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Sage Burning Should Christians Smudge with Sage

Sage burning: Should Christians smudge with sage?

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Explore the spiritual significance of sage burning, or smudging, and consider whether Christians should engage in this ancient practice.

Sage: A Botanical Overview and Biblical Perspectives

What is Sage?

Sage, scientifically named Salvia Apiana, is an evergreen perennial shrub with gray leaves and pale lavender flowers. Belonging to the mint family, it thrives in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, and its uses extend beyond ornamental purposes to include medicinal applications.

While the direct mention of Sage is absent in the Bible, it is often associated with incense used for fragrance and offerings to the Lord. This connection is exemplified in Psalm 141:2 of the Holy Bible, which states:

“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

(Psalms 141:2 New International Version – NIV)”

Sage Burning Should Christians Smudge with Sage
Sage, scientifically named Salvia Apiana

What is Bible? 

The Bible is a sacred collection of religious texts, revered by Jews and Christians. It is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament contains writings central to Judaism, while the New Testament focuses on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, forming the foundation of Christianity. The Bible is considered the inspired word of God and serves as a guide for faith and spiritual understanding. It has had a profound influence on cultures and societies worldwide.

Beyond its spiritual significance, Sage also boasts potential health benefits when consumed in various forms, such as liquid, lozenge, or capsule. These purported benefits include reducing inflammation, alleviating headaches and sore throats, providing protection against infections, and serving as a dietary supplement, among others.

While Sage has been utilized as an age-old medicinal ingredient by indigenous communities, its efficacy in traditional medicine necessitates scientific validation and thorough study. The herb is reputed for its phenolic compounds, which function as antioxidants, effectively combating free radicals within the body.

The Bible is a sacred collection of religious texts, revered by Jews and Christians
The Bible is a sacred collection of religious texts, revered by Jews and Christians

Why Do People Burn Sage?

The ancient practice of burning sage, dating back to biblical times, holds profound spiritual significance for many. Its fragrant medicinal smoke is believed to bring about spiritual cleansing, invigorating and pleasing the senses.

What is burning sage? 

Burning sage, also known as smudging, is a traditional practice that involves igniting dried sage leaves and allowing the fragrant smoke to purify and cleanse a space, object, or person. This ancient ritual has been practiced for centuries by various cultures, including Native American and indigenous communities. The act of burning sage is believed to clear negative energy, promote spiritual cleansing, and create a sense of renewal and positivity. It is often used in ceremonies, rituals, and spiritual practices to invite positive energies and connect with the natural world.

Throughout history, burning sage was employed as an offering to please the Lord, serving as a means of spiritual purification and healing.

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North American Indians practiced smudging, a ritual involving medicinal smoke, to cleanse and heal, driven by their belief that it dispelled negative energy and restored balance. This tradition persists to this day.

While some Christian religions, including the Catholic Church, still use incense in ceremonies, the practice has dwindled in the western church due to associations with paganism. Modern science has largely debunked the notion of sickness stemming from evil spirits, attributing it to germs or bad bacteria.

Burning sage, also known as smudging
Burning sage, also known as smudging

What is a Christian?

A Christian is a person who follows the religion of Christianity, which is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of humanity, and they seek to follow his teachings and example in their lives.

As a result, burning incense has waned as a spiritual practice among Christian denominations, though some continue it for recreational purposes.

Interestingly, scientific studies indicate that white sage contains receptor activating compounds that elevate mood, reduce stress, and even alleviate pain, providing a potential scientific basis for its beneficial effects.

What is White Sage?

White sage (Salvia apiana) is a species of sage native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family and is highly valued for its aromatic properties and traditional uses in various indigenous cultures.

White sage (Salvia apiana)
White sage (Salvia apiana)

Is Burning Sage Witchcraft?

While some may practice smudging for health reasons, the New Age movement ascribes additional spiritual significance to burning sage, using it as a means to cleanse the body of negative energy or “bad vibes.”

What is the New Age?

The New Age is a term used to describe a broad and diverse spiritual and philosophical movement that emerged in the late 20th century. It encompasses a wide range of beliefs, practices, and ideas that often focus on personal growth, spirituality, and self-improvement.

Within these rituals, individuals may “bless” parts of their bodies, like the eyes and ears, in an attempt to open themselves up to the spirit world. According to New Age ideology, the smoke from sage drives out evil spirits and purportedly purges past events from one’s life.

