I’m gonna venture into personal territory again, but only because it’s relevant to what I want to share. There is a story behind this story, and this story won’t make sense unless you know the other story first, and this story won’t be any use to you unless it’s a sensible story… make sense?
I hold little value in rituals, but about two weeks ago, I tried the smudge ritual. Smudging is the burning of certain herbs to cleanse a house, an object, or a person. Several friends of mine are avid believers in ghosts & spirits and have used smudge sticks against them, but I never bought into all that supernatural mumbo jumbo. I do, however, believe in negative energy, and I believe that if it’s strong enough, it can infuse a place or an thing with unwanted darkness. There was definitely negative energy left in the house where I now live. For the two months I’d been here, I was having nightmares almost every other night, some so bad that I’d wake my boyfriend with my cries and tears. At first I thought it was just the stress of the move, the holidays, the everlasting job search. But stress and I are old friends, and I knew this was not one of the tricks he usually played on me. This was outside me, bad karma left behind by my predecessor. The circumstances of my move to this house were not entirely happy: my boyfriend lived here with his girlfriend of several months, and when he left her for me, she left this house, her hurt and anger lingering like perfume. I moved in a few months later, slipping somewhat guiltily into her place, and fell prey to the unhappy specter she’d left behind.
I tried every calming herb and tea I have in my arsenal, and none of them worked. Finally, desperation led me to the junk drawer where I’d thrown a sage smudge stick, part of my moving away basket from one of my more supernaturally-inclined friends. The rational part of me still thought this a silly idea – how could burning this clump of dried sage have any effect on the “negative energy” my delusional subconscious feared? I half expected the ritual to fail simply because I didn’t believe in it, but I followed it through to completion. Every website or book I’d consulted provided lots of pagan singalongs to chant during the ritual, but I kept it simple and silent. Words are like fireworks; they look pretty for the few seconds they hang in the air, then they sputter and die. Thoughts, however, hold their power as long as you hold onto them, so I held compassion and regret in my mind as I walked the smoldering smudge stick through the house. Compassion for her, because I’ve known the pain of heartbreak too often to wish it on anyone else; regret that life led me this way at her expense. Willing my good will to trail behind me with the sage smoke, I covered every inch of the house, blew smoke into every corner. I drew on the power of threes, because if I was putting my trust in one pagan ritual, I might as well add another. I traced the outline of the bedroom door three times with my sage smudge, willing no bad energy to cross that threshold again. Then I cleansed the room, drawing a protective circle in smoke three times around the bed. Finally I sat on the bed, the smudge in front of me, and breathed in its healing smoke before carrying it outside to lead the unwanted energy out. A big part of me still felt this whole ceremony was silly, especially because sage smells exactly like weed when you burn it. But it was done.
Despite my misgivings about it, I haven’t had a single nightmare since the cleansing ritual. I didn’t want to speak of it until I knew for sure it had worked, however. Then last night, I had a dream, the first one I’ve had since the ritual. My boyfriend woke me up, saying it sounded like I was having a nightmare, but it wasn’t at all. In my dream, many of the men I’ve cared for came to me, only to spend one night with me before leaving me. This only slightly saddened me, for even my dream self new that all these men were destined to leave me anyway because there was someone waiting to come into my life and call it home. Maybe my excursion into pagan rituals has muddled my mind, but I think that dream was a sign that I made the right choice coming here and that all will be well from now on.
I don’t know if it was the sage or my own inner spirit that countered the gloomy energy attacking me. But I do know that it dispelled whatever was causing my nightmares – maybe my own guilt at causing another woman’s heartache. If you feel like you could benefit from some kind of spiritual cleanse, I would recommend sacred sage. It’s definitely cheaper than a therapist!