • Yup. I just never thought of it for white folk; I thought it was just a special First Nations thing to do.
        I always think it’s cool when science and research confirms what tradition has known all along.

  2. Huh. Now I knew there was a reason I adored you (beyond your lovely comments, beautiful blog, and fabulous writing). I’ve been smudging my home for years. This is, by far, one of the best ways to cleanse a space. I love it. Also, I agree with “intent and ritual”. That is crucial. But, regardless, smudging works. (Sage is my absolute favorite but I’ll often add a bit of lavender or rosemary.) ❀️

    • Oh Sarah, thank you *blushing* That’s really lovely πŸ™‚
      And nice to meet a fellow ‘smudger’. It really does work, doesn’t it? I like lavender as well, though I’ve not tried rosemary – perhaps next time. Smudging is the first thing I do whenever we move house now, and then periodically as I feel it’s needed. I agree it’s a wonderful way to cleanse a space, and it seems science is proving us right as well πŸ™‚

  3. I’m sure there’s a sound, rational, scientific explanation for why these ancient rituals work, and we’re discovering more and more of them. I heard not long ago that there are natural antidepressants in the soil, which explains why I feel better when I’ve been out doing something that involves getting dirty. It also explains why people enjoy gardening (apart from the aesthetic reward!), and why we get down when we don’t get outside, or when we can only see and feel concrete when we do.
    I think that in civilising ourselves, we’ve lost a lot of the natural things we’re meant to do that keep our bodies and minds healthy. If we got back to them, perhaps we wouldn’t get so sick or be so reliant on science and medicines to cure us.
    Even if there is no scientific basis for why these things work, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of magic in our lives from time-to-time! Not to forget, too, that placebo’s a proven phenomenon. I’m a scientific person and I love a scientifically proven fact, but there’ll always be things science can’t explainβ€”and I quite like that.

    • I heard that about soil as well, which I think is fascinating. I commented to someone else that I think a lot of scientific knowledge has been lost over the centuries, some of which we are only ‘discovering’ again now. I think our ancestors knew far more than perhaps we think they did. And I agree, nothing wrong with a bit of magic in our lives from time to time – often simply the act alone is enough to make us feel better (the placebo effect, as you say). Still, it’s pretty cool when science backs it up with fact, too πŸ™‚

  4. I do this every week on a Monday morning, and also after a row or any unpleasantness, or when I need to concentrate, or need inspiration. And whatever the reason behind it, it always works. ‘Magic’ is simply the harnessing of energy. I see and feel that in my Reiki. Its just a technology that we have lost the understanding of, and because we don’t understand it, has become associated with evil, and something to be feared. You can burn any herbs, even incense sticks will do the same thing. I love it, because it makes me feel good after, and it works. You dont have to believe in anything. It works regardless of faith. Energy is universal.

    • Another fellow smudger – yay! I love the idea of doing it on a weekly basis as well – I suppose it’s like clean linens or sweeping the floors, another way to cleanse our space. And I agree, it absolutely works, and I’m with you as well in the belief that it’s a technology we’ve lost the understanding of. Energy is universal, indeed! And I didn’t realise you were a reiki practitioner – how cool πŸ™‚

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