Category Archives: Native Spirituality

Dream Catchers and Astral Protection

Dream catchers have got to be one of the more recognizable forms of Native American art but the true meaning behind dream catchers is often overlooked.

“The Ojibwe believed that the hole in the center of Grandmother Spider’s web was located at the Pleiades star cluster and that the strand of silk would connect all Ojibwe to the Creator.”

The original and authentic dream catchers are created by the Ojibwe or Anishinabe tribe of Native Americans.  Grandmother Spider is an important spiritual entity to the Anishinabe.  She is said to have created the sky and the stars by weaving a massive web in the sky that separates the spiritual and the physical realms.  The Ojibwe believed that the souls of newborns were transported from the spiritual realm into the physical realm by Grandmother Spider.  Grandmother Spider lived in the cosmos (sky) and lowered the souls of new babies through a hole in the center of her web using a strand of silk.  The Ojibwe believed that the hole in the center of Grandmother Spider’s web was located at the Pleiades star cluster and that the strand of silk would connect all Ojibwe to the Creator.  As long as a soul was connected to the Creator (Source energy), Grandmother Spider would always be able to find them and protect them from negativity, especially during that crucial newborn period.

The Ojibwe were located in northeastern North America prior to European contact.  The Ojibwe were given the Seven Fires Prophecy which warned the Ojibwe of a new threat originating in the east and stated that the Ojibwe should migrate west to avoid total destruction and death.  During this migration, groups of Ojibwe migrated all over the continent and they began to worry about maintaining that spiritual connection to each other and to Grandmother Spider.  To help Grandmother Spider maintain a spiritual connection and thus protect their newborns, Ojibwe mothers began to create dream catchers to symbolize the safe transition of souls from the spiritual to the physical world while maintaining a connection to the Creator and Grandmother Spider, thus benefiting from her protection long after arriving in the physical world.

To the Ojibwe, dreaming is a very important aspect of maintaining good spiritual health and acts a communication conduit with the spiritual world.  The dream catcher was created to assist Grandmother Spider in her protection of children.  One of the ways in which Grandmother Spider was said to protect children was by catching bad dreams, nightmares and negative spiritual entities in her web before they could affect the child.

“The dream catcher is intended to act like a filter that catches negative entities and protects you from them while you travel between the physical and spiritual realms during sleep.”

Over time, the dream catcher was used by adults to maintain their connection with Grandmother Spider and benefit from her protection.   It is believed that bad dreams, negative entities and thought-forms are caught in the web of the dream catcher while allowing the good dreams, positive entities and love through the small hole at the center of the dream catcher.

These Native American legends or stories, were just that – stories.  dream catchersStories intended for children to help them understand and remember general themes regarding spirituality.  Most importantly, the stories strengthened a child’s ability to visualize the spiritual world, which was a very important skill for an adult.  These myths survived the colonization of Native Americans because they were alive in the minds of the children.  From the 1800’s until around 1990’s, native children were taken away from their parents and their culture at age 5 to attend residential schools (like state-run boarding schools) where they were taught English, became Christians and learned to live a Western style of life.  As a result, many Native Americans were not educated about their culture beyond the stories they heard as children.  However, there are some families that refused to let their children forget the traditions and today they are sharing their knowledge.

The strength and effectiveness of a dream catcher relies on the strength of the visualization and intention that goes into creating dream catchers.  Native Americans believe that your intention creates your experience.  For example, the Anishinabe have terms, that in English have been poorly translated into ‘good medicine’ and ‘bad medicine’ but could more accurately be translated into ‘good intentions’ and ‘bad intentions’.  The Anishinabe believe that if you live your life with ‘good medicine’ you will have a good life.  The Anishinabe also believe that an object can become charged with ‘good medicine’ or ‘bad medicine’ and that intention and visualization have the power to create and manipulate our existing physical reality.  Therefore, Anishinabe believe that while making a dream catcher, you should hold good intentions and visualize the energetic protection necessary to make the dream catcher effective.  This is where the mythology and stories come in handy, as many people find it easier to visualize the web or Veil separating the physical and spiritual and the strand of silk that connects you to the Creator or Source energy.

The dream catcher is intended to act like a filter that catches negative entities and protects you from them while you travel between the physical and spiritual realms during sleep.  When created during ceremony, dream catchers can be very effective at protecting you from negativity while you dream and especially while you astral project.

Smudging with Sage

Smudging with sage is the practice of burning sage and using the smoke as an energetic cleanser.  Smudging with sage has been used for thousands of years by many cultures as a method of transmuting negativity, cleansing both the physical and energetic body and bringing balance to the energies flowing around you and through you.  The smoke has a beautiful, calming scent and has been shown to have antibacterial properties.  In North America there are two widely used forms of sage: White Sage (Salvia apiana) and Prairie Sage (Artemisia frigida).

