Smudging is the common name given to a powerful cleansing technique from the Native North American Tradition. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and restore balance. It is the art of cleansing yourself and your environment using simple ritual and ceremony. For thousands of years smudging has been a part of Native American tradition but now this practice is becoming far more widespread and with the advent of the internet, White Sage is now readily available to nearly everyone.
White Sage (Also called Sacred Sage) leaves are widely used as a cleansing herb, to purify the mind, body and also to purify the atmosphere & to dispel negativity. It is also used to purify sacred items. It is often carried in a charm bag or even a pocket to ensure personal and spiritual safety. Sage is used in wish manifestations and to attract money. This herb is often used to promote healing and spirituality.
How can smudging be so powerful? The answer lies in the world of spiritual energy. Homes and bodies are not just made of just the physical matter; they also vibrate with quiet, invisible energy. Cleansing a space or ourselves with techniques such as smudging helps to cleanse away all the emotional and psychic ‘trash’ that may have gathered over the last few days, months, years or even hundreds of years. In a very real way, it is a form of spiritual spring cleaning!
The effects of smudging can be surprisingly quick and dramatic. Smudging can help you banish stress, rid yourself and the area around you of negativity and even give you more energy. Smoke from White Sage can help dispel anger and calm frayed nerves, thus helping to avoid a fight or argument even before it begins! Smudging with White Sage can turn any space, no matter where, into a calming sanctuary – a place of renewal and increased happiness.
It is impossible to say for sure when the practice of smudging started. It is said that early civilizations came to realize, through sheer trial and error, that the smoke generated by setting alight particular herbs had beneficial effects. Certainly many cultures have an old tradition of driving animals through smoke to kill off pests and diseases. These days modern science has proven that certain herbs really do have cleansing powers and can act as strong but natural pesticides, antiseptics etc. In addition to this beneficial and practical aspect of burning herbs, the Aromatherapeutic and spiritual aspects and effects of burning herbs are becoming more commonly acknowledged and used. White Sage Smudge is an all natural ceremonial incense, traditionally burned in Native American rituals and used in sweat lodges. Increasingly, doctors, therapists, and other healers are discovering the beneficial aspects of such natural herbs as White Sage. Smudging is one of the means by which people all over the world are reconnecting with the power of Nature. The smudge smoke is made either by spreading dry herbs on hot coals or hot rocks or igniting dry herbs on a heat proof surface.
The use of plant and resin smoke has long been a Native American tradition. The ceremony of cleansing people, places and objects through herb smoke is continued today. To apply the protective cleansing power of a smudge, a leaf or resin was heated to make smoke that was brushed (or wafted) over the person or object often with a feather fan.
Sage is burned in smudging ceremonies to drive out bad spirits, feelings or influences. The leaves are valued for their aromatic properties and are used as a natural insect repellent. Native Americans of the Plains Nations cover the floor of their sweat lodges with sage. They will also breathe through a small bundle of sage and at times rub the bundle on their bodies while in the sweat lodge.The idea of purification through smoke is certainly not exclusive to the Native North Americans. Most rituals have some element of cleansing, including incense or herbal smoke mixtures which are burned all around the world as well as here, in the Western world.
In the Native American tradition, mixtures of sacred herbs and resins were burned in a special bowl. Smoke was then wafted around the person, place or object needing purification and cleansing. White Sage is considered “sacred” by Native Americans who have used the loose herbs for generations in the “smudging” ceremony. The smell of White Sage will remind you of the desert and the sacredness of life. Smudges put out a lot of soothing smoke. Very refreshing, relaxing, clearing — like drifting through clouds…
Native Americans use sage smudge to purify the mind, body, and spirit before praying, purifying the atmosphere & dispersing negativity. It is also used to purify sacred items such as pipes and other ritual items. Some may use it to purify their homes, offices, cars and some carry a small amount of sage in a pocket or medicine pouch to ensure personal and spiritual safety.
The herb most often used in smudging is White Sage. Sage drives out negative thoughts, energies, spirits, and all “bad” influences. Many enlightened people see smudging as a way of shifting between various levels of reality, connecting us here in the physical world to the subtle realms beyond the visible, the realm of Spirit.
Smudging with White Sage is common, prior to ritual or spell work. Smudging is also significant at other times such as when sickness is near, anxiety has become too much to bear, etc. The smoke is often used in the tradition to purify and spiritually cleanse altar items, the Circle and people entering into the Circle, or sacred work space. Other herbs such as Rosemary, Lavender, and others are often used as well.
