Grab your lighter. It’s time to burn some sh*t.
It often seems like the ritual of burning sage, also known as smudging, is only done when negative energy needs banishing. Indeed, that is part of the practice, but keep in mind it can be performed on a regular basis to maintain positive vibes and energy within you and your home.
Smudging has a diverse lineage. For centuries, Native Americans have been burning sage as a cleansing ritual. Ancient Romans and Egyptians also have a strong history of smudging to enhance body and brain health. When it comes to different, unrelated groups of people doing something like this over the course of many years on a consistent basis, one has to think…
were they onto something?
As a young lady, I was very drawn to these types of rituals. Beginning around the age of 16, I began lighting candles, not for fragrance, but for new age practices and casting spells. I would go to the occult shop in town (sadly it is no longer there), Blue Feather, and buy tarot cards, sage, incense, stones with special powers, and Wiccan spellbooks and I’d listen to Enya. Basically, I was Lauren, the Teenage Witch.
Over the years, I have smudged myself, our bedroom, our entire house, our bed, my husband Anthony’s computer, my husband himself, and our cat, Egon. I burn palo santo in yoga class, as it’s a bit more subtle, to clear the space for my students. I’ve helped sage friend’s homes. I even saged my mom while she was on her death bed. Her very religious caregiver thought I was a witch, and I’m okay with that.
I want to encourage you to try smudging as it is truly a beautiful ritual to do for yourself and your home. It’s vibrant, earthy scent fills a space with healing energy and potential health benefits. If for nothing else, your home will smell delightful and clean.
Potential Benefits of Smudging
Burning sage can purify the air.
Sage is thought to have antimicrobial and antibacterial agents and can possibly help clean the air you breathe. This can help keep viruses, bacteria, and pesky bugs away from you and your loved ones.
It can help clear negative energy.
The ritual of burning sage has long been associated with releasing negative energy so it’s no wonder that it can help boost your mood. Learning to find time for yourself while smudging can help induce calm feelings and a more positive mindset.
It can repel insects.
Sage is known as a natural repellent. The next time you’re hanging in your backyard and mosquitoes stop by for a visit, light some sage in a bowl and let it smolder.
It can help aid in sleep, anxiety, and stress.
Sage has been used for many moons by Mexican Traditional Medicine as a way to treat “nervios” – a state of bodily and mental unrest. The terpenes within the plant can help soothe the jitters as well as offer an opportunity to clear and settle your mind.
It’s a natural room fragrance.
Burning sage has a fairly potent scent. It’s both herbaceous and woodsy and can clear out other unsavory scents that may be lingering. It’s also the perfect way to cover the scent of cannabis…
It may help boost cognitive function.
Although more studies need to be done, research from 2016 shows that there may be cognitive-enhancing effects to the plant, Salvia, a.k.a. sage. Ancient Romans used sage for memory-boosting effects many moons ago. And I ask again, could it be that they were on to something?
What you need:
A sage bundle (also available at Whole Foods)
A bowl or sea shell
An open mind and heart
How to smudge:
Set an intention.
This is something I would highly recommend doing right as you light your sage. Call upon your reason for needing to clean and clear your space. It can only help strengthen its healing vibes as well as your mindset.
Sometimes mine is as simple as:
Bad vibes be gone. Good vibes only.
Light your sage.
Using a lighter or candle flame, light the end of your sage bundle. Blow out the flame once the sage starts on fire. It will glow red and smoke. (I’m excited for you to try this the first time!)
Wave the hand holding the bundle over and around the areas of yourself and/or the room you are cleansing. Think again about your intention. If it’s something you’re comfortable doing, say your intention out loud.
Allow yourself to be open-minded and open-hearted to the healing effects of burning sage. I like to keep in mind that this ritual goes back thousands of years and has been practiced by medicine men and women long before me. Thinking of them helps me feel empowered.
Tip: Be sure to open a window–this is both to release the smoke as well as the negative energy you are dispelling from your space and self.
Take a few deep breaths.
As you wrap up your smudge session, close your eyes and take a few deep and intentional breaths in and out through your nose.
Place the smoldering sage in your shell or bowl, place your left hand on your heart and right hand on your belly. Feel your body shift and fill up as you breathe in and out.
This step is very important as it seals the healing you have initiated within yourself and home.
Extinguish your sage bundle safely.
Be sure to place a lit sage underwater once you are done smudging. If you only crush the fire out, it may still smolder and can be a fire hazard.