Smudging is a Native American tradition that involves the burning of special ceremonial herbs to clear out negative energies and bring in positive ones. I smudge my house with sage about once a week or once every two weeks. Some friends do it more often, others do it less often. After I have saged the house, the air feels lighter, it’s easier to breath, and any negativity or tensions seems to resolve or are reduced. I also do this after we have had guests. Not because these guests are full of bad energy or that I think they are polluting my home but because I feel it helps return the house to a more peaceful space after all the commotion. Truly, it could just be returning me to a more peaceful place.
You can also use palo santo and other herbs (see links below for more options and information). I was also recently told to follow my sage smudge clearing with sweetgrass to bring in the positive energies. I haven’t tried this yet, but I am definitely going to.
Recently I read an article that indicated that smudging may be a great antiseptic for your home. Here is an excerpt from that article…
“Thanks to a remarkable 2007 study titled, “Medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria,” published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, we now know that smudging may be one of the most powerful antiseptic technologies ever discovered. Burning medicinal herbs clears the aerial bacterial populations, and pathogenic bacteria in an open room are not detectable. Using herbal plants for smudging can benefit you in so many ways, and it doesn’t hurt the environment. – See more at: http://www.enlightened-consciousness.com/killer-germs-obliterated-by-medicinal-smoke-smudging-study-reveals/#sthash.k1wwevn5.dpuf”
Here is a link to an abstract of the study. Medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria. This abstract describes how burning medicinal herbs “…caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min”.
How do you smudge?
To clear out negative energies, generally a white sage is used but there are a few other types of sage (and herbs) that can be used for smudging purposes. I have found that there are a few ways to smudge and I think the process you use will depend on your beliefs and what feels right to you. I will just explain the 2 ways I do it and will have links to other resources if you are interested in learning more.
In general, light the sage (stick or loose leaves) and it will smolder, creating wafts of smoke that can be waved into the corners of your home. In the beginning, I used my hand to do this but I don’t think you are supposed to. Now I use a feather that we found to waft the smoke. The reason is because the smoke carries the negative energies out. In theory, if you put your hand in the smoke, you can “catch” some of it. You should also open or crack a window or two so the smoke can drift up and out, taking all those bad juju’s with it.
With my sage in hand, I travel counter-clockwise saging from corner to corner in every room on every floor. Repeating…”Only light and love may exist in this space. All others may move on” or something like that.
Once you are done with your space, do not forget to smudge yourself. Guide the smoke over and around you and let it clear you of any unwanted ‘stuff’.
Different traditions will have slightly different wording or processes. Do what feels right to you. In the end, it really just comes down to your intention.
Ways to burn the sage:
1. Sage smudge stick. I think the little 4 inch sticks burn better than the larger 6-8 inch sticks but that is a personal preference. A friend of mine likes the big ones…or was that a sexual innuendo I missed? 🙂 Anyway! Try both and see what you like. However, I found that when I burned it, little ashes would drop and burn my floor. I should use a abalone shell underneath but it gets so cumbersome, especially if you are burning a large smudge stick. When I am only doing a small space, like my bedroom, I do just burn a small stick with no problem, no shell.
2. Loose sage leaves. You can burn loose sage leaves in an abalone shell. This protects from any ashes dropping and allows you to burn longer and safer. I have started to use this process when I am doing my whole house. Then I love to use the shell to burn off any remaining sage or a nice palo santo stick.
Unless you are allergic to sage, this is a practice worth trying. I have come to love sage so much that I immediately feel calm when I smell sage. I even use a sage spray made by Occo to spray on my bedsheets before bed. I sleep so much better when I do that.
For more information you can check out these links:
- Taos Herb Company’s information on sacred herbs and smudging
- Sacred Wood Essence information on the benefits of Palo Santo
- Spirituality and Health on Smudging
- About.com’s FengShui home on Smudging
- Sage and Smudge website
- Sage and Smudging on Pinterest
- Ecology of the Spirit’s Sacred Ritual of Smudging