If you’re finding yourself bogged down by accumulated toxicity, it might be time to explore smudging for purification and renewal. Smudging is a practice used to cleanse the body, mind, spirit, astral body and the surrounding areas where you live and work. It’s an ancient practice used by Native Americans and other indigenous people worldwide in ceremonial rituals to cleanse, spiritually purify, bless and protect.
In a sense, smudging allows you to “clear away” the energy of the outside world and reconnect with yourself. Plant herbs (such as sage bundles) and resins are burned while you invoke a prayer or send forth an intention. The purification ritual is something that you can make unique to your own needs and experiences.
Here are some tools and tips to help you get started on your own smudging practice.
How to Sage a House
- Your smudge – in the form of a dried herb bundle, a stick or a resin
- An abalone shell or clay bowl (representing water and earth elements) or another fireproof container
- Sand or dirt
Choose your smudge
- Purpose dictates which smudge herbs you’ll use. There are many to choose from, including:
- White sage (often used because it’s versatile, used to bless, cleanse, heal and protect)
- Blue sage (soothe, heal and cleanse)
- Dessert sage (protect, inner strength, purify and bring positive thoughts)
- Mugwort (introspection and healing)
- Cedar (protect and cleanse new spaces when moving in)
- Sweetgrass (bless, drive out energy negativity and invite love and positivity)
- Lavender (spiritual and psychic protection, purify, heal and calm)
- Yerba santa (neutralize harmful energy and support healing)
- Palo santo (clear out negative spirits and energy, relax and bring joy and harmony to the home)
Set your intention
Smudging should be done with a clear mind. Take time to reflect on why you are smudging. Make your intention specific. What do you want this ritual to do: heal, protect, dissipate someone’s influence from your life?
With clear intention, create a prayer or mantra to use during your practice.
Prepare your space
If you’re smudging a room or multiple rooms, open all the doors and windows along your route. Welcome fresh air – you want to spiritually purify and ventilate, so the smoke has someplace to go.
The Practice: How to Smudge
Light the smudge
Place sand or dirt in the bottom of your bowl.
Light your match. Hold the smudge’s burning side down directly over the match until the bundle catches and begins to smolder. Once it’s properly lit, carry it by the stem or place it in the bowl.
Smudging yourself and your space
Sit or stand with the smudge in front of you in the bowl. Use your hands to direct smoke as it passes over you. Imagine the smoke is like water cleansing and renewing you. Scoop the smoke over your face and head, as well as over your body. Pay attention to your eyes, your ears and your mouth so that you may see, hear and speak the truth in love and openness.
Next, move on to your rooms. Beginning at the doorway, move clockwise around the perimeter of your room. Guide the smoke from top to bottom and then from bottom to top around any corners or other areas that need more cleansing. Keep moving around the space until you return where you started, then carry it inwards towards the center of the room. The circular pattern collects any unwanted and undesirable elements in its wake.
Travel from room to room until you’ve done. Let the smudge burn for a little while after you finish because the energy collects in the smoke and the smudge stick/bundle. Letting it burn off before putting it out will keep the negative energy from getting stuck in your smudge.
If you are cleansing an object or small, undefined space, stand in the middle of the area and circle the smoke around the object or space.
If you can’t let the smudge burn itself out, you can put it out by tapping it into the dirt or sand in your shell. Make sure it’s fully extinguished. Never leave your smudge unattended.
Give thanks to the plant medicine that provides for you and the native peoples who have brought these practices to Westernized culture.
More on smudging
There are many ways to appreciate these practices fuller. One is to support the indigenous cultures that brought these rituals. Learn from them directly. Contact the tribes in your area and seek more knowledge on the different herbs and their sacred uses. Discover ways to be an ally, support ethical harvesting practices and businesses run by indigenous peoples.
Once you have all the tools and information to begin your practice, let your inner guidance lead you. Ultimately, it’s a tool for your healing and renewal. Open up, and be directed on how to best use it.