Wild Rose & Herb Smudge Sticks
A couple of days ago I started pulling petals from the heads of rambling roses. The husband looked at me, paused before asking (as I knew he would) "what are you doing?". When I told him his response was a twisted face and the reply "is that some kind of hippy, dippy shit?" And it pretty much is. The smudge stick has roots in Native American Folklore and is used frequently in ceremonies to cleanse or purify. Essentially it's a tightly bound bundle of dried herbs that are slowly burned to bring the woody scent of the outdoors, indoors. And that's what appealed to me - bringing those aromas of herbs from the garden into my home and allowing them to scent it in a natural way.
You can use most herbs from your garden but they need to be picked on a dry, sunny day. As the entire bundle will be burned, the string you use to bind needs to be non-toxic and ideally organic. I foraged the hedgerows for some rambling roses and I took the petals off, allowing them to dry for a couple of days on a saucer. I cut the remainder of herbs from the garden, choosing rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, chamomile, bay, bronze fennel and lavender. I also threw in a little honeysuckle for good measure.
The instructions are so simple, bundle your herbs and flowers together (I scattered the rose petals on the top which was a bit fiddly). Tie a tight knot at the stem end of the bundle then wrap the string repeatedly round the bundle and tie a knot to secure. Try to pull them quite tightly as you wind it round too. They now need to dry completely for a few weeks before they can be used, preferably hanging in a dark room.
When they are completely dry you can burn them to cleanse and purify your home. You need to hold them at the stem end, light the opposite end with a candle and then hold it over a non-flammable container or an ashtray. Allow it to burn for only a few seconds and then gently blow to put out the flame. Allow the smudge stick to smoulder for a few minutes and then finally extinguish it completely (don't use water or you won't be able to light it again). And never, ever leave the smudge sticks unattended when burning.
They are so pretty to give as gifts or wedding favours - but it's a good idea to write the instructions for how to burn if you do give them away.
Update - the eucalyptus smelt horrible when it burnt, so I've removed it from the bunches!