“I clear this space of all stagnant energies and create a space for positive energy and well-being,” the massage therapist murmurs, lighting a bundle of sage that has been foraged and dried on-property, allowing it to smoke, and passing it over your supine body, moving from head to toe.
This is how the Clearing Sagebrush Scrub starts at The Ranch at Rock Creek, a resort set on 6,600 acres of mountain prairie near Philipsburg, MT. The state boasts 16 varieties of wild sage, and that’s a boon for The Ranch’s Granite Spa. Valued by Native Americans for millennia for spiritual and bodily healing, sage has proven antioxidant, antiviral, and mood-boosting properties. As part of the spa’s new efforts to bring a strong sense of place to its treatments—a program that includes outdoor meditation and yoga, Natural Movement cross-fit that mimics the activities of native animals and forest bathing along the resort’s pristine creek—the sagebrush scrub highlights the restorative power of the surrounding landscape.
The smudging is followed by a gentle rubbing of your back, legs and arms with the house-made scrub. Made with more of that pungent sage, organic coconut oil and Himalayan pink salt, it is designed, says Spa Director Karen Piacquadio, to cleanse stagnant energy. Waves of heat and cool sweep your body as the therapist works the detoxifying substance across your skin, leaving you tingly yet deeply relaxed.
Then the renewal portion of the treatment begins. After you rinse in a warm shower, the therapist administers a Swedish massage, using a mixture of organic sunflower and lemongrass oil infused with mint from a neighboring farm. The ointment, says Piacquadio, “brings back energy and positivity,” a benefit enhanced by a final smudging with smoking sweetgrass.
A ritual plant often used by Native Americans in combination with sage, the sweetgrass leaves a light, bright scent and energy around you. As the therapist ends with the same invocation with which she began, you’ll melt into the table, resting in the aromatic afterglow of a Montana-made treatment.
- Betsy Andrews