If you’ve ever watched someone sage, they’ll look like they’re waving a burning herb in the air.
The belief behind that is that the smoke will clear negative energies from spaces or people.
Although the practice is a part of Native American origin, smudging is becoming more popularized across varying spiritual beliefs.
In this post, we’ll discuss what smudging is and how you can do it yourself.
What is Smudging?
Smudging is a spiritual cleansing technique that originated from the Native American tradition and has existed for thousands of years. It started to become popularized in modern and new age spirituality. Many see it as a helpful and sacred ritual to cleanse negative energies. Some people also use it to usher out spirits or ghosts from an area in the home. Why do people think sage works for this? Some think that spirits don’t like the smell of the herbs; others think it’s your intention that sends them into the light.
Smudging can be done by anyone as long as they have sage and a lighter. The pratice consists of lighting herbs—usually sage or sweet grass— to produce smoke. That smoke is waved wherever you feel spiritual or energetic cleansing is needed. The idea is that it leaves behind a trail of positive, renewed energy.
The reported positive effects of smudging could come from the smoke itself, or the smoke just acts as a placebo (AKA the mind tricking itself into calm). In whichever case, if it makes you feel better and it’s not hurting anyone, does it matter? We say go for it!
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Smude with Sage
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to sage.
A Few Warnings
Before we get into how to smudge, we should let you know a few things:
- Illnesses. You shouldn’t smudge around people with respiratory issues. Inhaling smoke isn’t ideal for people at an increased risk to lung irritation.
- Fire Alarm. If your fire alarm is sensitive and your smudge stick produces a lot of smoke, it’s possible your fire detector could go off.
- Windows. Open a window to prevent the house from getting smokey. Many people also think it’s a symbol of letting the negative energy leave and the fresh energy flow in.
Step #1: Get Your Smudge Stick Ready
First, you’ll need a smudge stick, which is a bundle of dried herbs (usually sage or sweetgrass). It’s typically tied together with thread or a strip of hide. You can buy smudge sticks in local new age, spiritual or metaphysical store. They can also easily be purchased online. If you have sage or grow it in your garden, you can also make your own bundles by letting it dry out and tying it together. Another option is to place the loose herbs onto a dish (next step).
Step #2: Get Your Ash “Tray” Ready
To ensure the ashes are contained, a special heatproof container or large shell can be used to set the smudge stick in.
Step #3: Say a Prayer or Intention
Before lighting their sage, many people say a prayer or intention. For example, to clear negative energy, before starting, you can picture the darkness lifting away and leaving out the window with the smoke. You can also choose to repeat a prayer, mantra or chant throughout the entire practice.
Step #4: Light the Herbs
Using a lighter or match, light the smudge stick or loose herbs. You’re not aiming for a flame; you’re looking for a smoldering smoke. Don’t relight the stick unless the smoke has stopped before you’re finished.
Step #5: Smudge People
You can start off how you’d like, but many choose to start my smudging themselves or others in their home. This is to clear their energy and bring a sense of refreshment. Smudging yourself or others can be done by moving the lit bundle or dish of herbs so that the whole body is immersed in smoke. This is usually done by passing the bundle or dish from hand to hand around the body from top to bottom. More smoke can be pushed towards areas of the body that experience physical or emotional distress. For example, a swollen ankle or self-conscious stomach.
Step #6: Smudge Spaces
Perhaps most often, smudging is done in homes. It can be done specifically to rid the house of spirits. Or, it can be done on a routine basis to help bring in positive energy. Some people also do it after buying a new home or renting a new apartment. This is said to rid the space of old energies that make affect your new life.
The order that you smudge your home in doesn’t matter. The easiest way can be to start at your front door and make your way through, room by room, area by area. Move the sage stick or dish around the perimeter of each room, placing emphasis on each corner. I also make an X with the stick/smoke in each doorway. Some people like to walk around the room counter-clockwise as they believe it will ‘undo’ any negative energy. Others walk in whichever way they’re drawn.
You can pay particular attention to areas that you think need clearing (ex. if you had a recent fight in the living room). You can also spread the smoke to often forgot about areas too, such as under furniture or in closets or attics.
Step #7: Smudge Items
Sage can also be used on items to clear a funky energy that may be attached to them, too. For example, have you ever heard of someone bringing home ghosts after buying an antique at a secondhand shop? Some people say one way to prevent this is to smudge the item when you bring it home to get rid of any spirits or energies.
You can also smudge items that you think need it. For example, in the modern world, technology, like our phones, can hold a lot of stress and chaotic energy. These could be good to sage. Things that may be associated with upset or complicated feelings—such as mirrors—can me smudged too. You can smudge items by simply moving the lit bundle or dish so the whole item is touched by the smoke.
Step #8: End the Smudging Session
When you are done smudging, set the smudge stick or dish down. The smoke will eventually stop, but you still shouldn’t leave it unattended to be safe.
To close this ritual, some choose to say a thank you prayer.
When Do you Smudge Again?
You may smudge again whenever you feel it is necessary. You can smudge on a regular schedule (ex. every month, season, etc.). Or, you can smudge when you are feeling depressed, moving into a new house or after a big change (divorce, death, illness, etc.).
Summary on Smudging with Sage
Smudging originated as a Native American tradition. It involves the burning of sage, believed to clear negative energies and encourage new, positive ones. It may also be used to usher out spirits. You can smudge using many herbs, but the most popular is sage. You can buy or make a stage stick, or burn the loose herbs in a heatproof dish. Smudge smoke can be spread on people, throughout the home or wrapped around items. Some people smudge as the need strikes or on a routine basis as a part of a spiritual practice.