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The central belief of the New Age movement revolves around the idea that humans are divine beings, akin to gods themselves, separate from the Creator. This belief suggests that individuals can control their own destinies without being bound by the natural laws and principles set forth by God.

However, such beliefs contradict the teachings of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Christian worldview, particularly the concept of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ, often referred to simply as Jesus, is a central figure in Christianity and is considered the Son of God and the Savior of humanity. He is believed to be both fully divine and fully human, a concept known as the “Incarnation.”

To Christian believers, any notion of authority and power beyond God Almighty as a higher being is considered a deception of the devil. Consequently, using burning sage for spiritual rituals is viewed as sorcery.

cleanses "bad vibes"
Burning sage cleanses “bad vibes”

Can a Christian Use Sage for Cleansing and Healing?

Using smudging or burning sage for enlightenment and spiritual cleansing is not a necessary practice for Christians. In fact, it is considered an abomination according to the Bible, as stated in Psalm 89:11:

“The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.”

(Psalm 89:11 New International Version – NIV)

What is Psalm?

A Psalm, also known as a Psalm of David, is a poetic and lyrical piece of religious literature found in the Book of Psalms, which is a book in the Old Testament of the Bible. The Book of Psalms contains a collection of 150 individual psalms or songs, traditionally attributed to King David of Israel, along with other authors.

This verse emphasizes that the Lord is the sole owner and creator of the universe, with no other deities sharing His space.

However, there is nothing inherently wrong with burning herbs for their invigorating and pleasant aroma, as long as it is done solely for physical rejuvenation and relaxation. The Bible even mentions instances of burning herbs and incense as expensive gifts and offerings.

Moreover, there is no indication in the Bible that God dislikes herbs and spices. In fact, frankincense was among the precious gifts presented by the three wise men when they visited the infant Jesus in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:11 “…and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

What is Frankincense?

Frankincense is a fragrant resin obtained from the Boswellia trees, which are native to regions of the Middle East, North Africa, and India. The word “frankincense” comes from the Old French term “franc encens,” which means “high-quality incense.”

Can a Christian Use for Cleansing and Healing?
Can a Christian Use Sage for Cleansing and Healing?

Valuable Advice About Smudging for Christians Seeking Spiritual Enlightenment

If you are a Christian on a journey to seek spiritual enlightenment, you may have encountered the practice of smudging, which involves the burning of sacred herbs like sage for cleansing and spiritual purification. As a Christian, exploring various spiritual practices can be enriching, but it is essential to approach them with discernment and consideration. Here is some valuable advice to keep in mind as you navigate the concept of smudging:

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Aligning with Christian Values

  • As a Christian seeking spiritual growth, it is crucial to evaluate how different practices, including smudging, align with your faith and Christian values. Take time to understand the biblical teachings and consult with spiritual mentors or church leaders to gain insights into the compatibility of such practices with your beliefs.

Prayer and Discernment

  • Before engaging in any spiritual practice, including smudging, spend time in prayer and discernment. Seek God’s guidance and wisdom to understand if a particular ritual enhances your spiritual connection or if it might lead to conflicts with your Christian faith.

Focus on the Heart of Worship

  • In Christianity, the heart of worship lies in developing a personal relationship with God and following His teachings. While smudging may have cultural and spiritual significance in other traditions, Christians are encouraged to center their worship on prayer, meditation on God’s word, and acts of love and compassion.
Valuable Advice About Smudging
Valuable Advice About Smudging

Exploring Christian Traditions

  • Christianity offers a rich tapestry of spiritual practices and traditions that can deepen your connection with God. Explore the rich history of Christian mysticism, contemplative prayer, and other spiritual disciplines that have been embraced by believers throughout the ages.

Embrace Symbolism and Meaning

  • Christianity itself has symbolic rituals and practices that hold deep spiritual meaning. Consider participating in sacraments like baptism or communion, which are central to the Christian faith and carry significant spiritual symbolism.

Seek Community and Fellowship

  • As you seek spiritual enlightenment, be an active member of your Christian community. Engage in discussions, attend worship services, and connect with fellow believers who can offer support and insights in your spiritual journey.

Gracious Understanding

  • While smudging may not align with Christian beliefs for some, be gracious and understanding towards those who practice it. Respect the diversity of spiritual paths and foster an environment of love and respect, even in the midst of differing perspectives.
Author Linh Vu
Linh Vu

“Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks.” ~ Charlemagne.