Many people have heard of smudging, but what about Saining? I’m not talking about the kind of saining you did as a fourth grade experiment but the spiritual kind. Saining, in this sense of the word, is focused on a Scottish blessing and protecting and is usually seen as a protective charm.

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Traditional saining rites are similar to other rites around the world and usually focus on water, smoke, and repetition. In general, saining practices serve a very simple purpose: to remove influences of negative spirits. The goal of saining is to help safeguard the health, well-being, and general spirit of an individual or household.

Similar to Smudging from Native American practice, Saining rituals can include smoke. Instead of sage, juniper is used. Juniper was readily available and usually able to be burned in large enough quantities to create enough smoke to sain an entire home. Sometimes, when gathering juniper, it was said picking it in a certain way made it better for saining. For example, they should be pulled by the roots then made into four bundles and carried home between each finger while repeating:

“I will pull the bounteous yew,

Through the five bent ribs of Christ,

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,

Against drowning, danger, and confusion.”

However, saining with fire is not the only when to sain. On each Quarter Day and several festivals it was suggested one should sain their doorways and walls of their home with saining water, specifically ‘magic water.’ Magic water is typically water that has been in contact with gold or silver, or been spit in by members of the household. Usually this water was taken from a stream that both the living and dead were believed to have crossed. The water would then be sprinkled throughout the house, all the windows and crevices would be scrubbed, and saying a charm like the one above. Some left over water would be saved and poured over a fire to create smoke to fill the home.

Saining was often carried through several times during the year but almost always on New Years Day to establish protection and clean energy for the coming year.

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