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 and its properties
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. Scientific studies have demonstrated that the leaves and stems contain jaceosidin, a molecule known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action.
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
Our plants are both wild harvested and farmed. Whether they are collected in private or public areas, the people who pick them have a legal authorization to do so. The process is simple: branches are cut and the roots of the plants are left in the ground to allow future harvesting. Exports are controlled by the USDA (US Agriculture Department), who certifies they fulfill all legal and environmental requirements.
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.
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.