Lessons from a Sage Bundle and an Abalone Shell

Lessons from a Sage Bundle and an Abalone Shell

This is a photo of the very first abalone shell I ever bought.  I got it when I first started doing Space Clearing and smudging work 30 years ago. 

I remember finding it at Lucia's Garden - a small metaphysical shop in Houston TX in a charming old house where you could wander room to room exploring books, tarot cards, crystals and other sacred treasures. 

I was immediately pulled to this shell because of the depth of color, the incredible iridescence and the way it nestled just perfectly in my hand. 

A few years later while I was doing a ritual with a very hot sage bundle, I accidentally burned the bottom of the shell. Parts of it blackened. Cracks appeared and chunks of the shell flaked off where it was charred. 

I was so sad when it happened.  And I'm still sad when I look at it now.  I wish someone had told me.   

This burned shell is why I started investigating other containers I could use when working with my sage bundles. I wondered what else was traditional that I could use in my smudge rituals. Of course, I found plenty of other wonderful options!

Did you know that a piece of cast iron is a great container for holding your burning herb bundle?  A skillet or a cauldron is an often-used option that is safe, traditional and oh so witchy too. 

But my favorite containers ended up to be handmade ceramic. I own a bunch now!  I have one rustic clay pot made by an old woman in Saudi Arabia, decorated with ancient markings. I have another favorite I picked up on a trip to Santa Fe.  A few more I found at various antique stores, thrift shops or garage sales. 

I have others made especially for me by the owner and artist at Gravesco Pottery.  

I seek wonderful shapes that fit my hand just right, gorgeous glazes and unique symbols. I love a beautifully curved edge and rounded hips that let me tie on a feather or some beads.  I've learned to always add a thick layer of sand in the bottom to buffer the heat and this offers a place to extinguish the embers when I need to. 

The charred abalone shell is still part of my ritual collection. It has a place on my altar or sits on a special shelf with other ceremonial items when not in use.  

It has become a reminder of why it is important to keep learning.  It reminds me that there isn't just one way of doing something.  It reminds me to look beyond what is popular or trendy.  It reminds me to try different methods when something doesn't work out as planned.  And it reminds me to be willing to take a new look at beloved spiritual traditions.  

What lessons have you learned from a moment gone wrong?  What positive change did you make after an unfortunate or accidental occurrence?