Video (Windows Media)
Bad traffic jam... Missed assignment... Ugly argument with your spouse. Have you ever just had one of those days? Well, there may be a reason for a rash of bad luck, and there may be a way to get rid of it. Louis Aguirre explains in tonight's special assignment report.
WSVN--It is an ancient practice still being performed by a growing group of people here in South Florida.
They swear a sacred ritual called smudging can protect people from so-called negative energy. According to their beliefs, once youre smudged, you have reason to fear no evil.
It took the Boston Red Sox 86 years to win a World Series.
It took actress Susan Lucci 18 nominations to win an Emmy.
So why did they have to wait so long? Was it a curse? Did somebody walk under a ladder? Break a mirror? Cross a black cat?
If you believe these people - it's none of the above.
They think your fate, your destiny, your future is all controlled by positive and negative energy.
Energy that can be redirected even changed.
They see spirits all around us, images oblivious to the untrained eye.
Alisa Battaglia: "I can sense where some one has negative impact in their body. My third eyes open, i can see there is a problem."
Tonight, they are participating in what is called a smudging ceremony.
The ancient tribal tradition involves burning herbs like sage, lavender, and juniper to cleanse the inner soul.
Luis Mejia: "I think the overall purpose is purification, healing, and becoming that star of light again."
But in this particular service, the purification can only be accomplished by strictly following a religious-like ritual.
Everything you see here serves as a sacred symbol.
Luis Mejia: "Drums are the heartbeat of the earth. Dance is becoming children again. Fire's your soul."
And if you believe what you see, followers claim you will not only be happier but healthier.
Luis Mejia: "I think the mind can cure any disease."
Alisa Battaglia: "Could you possibly heal someone with cancer? Perhaps."
Smudging however is not limited to large groups. It can actually be a very personal experience.
This woman is hired to smudge homes all over South Florida.
For as much as 80 dollars, she maintains she can create a more harmonious household.
Atena Komar: "If youre open to it, youre going to notice it instantly."
The spaces she feels need smudging comes from a sixth sense.
Atena Komar: "A person who's sensitive would pick up on that instantly and know they' re not comfortable in that room. You're feeling like you cant breathe in, its kind of that same feeling or feels like someones following you or weight on your shoulder."
As for the signs she makes...
Atena Komar: "It's a secret."
As for the homeowner, she says you can see the difference as soon as the smoke clears.
Clarissa Falco Shnitzer: "You feel peace, you feel harmony, you feel love. It's more calm, its more peace. I think my life is more positive and more happy"
And according to psychologist, Andrew Wenger, that's all that matters.
Andrew Wenger: "The positive energy and positive attitudes one has - regardless of the ritual - could be helpful."
Dr. Wenger supports more traditional methods, but he understands the accomplishment is more important than the approach.
Andrew Wenger: "The most important part might not be whether there are evil spirits being eliminated or not but the degree to which one feels better about themslves."
Louis Aguirre: "So you're still not a believer. Well, expelling evil sprits may be more mainstream than you think. Just last year, the Catholic church held a symposium on how to perform an exorcism. And in 2001, Pope John Paul II actually performed an exorcism on a 19-year-old girl."
Sandra Richardson: "Yes, you consider smudging a mini-exorcism."
Sandra Richardson is a Wiccan High Priestess and author of the book Magica Formularia.
Not only has Sandra smudged thousands of people, she has actually trained herself to see their negative energy.
Sandra Richardson: "It can look like dark areas on the body."
On this night, Sandra has agreed to smudge three children under the age of 11.
The kids and their parents all say they notice a difference as soon as the sacred smoke is spread across the young bodies.
Amber Thys: "After you get smudged, you can concentrate better on tests, people stop bothering you."
Elly Marin: "I think it does help in a positive way. It's good luck, it brings their energy up."
And for Sandra and other smudgers, that's all that matters.
They know there are critics and cynics, but they believe the power of the mind has the power to see no evil, hear no evil, and fear no evil.
Sandra Richardson: "Whether or not someone is fooled ito thinking they feel better or not, the bottom line is they feel better so the intention holds true."
Louis Aguirre: "While smudging is still relatively unknown, it's actually gaining popularity in the sports world. Even a couple years ago when Shaquille O'Neil was with the Lakers, head coach Phil Jjackson had the locker room smudged so shaq wouldn't fight with former teamate Kobe Bryant."
FOR MORE INFORMATION: