Updated: Oct 18
Smudging is a practice that has been around for centuries. It is most noted as a ritual used by Native Americans. However there are many cultures around the world that have been practicing similar forms of smudging for ages as well.
In essence smudging is the burning of dried sage leaves to cleanse or purify people, spaces and objects. Not just spiritually either, turns out sage has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. This means it's beneficial for keeping bacteria, fungus and viruses at bay. Lot's of people also use it as an insect repellent. In addition to keeping the bug and bacteria count down, burning sage my help clear the air of positively charged air pollutants, like pet dander and dust. The science behind this, is that burning sage is thought to release negatively charged ions that help neutralize the positively charged ions.
Reasons To Smudge
Smudging is a very powerful spiritual tool used in healing work but you don't have to be considered a healer to use it. As mentioned earlier sage can improve the air quality with it's antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. There's also some research that suggests that sage contains certain compounds that help ease insomnia. Sage is also a great mood elevator because it activates certain receptors in the brain that improve mood and cognition. So basically sage facilitates healing and balance in our lives, even the name suggest healing. Sage belongs to the Salvia plant family, who's name is derived from the Latin word salvere, which means "to heal".
Before you get started you'll want to make sure the area is well ventilated because it can get really smokey. Besides that, it's believed that the smoke carries the impurities with it. I personally run with that thought process but no matter your perspective you're gonna want to open a window. Also, if you are smudging for spiritual reasons you'll want to set your intention for smudging.
What You'll Need
Container - Something non-flammable that won't suffer damage from heat. Things like glass, clay or ceramic bowls are good. Some people even use sea shells. The container is used to rest you sage while burning or catch ash from smudging.
Fanning Tool (optional)- This can be an actual fan, a feather or your hand. It can be helpful if you have to cover large spaces. Sage Bundle
Fire Source -Matches, lighter, candle etc.
General Smudging Technique
You can apply these super simple steps whether you're smudging a person, a room or an object.
Light It - Light your sage bundle. Let it burn about 5-10 seconds or a tad longer, depending on the size of the flame. Then gently blow out the flame. You should see orange embers at the end of the sage stick and the smoke should start to billow.
Fan It - You can set the smudge stick in the container and waft the smoke with your fanning tool.
The end of the smudge stick should be smoldering slowly releasing a thick smoke. Fan the smoke around object or space of your intention. Allow the smoke to linger over areas of the body or your surrounding that you want to focus attention on. For instance when smudging my home I tend to linger longer by doorways and hallways because they are high traffic areas. I also like to spend a little more time on corners, mirrors and windows too. When smudging go with what feels right for you.
*The process of cleansing as a spiritual tool is usually a little more intricate than the steps above and can vary in process from person to person. This is a basics guide for those needing a starting point.
After You've Smudged
Extinguish your smudge stick by dabbing the lit end of the stick in ashes or sand. Make sure no embers are burning. Once it's completely out you can store it in a safe dry space.