I found myself wondering lately why so many crystal healing courses focus on such a wide variety of stones from all over, when we know that most of them are strip mined, and use slave labor to do the work.
Part of it, I suspect, is that we like “pretty” stones, and the exotic nature of stones that we can’t get just anywhere adds to their mystique.
But part is that we’ve forgotten our roots. Our ancestors who did this work had, for the most part, what they could find within a few miles of where they lived. Sure, there were special plants that grew in special places far away, and special stones, but if you can’t depend on being able to source that item, depending on it for regular use is not sustainable.
Also, there’s the issue of sales: the more you talk up a certain stone or herb, the higher the price tag you can put on whatever’s coming straight out of the ground. And for all that there’s a theme among a certain type of witch that you shouldn’t pay for training…the truth is, that’s one of the few things you absolutely should be paying for. Knowledge will serve you well, even after you’ve lost that shiny crystal, and even after you’ve burned that smudge stick.
White sage, too, comes up for discussion a lot. I’m not sure when or where we moved from “sage” to white sage, and only white sage. But now we’re at a point where in some areas it’s endangered…and it’s not even the only reasonable option for what people think it does. Whether it actually clears everything out of a space is debated widely, but that’s not the understanding most of the Indigenous elders I’ve talked to over the years have.
In that respect, too – is smudging appropriation? What most Pagan folk do when they say they’re smudging isn’t what I was taught by my Lakota elders, so in that respect, you can say that you’re doing it, but it’s not “smudging” the way that Indigenous folks do it.
I actually have more beef with the word itself than the practices people call smudging.In Lakota, we have a perfectly good word for the ritual burning of herbs. The Europeans who came here also had perfectly good words for this task – both the Catholic church and the Anglican church use incense extensively – but that’s not the word that the explorers used. They use a word that implies building a smoky fire or making things dirty (or both).
My Lakota elders tell me that we should not sell medicines (and medicine is a complex concept, encompassing things that help us live better lives, body, mind, and soul). But they also tell me that each medicine has its own ritual, and if you do not know the ritual and the teachings, the medicine will not work for you. Most Indigenous tribes didn’t sell things – they traded, and they gave things away, because having the most things wasn’t the mark of a good leader. Good leaders share their wealth in order to improve the whole community. Much like the idea that you shouldn’t pay for knowledge of witchcraft and the gods, but with a stronger moral background about what giving things away gives you. Still, there was energy exchange, because that’s how a community or tribe or band worked.
Really, everything you need for just about any sort of spellwork can be found close to home – there are always multiple plants, stones, and other things that will do what you need to do, without importing some expensive bit of whatever that you’re only going to use the once, because you’re going to bag it all up and bury it or put it in a jar or whatever.
In short: it doesn’t take a ton of money. It takes some learning, and some exploring. You have all that you need at your fingertips.Check out my new energy work page, http://www.facebook.com/GoodVibrationsEnergyStudio