What’s inside this article: A brief history of burning sage, known as smudging, the benefits of burning sage, and a step-by-step guide on how to smudge your home or yourself to cleanse negative energies.
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Sage is part of the Salvia plant family; the word sage is derived from the Latin word salvere, meaning “to heal.“
Burning sage is referred to as smudging, this is an ancient spiritual practice.
You may have experienced smudging in a yoga class or during a spiritual gathering, or you may have noticed smudge sticks available for sale in stores.
History of Smudging
The history of smudging dates back thousands of years and many cultures around the world practice smudging rituals with different types of herbs and plants.
- We know the ancient Egyptians used incense burners over 4500 years ago.
- The Celts practiced smudging with juniper as a way to bless or protect a person or home.
- Amazonian Tribes use Palo Santo Wood in their healing rituals.
- Catholics burn frankincense and myrrh in church, a practice dating back to the Old Testament.
However, burning sage is most often associated with Native American tribes (but isn’t practiced by all communities).
In Native American tradition, the clouds of smoke are used to cleanse people and spaces of negative energy, using a feather or fan to waft the smoke into the air.
Note: If you are going to smudge, it’s important to respect the traditions of the Native American people. It was not until 1978 that the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed.
Prior to that, many Native American ceremonies, including smudging, were illegal in some places and it was only through the courage of people practicing in secret, that these traditions were retained and passed down to current generations.
Read more: Here
The Benefits of Smudging
As noted, smudging is known for its metaphysical benefits, namely, it is believed to ward off toxicity and negativity.
Research shows that smudging with sage can also benefit mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Some studies have shown that sage smudging can have powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities, it can improve cognition and mood, and may improve quality of sleep, easing insomnia.
How to Begin Smudging
To begin incorporating smudging into your spiritual practices follow this simple guide we have put together.
As with any of our suggestions, do whatever feels right for you and follow your own intuition.
What you’ll need to get started:
- A vessel for burning your sage, such as an abalone shell
- Dried sage
- A fire source, a lighter, candle, etc.
- A fanning tool such as a feather
You can purchase a smudging kit such as this one, that comes with everything you need to begin burning sage for the first time.
How To Clear Your Space of Negative Energy
1. Gather Your Tools
To begin, ensure you have all of the tools that you will need handy and make sure that you have opened a window or door.
We want to create a clear path for the energy to leave your space.
2. Set your Intention For Your Practice
Your intention is the most important component of your smudging practice.
Take a moment to determine what exactly it is that you would like to release from your space, you may choose something or someone in particular or simply hold the intention to cleanse away any negative or stagnant energy.
3. Light Your Smudge Stick
Light your smudge stick with your fire source and let it burn for approximately 20 seconds.
Gently blow out the flame and waft your smudge stick, the smoke should now billow.
4. Slowly Move Around Your Space
Slowly move around your space with care and allow the smoke to waft around.
Guide the smoke toward open windows or a door, so the energy can escape. Give special attention to smudging areas in corners, in front of mirrors, and spaces like hallways, foyers, and doorways.
You can also cleanse your items like your phones or laptop, hold the smudge stick underneath the item and gently wave it around them.
You may wish to cleanse any second-hand items you have bought or inherited.
5. Be Aware and Play it Safe
Always stay present when smudging. Tamp out any little embers that fall on the ground, never leave your burning smudge stick unattended. Also, be mindful not to inhale the smoke.
6. Extinguish the Smudge Stick
Once you have completed your work be sure to extinguish your smudge stick by pressing the burning tip firmly into your fireproof vessel, sand, or dirt until the smoke no longer rises. Do not use water to extinguish your smudge stick.
If you’re interested in smudging your physical and energetic bodies, you can simply follow the same steps as above, but change your intentions.
You may like to stand in the shape of a T with legs slightly spread, then, keeping the smudge stick at an arm’s length distance away from you (be careful of the hot end and ashes!), and work your way up from your feet.
Repeat your mantra or intention as you go, and visualize the smoke clearing you of anything that does not serve your highest and greatest good. Allow the smoke to cleanse and clear you on all levels.
How Often Should You Smudge?
There are no clear-cut rules for how often you should sage your space or yourself. We are our own best guides, use your intuition to show you where and when to smudge.
Some people like to include smudging as part of their daily ritual, others like to keep it for more special acts of devotion.
A Note On Burning Sage With Respect
The ancient practice of burning sage is sacred to many communities and thus it deserves our utmost reverence and respect. Shamans and healers have burned sage to cleanse individuals of negativity and promote wisdom, expansion, and healing.
It’s a practice we need to give intention, our full reverence, and deep gratitude.
It is also important to ensure that the sage you are smudging with has been ethically harvested. As the new age culture booms, the practice of smudging with white sage has become very popular.
White sage has been in demand and indigenous communities have asked that we are mindful of where we source our white sage and how it has been harvested. The sage must be collected sustainably; it is also important to consider how the sage is being handled and prepared, especially if you intend to use your sage for ritual.
A Final Point
The burning of sage is an ancient practice that can support mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Smudging with sage has a long and rich history- it may help make a life change by clearing away the old and stagnant, and making the path clear for your next life transition.