The Reiki Synergy Bookstore

Welcome to Reiki Synergy!

Namaste and welcome!

I've put together this blog in order to share my ongoing experience as a Usui Reiki Master, and Intuitive Energetic Healer. I always enjoy reading and learning from the practices of other healers and Lightworkers, and so in service to those who are seeking information I've launched Reiki Synergy.

I will be exploring a wide variety of topics on alternative healing and eclectic spirituality as tools for personal empowerment and spiritual evolution. Reiki, Ruach Healing (an energetic healing system based in the mystical Qabalah), flower essences, crystal healing, healing through sound, and meditation are just some of the subjects that I will be touching on. Healing will the the core theme for these articles, and hopefully you will find them not only informative and entertaining, but inspiring too!

Please make sure to browse through our lovely bookstore! I've taken the time and energy to put together in one convenient place many of wonderful resources that I've found helpful on my path, and hopefully you will too.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Smudging: A How To Guide

Smudging, also known as fumigating, is a very simple and powerful way to help keep the energies of an area clean &/or charged with a particular spiritual effect. In today's article I will focus on smudging for spiritual cleansing purposes, give you some ideas of herbs and resins you can use to great effect, as well as provide some dos and don'ts of proper smudging.

Most people who are active in the spiritual community are familiar with using sage smoke as a form of spiritual cleansing and sanctification. Smudge bundles with sage, and sometimes accompanied by cedar, sweetgrass, and lavender are extremely popular and commonly used in a variety of spiritual and religious contexts- although the specific usage of sage, cedar, and sweetgrass originates with the Native American and First Nations peoples. Pretty much every culture has their own smudge practices, which utilize the plants which are native to their region, so you are in no way limited to sage, cedar, and sweetgrass when choosing a substance to use as a smudge. It need only be a material that has a traditional history of use as a spiritually cleansing natural substance which is non-toxic when burnt. Knowing exactly HOW that particular substance effects the environment in a cleansing way can really help you choose the right smudge for your needs.

Let's explore a short-list of substances that are commonly available and can be used for smudging your home, office, or healing space. (This is in no way an exhaustive list, just something to get you started.)

SAGE: The smoke of sage is believed to remove any negative influences (energies, spirits, distracting thoughts or emotions, etc) from the area, carrying those out on the smoke tendrils as they waft away from the ceremony. It also establishes a boundary that repels negativity for a period of time. After burning sage, a properly smudged area should feel very light and airy, and those who took part in the smudge rite should feel calm and centered.

Generally speaking, sage is extremely effective for this purpose. However I have seen it said by an elder of the Sophian Gnostic tradition that in some places the spirits may become "immune" to sage if it is the only substance ever used in cleansing rites. Therefore, it is best to have other substances in your arsenal to avoid desensitization, or to be able to have another method to remove the negative influences should they prove stubborn against sage.

There are many different varieties of sage with white sage and sagebrush being the most commonly used forms for smudging. However all sages are effective for cleansing in this fashion. Living in Canada, I cannot grow the desert sages, however garden sage (salvia) grows very well here. I have several large garden sage bushes that I harvest for organic smudge material. Growing your own spiritual herbs is extremely rewarding and in many cases extremely easy (I hardly have to do anything to my sage to keep it healthy).

CEDAR: Cedar is another traditional plant burnt for cleansing. It purifies the area and attracts positive energy at the same time. Cedar is also said to promote forgiveness and balance the emotions. Western Red Cedar and California Incense Cedar are the two most effective types to use for smudging purposes.

LAVENDER: Lavender is an herb which is extremely healing, calming, and protective, and so it is often used in smudge blends for these specific effects. It is rarely burnt on its own, but there's no reason why it can't be. Lavender smoke will help soothe any rough emotional edges that may have resulted from any negativity in the area, calm the nerves, bring healing to the situation, and establish a gentle boundary of safety and protection.

Some people really dislike the smell of burning herbs. For those who have breathing difficulties due to asthma or some other respitory challenge, the smell isn't so much of an issue as the smoke itself. If you, or someone you live with, happens to fit these descriptions don't despair! There are other substances you can burn if the smell is the problem, and there are Smokeless Smudge options made from pure essential oils that do not aggravate breathing problems.

