My cousin and I started smudging together in the 1990s. Aunt Pat gave us our first sage and abalone shell bowls. We learned about ceremony. We learned about the value of sacred time together.
Last summer I bought a beautiful smudging feather with a pink quartz handle that stands proudly in an oak base. It was created by First Nations artist LinDaLou. The staff told us that the artist visits the Centre, setting up a table by the fire for a few days to assemble them. We loved that it was created in a space that means so much to us.
When my cousin visits we usually go to the Whetung Ojibwa Centre in Curve Lake First Nation. For twenty years we’ve travelled there to become inspired, to connect to the past, to learn more about our story, to collect pieces that call to us.
I’m not sure why I picked up the feather. I guess it was just a way of interacting with the wonderful things on display. I do that when I’m shopping: pick up things and hold them. When I held the feather for the first time I knew it had chosen me. Its energy moved through my hand and radiated leadership, voice, identity, and destiny. The room seemed brighter. Holding the feather I became the best version of myself, overcome with strength and clarity and gratitude.
I would later describe it as a Harry Potter moment, like when Harry’s wand selected him at Ollivanders in Diagon Alley. It did not feel like an ordinary moment or an ordinary feather. I did not want to put the feather back on the shelf. I carried it around the store for an hour while I looked at other things. My goal was to buy a new key chain and some books on this trip. Well, I ended up buying a feather too.
We got home from the gallery around 6:00 pm. The feather was in my living room only twenty minutes and suddenly I began pulling books off shelves.
“This is not going to work,” I said. “These books don’t want to be here anymore.”
“Yes!” my cousin replied. “Do it now. I love it.”
And so we re-arranged books, furniture, and all my treasures for hours on a Sunday evening, transforming the house, restoring balance, inspired by the feather’s energy.
Then it was time to light the sage and begin the smudging. We were so thrilled to use the feather that we forgot to open the windows. My house filled with a thick smokey sage haze, but we didn’t mind because we were happy and at peace (and so was the house).
It’s nearly a year later and the feather continues to inspire me to find balance, to use my voice, and to trust my intuition.
My cousin taught me the importance of honouring our Anishinaabe roots as Métis people. We can learn so much from family.
Miigwetch, Whetung Ojibwa Centre.