Smudge sticks are bundles of sage or other herbs, traditionally used by Native Americans as part of a Smudging Ceremony.
Sage is a powerful cleansing herb, banishing negativity on all levels. Smudging with sage will renew & freshen energies, & bring blessings. Good times to smudge are when you have moved into a new home or business premises, after illness, arguments or tense situations, or as part of a spring cleaning. Prior to a healing session, the aura of the recipient can be smudged to purify their energy & allow healing to have maximum benefit. Smudging is a very effective way of purifying crystals (especially those which you can't cleanse in water due to their mineralogical composition). Pendulums & jewellery, tarot cards, runes & other items used regularly for healing, divination & magical purposes can retain negativity too, & benefit from being smudged regularly.
Smudging has been used for centuries as part of a sacred ceremony, & should be carried out with respect & good intention. It should be done when you have time & peace, & can devote your full attention to the process. Before you begin smudging, allow a few minutes to ground yourself. Take some deep breaths, & focus clearly on your intention. Remember that your energy is an important part of what you are about to do, & focusing your intention clearly will add potency to your actions.
Using your Smudge Stick
Traditionally, a shell was used as a burning receptacle, but any kind of small, heatproof pot can be used to hold your smudge stick - a small terracotta plant pot, an earthenware mug, or heatproof glass pot are all ideal. Firstly, light the top of the smudge stick. A taper candle is ideally used for this as your stick may take a few minutes to light. Once properly lit, allow it to burn for a few seconds, and then blow the flame out so that the stick is smouldering (burning in much the same way as an incense stick). The smoke from the smudge stick is the purifying agent, & the object is to "wash" the area or object you wish to purify with smoke. You can use your hand or a feather smudging wand to direct the smoke.
Before beginning, it is a good idea to smudge yourself to bless & purify your own energy. Do this by washing yourself with smoke, from head to toe & around your back if you can manage.
Cleansing a room: Begin at the door, washing it with smoke, & as you do this visualise negativity leaving, asking that all who enter are blessed, & that only positive & bright energy should be allowed to enter. Do the same with all windows. Continue around the room, paying special attention to areas such as on corners & behind doors, where energy tends to get "stuck".
Cleansing the aura of a person: Starting at the top of the head & working down, smudge the front of the person first; then work up the back to the top of the head. Remember to include the arms & hands - every area should be covered. If possible have the person standing or sitting for the smudging process, rather than lying on a therapy couch.
Cleansing crystals, jewellery, pendulums etc.: To cleanse smaller objects, hold your smudge stick or place it in a suitable holder, & simply wash the smoke over the item for a few minutes.
Whatever you are smudging, it helps to visualise dark clouds of negativity leaving & travelling out into the atmosphere. As it leaves, visualise it dissipating, & being replaced with pure white light. Ask for blessings, & positive, clean & bright energy to come in. Sage is very smokey! It may be helpful to open windows while smudging - not only for ventilation, but also to help with the cleansing process, as negativity flows out through the open windows along with the smoke. Also, remember that sage is a natural herb, & doesn't always burn as smoothly as incense. You may need to re-light your smudge stick several times during a smudging session. Burning sage during pregnancy is not recommended.
When you have completed your task you can extinguish your smudge stick either by submerging it in water, or if you still have some of the smudge stick left & would like to re-use it, by burying it in some damp earth or sand until it has been thoroughly extinguished, & then allowing it to try for re-use.
Smudging is a powerful ceremony which when carried out regularly can be very beneficial in keeping the energy of yourself & your environment clean, bright & beautiful. It encompasses the Four Elements - Sage comes from the Earth, it is burned using Fire, it smokes in the Air, & it is extinguished using Water.
Types of Sage & Combinations
Although sage is the most common & is very effective for purification, smudge sticks can be made from a variety of different herbs & botanicals. It's a good idea to try different herbs & combinations & discover what works best for you. As well as purchasing ready-made smudge sticks, you can make smudge sticks yourself from dried herbs grown in your garden!
There are 2 types of sage generally available as smudge sticks - Desert Sage (salvia dorrii) & White Sage (salvia apianna). Both are effective, & which one you choose is down to personal preference. Some people find White Sage slightly easier to burn as the leaves are bigger. It also has a slightly sweeter aroma when burned. Loose sage leaves can also be burned, which can be useful when a small object or area needs to be smudged. Sage is also blended with other herbs & botanicals to bring a different energy & dimension to smudging:
Sage & Lavender - adds the peaceful & soothing energy & sweet aroma of lavender.
Sage & Sweetgrass - brings a joyful, uplifting energy.
Sage & Copal - copal has traditionally been burned as an offering & to bring blessings.
Sage & Cedar -an uplifting & a powerful aura cleanser.
Enjoy your smudging & may an abundance of blessings & bright, light energy be yours!
A printed booklet version of this page is available to buy on our "Smudge Sticks" Online Shop page.