I make one such Smokeless Smudge Aura & Space Clearing Spiritual Aromatherapy Spray that is a harmonious blend of sage, cedar, lavender and juniper, and incorporates cleansing flower essence of Pear for emotional centerdness and calm, as well as clear quartz gem essence charged in waning moonlight for the greatest clearing effect. It also have been embued with Reiki healing energy to increase the overall potency and light quotient.

FRANKINCENSE RESIN: Frankincense also has an extremely long history of use in spiritual ceremonies. It works by raising the spiritual vibration of a place to such a high degree that lower vibrations cannot stay in the same area. It also brings in a very high Divine influence, very conducive to spiritual work of all kinds. Scientifically, frankincense smoke has proven to have an anti-depressive effect.

I use frankincense most often when I fumigate. It does not leave the smoky smell after it like burning herbs do, and the aroma is much more subtle overall. The actual smoke from burning tends to disperse and dissipate faster than herbal smoke as well. I find the spiritual sensation that it leaves to have a higher light quotient than herbal smoke as well. That being said, I wouldn't say that it is superior to herbal smudge, just that it definitely has different qualities - so try both and see which you like better.

As with other resins, you will need to burn frankincense on a self-lighting charcoal in an appropriate heat-safe incense burner.

CAMPHOR RESIN:Camphor is extremely purgative and slightly mind-altering. It is also EXTREMELY strong, so use in small amounts. When burning camphor has a heavy menthol smell that can be very difficult to breathe in, so again, just use a little at a time and add more as needed. It can also make you feel a little woozy, as one of it's spiritual uses is to induce states of consciousness conducive to prophesy - so again be careful. You may want to blend this with other herbs or resins to cut down on its harshness.

Camphor makes a space uninhabitable to spirits of lower vibrations (and that includes benevolent ghosts), as well as negative energy. Angelics and higher Divine beings can easily still dwell within the space where camphor is burned and kept, but other spirits (even well meaning ones) will be repelled.

Camphor can also be used to seal a room against spirit presences by first cleansing a room, and then placing chunks of camphor resin in each of the room's corners. If you cannot seal a room in this manner - for instance if you are not staying at your own home - you can place a piece of camphor in a glass of water and keep it under or beside your bed for spiritual protection.

**A NOTE ABOUT SMUDGING WITH AN ABALONE SHELL** Abalone shells are sold pretty much anywhere you can buy smudging supplies, as it has become almost "traditional" within many New Age communities to use it as an ash catcher, or as a burner for loose herbs, when smudging. Energetically this actually makes little sense, as the shells are linked to the energies of Water, and Smudging is a Fire/Air cleansing rite. There has also been some concern raised over the gathering methods for these shells, where little concern for ecological balance is shown. Not to mention that do you feel that an animal should die so that you can have a pretty shell to smudge with? It's much more authentic and traditional to use a ceramic or clay pot to smudge with, and there is are no animals harmed! You may also feel free to use a metal container, such as a small cauldron or large incense brazier.


So now that you've chosen what you want to smudge with - whether that be herbs, resins, or using a Smokeless option - it's time to get to the cleansing rite itself. It's actually extremely simple, it just takes a bit of time to do it thoroughly.

1) Get whatever you will be using as a smudge burner. It should be something heat-safe that you can carry around with you. You may also want a paper-fan or something to direct the smoke with, although your hand can work perfectly well.

2) Open all your windows and doors so that smoke can escape as your smudge - this let the negative energy and spirits leave easily.

3) Light your smudge material and let it start smoking strongly.

4) Start by waving the smoke around your own body to smudge your own aura. Say a prayer or affirmation that states your intent to be spiritually clean. This can be as simple as "May this smoke cleanse me", or "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, may I be cleansed and purified" or "May the God and Goddess cleanse this space". Whatever works for you.

5) Next begin walking around each room wafting smoke. Some people start in the East and move counterclockwise, which is the direction of banishing. However if you have a system that works differently, please feel free to use it. If you have no system, then simply move in an intuitive fashion.

6) As you waft smoke, repeat your prayer/affirmation.

