Sage is a common culinary herb that is most often used in savory dishes. Sage is a hardy perennial herb that makes a surprisingly tasty tea, even. This herb can be used to cleanse your liver, but it is also a powerful cleanser of your space and energy. Have you ever spent time with someone and you could still feel their presence after they were gone? Or sat next to someone who was wearing a spray or three too much fragrance? Well, sage is for times like these.
What is Smudging?
The burning of organic materials is an ancient practice in many different cultures. The Chinese and other Asian cultures burn incense sticks at altars and prayers. The Native Americans used it to connect to the spirit world before a ceremony. Smudging is the ritual act of burning sage or botanical materials with the intention of connecting to Spirit and cleansing your body or space.
One of my favorite plants to smudge with is white sage. There’s something about a white sage smudge bundle that makes me happy. A smudge bundle is a neatly bound bunch of loose plant material. And to smudge, all you need is your smudge bundle and some fire. Having a shell or a bowl to catch the ashes isn’t necessary, but it is quite useful. Other popular smudging plants include Palo Santo, frankincense, copal resin and bay leaves. Each moves with the same goal in mind, but they all have their own unique fragrance and may bring about a slightly different mood or feeling within your spirit.
From a scientific standpoint, smudging with sage can eliminate up to 94% of bacteria in the air. From a nasal perspective, it leaves your space with a deep smoky and sweet aroma. From a spiritual perspective, the negative energy has no choice but to melt away behind a smudging session. Not only are you physically clearing harmful pathogens from the air, you are also clearing the metaphysical energy in that space.
We smudge because we want to bring about an energetic and spiritual cleansing. We smudge because it feels good. We smudge because it is one of many ways to help us find our way back to center, to balance. If you are constantly bombarded with aggression, micro-aggressions, other people’s troubles or drama, negative energy, etc. then you are eligible to smudge. We all come into contact with these things on a daily basis, so we all can benefit from the clearing smoke of a smudge stick. It can take as long or as short of a time period as you want.
How to Smudge
The act of smudging is very simple, but clearing your mind to receive what the ceremonial white sage has to offer may require a little more effort. The first thing you want to do is gather your supplies. If you find that you are having difficulty getting in the right frame of mind, you may want to make it more of a quiet ritual. You can slow your breath or breathe more purposefully and deeply as you collect your supplies. Laying down a white cloth to place your smudge bundle, abalone shell or fireproof bowl and fire source on (you can also lay your crystals out if you plan on clearing their energy as well) might also help set the tone. If you would like to incorporate sound in your smudging, (try a bell or a drum or another item that resonates with you) also set your instrument out.
Next, you want to make sure that all the doors and windows are opened and that your space is clutter free. If this isn’t possible, don’t sweat it, because when you need to smudge, you’ve just gotta do it. You can ring your bell or strike your tambourine to send a rousing vibration through the air. Then, light your bundle and begin to move about your home or your space. Be sure to go into every room and hit every corner. While you are doing this try to keep light and positive thoughts. You can think about what you want to get out of each room as you send wafts of sweet smelling smoke through the air. Alternatively, you can set your intentions before you light your bundle and then move throughout your space with the lit smudge stick.
When you have finished smudging your space, put out your sage in or on anything but water. You can use sand, your shell or bowl, concrete, anything but water. “But you said that already,” you may be thinking. Yes. Using water to extinguish your smudge stick will definitely ruin it. And after the smoke clears, make sure to fill your space with the energy that you want. Love, kindness, compassion, honesty, justice, balance. Whatever you want to show up in your home, you’ve got to put it there.
Smudging is a personal practice that can yield wonderful results if you let it. I find that I always feel refreshed and light after smudging my home. The air smells nicer and breathing is easier after the smoke clears. You can smudge as often as you like at whatever time of the day or night you like. Once a week is a good rule of thumb, but it’s your sage and you can do what you want to. Light it, wave it, and feel change happen.