California White Sage (8-11 cm)
Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto? - Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden? This sentence from a treatise of the Schola Medica Salerrnitana (XIIth-XIIIth century) tells us a lot about sage, a sacred plant.
About the plant
Its scientific name is Salvia Apiana; it comes from the Latin salvare - to heal. It grows in the South-West of the United States, mainly in California, and the North-West of Mexico. It's a well-known medicinal plant. Most of its properties can be found in the leaves which absorb the energy of the sun to produce lots of essential oils. It gives off a pleasant and relaxing scent.
In Celtic Europe, druids would use it in order to increase their wisdom and during healing and protection rituals. Many Native American cultures from the west coast of the US would also make use of the plant to purify body and mind; leaves were burnt and the resulting white smoke served to bless and cleanse people as well as objects.
About its cultivation
White sage is a perennial and hardy plant. Its growth depends on the climate and annual precipitations. That's why the size of the bundles can vary from year to year, following seasonal contingency and changing harvesting. During drought periods, the concentration of essential oils in the leaves is higher.
How to use it
This purification ritual is a universal practise. It's said to enhance mental clarity, joy and calmness.
1. Use a heat resistant container such as an abalone shell. Place it on top of an appropriate support or stand and take a feather or a fan.
2. Light the sage bundle, preferably with a match. Let the leaves burn for a few seconds, and then blow the flame. Be careful, the leaves can easily be blown away.
3. Go through each room and guide the scented smoke with the feather or fan towards the place you would like to purify.
4. Wait until the sage bundle goes out. According to Indian beliefs, sage will carry on burning until purification is over.
You can also burn loose leaves with an abalone shell: place a little bit of sand in the shell to protect it from the heat, then light the leaves and put them on the sand. With a feather or fan, guide the smoke towards the places you would like to purify. Remember that smudging is an intention-based ritual. With a pure heart and noble aspiration, you will boost its effect.
Ventilate the room after use. Do not inhale the smoke directly.