My First Time
Sage is all the rage. In the world of holistic and internal wellness, burning sage is quite literally in Vogue. I purchased my first bundle over two years ago and trust me, it was 90% sticks. Knowing absolutely nothing about the practice of smudging, I lit my twig bundle, ran around my house, and *surprise* felt no effects. To be honest, my apartment was feeling more ashy than spiritually cleansed.
* Click here for my how-to guide on smudging *
Fast forward several months and I decided to give it go one more time. I was at a fairly low place and looking for an experience of rebirth. Something to reinvigorate my home and spark my internal fire. To me your home is everything, it’s where you spend so much of your waking and sleeping hours. It should bring you joy, comfort, and relaxation. You should love every nook and cranny. As I started taking steps to reinvigorate my life I knew that I would need to reinvigorate my home as well, or else I would end up marinating in the same negative energy I had been putting out for weeks.
I did a little more research and ended up with a genuine bundle of dried white sage this time! Even before burning the smell was beautifully overwhelming. I wanted to make this time more ritualistic so I googled several “how-tos” lit my sage and started.
That was the first time I felt the effects of smudging. I walked around my apartment in a near-meditative state, mumbling through my mantra, and watching the curls of sage wrap around the air. I cleansed myself and the cats felt an incredible lift. After smudging every corner and crease I opened the windows and let the wind carry out all the smoke and bring in new clean air and energy.
The Ripple Effects
Immediately after smudging I felt radically calm. Like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I struggle with dust allergies and living with two cats can make it a struggle to keep the air clear of all the little bits that aggravate my symptoms. Even with an abundance of plants and an air purifier I never feel that the air is as clean as it is after I sage the apartment.
One potential explanation for why the apartment feels cleaner after sage-ing is because of ions. Burning sage emits negative ions (in the same way the running water or a salt lamp do) that can grab onto positive ions (dander, dust, allergens) and neutralize them. As you move around your home or apartment 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 it has come in contact with negative energy. There is one particular space, in my previous apartment, where the smoke would always turn black. The same corner where numerous time I would see cabinets fly open on their own.
For me, the effects of burning sage come in the form of anxiety relief. I have always struggled with anxiety and found that I prefer to treat it through modifying my environment and using coping techniques (please note that this, of course, this is not going to work for everyone’s anxiety and there is no shame in utilizing medication). One of the most intriguing things for me, in regards to burning sage, is that in some cultures white sage is used as a traditional remedy for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.
Burning sage is definitely something that a lot of people put in the “hippy dippy” (as my dad would say) category. However, it is so much more than it initially seems to our Western minds. There is a deep spiritual and psychological benefit to introducing the practice into your daily rituals. Smudging is something I fall back on when I am overwhelmed with anxiety or when I am feeling clouded. It’s a ritual that brings me back to center and keeps me feeling whole and connected to my space.
The world moves incredibly fast and we are constantly looking for the next quick fix. Instead of working with our environments we work against them. Burning sage is a way to make the here and now a place you’ll want to be. It prevents us from reaching for the “grass is greener” mentality, and allows us to release negative energy and focus on all the good that’s in the present.