Af Malu Rocha
New Age spirituality has given us many energy clearing rituals to revitalize ourselves and our space. But we have focused too much on what these rituals can do for us that we have forgotten to look into the rich history that brought these rituals to us.
Smudging, burning incense, reiki and chakra healing have different historical backgrounds. And in order to respect these rituals as we practice them, it is important to familiarize ourselves with how they came about, who invented them, and what significant events led to their creation.
Are you ready to travel through time? Let's get to know the history of 4 widespread energy cleansing rituals in our time.
1. Smearing/cleaning from smoke
Wherever we go, thoughts, intentions and energies of people and objects rub against us. They can be positive, but they can also be negative and sometimes harmful to our well-being.
Regular smoke cleaningit helps to discard these unwanted energies. It cleanses our aura, removes negativity and gives us new positive energy.
This practice of prayer and burningaromatic plantssuch as cedar, sage, licorice, lavender, pine, and wormwood is an ancient ritual that originated in Native America many years ago. It is traditionally known as smearing.
Indigenous peoples in Canada and various parts of the world use rituals to protect themselves from negative energies and evil spirits. They also believe that the smoke that comes from burning sacred plants helps to invoke the presence and guidance of the divine.
Other benefits of pampering includecleansing of body and soul, mental clarity and physical healing.
But contrary to the wonderful benefits it provides, did you know that there is a grim reality to overindulging?
Before it became mainstream (especially among non-aboriginal populations), it was illegal for indigenous groups in Canada to practice their religious and cultural activities (including plating) due to colonization and assimilation policies.
Natives were even imprisoned and killedto simply follow their customs. To this day, indigenous peoples still fight for their right to freely perform their rituals.
Because of these struggles, when non-Native people defile their space without regard for the sacred and original intent of the ritual, it diminishes the cultural significance of the defilement—a classic case of cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriationis the unauthorized act of appropriating the cultural expression, traditional knowledge, or artifacts of another culture that has been oppressed, discriminated against, or persecuted.
What makes cultural appropriation more alarming is the improper harvesting of medicinal plants, especially sage. According to native traditions, when sage is harvested, the root must remain in the ground and the harvester must say a prayer of thanksgiving for the harvest. This is to ensure that the plant grows back and maintains a future supply.
For people outside the indigenous community, smearing can be a harmless ritual of self-care. But for indigenous peoples, it is a representation of their faith, culture, heritage and identity.
Have you used plants to remove negativity from your space? Due to awareness and responsibility, one should not completely abandon rituals.
You can respect indigenous cultures in the following ways:
- Performing smoke cleaning instead of smearing. While smudging has its roots in indigenous cultures, smoke cleansing is not tied to any group or culture. So everyone can do it. Smudging and smoke clearing may use similar elements, but each serves a different purpose.
- Learn more about herbal production and sources, appropriation and responsible smoke clearance
- Support brands that support indigenous cultures and source their herbs ethically and responsibly
- Use the sacred herbs used by your ancestors
- Consciously incorporate smoke removal into your life
The next time you light your herbs, pay tribute to the indigenous people who fought hard and literally sacrificed their lives so that we can freely practice smoke cleansing today.
2. Incense resin
Incense resin (from the Latin wordpresse, meaning burning) is obtained from small globules of hardened plant secretion or sap. The resin is usually extracted from the bark of a woody plant, the buds of a shrub, or the flowers of a plant.
The term "resinous incense" also refers to plant mixtures consisting of bark, leaves, flower petals and wood chips. Like the loose and collected herbs used to clear smoke, these herbs release a pleasant aroma that soothes the senses and calms the mind and body.
Specifically, these are the benefits associated with burning incense for one's well-being:
- Resin produces a fragrance that activates desirable thoughts, feelings and states. In aromatherapy, herbs are used to promote relaxation, creativity, increased concentration, increased awareness and sexual arousal, among other things.
- Cleans the air and removes allergens
- It harmonizes mind, body and spirit
- Calms emotions, heightens awareness and sets the right mood for focus and solitude (making burning incense an ideal pre-meditation ritual)
Burning incense began about 6,000 years ago. With roots in ancient Egypt and Babylon, incense was among the first fragrant materials that people learned to use in religious rituals.
The Egyptians used incense to deodorize dead bodies during mummification, ward off demons, and connect with their gods. The Babylonians used incense in prayers or oracles.
Popular types of incense such as frankincense and myrrh are also mentioned 20 times in the Bible as among the gifts that the wise men offered to the baby Jesus. In fact, the value and form of incense can vary from one culture to another depending on their beliefs and customs.
But one thing is for sure: not all resins are created equal. Each type of resin is classified by plant type and genus, or by where it was produced. Each variety also offers a unique set of benefits.
Below are some examples:
- Gajak- Clears negative energy and helps relieve pain, stress and headaches.
- Dragon's Blood- Creates a gentle and sweet fragrance with slightly earthy undertones that induces healing and increased immersion.
- benzoin- This resin is burned to remove negative energy, balance emotions and relieve sadness, anger, greed, loneliness and fatigue. It is also believed to attract prosperity. Benzoin resin comes from the trunks of trees belonging to the styrax family.
- He was kicking- A fresh smelling, quick burning resin used to clear energies, raise vibrations, attract love, reveal unseen energies in a given space and inspire insight into the divine.
- Incense- Promotes calmness and deepens spiritual experiences. It also increases strength and motivation on days when you lack energy and inspiration.
- smirna- Strengthens spiritual awareness before and during rituals. Myrrh is also used to bring happiness, confidence, strength and stability.
To learn more about resin incense,read this article on the origins, uses and methods of burning incense.
