You know, I have had the privilege of living on this earth spaceship for awhile: I have accrued 38 orbits around the sun.
Captain, it’s been a fun ride.
As part of my birthday, I wanted to incorporate a special ceremony to usher in this year with powerful intentions (yes, there’s the LIFE project) but these are in honor of the start of a new year for me.
In so doing, I also thought, you know, why not share that and give others their own ideas for creating their own blessings and cleansings?
Why bother doing this, though?
Well, I think that society gets so rushed and many important holidays have been reduced to frenzied commercial affairs, driven by consumerism. I’m not criticizing anyone who partakes in these, just that I would like to see a much more mindful approach as a society.
I would personally like to see honoring the “lesser holidays” with neat little ceremonies that make us all more mindful of what is and what there is to celebrate.
But, well…you may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
…And so, for different days of the year, I (well, my family and I, who participate) create little ceremonies to mark special occasions in a sacred, blessed way. We aim to honor ourselves and honor the many blessings that we have been given.
What I outline below are only suggestions: you can create your own or modify what suggestions I’ve given here.
Though I use the term “Spirit,” you can use whatever term you like that fits with your own beliefs – because, here, I’m all-inclusive.
Also, just a quick note about the terms “smoke cleansing” and “sage bundle:” These are two terms that I’m officially adopting on this website.
Native American Indian tribes and communities have traditionally used “smudge sticks” and “smudging” in their sacred ceremonies. I do not want to commit any cultural appropriations here – out of utmost respect to the cultures of the first peoples of the Americas – and also because I’m not Native American (at least as far as I know, even though my great-great grandmother was from the Navajo and Cherokee Nations).
Gather Your Materials
For a birthday ceremony, you’ll want to gather the following herbs:
- a sage bundle (this is used to clear out negative energy, and for healing)
- a sweetgrass bundle (this is used to invite positive energy into your space and to invite more love and feminine balance into your life)
- a cedar bundle (this is used for protection and to keep away from unwanted influences, both spiritual and physical)
I chose to include these three herbs because for a birthday, you want to clear out any negative energy from the prior year, heal and learn from any mistakes, invite positive energy in for the best year you can possibly have, and protect yourself from mental or physical harm in the coming year.
Additionally, gather these other items:
- a candle and matches
- your favorite pen
- a piece of blank paper
- the birthday blessing poem (below)
The Birthday Smoke Cleansing and Blessing
Remember, you can modify any of this as you see fit. In fact, I encourage you to create your own rituals and blessings wherever possible.
You can also do this by yourself or in a group of your closest family and friends. You, the birthday person, will actually conduct the ceremony.
Before the ceremony, write down the good things that happened over the year that you’d like to recall on your blank paper.
Now, write down all your intentions for the upcoming year.
Gather around the candle and smoke cleansing items. Light the candle.
Begin your blessing by saying the following:
We (or I) gather here in love and gratitude for the gift of another year and the gift of a new day.
Light the sage, sweetgrass and cedar bundles until you see the leaves burning a bit and then blow them out, allowing them to smolder. Take and move and wave the sage around your body, beginning with your head, wafting the smoke toward your face, toward the back of your head, toward your neck.
Continue moving the sage around and over each part of your body, using the other hand to waft the smoke to any place that’s hard to get to: under the arms, behind the legs, under the feet, etc.
Put the sage back into a safe place and say the following (or, if you can recite this while you are using the sage, even better):
Sacred sage, as an old year draws to a close and I begin a new one, take away any negative energy that may surround me. Purify and heal my heart from any negative event in the past year to make room for new experiences and events in the new year. Allow Spirit to work and move within me to do good work this year.
Next, pick up the sweetgrass bundle and do the same as you did with the sage. Say the following:
Sacred sweetgrass, with this new year, fill my mind and heart with positive energy. Help bring me good tidings for this new year and help me to fulfill the intentions I set. Please help me to balance my life to make time for family, friends, work and play.
Now, after you have put the sweetgrass in a safe place, pick up the cedar bundle, performing the same procedure. Say the following:
Sacred cedar, with this new year, protect me from all negative influences and allow only love and good energy into my life. Sacred Spirit, thank you for the gifts of sage, sweetgrass and cedar to bring about good energy and positive intentions for the new year.
Be sure to keep the three bundles smoldering while you get your paper of memories from the last year and intentions for the new year.
Allow anyone else in the group to smoke-cleanse themselves, as well.
Now, read the following:
Sacred Spirit, please accept my gratitude for the many blessings and good things that have happened in the past year. (Now, read the good memories and events that happened.)
When you finish, move on to your intentions:
Sacred Spirit, please accept my intentions for the upcoming year. (Read your intentions aloud.)
When you’re finished, you can end with the following birthday blessing poem:
A Spiritual Birthday Poem
Another year has gone by and I have woken to another day,
I may be older, but each moment brings more wisdom – namaste!
I set my intentions, and recall joyful memories,
More time to build a life with blocks of dreams and reveries.
Spirit guides my way and brings me light,
My heart bursts with gratitude and basks in soundbites–
Of love, happy song, of running water and shelter above
For I know that not all experience these good fortunes and good luck.
If ever I fall into life’s trials and tribulations,
May I learn the lessons quickly, with humility and inspiration.
This year I intend to grow, to live fully and to learn,
As a butterfly from a caterpillar it miraculously turned,
I will spread my wings and gallantly fly
Wherever life takes me and amplify
All the love and energy that has been poured into me,
I’ll spread that love and light with generosity.
As the day dawns and turns to dusk,
I relish the sweetness and the taste of the sun’s musk
On my hands and on my face,
Filling me with hope; filling me with grace.
Gently snuff out your sage, sweetgrass and cedar bundles and continue your birthday celebrations. Here’s to a great year for you!