The following is a guide that covers many cases when one might want to smudge but is by no means all inclusive. Use White Sage whenever you feel the need; indeed, whenever the spirit moves you!
We do not assume any responsibility for the way individuals burn or respond to the smoke from any herbs. If you choose to burn herbs, do so only in a well-ventilated area, use common sense and moderation. Discontinue use and contact your health professional if any irritation develops.
First, for a total cleansing, open all doors & windows of space to be clear, providing an “exit” point for all the old energies. (This opening of the windows, etc. is not always necessary, but it is useful to have at least one open door or window whenever smudging)
Any action, undertaken with intention and belief can become a potent ritual. Consider your intention before you smudge and hold it clearly in your mind. You may wish to invite the spirit of the herbs to join you and guide and assist with your intention.
A long-handled candle lighter, match or candle is recommended to light the herbs as it may take a little time to get the herb smoking. Once there’s a flame, put it out so that the herb is smoldering, not burning. Wave the flame with your hand or feather to put out the fire. Allow the smudge herbs to smolder, freeing the smoke to circle in the air.
If you are smudging a group, smudge yourself first. Offer smoke to the seven directions (east, south, west, north and up, down and center) sometimes called the cardinal directions.
Smudging yourself: Fan the swirls of smoke around your body from head to toe with your hands or feather. You may want to especially focus on chakra areas where you feel there are blockages or where there has been or is a physical, emotional, or psychic pain. Visualize the smoke lifting away all the negative thoughts, emotions and energies that have attached themselves to you. If you are feeling depressed for instance you could visualize the smoke carrying away all your feelings of depression.
Smudging another: It is often appropriate to smudge guests as they enter the space at a ritual, ceremony or special event. Smudge as if you were smudging yourself, fanning the smoke all over their body. You may want to speak an intention or a suggestion for the smudging as you do it. For instance, “Allow the sacred smoke to cleanse your body and spirit and bring you present and available into this moment”
During healing work: During healing work, the smoke may be fanned over the person either by your hand or with feathers. This clears out unhealthy energies and brings in the special attributes of the herbs. You may also direct smudge to each of the person’s chakras and as you do so visualize each chakra coming into balance as it is purified by the smudge. If you can see auras, look for discolored places in the aura and direct the healing smoke towards those places on the patient’s body. (using precautions and common sense in the case of people with respiratory difficulties and/or pregnant women)
Smudging a room or space: For cleansing a house, first whenever possible, offer smoke to the four directions outside the house, starting with the east, then south, west and ending with the north. Beginning with the lowest level of your house, and moving upward, light the smudge and walk about the perimeter, giving special attention to the corners and the places behind doors. You can also fan the smoke throughout the room with a large feather. Repeat the following either out loud, or in your mind: “I break up and release all negative and stagnant energy in this place. May peace light and divine love protect us and be ever present.”
Cleansing objects: Hold the objects to be purified in the smoke or fan the smoke over them. If you are clearing your crystals prior to programming them to thank both them and the herbs for helping you to realize your goals.
Extinguishing the smudge: Have ready a fireproof receptacle such as another shell or a glass or ceramic dish to put the smudge in when you’ve finished. It’s ideal to damp the herb out in sand, or earth or you can just press it against the bottom of the receptacle.If using a lidded container, just close the lid. Always make sure that a smoldering smudge herb is out before leaving the room where you keep it.
How often should I smudge? At least at the beginning of every season. You can smudge once a day if you like. Daily smudging is recommended daily for health or spirit practitioners. There is never a bad time to cleanse your environment and yourself of old, stale or negative energies. Smudging is particularly helpful during times of stress, after arguments or whenever you are feeling negative and anxious.
Here’s what you do: For creepy crawlies in the house, take a good bit of your White Sage (in a fire-safe container that will not burn your hands when carrying it) and burn it in your house going through every room. Be careful of sparks because it smolders like incense does. Waft it up into the corners and pay special attention to baseboards, cracks, and crevices and anywhere else you may have seen the unwanted critters. This helps drive them out of your house. They hate the smell. If you have an attic or basement, be sure to smudge there as well.
Disclaimer: Cautions are provided in this article, but good sense and responsibility on the part of the user are assumed and expected.