What is Smudging?
Have you ever walked into a space and felt negative energies or an ominous spirit? Smudging is one way to get rid of that dark, menacing energy.
Smudging is a ritual whereby the energies of a space are cleansed, inviting positive energy into the environment.
It is done by burning plant materials. The smoke from the bundle of plants – called a smudge stick – cleanses the space.
As the smoke spreads throughout the home, it takes good intentions with it, blending it with the universe. In a rare moment of serenity, you are connected with humanity, heaven, and earth.
This practice has been carried out by many indigenous communities – most notably Native American cultures – and continues to be used by people of different beliefs and spiritualities.
The benefits of a smudging ceremony
Cultures worldwide have been using smudging as part of their spiritual rituals. This ceremony is said to remove negative or heavy energy and leave people feeling lighter – spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
The Native Americans have long used this ritual for cleansing. Grandmother Wapajea Walks on Water – a Native American healer – explains the benefits of smudging: “The goal of smudging is to make a place clear of lingering energy… We welcome the Great Spirit, angels, and ancestors to come and share clean space with us…”
Smudging purifies the air, as sage (a common material used in a smudging ceremony) is antimicrobial. This means the smoke from your smudge stick can keep viruses, fungi and bacteria away.
Smudging can also increase mood, eliminate anxiety, help those with insomnia, improve cognitive function, and leave you feeling rejuvenated. Reshma Patel, founder of Ananda Integrative Medicine, claims, “Aside from the metaphysical uses of smudging, research shows [it] can also be used to benefit physical, mental and emotional well-being.”
When is Smudging Useful?
- When moving into a previously inhabited home
- When moving into a brand-new home
- When a certain room or object requires energy cleansing
- When you experience a low mood or feel lethargic,
- When you want to be refocused
- When you have decluttered your home
- After stressful periods in life
- After being sick
- After having guests over
- Starting a new job
- Before meditating
- After conflict
Different Kinds of Smudge Sticks
Different cultures use various materials; here are the most common:
- Sage: White sage leaves and stems are known to heal. Burning sage calms the mind carries prayers to heaven, and removes unkind spirits. A smudge stick with sage will also purify the air.
- Palo Santo: Known as “holy wood”, Palo Santo is a South American sacred tree. It has been used by traditional healers for many years. It is said to ground people, improve creativity, heal ailments, and bring good fortune.
- Yerba Santa: This minty herb is burned for healing, protection, and to honour ancestors.
- Cedar: Cedar trees are known to be old and wise – the true spirits of the forest. By burning cedar wood, you are purifying and protecting the home.
- Sweetgrass: Sweetgrass is a representation of the feminine. It brings in positive vibes, leaving you feeling harmonious with your home.
- Mugwort: Also called black sage, it’s commonly used by those who cast spells or practice divination. It is said to connect us to other realms. Just like white sage, mugwort is antimicrobial, cleansing the air.
- Incense: Incense is not an ingredient of a smudge stick; it is beneficial to light some incense when performing the ritual. Burn some white sage incense to fill the home with an amazing scent and a calm mood.
What You Need For a Smudging Ritual
- Smudge stick: Any of the materials listed above will do.
- Fireproof container with sand: Use a heat-proof bowl (like a ceramic bowl or an abalone shell) filled with sand to carry the smudge stick. You can extinguish the burning sage (or materials of choice) by pressing it into the bowl.
- Fire source: Matches work fine, but a candle that banishes negative spirits is the best way to light the smudge stick.
Tips for Before You Begin Smudging Ceremonies
The most important thing is that you shouldn’t feel rushed. Ancient cultures have practised smudging for many generations, and you must respect the process and set aside enough time.
Meditate for at least five minutes to calm your heart and mind. You can set your intention for the ceremony during meditation or clear your head.
Setting an intention for the ritual is key. Take some time to think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to ward off dark energy, realign yourself, bring about wellness in your family, or start anew?
Most people prefer to smudge when they are alone. But you can invite other people to be part of the ritual. They can use sound bowls or chant during the ritual.
How to Perform a Smudging Ceremony in Your Home
- Begin by opening windows. This allows fresh air to flow in and gives negative energy an exit point.
- Take a moment to reflect on your intention. You can meditate or pause for a few seconds before beginning.
- Use a natural candle (or matches) to light the smudge stick. Do this by holding the stick at a 45-degree angle over the fire source. Once the stick catches, gently blow the flame out, allowing it to smoke.
- Place the stick in your fireproof container with sand (or hold it above it) and carefully carry it into the spaces you want to cleanse.
- Allow the smoke to flow through the rooms, paying attention to areas where dark energy could be trapped. This includes corners, areas with less traffic, and spaces behind doors.
- Use visualisation – imagine that the smoke is your good intentions. Allow the smoke to push out the bad energy, carrying with it whichever no longer serves you.
- When you have ventured into all the stagnant spaces, extinguish the stick by pressing it into your container or the sand. Never use water to extinguish the smudge stick, as you won’t be able to relight it.
- End off the ceremony by repeating your intention again.
How to Smudge Yourself
You can burn sage not just to cleanse a home but also to cleanse yourself or another person:
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms out in a T.
- Keep the sage or stick about an arm’s distance away.
- Repeat the intention or a mantra out loud.
- Move the sage stick up to the head and back down, envisioning how negative spirits and energy are removed, and the body earthed.
Should I speak words while smudging?
Many cultures practice chanting mantras and prayers or speaking intentions out loud. However, you do not have to speak out loud if you don’t wish to – keep your intention firmly in mind.
When is the best time of day to cleanse my home?
You can do it anytime. Cleanse your home whenever you feel like it is needed and when you have enough time to do it without being rushed.
How often should I perform cleansing ceremonies at home?
It is up to you. Do it annually, each new season, or whenever you need to shed negative energy or have a fresh start.