Smudging is putting smoke over one's face and body. In Arab and African
countries people smudge. It is also a custom with indigenous people from
various lands including Turtle Island. Smudging is used in particular in
places where water is scarce or to cold to be used frequently.
In Turtle Island sweetgrass, cedar, sage and tobacco are placed in a shell
of a bowl and then burnt. The smoke is then spread with a feather. The most
commonly used shells today are abalone shells and the most commonly used
bowls are made out of soapstone. The most commonly used feathers for
smudging are turkey feathers.
The other way of smudging is to braid sweetgrass and then burn it and hold
it and spread smoke with it. Other plants like the mushroom can also be used
for smudging. The smoke substitutes for water with the chemicals in the
smoke having cleansing properties on the body. The smoke smell of plants
like the sweetgrass has an aromatic effect besides the cleansing chemical
properties that it has.
Survival expert Les Stroud from Ontario, on his show Survivorman,
demonstrated cleansing by smudging during his survival journey in the desert