Burning dried herbs such as sage was the norm for many cultures throughout history. Otherwise known as ‘smudging’, modern society is only just catching up with its incredible benefits.
What Is Smudging?
Smudging is often referred to as a ritual. It consists of burning sacred herbs and using them to cleanse places, people, and possessions. The smoke from these herbs has been proven to destroy bacteria, ensuring contagious viruses stay in their place.
Smudging doesn’t stop with bacteria though. It cleanses negativity too, leaving you with that zesty fresh feeling of positive energy. It’s a common way to cleanse crystals for this exact reason! You want them to be buzzing with energy and primed for intention-setting. That’s exactly the vibe that smudging creates.
Smudging Through History
Wrapping dried herbs in twine and setting them alight isn’t something that 21st century people did on a whim. It’s something that’s been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. Evidence for smudging goes all the way back to Ancient Egypt where they used it to treat digestive problems and sore throats. You can even find people burning sage in the bible!
Romans knew sage as the plant of salvation. The name, Salvia, is actually derived from the latin word, Salvare, which means “save” or “cure”. And this special herb wasn’t just known to the great civilizations of antiquity. It was also used by nomadic peoples all around the world, from pre-Columbian America to Asia. Many indigenous cultures that have retained their ancient knowledge still practice sacred smudging to this day. For this reason, it’s advised to smudge in a mindful way.
Does Smudging Actually Work?
Most people are quick to dismiss anything that sounds too “new agey”. It’s painted as something that’s a little silly, however, despite its unfair reputation, scientific research suggests that it’s more than plausible.
A study that spanned 5 continents and over 50 countries showed that smudge smoke was an “air purifier [and that it helped soothe] gastrointestinal conditions, genitourinary conditions, mood disorders, neurological conditions, orthopaedic conditions, pulmonary conditions, toothache and other problems of the mouth, treatment of the ear, treatment of the eye and other medicinal purposes.”
This is just one study about the beneficial effects of smudging. There’s plenty more research being done that comes to the conclusion that smudging is not only a useful tool, but that it could (and should) be incorporated into an urban medical setting.
As well as being antibacterial, sage is antimicrobial and has shown significant success in repelling insects. Many sufferers of respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or asthma claim that smudging helps relieve them of their symptoms. It’s hardly surprising as smudging is frequently used to aid breathing, especially when trying to get to sleep. Smudging also tackles the problem of stress. The fresh scent and the soothing smoke make it incredibly easy for the body to relax. If you’ve ever been around incense of any kind, you’ll know the effects that a strong organic fragrance can have on the body.
Should I Use Smudging?
Do you want the short or the long answer? I’ll give you both. Yes. Definitely. The ritual of smudging allows you to welcome positive energy into your body, home, and crystals. It empowers you to set intentions with love and positivity, and reduces stress through enhanced mindfulness. It’s a no-brainer.
To properly begin a smudging session, make sure you open your windows. This is to give the smoke an outlet so that it can escape and take with it all the negative energy. You’ll want to start by lighting your smudge bundle at one end over a fire-proof dish. An abalone shell is a great choice to catch any embers or ash. Aim for a light amount of smoke rather than billowing plumes. The majority of bundles will be capable of burning multiple times, so remember to put it out when you’re finished. There’s no need to burn the entire thing in one go.
Now that your smudging stick is lit, you’ll want to cleanse yourself. There’s no point cleansing the home if you’re still holding onto negativity and spreading it around the house. Direct the smoke towards your own body, starting at the feet and up through all the chakras and eventually to your head. Then work your way back down. Be careful not to breathe too deeply as you don’t want to irritate your throat or lungs by breathing in a mouthful of smoke. Once your energy has been purified, cast the smoke towards your chosen space and ensure it reaches all the nooks and crannies. You want to get the smoke to flow into all the unused areas of your home too. Stagnant energy materializes there and can be refreshed this way.
While smudging, keep your focus on your positive intentions for your new space. If it’s a new house that you’ve moved into, then combine this practice with visualization of how you want your new home to feel. How do you want it to look?You can recite an affirmation if you like, something that will increase the smoke’s energy. Mantras can affect energy through the combined power of sound and intention. Others may prefer to pray or take time for reflection while smudging the home. Whatever works best for you is fine.
Encourage the smoke with your hands. Guide it into drawers, the back of cupboards, and anywhere else that you think it might not reach on its own. Continue until your home is thoroughly cleansed.
When Should I Smudge?
So, you think smudging might be something worth trying after all, but when do you actually do it? Is it for a special occasion or do you do it as often as physical cleaning? Again, it’s entirely up to you.
People smudge for a variety of different reasons:
To celebrate a new relationship or an anniversary.
For a new goal or target you want to achieve.
To find closure after a difficult period of your life.
If you’re going through some form of transformation like moving home or starting a new job.
If you’ve just had guests, particularly if they brought drama with them or some kind of negative experience occurred.
If you’ve just been around lots of people and potentially picked up some of their energy.
If you want to let go of something but can’t seem to go through with it. This could be a person, an argument, or simply a negative thought.
If you’re feeling under the weather. It clears bacteria and helps you recover faster.
To create a sacred atmosphere for your healing practices such as meditation, yoga, or any other spiritual activity you enjoy.
Some will insist on smudging every day but you can do it once per month if it suits you better. Trust your intuition and follow your gut.
Different kinds of Smudge sticks:
(Any kind of smudge stick with sage in it will have these sage effects, different kinds of sage will just have other added benefits.)
Clear the air of bugs and bacteria. Also pet dander, pollution, dust, & mold. Burning sage may be a blessing for those with asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and other respiratory conditions. (But inhaling the smoke during the smudging can aggravate any respiratory condition. Be safe!)
Release negative ions.