art above by Natalie Parenteau, Canadian artist
Smudging is the act of using smoke to cleanse, purify or bless a space, person (their aura) or item. It calls in the sacred spirit of plants and herbs to drive away negative energies and restore balance.
People of every race and many religions on every continent in our world have been smudging for tens of thousands of years, for cleansing for ceremony for connection or for other reasons
Whether it’s to “freshen up” or to intentionally remove negative energy it will raise the vibration. Negative energy, feelings, and emotions are lifted away. It is also used for healing of mind, body and spirit, plus balancing energies.
There is so much power in cleansing with sage or other herbs. There is another world of invisible energy we cannot see with our eyes. It settles in corners, neglected dim lit spaces, dirty areas. Essentially it is the smoke that mixes with the air and purifies everything floating around us that we cannot see and carries it up. As the smoke rises, our prayers rise to the Spirit World or Gods and Goddesses.
Intuitively we may feel when we need to smudge. We may have a feeling of sadness or “heaviness” that overtakes you when you enter a room. If you feel uncomfortable or tired all of a sudden, perhaps angry - anything negative for that matter, smudging will make a difference. Even a new item you purchased that may have been sitting on display open to everyone passing by it can disrupt you.
If you have ever had the thought cross your mind…”I should smudge” or “I should have the house (…or business etc.) cleansed” it is your intuition giving you a message. Trust it, there is nothing to lose.
Another more serious reason for smudging would be if you actually think or feel there are unwanted spirits or energies in your space. An actually presence you can sense or see.
You can use sage, incense, cedar, sweetgrass, angelica, santo palo or any type of herb or dried flower you are inclined to. Sometimes I use only incense sticks, just sage or a combination of many things.
You will need:
1. To take a few seconds and pray and/or set the intention that the smudging you are about to do will work to remove, improve and cleanse whatever it is you need it to…ie say that this smudging will “remove bad luck” or “take away sadness in the home”, “remove everything negative”or “heal your depression ”. Nothing is too small.
This is an important step.
2. Use white sage either loose or bundles (might have to loosen it or crumble it to allow oxygen in to allow it to burn)
3. An abalone shell ( it carries the spirit and healing energy of the ocean) or anything that symbolizes the ocean or water in some way. Any plate, bowl or fireproof surface will do if you don’t have a shell.
4. Feather (sacred because it contains the spirit of the bird) and it helps balance and lighten the energy around you and “scrape” away the dense energy. Also so you do not blow on the fire or smoke allowing your negativity to blow into the mixture and blowing away the effectiveness of the plant.
5. Any other herb. I suggest a tiny bit of angelica and dried cedar sprinkled in for a powerful combination, but just sage alone is very strong.
6. Stick matches (preferred but not required instead of any gas lighters or stove flame)
If all you can do is get a small bundle of sage that’s also ok. It will work if you want it to.
If you are picking your own plants to smudge please offer something in return
For an urgent situation quickly light up your sage and start using it and later on clean up and do it again another day. If you can shower first including washing hair and thoroughly clean the space up first, it is more effective.
I personally keep windows closed until after so the smoke can penetrate each corner before going outside, but many people open windows first. The sage smoke is sacred- it hasn’t set off any fire alarms that I’ve ever known of.
This is how I do it:
1. Pray and set intention. I believe in the sacred plants and spirits helping me with their power. I look forward to the lightness I will feel afterwards.
2. Place the loose sage in the shell
3. Light a corner of it up let it burn a few seconds to create smoke and fan out the flame with the feather. Cedar is harder to burn and must be cleaned and dried out first.
4. Smudge myself first
When I smudge myself I start with “washing my hands” in the smoke over the shell then use my feather to fan over each arm and move to the top of my head fanning over my head over my hair as if Im brushing my hair then I move down the front. I fan over each chakra fanning toward me moving the smoke into me down each leg and under each foot (bending my knee and standing on opposite leg) . I then hold the shell behind me and fan my upper back and move down behind my legs.
If you have someone with you, you can smudge each other starting at the top and working down front then back. Remember the bottom of feet. It feels beautiful to smudge someone else and to be smudged.
5. Move clockwise in the room. If it’s a house start at the entrance and move clockwise around the house ending back where you started. If its an item hold the item over the smoke and let it wash over it. If it’s a large piece use the feather and fan the smoke around it so every part of it sees the smoke. Do plants and pets too.
6. On a wall start high and move low using a sweeping motion always moving forward with the feather. Try not to back-track. You can do it slow or fast imagining that you are sweeping a giant cloud of the old stuff out. If you cant get to every corner look at where and imagine that the smoke will reach and cleanse there. Pay attention to areas where dirt accumulates such as bathrooms/shower stalls, a room where someone was ill or where there was an argument, basements, unused rooms , garbage cans, shoes, purses, and anything that gives you a bad memory or feeling ( such article of clothing that you wore to a terrible event or a gift from someone you don’t like.)
7. Get into each cupboard, drawer and appliance paying attention to dark corners as you move along
8. When you get to the starting place you can let the smudge burn out or get rid of the burnt ashes returning it outside to the ground. It is every important to put the ashes outside because its what we dont want.
9. Open the windows and let the smoke make its way out. This may take an hour or days depending on the space and the amount of smoke.
10. Thank the sage and spirits for their help.
*Relight the smudge as many times as you need to and note that if you have more smoke in some areas than others, it’s because it needs it.
Remember that when you smudge you are using the four elements. Earth = the plant used for smudge. Air = the smoke. Water = the shell you are using for the smudge bowl, if you do not have a shell have a small glass of water and honor it. Fire= the source to burn the smudge.
The process can be a quick one or it may take longer depending on what and size of what you are smudging. You can certainly do a fast job, like taking a broom and quickly sweeping versus a deeper cleaning.
Sometimes I take a couple sticks of any incense and move clockwise through the room trusting the smoke will go where it needs to.
If you find you are arguing with your teenager, husband or wife smudge each other and notice the changes.
I’ve been working with sage for a long time and I believe in it’s power and blessings. I’ve used different herbs to cleanse so if you are not sure about what to use contact me and I can offer some suggestions. I’m happy to answer any questions regarding smudging or energy, just send me an email or text and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
Be Blessed ,