Updated: Oct 20, 2020
To say that we are living in challenging times is one heck of an understatement. As our world progresses, it seems to become more complex. Our stresses are many and negative energy is surrounding us. It is literally streaming directly into our hands twenty-four hours a day!
Luckily, we have ways to relieve ourselves of this modern stress and negative energy. Two awesome methods include clicking the "block" button more often on social media and using the "power down" feature on our smartphones. In addition to this technological approach, ritualistic practices will help us remove unwanted stress and negative energy from our home and our body.
Enter the ritual of burning sage. This ritual is also known as 'smudging'. It's the ultimate "block button" for vanquishing those bad vibes from your physical space.
What is Smudging?
Smudging is the ceremonial practice of cleansing and blessing a space by burning sacred plants such as sage or Palo Santo. Ceremonial smudging has been practiced for centuries by people from many different ethnic groups and spiritual ideologies. A few of these cultures and faiths include Buddhists, Hindus, and Natives of North and South America.
Today, Smudging has become somewhat of mainstream practice. It is now widely practiced by a wide range of our society for purposes not necessarily connected to religious or cultural practice. Burning sage is commonly done when someone is moving into a new home in order to remove and reset the energy in that space. It may also be done to remove that negative energy from the home after ending a relationship or going through a trauma.
Sage burning ceremonies are a sacred practice for many Native and Indigenous communities. Within these communities, the ritual is always performed with intention, reverence, and deep respect for their elder Shaman and healers. Since the practice is deeply rooted in the cultural traditions of Native and Indigenous people, non-native people should be mindful of smudging in a culturally and ecologically sensitive manner.
The mainstream popularity of smudging has drastically increased the demand for the sacred plants used by Natives for their ceremonies. Many entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this high demand in order to make profits by selling these sacred plants to the masses through online commerce platforms. Unfortunately, much of the sage and sacred plants sold on the internet have been unconsciously harvested from the wild with little or no reverence to the sacred value of the plant or to the culture of Native Ethnic groups.
In order to offer proper respects and honor to Native culture and traditions, it is important to only purchase and use plants that have been ethically and lovingly farmed. These plants should be left to be wild-harvested by native people, not by anyone else. If you choose to harvest wild plants yourself, you should leave the root intact and offer a prayer of thanks for the plant you are removing. When burning the sacred herb, use sparingly and only when cleansing is absolutely necessary.
Check out these suppliers of ethically sourced smudging plants.
The Benefits of Burning Sage
There are many great benefits of smudging and burning sage.
A few top benefits include:
Removing Negative Energy from yourself and your space
Removing Positive Ions
Connecting with Your New Space on a Higher Level
Smudging in the mainstream is mostly used to clear challenging energy from a home or office space. When saging a space, a major benefit is that unwanted energy is removed. This allows for those occupying the space to set new intentions for the space and bring in their own positive energy. If it is a new home or office that you are moving into, the smudging ritual itself will offer a higher level of connection with the space.
Burning sage in your home is also believed to release negative ions that can neutralize any positive ions that exist in the air. Positive ions include mold, dust, pollution, and pet dander. This is great if you have allergies or asthma!
The fragrance of the burning plants is quite beautiful and produces a calming effect for most people. Many find it to be a wonderful, almost healing sensation.
Items Needed to Perform a Smudging/Saging
There are a few items that you will need to perform a typical smudging ceremony. These tools can be found at your local mystical/metaphysical store. If you don't have one in your area, there are some wonderful online stores that offer smudging kits with everything you will need.
The standard items used in modern-day smudging practice are as follows:
Feather or fan
A shell or bowl
A smudging stick usually consists of dried sage or other sacred plants bound together. The stick could be one particular plant or a combination of various plants. Which smudging stick you choose to burn should depend on your intentions for the smudging. Different plants are believed to target specific energy and intentions when they are burned. Below is a graphic that describes the metaphysical effects of various plants.
