Sangchö or Lha Sang, A Tibetan Native Smoke Offering Ceremony
I was at my home in Boulder instead of my retreat home this weekend and invited an old dharma friend over to perform a traditional smoke purification ceremony, borrowed from the Tibetan Bön/ Buddhist Tradition. In traditional shamanistic culture, it’s very common to gather outside by the fire, to connect to nature, the elements and each other. The smoke is said to purify, to burn away obstacles in our lives and has a way of immediately connecting to our ancestral sacredness. We start by sitting silently and then we recite a traditional prayer composed by Dudjom Rinpoche. As the smoke billows, you imagine clearing a new path for that month, and anything you wish to let go of or create, can be part of your aspiration, and you lightly imagine that nature “listens.” We offer fresh juniper dipped in water, that I am fortunate to have plenty of growing on my property, as well as bourbon and aromatic woods. Other substances like ground barley tsampa flour are often offered as well.
We use a little backyard chiminea, that’s placed in a fire-proof simple Japanese rock garden, where I put at little pagoda too, to act like a sacred reliquary garden stupa. It’s a powerful, healing practice that you can do on special days like the full moon, equinox or solstice. Just make sure that you don’t start an uncontrolled fire on high risk days, and that your county/ city allows chimineas! We also make sure to clear any tree branches above to be safe from fire, and douse fully when we are done. I’m including the traditional smoke offering text we use, if your dharma friends want to perform their own, it’s generally “secret” but if you are connected to this tradition, this is the best text to use, you can download it here: