Smudging is a process where one invites the smoke of certain plants or herbs to neutralize or chase away negative energy. It’s one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing and balancing a person, an animal, an object or a space.

Most commonly, Sage is used to ward off or neutralize the negative and unwanted energy and then sweetgrass is used to attract peace and positive energy.

When smudging, there are many other herbs and plants that may be used.

The ritual burning of herbs and herbal resins is common to many cultures.

Science has proven that certain herbs do have cleansing powers, such as those used in pesticides. 

Sage is for healing. The Latin for sage, ‘Salvia,’ means ‘to heal.’ By burning sage you’re not just cleansing or purifying a place, you’re increasing spiritual awareness, wisdom and clarity.

The term “smudging” seems to have originated with the Native Americans. Smudging has come to be known as a spiritual ritual where one connects with the energy of the smoke with gratitude and respect, asking for the smoke to bless, cleanse and clear the person, the object or the space in need of cleansing. 

Smudging is seen as a way to connect and balance the physical world with the spiritual realm, and to ensure that only the best in the spiritual realm is affecting and lingering within us and our home, or space.

The ritual includes all four elements: earth, air, fire and water. (sage, smoke, fire and abalone shell). This is symbolic, giving depth to the ritual!

Smudging a space or even your body is like taking an energetic shower, or deep cleansing. Our state of mind and attitude carry very strong vibrations that will affect the outcome of the ritual, so it's necessary to assess where your mind and emotions are before beginning the smudging process.

A smudging ritual can be as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be. If you are burning sage to purify a space or a person, the best sage to use for such purposes is white sage.

What you’ll need:

The process is simple. These are the tools you need to effectively clear yourself, your home and others of negative or unwanted energy: 

  • Feather (or feather wand)
  • Abalone shell (or fireproof bowl)
  • A small amount of sand to stay in your shell or bowl (optional)
  • Candle (or lighter)
  • White sage smudge stick (or loose leaves of white sage)
  • Sweetgrass braid or incense

You always want to begin with a mantra, prayer or by setting an intention.

Place the bundled sage into the abalone shell (or bowl) and light it for a few seconds before extinguishing the flame. Let the smoke billow up.

Slowly walk around the room and take the smoke to each area you would like to cleanse. Fan the smoke with the feather to reach every corner. Concentrate on gateway areas, such as windows, doors, closets, as well as hallways and corners of a room. Use your intuition, your space will usually inform you as to which areas need to be cleansed the most.

Focus on particularly busy areas, both foot traffic wise (kitchen) and mentally (computer room). If you have a pet, be sure to sage them and their sleeping area.

Burn incense or sweetgrass immediately after a saging session. Sage has a more masculine/yang aspect and is nicely coupled by the feminine/yin aspect of incense or sweetgrass. 

Typically, smudging should be done once or twice a week. But ideally, the best time to smudge is whenever you feel like your intuition is telling you to.

If possible, avoid large commercial vendors because with a sacred and ceremonial product, intentions matter, cultivation matters, as does the general aura of the seller. Small private stores put personal care into your order.

All of these subtle vibrations pass to the product and ultimately into the space you are smudging.

Finally, be careful!

Follow all of the precautions you would in any other situation where you would be working with fire. If you choose to smudge a child, an infant or someone with breathing complications, take extra precautions to avoid wafting smoke directly into their face.

Those with asthma, allergies and other potential breathing complications should be extra careful.

Don't burn Sage in a paper bowl.

Don't stick the feather directly into the flame.

Don't waft the smoke so forcefully that the ash jumps from your shell and lands on the floor or carpet.


Now you're ready. Smudge away!

January 25, 2019 — Ana Saldivar

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