When negative emotions take over, smudging with sage will help release them.  Sage is one of many plants that can be used to release resistance.  For example, if you are nervous for an upcoming job interview and you feel that you ‘absolutely MUST get this job’ – you are actually in resistance to getting the job.  Smudging with sage will allow you to release that feeling of need and help open you up to receive what you desire.  Just remember that clinging to one possible outcome will only work against you.  Allow yourself to be open to all possibilities because the universe may have an even better opportunity available to you, one that you aren’t even aware of.  Smudging with sage to release resistance is an effective method of utilizing the law of attraction to create the life you want and releasing emotions and thoughts that no longer serve a purpose in your life.

Sage is a high vibration plant that works optimally if that vibration was maintained in tact by the time it reaches your possession.  For this reason, many Native Americans will wild harvest their sage using traditional methods and rituals as opposed to buying it from a nursery or specialty shop.  However, buying the sage from a shop or nursery is better than not have any at all!  If you choose to buy it, consider a live version to plant in your yard.

Note: I use prairie sage as it grows wild in the area and wild harvested herbs almost always have  clear energy.  *If you plan on harvesting anything from the wild, please remember that your relationship with the earth should be reciprocal – leave an offering.  Offerings can be traditional offerings like tobacco or you could leave something that will decompose into helpful fertilizers.*

Sage can be picked from the wild in the southwestern and midwestern North America or bought from herbal, occult/witchcraft, new age or Native American shops.  You can find sage in bundles wrapped in thread, or in loose leaf form.  Sage should not be stored in plastic but should be wrapped in cotton cloth and stored in a wooden box however a glass jar or paper bag is better than plastic.  Sage can be burned in an alabone shell or in a glass, metal or wooden bowl.  If you choose to use the loose leaf form, you can burn the sage using a charcoal disk.  When burning sage, I was taught to always use a natural flame like a candle or even matches.  You don’t want the sage to be on fire, but smoldering so that a thick smoke is rising.

When you have started to burn your sage and you have a thick stream of smoke rising – 20160523_162122you are ready to start smudging with sage.  In Native American tradition, sage is considered to be a medicine that embodies the divine feminine and is used to cleanse the spirit.  Native Americans will typically bathe themselves in the smoke, using their hands to wash the smoke over their faces, heads, through their hearts, and down over their legs and feet.  This practice is thought to bring balance and transmute negativity, getting rid of anxious feelings and negative entities.  Sage is considered to be a medicine that embodies the divine feminine and as such is excellent at cleansing the spirit, balancing emotions and basically hitting the energetic ‘reset’ button.  Smudging with sage is especially helpful for women during their moon time.  Sage can be used to smudge your sacred areas and tools, recharge crystals, rid yourself of negative entities and can be used in rituals for protection and cleansing.  In everyday use, smudging with sage can be used to attract positivity, repel negativity and balance energies.

Sage can be used to smudge your home, car and of course, yourself!

Personal Smudging Ritual

  1. Sit on the floor in a clean, comfortable space with your sage, alabone shell and source of flame.
  2. Set your intention.  ex “my intention is to clear my home of negativity” or “my intention is to feel more grounded and balanced”
  3. Burn your sage so that it is smoldering and releasing a stream of white smoke.
  4. Introduce yourself and express your gratitude for everything you have.
  5. Focus on your intention.
  6. Use your hands to bring the smoke to your face, neck and chest.  Use your hands to bring smoke over your head and back over your shoulders.  Bring smoke to cover your torso, stomach and legs.  Ensure that all you chakras have been bathed in smoke.
  7. Allow sage to burn out on its own.

Home Smudging Ritual

  1. Set your intention.
  2. Burn your sage so that it is smoldering and releasing a stream of white smoke.
  3. Introduce yourself and express your gratitude for everything you have.
  4. Focus on your intention.
  5. Carry the sage bundle or loose sage and shell into every room in your house moving in a clockwise fashion.
  6. When entering a room, state intention and carry smudge to each corner of the room moving in a clockwise fashion.  Allow the smoke to rise up and fill each upper corner of the room.  Pay special attention to dark corners.
  7. Repeat for each room.
  8. When each room has been smudged, allow the sage to burn out on its own.

 

Growing up as a Native American, smudging with sage has been a part of my regular routine for as long as I can remember.  Sage is a beautiful, powerful plant and I believe that anyone can benefit from the healing, protective vibrations that sage provides. 

Thank you for reading,

Aspen