3. Reiki practice
While the 2 previously mentioned methods cleanse negative energies using fragrant herbs,Reikipromotes healing by removing energy blockages. It works on the principle that a person achieves optimal health when his energy flows evenly throughout the body.
The term Reiki comes from Japanese wordsrei(universal) i.edo(life energy). In combination, reiki means a mystical atmosphere, a miraculous sign. Reiki practitioners believe that increased energy flow around the body promotes healing and relaxation, relieves pain and reduces symptoms of illness.
How did this practice originate?
People have been practicing Reiki for about 2,500 years. But the newest form of reiki,Usui Reiki Ryoho, was developed in the 1920s by Mikao Usui. Usui, a spiritual aspirant and married lay monk, began his practice at a time when Buddhist, Shinto, and Taoist practices were predominant themes in Japanese spirituality.
Usui traveled extensively in Japan in the last 4 years of his life. During that time he taught 2000 students Reiki and trained 16 people to become Reiki Masters. One of these masters was Chujiro Hayashi, who was responsible for bringing Reiki practice to other parts of Japan. Hayashi's student, Hawayo Takata, later brought the practice to Hawaii and the US mainland in 1937.
Reiki is also known as palm healing and hand healing. It uses various healing techniques such asirradiation, centering, cleansing, extraction of harmful energies, infusion and smoothing and tearing of the aura.
Some practitioners supplement their practice with crystals andchakra healing wandsfor better control of the energy flow. There are also Reiki practitioners who do not depend on instruments other than themselves.
Reiki is used to treat health conditions including:
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including Crohn's disease
So what exactly happens during a Reiki session?
- The therapist conducts the session in a quiet and private setting, although it can be conducted anywhere.
- Fully clothed, the customer sits in a comfortable chair or lies down on a table.
- The practitioner holds his hands over the wounded, burned or injured part of the body (if any).
- While holding the arms above the body, energy is transferred. The doctor may report a feeling of warmth or tingling in the hands. Then they hold each hand until the energy stops flowing.
- When the practitioner feels that the heat or energy in their hands has disappeared, they remove their hands and hold them on another part of their body.
There is little evidence that the practice has any medical benefit. However, people who have the above health problems may consider trying Reikinext totreatments prescribed by their doctor to help them relax.
Chakrais a term that is often thrown around in metaphysical space. However, there are few mentions of its history and origins. Where does chakra actually come from? And who invented it?
A Sanskrit word meaning circle or wheel chakra, it is a spiritual and philosophical concept in Indian religion and politics. Chakras are energy centers in the body located in the main branches of the nervous system, starting from the base of the spine to the top of the skull.
Each chakra is a center of activity that receives, assimilates and expresses life force energy, according to the New World Encyclopedia. In other words, the chakras provide a network of energy flow that governs a person's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Scientists believe that knowledge of the chakra system was originally passed down through generations through oral tradition. This was made possible by the Aryans, an Indo-European people who settled in prehistoric Iran and the northern Indian subcontinent.
Chakra is mentioned in Vedic texts of ancient India 1500-500 BC. It first appeared in a genre called the Upanishads, which dealt with Hindu meditation, philosophy, and spirituality.
Since then, the history of chakras has evolved so much. It then became more prominent in the Middle Ages in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. This development largely led to the chakra concepts we know today, including life force energy and the subtle body.
There are also different models of chakra systems around the world. A system consisting of 6 or 7 chakras (a model developed in the 11ththSt. n. e.) along the axis of the body is the most accepted. It is also a model adopted by many yoga traditions.
This model has the following:
- Sahasrara (crown chakra) – the consciousness chakra located at the top of the skull. It is responsible for secreting hormones to communicate with the endocrine system and connect with the central nervous system.
- Ajna (third eye chakra) - It is associated with the pineal gland and is known as the chakra of light, consciousness and time. It also regulates sleeping and waking patterns.
- Vishuddha or vishuddhi (throat chakra) - Associated with communication and self-expression. It is located parallel to the thyroid gland, which is responsible for growth and maturity.
- Anahata (heart chakra) - This chakra is associated with love, compassion and a whole range of emotions. It is located in the chest and is associated with the immune system.
- Manipura or nabhi (solar plexus chakra) - Associated with the transition from basic to complex emotions, energy, digestion and assimilation. It is also responsible for the digestion and conversion of food into energy. It is located in the mouth of the stomach.
- Swadhisthana (sacral chakra) - the chakra of creativity and sexuality located in the groin. It is associated with the testicles and ovaries, which are involved in reproduction.
- Muladhara (base or root chakra) - Located between the anus and genitals, the root chakra is associated with safety, survival and instinct. It is also associated with ejaculation and sexual intercourse in men.
When these chakras are open and balanced, energy can flow smoothly through our mind and body.
However, when any of these energy centers are blocked, it results in energy stagnation. This can cause certain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ailments depending on which chakra is blocked.
Healing crystals,smoke cleaning, dvsmeditationoften used to unblock and revitalize these chakras. Each energy center is represented by different colors. And the appropriate crystal to use must be the color of the chakra you wish to heal.
- Crown (white or purple) - Selenite to remove negative energies
- Third Eye (Indigo) - Amethyst for clarity
- Neck (blue) - Lapis lazuli for increased confidence and attracting abundance
- Heart (Green) - Green calcite (also rose quartz because it is the ultimate heart crystal) for increased ability to give and receive love
- Solar plexus (yellow/gold) - Tiger's eye
- Sacral (orange) - carnelian for optimism and freedom from negative self-talk
- Root (red) - Red jasper for strength and protection
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