Smudging is a technique used to purify one’s surroundings and body from undesireable energy. The burning of herbs for emotional, psychic, and spiritual purification is also common practice among many religious, healing, and spiritual groups. The ritual of smudging can be defined as “spiritual house cleaning.” In theory, the smoke attaches itself to negative energy and as the smoke clears it takes the negative energy with it, releasing it into another space where it will be regenerated into positive energy. Smudging can be done to the body, to personal belongings, or to the environment in general.
Commonly Used Herbs
These are the most commonly used herbs for smudging, although there are many more that may be used.
- White Sage
When to Smudge
Smudging can be done anytime. However, there are certain situations where smudging would be more beneficial than other times. These include the following.
- When feeling emotionally drained
- After being around someone who is ill of depressed
- During meditation sessions
- When any item is acquired that was owned by someone else previously
How to Smudge
Learning how to smudge may be a little cumbersome at first, so to help simplify the process, the process will be explained by using white sage as the herb being smudged.
Smudging a room
Keep the windows and doors closed to the room you have chosen to smudge. You can take a fan or a small piece of cardboard and start in one corner of your room, and gently waft the smoke after it clears the bowl, from the floor, up, toward the ceiling. Do this in a clockwise circle in each corner of your room. When you are done with the fourth corner, move to the center of the room, raise the bowl chest high and waft smoke up toward the center of the room. You are now done. When you leave the room, shut the door behind you. When you go back in an hour later; you’ll see that the room feels better and is even “lighter” appearing to your eyes than before.
Smudging a house
If you are doing a complete house, then do each room in this fashion. Do not miss a room. Get all of them. If you want only one room done, then close the door behind you and smudge the room–and leave the smoke in that room–do not open windows or doors to let it out. It will dissipate surprisingly swiftly. You can also smudge your garage and basement in the same, above manner. Just make sure the garage door is closed and that the door leading to the basement is closed while smudging and closed after you depart from it.
Bend over, so that the bowl is about the level of your feet and ankles. Gently waft the smoke, with your fan, upward. As you slowly unbend and straighten up, you are bringing the sage/bowl and fanning the smoke up, up, upward until you’ve sent the smudging smoke up above your head. You are now “smudged” and clean, as we say.
Smudging an animal
Take care not to burn the animal, or have sparks fly out on their coats or hair. Start at their head and gently waft the smoke from their feet to their head, and then move back, over their spinal area, and to their rear feet/tail region. They are now smudged.
Smudging an object
If you have a piece of jewelry given to you, an heirloom piece, or something that you love, but it has “bad vibes” or just a bad feeling on it, then you can do the following: Lay it out on a table or some place where it is flat. Start at one end of the piece and gently fan the smoke across it, so that the smoke covers and flows across the entire piece. When it’s done, let it sit for 24 hours, and then you can use it. The feeling/vibes will be very different. On a stubborn piece, you might have to do this 2 or 3 times, once a day, to get it entirely cleansed.
Things to Remember
Always have a heat proof bowl to put the sage in, after it has been ignited. Do not use a container that is not bake or tempered for high heat–it will crack it and it could cause a fire. Do not use anything metal, because heat is conductive and you will get burned.
Do not have doors or windows or a fan on when you “smudge” yourself, a room or your house. It can blow sparks out of the bowl and onto the floor or surrounding area. Don’t be wearing billowy, long-sleeved blouse or shirt when you fan the smoke. Don’t have long hair draped down near the bowl with the smudge stick being held in it.
Light the herb with a match at the very tips of the leaves on top of the bundle. Once they flame to life, then blow them out quickly. We use a feather fan to do this, but you can use a piece of stout paper or even cardboard or a paper fan. It’s important to not let it blame and burn. Once it is lit, and the flame is blown out, it will smoke thinly or thickly, afterward. The catalyzation comes with the smoke, not the flame.
Once the sage is lit, you do not stop it from burning. When the ions have been neutralized, it will cease burning on its own. You can tell how ‘bad’ it is by the quality of the smoke the smudge stick emits: thin, light smoke indicates the place or person is fairly clean. Thick, rolling white smoke means the place or person has a lot of positive ions or negativity around them and it needs this thicker smoke to deal with it.
Place the lit, smoking top of the bundle of herb deep down inside the bowl and steady the rest of it, on the stick portion at the other end, with your other hand.