While smudging seems easy enough there are several steps that when skipped can take a very spiritual and calming experience and turn it into one that leaves you with more questions than answers. My first experience with smudging was definitely not as magical as I thought it would be, but after a few false starts, I’ve grown deeply in love with the practice. I wanted to share everything I’ve learned with you all as more and more of you have sent me questions about smudging, how to get started, and what to look for in a perfect sage bundle (cue heart eyes).
Benefits of Smudging
Need a Little Scientific Proof?
White sage has both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. In one study, it was found that burning sage for an hour decreases aerial bacteria by 94%. It possible that these traits are what allowed many cultures to link burning sage with spiritual wellness.
Cleansing Old or Negative Energy
One potential explanation for why the apartment feels cleaner after sage-ing has to do with ions. Burning sage emits negative ions (in the same way that running water or a salt lamp do) that can grab onto positive ions (dander, dust, allergens) and neutralize them. As you move around your space you’ll see the smoke turn from white to grey to black and back again. It’s believed that the smoke knows where to go, using positive ions like a road map to find the negative energy in the room and neutralize it. When the smoke turns black it means that the sage has come in contact with negative energy.
Improve Your Mood & Stress Level
In some cultures, white sage is used as a traditional remedy for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. It’s believed that stress can be soothed and a mood lifted by burning sage. A study out of the University of Mississippi established a relationship between white sage and receptors in the brain that are responsible for influencing mood levels, reducing stress, and even alleviating pain (similar to how burning cannabis can affect your mood).
Get Started Smudging
1. Choosing Your Sage
It’s unfortunate, but there are a lot of dishonest sellers out there who aren’t marketing their sage properly or are intentionally looking to deceive you. I’ve tried a few different vendors and my personal favorite is Chakra Palace. They sell on both Etsy and Amazon and have incredibly high-quality sage and santo wood (love!). They also ship quickly and are affordable ($20 for 5 sage bundle and 5 smudge sticks). If you are looking to try smudging for the first time I cannot recommend them enough!
* one sage bundle typically lasts me 4-5 smudges
2. Set an Intention or Choose a Mantra
While it doesn’t have to be, burning sage is largely a spiritual practice. As you are going through a smudging focus on a word or phrase that embraces the energy you are looking to introduce into your space as you energetically cleanse.
3. Open Up & Light Up
Before lighting your smudge stick be sure to open a window slightly to let some of the smoke & air escape.
Focusing on your mantra or intention light a candle that you will use to light your bundle. Gently dip the sage into the flames and blow it out if the sage catches fire. Hold the bundle parallel with the ground as it emits a thick smoke and begin cleansing.
4. Cleansing Yourself
Starting at your feet pass the bundle back and forth between your hands, moving the smoke in a clockwise circle around your body. Slowly work up to your head, pausing at any areas that have been causing you pain, whether physical or emotional. I always take a little extra time at my third chakra (solar plexus) as this is where my anxiety and digestion issues manifest.
5. Cleansing Your Space
After cleansing yourself, gently sweep the bundle around each room, being sure to target the corners and ceiling spaces. Be thorough and do not rush. Direct smoke over all areas of your space, using your intuition to guide you.
Once you have completed smudging and touched every nook and cranny in your home be sure to open the windows fully to allow any remaining smoke to escape, taking with it negative energy. I typically leave the windows open for 15-30 minutes to let the air circulate fully.
6. Clean Up & Safety
After you have completed the cleansing be sure to thoroughly extinguish your bundle by pressing it into a clay dish, ashtray, or glass bowl. Another option is to let the sage go out on its own, being careful to place it somewhere that ash will not fall on anything flammable and where children and pets cannot reach it. Remember to never leave burning sage unattended.
Common Questions and Concerns
When should I sage?
When you feel the time is right! Whether you are curious or spiritually moved, burning sage is largely based on an intuitive feeling. Personally, I sage every time I clean the apartment, when I move into a new space, when I’ve had people over, or if I’m feeling too “full” of negative emotions.
Why do you use sage instead of another herb?
When people refer to bundles of “sage” they are typically referencing “white sage”. While sage tends to be the most popular for spiritual and physical healing there are many different herbs that people often burn for their cleansing properties (dating back to ancient Ireland). For example, lavender, cedar, and sweetgrass all have healing properties and are widely used in different cultures.
White sage itself has roots in some Native American cultures.
Will I burn my house down / set off my smoke detectors?
A good way to avoid these types of issues is a simple one: never leave your sage unattended. However, it is possible to trigger your smoke alarms when smudging. Personally, I have never had this issue and have smudged in a shared building multiple times. If you are concerned about smoke and would like to try smudging I would recommend this product, which contains sage, rose, and eucalyptus but does not require smoke.