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What is Smudging and Why It Matters

Apr 24, 2021

Image: Smudge herb bundles -
“Since ancient times, our ancestors have burned sacred herbs and resins, believing the sacred smoke to raise vibrations, dispel of negativity, and assist with spiritual work according to Today, we know this process as smudging, and it remains a critical first step in any sacred ritual. I smudge daily to purify my sacred space before ritual, ceremony, or meditation. It’s an integral part of my spiritual practice – in fact, it’s what this community was built upon! Sage Goddess began with my hand-wrapped smudge bundles, which I offered to those around me in the hopes of spreading healing, love, and light”.
How to Choose Your Smudge
It’s important to know that all plants are sacred, not just sage! Each plant carries its own magical properties and benefits, and you can pick one to resonate with your specific intention. If you’re feeling drawn to a specific type of smudge, trust your intuition – your spirit knows what it needs.
How to Smudge
First, light one end of your smudge, allowing it to catch fire and burn for several seconds. Once the flame extinguishes, gently blow on the lit end to fan the embers; the smudge will begin to glow and smoke. Lay the smudge on a heatproof dish, such as an abalone shell, to catch the ashes as it burns. We should always respect the power of fire when using it in ritual.
As the smoke rises into the air, picture your intention, whatever it may be. If you are clearing negative energy, picture its density and see it lifting away. Healing? Then imagine the smoke cleansing any illness or injury. Whatever it is, envision it floating away on the smoke. You can pray or chant if you feel called. Use your hands or a smudge fan to guide the smoke over yourself and around your sacred space. In my native Greek culture, we begin facing East, then turn South, West, and North before finally turning East again. After making this ceremonious circle, we douse the burning embers. I love honoring the cardinal directions in my smudge ceremony; it roots me into Mother Earth.
Native American ceremonies begin by sprinkling the floor with loose sage. They then burn the sage, a braid of sweetgrass. Finally, they burn a bundled sage stick (or smudge bundle), while washing the smoke over the body.
The beauty of smudging is that it can be done at any time, as often as you need, no matter your background or culture.
Sacred Herbs for Smudging
Listed below are some basic properties for various herbs to use. These herbs have been used for centuries all over the world.
Alfalfa– associated with psychic abilities, and attracting animal spirits.
Allspice – for uplifting and increasing energy, and determination.
Amaranth – for healing, protection, vulnerability, especially healing of broken hearts.
Aspen – for ascension, protection, and overcoming fears.
Basil – for attracting love, happiness, peace, and money; steadies the mind.
Bay Leaves – for psychic power, divination, success, and money; invoking wish magic.
Blue Spruce – the symbol of pure intentions, generosity, and giving.
Calendula – for love and constancy.
Catnip – attracts good spirits and great luck. For love, beauty, and happiness.
*Cedar – banishes fear and enhances psychic powers.
Chamomile – for protection and purification.
Cinnamon – when burned raises high spiritual vibrations and aids healing.
Cloves – for protection and exorcism; attracting opposite sex.
*Coastal Sage or Artemisia Californica – for clearing negative energies and healing holes or tears in the aura.
Dandelion – for divination, spirit calling, and wish magic.
Dill – for protection, luck, money, and lust.
Eucalyptus – for healing and protection.
*Frankincense resin – reduces stress, eases tension, and connects you with Source energy.
Ginger – adds power to any magical activity, speeds things up; brings passion.
*Lavender – brings peace, relaxation, and restful sleep; purity and love.
Lemongrass – for cleansing and purifying, removing obstacles, and opening doors.
Lilac – for protection and exorcism.
*Mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris – brings clarity and develops/deepens psychic abilities.
*Myrrh resin – for physical healing and grounding.
*Palo Santo – for deep healing to the physical body; can be used to clear a home of energies associated with illness.
Peppermint – for purity, protection, release, and renewal.
*Pinon Pine resin – protective, healing, and nurturing.
Rosemary – for removing negative energies associated with sickness, and clearing.
Sage Flowers – for cleansing and releasing negative energies; brings wisdom and purity.
*Thyme – excellent for releasing ceremonies; allows us to recall the past without pain.
*White Sage or Salvia Apiana – used to clear negative energies from objects, space, or people.
If Your Sage or Candle Smoke Rises
Up - The energy is clear.
North - You have downloaded wisdom you need.
South - Regeneration, shifting and transmutation are coming. Become more passionate by sending love to where you need the most healing.
East - Energy has been cleared or moved through.
West - Emotional purification or transformation of some kind is needed.

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