Smudging My Life Away

I love to smudge. It is my go-to ritual when I’m feeling blessed or stressed. As I began to write this, I found that I had so much to say about smudging, that I had to make this a multi-part series! 

This will be a little mini-series on the joys of smudging, and I hope you enjoy it!

White sage is the most highly used spiritual medicine in our house. We smudge ourselves, our cats, and our home spaces on a daily basis. We use it so much we buy it loose in 5lbs bags! We have often been gifted it in bundles from friends (we have a sweat lodge in the backyard!), and as of this writing, there are three abalone shells with sage in them around the property. 

Smudging is a normal practice in our home and in our lives. 

Smudging (burning sage) is an ancient spiritual ritual established as a Native American cultural and tribal practice. Of course, many spiritual cultures around the world share similar rituals with the same or similar plants. Some call is cleansing, some call is clearing, some call it smudging. All would agree that the practice of purifying with plants like sage or sweetgrass can improve the energy within which we live as well as the energy which we carry. Smudging can clear out our spiritual impurities, pathogens, and even insects from our environment!

I smudge daily, at least once. When I meditate, before/after consultations, before/after difficult conversations, when I’m gaming so the dice roll well, before and after cleaning the house…you get the idea. I smudge all the time because I love how it purifies my focus to the task at hand, the scent soothes me and it clears my surroundings with ease! The fragrance calms me and the practice centers me. What more could I ask for?

Some caution: If you suffer from asthma or bronchitis, be careful to not inhale the sage smoke directly while smudging. The sage smoke can aggravate respiratory conditions. Be sure to fan the smoke away from you while you are smudging and to let the room clear of smoke before using it again. Remember to open all the windows before you start too!

Tools of the Practice

You will need three items to complete a simple smudge ceremony; sage to burn, a heat-safe container, and a lighter. Well, some good intentions also, so I guess you need four things.

Purchasing sage in bundles is often the easiest to work with for purifying and clearings (something like this). You can find many smudge bundles mixed with so many other plants, don’t be afraid to experiment! I love sage with lavender, and we use sage with cedar in bundles too. For me, white sage or sweetgrass are my choice of plants for smudging. 

White prairie sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) is a staple in this house and as an added bonus it’s antimicrobial and antibacterial. White sage (Salvia apian) has antimicrobial properties as well. Both of these sage types have also been shown to repel insects and are a great addition to have burning during any outdoor gathering (once we can gather again). We buy ours in loose leaf (something like this) as we are often burning either a very small or large amount or using it in the fire for a sweat lodge ceremony. 

You will want an abalone shell or other ash-safe container to use with your sage (something like this or this). And a fan or feather to help move the smoke about the space, but it isn’t vital (something like this or this). I often forego the fan and just use my hand, so you can skip that tool if desired. You can also use just a card stock piece of paper, though I would write some intentions on that if you go that route. There are also a plethora of choices for starter kits (something like this). If you have a Native American Trading post near you, they will likely have all the supplies you need. 

Then all you need is a quality lighter and some well-focused intentional thoughts! 

Now what to do with these new supplies…clean and clear the air of just about anything you find undesirable, create a welcoming and relaxing environment for yourself and guests, manage allergens and pesky insects, say hello or goodbye to those we love, celebrate any event or life experience…the list goes on and on. Here are some ideas to start with. 

Our number one use for smudging is clearing the air

Arguments happen. In our house, I’m grateful to say, not too often. But they do happen. When tensions start to rise, if one of you can remain aware and bring in the sage to help calm nerves, you may be surprised by it’s power. But often that isn’t the case, and the tensions lead to arguing and potentially someone is feeling hurt. 

If you can’t calm your energies before they erupt, do try to use some sage to clear the air of the space where the argument happened after the fact. Without a quality smudging out of the tense and angry energy you and your argument companion created, it will present itself again, and again. A clearing is essential to opening a pathway to peace; between you two and anyone else that might come through that space.

note: It’s also wonderful after a tough zoom meeting, phone call, or even a scary movie!

The scent of sage is calming and soothing for most people, in an unconscious ancestral way. If there has been tension in your day, coming home and smudging can help release the stressful energy from your soul and bring a calmer state to your mind. 

  • Grab a bundle of sage and light one end
  • As the smoke emerges, work the smoke around your entire body, starting with the bottoms of your feet
    • Imagine you are sweeping away the energy of the uncomfortable experience
    • Work the smoke from the sole of your feet, up each leg, around your torso, around each arm and finish around your head and up towards the sky as if you were pulling all the tension from you and sending it away
  • Speak out loud or speak silently to yourself, the important factor is finding words to describe what you want this sage smoke to accomplish (calm my nerves, bring me strength, ease my stress or pain, open my mind, etc)
  • You can use a hand fan or even a heavyweight piece of paper
    • If you use a piece of paper, I suggest writing some words of love and peace on it before using it in a smudging ceremony
  • Once finished, lay your smudge bundle in your heat-safe container until it dies out

You can follow a similar smudging process to lock in wonderful energies also! A smudge can bless any moment in life. It can burn slowly in the background of a backyard party. It can awaken and enliven the energy when a new baby or animal is brought to the home. It can be a part of your pre-party setup when friends and family are coming for dinner. The options are endless.

We will talk about all these wonderful uses and more in the next post of this smudging mini-series!