Since you will be burning the smudge stick, you will need fire. The best way to go is to use a wand lighter (also known as a Candle Lighter). This type of lighter will allow you to burn the stick while keeping your hands further away from the flame. It may take several seconds to get the smudge stick smoldering.
Feather or Fan
It will be very important to spread the smoke throughout your space. This includes the corners of rooms and closets as well. A feather is the most commonly used tool for wafting the smoke during a saging ceremony.
Shell or Bowl (fireproof)
Burning something means there will be ash. The best way to keep from getting ash everywhere and potentially burning down your home or office is to catch the ash falling from the smudging stick with a shell or bowl. Any vessel will work.
Saying a prayer during the ceremony will set the intention for your actions. It will also bring that spiritual connection to the smudging. Here are two sample smudging prayers for you to use.
The Protection Prayer
May the white light of the Holy Spirit fill my home and energy space. May only good reside here today and always.
The Home Blessing
May the white light of the Holy Spirit fill my home and all those who reside here. We are abundant and prosperous in all good things. We are well in body, mind, and spirit. We are safe from all types of harm and we are happy, truly, truly happy. May we always know the source of this happiness.
How to Perform a Smudging of Your Home or Office: Step by Step
Gather your tools.
This is pretty straight forward. Get together everything that you need so that you don't have to stop the smudging to get something.
Open your doors and windows.
Burning dried plants will produce a decent amount of smoke. It is important to open doors and windows so that the smoke can escape your home. This allows for the unwanted energy to leave with the smoke and to keep you from getting smoked out.
Set your intention.
Identify in your mind, what energy or spirit you are trying to release from the space. This will set the intention for the smudging. Select a prayer to repeat during the saging that enforces this intention.
Light it up!
This will commence your smudging ceremony! Are you ready? Hold your smudging stick at a 45-degree angle will lighting it with your lighter. Allow the flame to burn the sage for 15 to 20 seconds to get it well lit. Next, softly blow out the flame so that the plant is smoldering and no longer on fire. You should have a smoky situation on your hands at this point.
Move through your space with intention.
Slowly walk around each room and allow the smoke to fill every corner. Move the burning sage into the upper and lower corners of the room while repeating your prayer or mantra and wafting the smoke around with the feather. Don't forget to allow smoke to enter closets and hallways.
**Pro tip: Give special attention to areas in front of mirrors, and to your technology such as computers, phones, and other devices.
Safety and extinguishing the burning sage.
Even though smudging can be a spiritual ceremony that requires intention, it is important to remain present and alert while burning sage. Be aware of any burning embers that may fall on the ground. They should be tamped out right away. Do not allow the smudge stick to burn unattended and be careful not to inhale too much of the smoke
When your smudging is complete, extinguish the sage by firmly pushing the tip of the stick into the shell or bowl that you are using to catch the ash and embers. You may even have a small amount of dirt or sand in the vessel to help extinguish the burning plant. We do not recommend wetting the smudge stick. This could ruin your sage and make it difficult to light if you want to use it for another smudging. Saging Yourself The practice of saging/smudging is commonly used to release unwanted energy from physical spaces, but it is also used to release and cleanse energy from our bodies. In order to perform a smudging on yourself, follow the same steps for saging your home/office. For this ceremony, set your focus and intention to how you want to affect the energy in your body. Modify your prayer or mantra to reflect the intention.
Once your smudge stick is lit, stand with your arms stretched out (like a T shape) with your legs spread shoulder-width apart. Keep the burning sage at least 12 inches from your body while moving it around your body. Start at your feet and work your way up to your head. Be sure not to hold the sage directly above your head or body. This could be dangerous.
Allow the smoke to wash over your body while repeating your prayer. Focus on the smoke and your intention for it to clear away any negativity. Stay present and alert while observing all safety measures listed above.
Smudging with a Purpose
Now that you are well versed in the practice of smudging, the next step is to implement it into your spiritual routine. Over time, you will develop your own methods and techniques that make your smudging practice unique. Continue to educate yourself of the native history and traditions of smudging while keeping your own practice culturally aware and respectful. Enjoy your journey with learning and practicing this native ritual.