7) Make sure the smoke gets into EVERY CORNER, UNDER EVERY PIECE OF FURNITURE, BEHIND EVERY CURTAIN, INTO EVERY DRAWER AND CABINET, and INTO EVERY APPLICANCE. This is very important!! Just like dust will move into and accumulate in areas that are harder for you to dust or vacuum, the negative energy and spirits will hide in any areas that are missed, so make sure to be very thorough.

8) Go through your entire home/office/etc this way.

9) When you are finished, you may say a prayer or affirmation confirming that the house is now clean and purified. You may wish to pray this over a white candle and light that candle at the conclusion.

10) Leave your windows and doors open until all the smoke has dissipated.

That's it!

Now because this does take a bit of time and effort doing a very thorough smudge may not be convenient to do before or after each and every session. It's certainly not a daily ritual. I tend to do what I call a "Big Smudge" once a month in my home, and once a week in my healing studio space. Between Big Smudges you can do "mini-smudges", which is where you just smudge yourself and the immediate area that you will be/were working in. I do a mini-smudge before and after each client that I see for healing work.

Smokeless Smudge is a ideal option to use for mini-smudges, especially when you may have more than one client in a day and you do not wish to have your space become permeated with smoke. It can also be wonderful to use before meditation or yoga to help you brush off the energies of the day and find your calm center. It can also be used by professionals in a variety of contexts, from counselors and therapists, to doctors and healers!

Keeping your home and work space spiritually clean is a very important step that will help protect you from negative influences, and help your healing work be more effective. So try starting with something simple, like smudging, perform it regularly for a few days or weeks, and see for yourself the positive effects it can have in your life and work!

Wearing a Protective Amulet while Healing

In of June 'o8 I wrote an article on here about the various methods that healers can go to to protect themselves during energy work. I spoke of how most healers are empathic to some degree and how empaths often need to take extra measure to ensure that the integrity of their personal energies stays protected and intact when doing healing work on clients. I also mentioned the variety of methods that I was currently using to best protect myself - at the time it was a group of crystals, and a flower essence blend, along with some shielding techniques.

That October my fiance (now husband) and I took a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico to experience and participate in the Dia de los Muertos festivities down there. Being half-Mexican myself, but having never known my biological father or his family I had no exposure to the Mexican culture, and this trip was important to me to help me connect to my heratige, even if only in some small way. It ended up being a really amazing trip, and also very valuable for my healing and spiritual practice!

While we were down there I managed to arrange to have a limpia (traditional spiritual cleansing) with a local native Mexican shamanic healer. I was excited because I wanted to experience first-hand the egg-cleansing techniques, and also interested to see what the healer would tell me about my spiritual state of health. I was amazed at how much the healer told me about myself before he even got into the reading (healers will perform some kind of divination to help them ascertain the situation surrounding the client so they can tailor the healing to their needs)! This healer had also studied Traditional Chinese Medicine at some point, and found their system of organ balance to be very helpful. He told me right away that my liver needed more support, and I already knew that was the case at the time.

As he began the reading, he picked up on the fact that I myself work as a healer. The first thing he said to me once he got that info was that I needed more protection. I was surprised to hear this as I am such a huge proponent of spiritual protection and use many methods of cleansing and protection as a regular routine. He then asked me what was to be a KEY question for me: "What do I carry on me for protection?" I told him that I have a selection of protective and cleansing crystals I wear during treatments. He then asked, "What do you wear the rest of the time?". I said I did not wear any protective items when not in session.

Then he said what I have since found to be absolutely accurate, "When you are doing this work, you need protection ALL the time. 24/7. [I laughed at his use of this colloquialism] Doing this work attracts attention, both from people and from spirits. That attention does not go away when you are done working with someone. You must wear something to protect you always, or you will have many problems."

He showed me the leather pouch that he wore at all times that contained protective items, and also another necklace that he wore specifically during healings. I asked if there was something specific that I should use, and he answered that there is no one thing, since every culture and spiritual tradition has many options for protection. It was a matter of choosing something that I could easily wear at all times (for example, a chunky leather pouch would not have been ideal for me due to my other career, and my regular style of dress), and something that I felt connected strongly to.

Right at that moment I knew what would be best for me - a blessed St. Michael holy medal!

