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Thursday, August 6

Making Smudges for Lammas

Just after Beltane every year, Mama Stacey drags her clan to a wonderful little herb festival tucked into the hills of Cooks Forest State Park.  It is a small gathering and one of those best-kept-secret type of events for the area.  Local greenhouses, mini-farms, fiber artists, jewelry makers, and pottery workers converge in the forest.  It's the best!  We always find unique items there, like cotton candy spun from pure maple syrup and plant varieties you can't find at big box stores.

We pack snacks and stake out a picnic table.  We see many area Pagans strolling through each year.   

On the right, some local Pagans. 
On the left, Mama Stacey, Doodle Bug, and Adventure Girl.


This past spring, I bought a Pineapple Sage plant and an Apple Mint plant amongst the other treasures we filled our car with.  They have both grown monstrously.  I chopped some of the Pineapple Sage and added it to the peach salsa I canned in July, but that barely made a dent in the bushiness of this plant.

I have always wanted to make smudges, but as a container gardener (we living in an apartment complex), I don't usually have enough leaves to work with.  Although my sage and mint are traditionally culinary herbs, I decided to give them a try in some sacred herb bundles to burn this autumn.  I was warned by the great internet that they may not work out because not all great tasting herbs smell good when burnt, but I thought it couldn't hurt to try.

**UPDATE: These smell wonderful when burning!  Very much like white/desert sage bundles I've bought online.   I have decided to make more to give away at Yule.**

To start, we selected some precious stones to gift our plants.  We watered them well and then carefully pinched a few dozen leaves from each plant.  I'm no expert, but we made sure to only take one leaf from pairs and distributed our clippings all over so as to not strain any particular stem/branch.



We collected from our Pineapple Sage and Apple Mint, along with our rather robust Citronella and a few sticky Morning Glory blooms from a plant Doodle Bug gifted me with at Mother's Day.  We used 100% cotton thread to bind our smudges.


I made them two different ways: folded and stem-down.

To make the folded one, I kept the stems all pointed towards the center as I layered the leaves.  After everything was added, I rolled it like a tight tiny burrito.  This was admittedly the hardest part.


I then folded the rolled herbs in the middle and tucked in some of the Morning Glory blooms (which had wilted, but not lost their sweet stickiness).  I then tied the thread around one end and began to tightly wrap the thread up to the top and then down to the bottom again.  I tied it off and let it dry for 10 days.


The second type I made was not folded.  It involved layering the leaves so that all the stems pointed in one direction.  This was to provide a natural handle at the base and allow for some tapering.


After layering, I rolled them like a burrito again and bound with the cotton thread.


This image shows the pattern I wrapped them with a little better.  The thread is straight and closer together on the first wrap (from stem to top).  On the second wrap (from top to stem), the thread is spaced out more and obviously diagonal.  I tied the thread off at the bottom.


These will darken and the loose bits will curl a bit as they dry.  We ended up drying these for around 10 days and they did burn, but I would recommend longer on future smudge-making projects.  Probably closer to a month.

In the end, these dried to a thickness of my index finger.  I imagine they could be made much thicker, but for one or two uses, these are perfect.


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2 comments:

  1. What a great project! I too made my first smudge this summer, but I wrapped it a bit looser than I should have so I am afraid it will fall apart when I burn it. Form my experience, cutting herbs actually makes them grow more and keeps them from flowering so you will have a longer growing season. Every two weeks, I cut each stem off mine just above the third set of leaves. By the end of the season they are huge!

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    1. You are right about the plants bushing up. We have seen a ton a growth since making these. We have been making one a week and saving them for Yule gifts.

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