By Ben Boomer
My step son is 13 and he loves it when I Sage the house at night before bed. I had given him his own Abalone shell and a white Sage bundle a few months ago, but he just kept it on his book shelf unused. Just last week, when I intended to begin our nightly ritual, I found I had burnt the last of my Sage the night before. So, I told him it was his turn to Sage the house when he made his request again, as he does every day. He complained he didn’t know how. He is in a very scholarly frame of mind these days, and has serious questions and doubts about anything magical or mystical. He does know that the way I Sage the house is somehow special, and makes him feel good, so he wanted to understand why. I decided to tell him by engaging his knowledge of science as a way to convey part of the meaning without diving off into a magical explanation.
“Here we are on this ball called Earth floating in space around a giant fusion energy reaction so massive it holds us in its gravity well. The Earth itself is so massive it holds us to its surface. Here we interact between the Earth and the sun. In a simplified, but very true way, the Earth provides all the materials for everything you see around, and the sun provides the energy. Everything on the Earth interacts with the sun in some way, and in this way has a quality I will call ‘being’. Many things just are, like rocks or dirt, and they do not have to learn how to be, they just are. As beings become more complex they interact in very specific ways. At a certain point that complexity takes on a life, like flowers, or trees, or fish. The way science explains it is that beings on this planet have evolved more and more complex ways to be for a very long time. Transforming over time from plants to fish to animals and eventually into people. All life is finding a way to be on this planet. You are 13, and it is very obvious to you that you are in the process of learning how to be a person, a son, a brother and eventually a man. This can be very difficult at times, and as we walk around learning we can get confused, or forgetful, or distracted. People are a little complicated, and life takes some time to understand, but fortunately we are not alone on the planet trying to figure it out by ourselves. Plants draw energy directly from the sun, and nutrients from the Earth and transform those things into life. They are alive and they have learned how to be here a long long time ago. If we observe them and interact with them they can teach us by example how to live and be on the planet. People have known about this for a long time also, and have found which plants are good at teaching us different ways to be on the planet.
The Sage is one of those plants that we have learned is good at reminding us to be strong, and pure, and protected. When we walk around the world sometimes we pick up on other people’s crummy feelings or some situation that makes us feel bad. We carry that home in our minds or gut feelings, and it shows up in a neglected room, or forgotten dishes, maybe a nightmare, or the corner of the closet you never think about. Sometimes we push the feeling down deep inside and forget why we feel bad at all. Trying to constantly remember how to be at ease with your brain is sometimes impossible, especially if you are tired or don’t feel like it. This is where the plants and rituals can be very powerful in changing the way you show up, the way you feel, think and be. This is how they can change your life. So there is no magic, and nothing mystical at all.
When you take the Sage in your hand remember all this about the plant, how ancient and powerful it must be to have survived all this time. Now, make some fire with a lighter. The fire is like the sun in that it transforms material and releases energy. When you put the fire to the Sage, all that was left of the Sage’s being will release into the air. That’s not magic, that’s combustion. Notice it smells good, and clean, and fresh, yet old. It lingers, it is strong and subtle. Notice all these things and remember it. It is reminding you how to be. It is a plant that learned to protect itself from all the world had to throw at it. Ancient people learned to use the smoke to remember to be pure, and clean, and protected. We use the smoke to remind not only us, but all the things in the house and around us. We want to cover them in this being. We cover them with the smoke, we push the smoke around and into everything we want to take on this being of clean, of pure, and protected. You carry the smoking Sage around the house and make sure to see the smoke touching all the things around you, paying special attention to people and animals to make sure they have been cleaned off. Get it into the corners, and closets, and all the places that get forgotten. Send it out to the roof and yard, and as you practice you can send it out to all the places in your life where you work and live. So when life gets complicated, or messy, or we feel distracted or forgetful about our purpose here we can burn the Sage to remind ourselves and everything around us to be pure clean and protected and anything else beneficial you can think of. All the things I am telling you are given strength by your ability to think, to feel, and to remember how powerful and special it is to be here in this place. So use that ability and the smoke to clear your mind, spirit, and space of anything that is distracting, or confusing or negative. Do this over and over again and you will build a stronger connection. It is like building a muscle, or learning math. At first it may not make sense, but then it becomes part of your nature, part of your being. You don’t have to believe in magic to learn from plants and have rituals be a powerful part of your life. Keep your skepticism, and questions for as long as they serve you, but keep in mind you don’t want to keep them any longer than that.”