What is Smudging?
Smudging is an ancient practice of burning herbs that are either bundled or loose, the smoke is fanned across the body /space/object (traditionally with a smudging feather) for the purpose of cleansing the body and atmosphere of energies, in most cases it is to rid old energy or negative/ unwanted energy. Or perhaps you want to rid yourself or an object of foreign energy. You can relate it to like having a shower and washing off any negativity or any build up of emotional energy you have accumulated. A good smudging actually clears the air of bacteria with studies showing the burning of medicinal herbs clear aerial bacterial populations by 94% within one hour. Sage smoke is deadly to certain insects such as mites which makes it a great tool for preserving feathers, especially ceremonial feathers used for such rituals (all you need to do is pass the feather through the sage smoke a couple of times).
Sage Smudging is a Native American ritual that has been around for about 2,000 years. Sage was thrown onto ritual fires to call upon the ancestral spirits and to also banish negative energy, illness, evil, or conflict, resulting in cleansing the energy field. After the sage cleansed the atmosphere other herbs were then thrown onto the ritual fire to promote further energies such as love and healing. Traditionally they would then throw sweet grass as this is a blessing herb that promotes positive energy and love.
Depending on the kind of atmosphere you want to create, there are many different herbs you can use to smudge yourself, your home, your car, objects, anything. I recommend always smudging with sage first to banish any old/negative/unwanted energy, leaving a clear energy field to be charged with the next herb, or create a blend of sage and the chosen herb for whatever energy you are wishing to emit.
Smudging doesn’t just need to be left to those who perform sacred rituals, and you don’t have to perform rituals to be able to smudge yourself or your home! Below is a list of ideal times where smudging is a good idea.
When to Smudge:
- When moving into a new home/ House Blessing
- After an argument
- Before meditation
- Smudging objects such as your car, phone, jewelry to cleanse and protect
- When buying books (especially second hand)
- After guests have stayed
- After returning from busy events where there are many people and lots of different energy (this feeling comes across really strong for me, I always have the need to have a long calming shower after being out and about or have been in a big crowd/concert).
- During/After illness
- Before rituals such as yoga/rites/astral travel
- If you simply feel that there is negative or unwanted energy in your home or around you
Sage isn’t the only herb you can use when smudging, although it is the most common, you can use other herbs such as:
- Thyme – to dispel apathy, hopelessness, depression, and other mellow but negative vibrations, especially after a family tragedy or during a long sickness.
- Lavender – for a calming & relaxed atmosphere
- Cedar – Healing, Friendly energy
- Rosemary – Cleansing & purifying, attracts good energy and fairies
- Pine – Cleansing, purification, and grounding.
- Sweet grass – Healing, love
- Rose – Meditation, calming, attracts love
- Peppermint – Psychic visions
How to Smudge:
Sage has traditionally been burnt in a abalone shell, I highly recommend you use one of these when smudging as it will catch the ash. You can also use the shell to store your other smudge sticks in for future use. If you can’t get your hands on an abalone/paua shell then anything heatproof like an ashtray to use when smudging is fine. If you are wanting to smudge for a purpose like ridding energy, think of this intention before you begin.
- Light the sage with a match and blow out the flame. Cleanse your hands in the smoke as you would in water, and then allow the smoke to creep around your body.
- Fan the smoke up and down your body including your legs and your arms, ensuring you have been completely cleansed. Some areas (energy centres) may feel more “blocked” than others and you may feel you need to spend more time on clearing these areas, if this is the case spend as much time as you need, using your intuition and what feels right. If you have any specific intention for smudging yourself, speak your intention while smudging. A second person can also smudge you if you wish to prefer to just focus on being cleansed, you may wish to take turns.
- Once you and your partner have been cleansed with the smoke, you can now continue the process in your room and around your home. Use the sage smoke to cleanse and purify your space by waving the smudge stick gently and spreading the smoke around with a smudge feather.
- You should begin by speaking your intention and moving your smudge around in a clockwise direction starting in the east of each room. Make sure you get the smoke into all the corners of the house.
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Smudging is intention based so if you don’t follow the instructions verbatim don’t worry. Native American cultures had a varied process tribe to tribe, so feel free to just work from your heart. Happy Smudging!