After the women’s circle on Monday evening, Laurie Wondra, our guest of honor, offered me some sage for welcoming her into my home. I have used sage before, and I have been around the use of the herb for much of my life, so I decided to investigate it a bit more in depth.
Sage has been used as a spiritual purification herb for thousands of years. The Druids and ancient Celtics used sage to increase wisdom and knowledge, and for protection and healing. In the Native American traditions, sage is a sacred element in many rituals. For example, the Ojibwa tribe used sage as an anti-convulsant, to staunch bleeding, and as a stimulant. The Potawatomis used sage both as a purifying smoke smudge and as a poultice for festering sores and wounds. Sage also has been used in Native American sweat cleansing rituals with the scattering of sage on the floor of the sweat lodge. The Catholic Church has used sage and other herbs for burning as part of their interreligious services of prayer. Many practicing Catholics today use sage. If you were to attend a Catholic mass on a reservation or even in South America, as Pope John Paul II did, sage would have been present during the service.
Today, sage has made a come back, as more people are learning the natural healing and cleansing properties of it. While there are some people who would say they use it to keep out the “bad spirits,” most people see it more as keeping the space in the pure light of God. It is a calming herb and offers the brain a pick-me-up. It is not harmful in any way and does not alter your awareness.
The most common way that sage is used is to burn it, also called smudging. Some people will fan it directly onto themselves when they are feeling negative energy, like depression, confusion, sadness, or anger. It is meant to calm, lighten, and purify our thoughts.
Sage can be very beneficial for use as an herb. As long as people don’t worship the herb, most religions are perfectly okay with its use.