Wondering how to smudge? Here we outline the history and show you a simple guide to ceremonial sage burning. Smudging can help combat this negativity, clear the energy in your field, and help you start anew.
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Smudging is an ancient ceremony in which you burn sacred plants, such as sage, to allow the smoke to clear and bless a space. Dried white ceremonial sage has a distinctly beautiful scent when burned. And if you’re new to this practice, just try to be open minded about it. Smudging is not only for spaces; it’s also for clearing your body, mind, and spirit of any negativity, stagnation, or energetic disturbances within or surrounding you. Make sure to invite the sacred smoke around your body from head to toe and front to back before smudging your space.You can take a moment of meditation to notice if the smell evokes a sense memory for you. Where does that resonate in your body? Examine whether you feel a spiritual connection, or an earthy, ancestral stirring within your blood.
Smudging your sacred space, your home or office, or even your body with sage is like taking an energetic shower, or doing a deep metaphysical cleansing. The smoke from dried sage actually changes the ionic composition of the air, and can have a direct effect on reducing our stress response.
History of Smudging
The use of incense and other smoke and vapor to connect humans to the spirit world, can be easily traced throughout the East in parts of Asia and even dating as far back to Ancient Greece.
The use of dried white sage however, is a 2,000 year old Indigenous American practice. The shamans used dried sage plants on their fires as a ritual of calling upon ancestral spirits. Any conflict, anger, illness or evil was absorbed by the sage smoke to be released or cleansed from the energy field of a person.
To get some insight into the ancient art of smudging, healer and singer Grandmother Wapajea Walks on Water—with lineage from the Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee tribes—sheds some light on the topic.
Grandmother Wapajea says, “The goal of smudging is to make a place clear of lingering energy that is different from what you may be intending for that space. You want to prepare the space for ceremony, the way you would clean your house, cook, and decorate when your family comes for a holiday. We are welcoming Great Spirit, angels, and ancestors to come and share clean space with us as well.”
Some good times to sage smudge your aura and/or space would be:
- When you move into a new living space
- When you begin a new job or start your own business
- Before and after a guest enters your home
- Before and after a yoga or healing session
- Before meditation
- After an argument or any illness
- Upon returning home from crowded situations
Here is a simple 3-step sage smudging ritual to try:
1. Clear your space of clutter and mess and open up windows and curtains and allow for clean air to enter.
Use loose dried white sage or a white ceremonial sage bundle. Light your sage on fire and then fan the smoke with your feather around your body and anyone else in your space. Take that smoke and metaphorically wash your hands in the smoke, take some over your eyes, your ears, your heart, and your brain. Breathe a little bit in, and waft a little bit over your body.
2. Next, place the smudge stick on any heat-proof burning surface like an Abolone Shell. Light the bundle by holding a flame to it until it begins to smoke. If a true flame appears, shake the bundle gently or blow until it is just embers and smoke. I often find that I have to re-light my sage bundle a few times during the ritual process.
3. Once you have a nice smoke going, use you hand or a feather to direct the smoke over your body from your feet up to your head, then back down again. As you do this, visualize the smoke taking away with it any negative energy from your life, any darkness or malady.
Wapajea’s Smudging Process
- “We start in the East where the sun rises, and brings us the opportunity to begin again with each new day. Breath.
- We go to the South and honor our creativity, our children, the child in us, our playfulness, joy, and hope. Earth.
- We go to the West where the sun goes down, and the blackness of introspection begins when the day is done. Water.
- We go to the North where our rest awaits us. Knowledge, stamina, compassion, silence. Fire.
- We use a feather to fan the sacred smoke in each direction, one drums, one sings, one dances, one prays, until we have circled back to the east.”
If you feel comfortable with this incantation, repeat the following:
“Air, fire, water, earth. Cleanse, dismiss, dispel.”
Once you have smudged your body, begin to move through your space. Wave the smoke into all corners, across doorways and into shadow spaces. To maintain the atmosphere of ritual, keep repeating the incantation in your mind as you diffuse the smoke.
Once the space is cleared, allow the sage bundle to either burn out or gently press it out in your heat-proof shell or container.
Tips for Smudging
- Hold sacredness and respect when connecting with the plant people who help you in this ceremony and when you pray.
- Remember and honor your ancestors with good deeds.
- Honor the divine by caring for what the Great Spirit has created.
- See the divine Mother in everything. Women are the embodiment of Great Spirit’s creation on Earth, thru the gift of birth, so women are holy. We are all from the same womb.
- Everything is related to everything; nothing is random.
- Caring for creation is everyone’s responsibility.
- This will is not religion; this is love.
A Smudging Prayer
May your hands be cleansed, that they create beautiful things.
May your feet be cleansed, that they might take you where you most need to be.
May your heart be cleansed, that you might hear its messages clearly.
May your throat be cleansed, that you might speak rightly when words are needed.
May your eyes be cleansed, that you might see the signs and wonders of the world.
May this person and space be washed clean by the smoke of these fragrant plants.
And may that same smoke carry our prayers, spiraling, to the heavens.