Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Smudging, White Sage, Palos Santos and American Indians,

As you all know, I am always doing my best to be thoughtful and inclusive, and to be aware of my white privilege in relation to marginalized groups. I am part of a wonderful Facebook group that has many different American Indians* and the subject of smudging and burning Palos Santos came up. In an effort to amplify Native voices I asked Ilea if I could quote them, and I am so happy they said yes!

Ilea Wakelin speaks on smudging!
"Actually *pushes up nerd glasses*, smudge is an Old English word that means Smoky fire.

"When early English Anthropologists came to North America they treated the indigenous peoples as homogeneous (which they are not). There are several different types of smoke cleansing ceremonies across many different tribes, and each has its own unique word in that tribe language. However the English decided to blanket name them all "smudging".

"So it would be more correct to say that smudging is actually several different specific cultural practices which all share the same name. And you will find Native Americans from different tribes who all do it in different ways. From the very deep and personal smudging ceremony which involves a ritualistic exchange of tobacco to the sage plant before cutting it yourself and then specific hand movements, and specific ways to light the sage etcetera, all the way to a native American who will wave around a sage wand inside used car they bought on Kijiji. And ALL are valid uses of the word.

"Some Native Americans sell white sage, others find that practice taboo. There is no consensus as Native Americans are not a hive mind nor are they from the same tribes.

"Overall it's preferable to leave the choice up to the individual doing the practice, and listen to your local tribes voices when making that personal decision. For example my local tribe of the lower Kootenay band highly encourages the purchase, and use of white sage as well as calling it smudging when you do so. They wish for these Traditions to be kept alive, passed on, and more importantly normalized. So I listen to my local band on this matter.

"Take away from all of this is that everyone's personal spiritual path is their own, and it is up to no one else to tell another person how to practice spiritually."

Ilea Wakelin speaks on Palos Santos:

"...my father's side of the family is actually from Venezuela, and they also have sustainable Palo Santo Industries. They only use Deadfall for harvesting, one because it's extremely taboo to cut a branch from a live tree, and two for the wood to have the proper maturity with its resins it needs to sit for about 4 to 10 years.

"In the dry tropical reasons it's actually the dominant tree and extremely abundant, but you get performing allies running around saying that it's endangered, or worse yet saying that it's a closed practice. My family actually has friends in Venezuela who harvest and chop the wood. The work sustains their family, and again it's done sustainably. All the woke people running around saying that the wood is endangered, or is the practice is closed is actually hurting the local indigenous people."

I also discovered in that same thread that there is a Scottish for smudging called saining. Pronounced sane-ing. To me that sounds like "to make sane." Well then. That's just hilarious and great, so I think I will use the Scottish word from now on; and considering that I am part Scottish it seems extra fitting. 

*note: I use the term American Indian because it appears that is what is preferred by those who live on reservations as it makes clear that we are talking about the first peoples of the USA. See cool video no it also supplied by Ilea: https://youtu.be/kh88fVP2FWQ

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