The “Smudge Bowl”
Sometimes spiritual leaders, instead of lighting the sweetgrass braid to be used in a smudging ceremony, they may break the braid into small pieces and put them in what is called a “smudge bowl”. They may add other medicines to this bowl as well, like cedar, sage, fungus and tobacco. My experience has been that medicines will smoulder better if they are burnt in a smudge bowl and it permits you to burn more than one sacred medicine at a time. The sweetgrass braid has a tendency to go out more often, whereas medicines smouldering in a smudge bowl keep smouldering for a longer period of time. The smudge bowl is usually made from a shell found along the beach. Along one section there are four or more holes to allow for air to pass through which also helps the medicines to smoulder for longer periods.
A “Smudge Bowl” is usually a gift that is given to you by someone at the proper place and time. It’s not an item that you go looking for or that you purchase. If you want a smudge bowl, you could ask for one during your prayers to the Creator or when you make a tobacco offering. It has been my experience that this is one of the most wonderful things about Mi’kmaq spirituality and being on that journey. It always amazes me when something I’ve been wishing I had like a drum, staff, sacred bundle, feathers, rattles, and “smudge bowl”, etc. , all these things have come to me over time. You just have to put your faith and trust in the Ancestors and in the Creator and these items will come to you. In the same way, you will pass on certain items to others when the time is right, when the spirit moves you to do so.