Now, I am not Catholic, but I recognize that there is alot of spiritual power in many of the practices of Catholicism. They also just have so many neat things - medals, statues, holy cards, holy water, blessed oil, rosaries, 7-day vigil candles, etc, etc! If you turn to angels and saints for aid in your path, then you likely can make great use of many Catholic spiritual items. I work very closely with Archangel Michael who is a very strongly protective warrior angel, so wearing a medal that represented his energies made perfect sense to me. I also wanted to have it properly blessed. Now I know that being a Divine Being, that I can bless my own spiritual items, but I wanted to have this one blessed by a cleric that I knew had a great deal of spiritual understanding and power.

When I returned home, I wrote to Tau Malachi, head of the Sophian Gnostic mystical and esoteric Christian tradition. I follow many Sophian teachings and practices, and felt very connected to the energy that Tau Malachi works with. He graciously agreed to bless the medal for me, and so I sent it off to him right away. A few weeks later I received it back with a message that he had blessed and empowered the medal for protection during a group ceremony and ritual. I was extremely grateful to him. I put the medal on that very day, and have never taken it off since!

I can attest to the fact that since I have been wearing this protective medal I have been able to maintain my personal energetic integrity with much more ease than previously. I no longer need to wear the crystals and take the flower essence blend. I simply say a prayer to St. Michael to surround me with his protective energies and angels during healings. I use my Smokeless Smudge Aura & Space Clearing Spiritual Aromatherapy Spray before and after each treatment, and I do a very thorough smudge of my healing studio once a week with sage and frankincense. I've found that this has now enabled me to practice very safely, and with much less ongoing effort to preserve my energetic health.

Since then, I have suggested to all my Usui Reiki students who are practicing professionally, or plan to, to consider obtaining a protective amulet to wear on their person at all times. And I am offering this suggestion to my readers as well! It can be a ring, or a bracelet, an earring, or a pendant, or anything that one can easily wear at all times. Make sure that whatever the amulet is crafted out of, that it is made from authentic items that have a history of being used for spiritual protection.

Some may feel drawn to wear a bindrune made for protection, while someone else may wish to use a seal of protection from the Western ceremonial practices. There are protective amulets from the Buddhist and Hindu faiths, and amulets from the Islamic and Jewish traditions. Whatever your background may be, you should be able to find something that you resonate with. If you are not someone who knows how to perform their own blessing and empowering rites, then it is fairly easy to find a spiritual practitioner who can empower an amulet for you. If you come from a tradition where a priest/ess or other spiritual leader generally performs this service for their members, then it should be very easy for you to have your item blessed.

It is definitely true that doing spiritual work on a regular basis draws attention to yourself. If you are practicing and lecturing publically, then you are bringing attention of other people upon yourself. Certainly not all, or even a large minority of this attention will be negative or harmful. But there are always people out there who will think ill of others - and negative thoughts do carry energy with them. The malocchio, or the evil eye, is well-known throughout the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds, and is brought about my people thinking envious thoughts while looking at someone. Most of the time this is unconscious, and the people do not realize that they are casting negative energy upon others. One does not have to be Greek to suffer the effects that this kind of transfer of energy can bring. Unfortunately there are the very rare individuals who will actively try to bring negativity and harm upon other spiritual workers and healers for a variety of reasons - sometimes it's simple competition, and sometimes it's more irrational. If you are coming into contact with many new people in your role as healer and spiritual practitioner, you leave yourself open to this kind of energy if you are not protected.

Also, when doing healing and spiritual work, we create a great deal of Light on the astral and subtle planes of existence. Just like moths to a flame, some of the astral wildlife will be drawn to us and our places of work. Most of these are harmless and can be, at worst, somewhat of a distraction from time to time. But there are also entities out there that are more mischievous, or downright malicious. Spiritual work creates a beacon of sorts, and many curious critters come sniffing around. Some are hungry for energy and Light and will attach themselves to places or people that are good sources of this food. They can drain our personal energies, or impinge on the sanctity of our working space. Keeping a strong field of protection will help keep these and other astral pests at bay.

So, it is just another aspect of healing and spiritual work that we need to be aware of and find efficient ways of dealing with. Wearing a protective amulet has been one such method that has been around since the dawn of time. Take some time to consider if obtaining and wearing one would aid your practice. I know it has helped mine many times over!