A sacred garden

Petty Officer Second Class Marielle Audet performs a smudging ceremony using a variety of herbs and grasses grown at her home garden in Colwood. She grows the herbs to help supply smudging kits for vessels of the Royal Canadian Navy. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout.

Petty Officer Second Class Marielle Audet performs a smudging ceremony using a variety of herbs and grasses grown at her home garden in Colwood. She grows the herbs to help supply smudging kits for vessels of the Royal Canadian Navy. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

In the back of Petty Officer Second Class Marielle Audet’s Belmont Park home is a well-tended garden. It might seem like an ordinary plot, brimming in the summer with leafy greens of all varieties, but growing from the earth are the makings of smudging kits.

PO2 Audet is of mixed background, Indigenous and French, and when not playing clarinet with the Naden Band, she serves on the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group.

When she learned that warships of the Pacific Fleet were to be equipped with smudging kits, she combined her knowledge of the ceremony with her green thumb to supply the sacred herbs. 

The smudging ceremony involves the burning of herbs and grasses including, but not limited to, sweet grass, tobacco, sage, rosemary and wild fennel.

“This is just my humble contribution to bringing forward this new policy and I’m quite happy to do it,” said PO2 Audet.

After harvesting them in the fall, she then dries them in brown paper bags at her home.

The 53-year-old says smudging is an important part of Aboriginal culture in North America. Smudging has echoes in many traditions around the world including Catholicism, Buddhism and Wicca.

“To me smudging is for cleansing of all the negativity in our lives, thoughts and perceptions. It helps us open up to our thoughts and be more objective as we go through difficult times.”

She uses a large abalone shell or wooden bowl to hold the sage bundles in place before the burning. Once a bundle is lit, she uses an eagle feather to fan the smoke onto herself or anyone else interested in receiving the blessing.

“While the specific items may vary, the important thing is the intention,” says PO2 Audet. “By focussing on the ritual, you focus on spiritual ideas, which prevents any downward spiral the mind can create.”

She encourages anyone interested in learning about smudging and the ingredients to contact the DAAG or herself directly.

Smudge kits are distributed to ships through the Base Chaplain’s Office.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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