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Smudging 101: How to Cleanse Your Space with Sage

Smudging 101: How to Cleanse Your Space with Sage

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In today’s busy world, the notion of purifying our spaces, belongings, and even ourselves from negative vibes seems quite attractive. This brings us to the practice of burning sage, also known as smudging, which holds great significance in numerous Native American cultures.

What is smudging?

Smudging is a ceremonial and spiritual practice that involves the burning of specific herbs or plants to create smoke. It is a ritual that has been practiced by various indigenous cultures around the world for centuries and is often associated with Native American traditions, particularly those of the Plains and Southwest tribes.

Who are the Plains?

The term “Plains” usually refers to the Great Plains, a vast region of North America characterized by flat or gently rolling terrain and a relatively dry climate. The Great Plains cover parts of the United States and Canada and are home to various indigenous peoples, as well as later European settlers.

The primary purpose of smudging is to purify and cleanse the energy of a person, space, or object. It is believed to remove negative energy, clear out stagnant or harmful forces, and promote spiritual or energetic balance. Smudging is often used in rituals, ceremonies, and everyday life for various purposes, including:

  • Cleansing: Smudging can cleanse a person’s energy field, home, or sacred space of negative or unwanted energies, emotions, or entities.
  • Protection: Some people use smudging to create a protective barrier against negative influences or to safeguard against negative spirits.
  • Meditation and Prayer: Smudging can be part of a meditation or prayer ritual, helping individuals achieve a state of focus, clarity, and spiritual connection.
  • Healing: In some traditions, smudging is used in healing ceremonies to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
  • Celebration: Smudging is also used in various celebratory and cultural events to honor traditions and connect with ancestral spirits.

The herbs or plants used for smudging can vary, but some of the most commonly used ones include:

  • White Sage (Salvia apiana): This is one of the most widely recognized and used herbs for smudging. It is believed to have strong purifying properties.
  • Cedar: Cedar is used in many indigenous traditions for its protective and grounding qualities.
  • Sweetgrass: Sweetgrass is often used after smudging with sage to bring in positive energy and blessings.
  • Palo Santo: Palo Santo wood is used in South American and Andean traditions and is known for its sweet and uplifting aroma.
  • Lavender: Lavender can be used for smudging to promote relaxation and peace.

The smudging process typically involves lighting the chosen herb or plant and allowing it to smolder, producing a fragrant smoke. The person or object being smudged is then passed through the smoke, or the smoke is wafted around the space. It’s important to approach smudging with respect and intention, as it is considered a sacred practice in many cultures. Additionally, it’s crucial to use sustainably sourced herbs and plants to ensure the practice is environmentally responsible.

Perform a smudging ritual with a lit white sage bundle for cleansing and fragrance.
Smudging is a ceremonial and spiritual practice that involves the burning of specific herbs or plants to create smoke

Materials you’ll need to smudge respectfully

To smudge respectfully, gather these materials:

  • A container for burning sage
  • Sage or sage spray
  • A fire source (like a long match or candle)
  • A fan (optional but useful for larger spaces like homes or offices)

Giselle Wasfie, a Chinese medicine expert and the founder of REMIX Acupuncture & Integrative Health, emphasizes the sacred nature of burning sage in various communities and the need for respect when practicing it. To avoid cultural appropriation, it’s essential to approach smudging with intention, reverence, and gratitude towards those who practiced it before us.

If you’re new to smudging, there are additional items you may require. Colleen McCann, a shamanic energy practitioner, mentions that traditionally, people use an abalone shell to hold the sage and a feather to fan and disperse the smoke once the sage is lit.

For those who are sensitive to smoke or unable to use it in specific spaces, there are also various smudge mist options available.

Who started smudging
Materials you’ll need to smudge respectfully

What are the benefits of smudging?

Sage belongs to the Salvia plant family, and its name is derived from the Latin word “salvere,” which means “be well or in good health.”

Reshma Patel, CEO, and founder of Ananda Integrative Medicine, emphasizes that beyond its metaphysical uses, research suggests that sage can have positive effects on physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Read more:  Sage burning: Should Christians smudge with sage?

Numerous studies have shown that medicinal smokes like sage possess potent antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. They have the potential to enhance mood, improve cognitive function, act as a natural insect repellent, and even assist in achieving better sleep quality by alleviating insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative and uninterrupted sleep. People with insomnia often have trouble initiating or maintaining sleep, and they may wake up too early in the morning, feeling fatigued and unrefreshed.

Insomnia can lead to daytime drowsiness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and other negative effects on a person’s overall well-being and functioning. It can be a short-term issue related to specific life events or become a chronic condition.

Chronic insomnia typically lasts for at least three nights per week for three months or longer. Various factors, including stress, anxiety, medical conditions, medications, and lifestyle choices, can contribute to the development of insomnia.

Treatment options for insomnia may include lifestyle changes, therapy, and, in some cases, medications prescribed by a healthcare provider.

In the context of traditional Native American culture, the act of burning sage is believed to serve as a means of purifying individuals from negativity while also promoting healing, wisdom, and a long and fulfilling life.

What are the 9 sacred herbs Everything you need to know
Sage belongs to the Salvia plant family, and its name is derived from the Latin word “salvere,” which means “be well or in good health.”


Smudging is known to clear away negativity, support healing, wisdom, and a long life. It can also make a person feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

How to clear negative energy from your house through smudging

To clear negative energy from your house through smudging:

Gather your tools and plan an exit route

Make sure you have the necessary materials mentioned earlier. Also, open a door or window before starting, as this provides a way for the negativity and smoke to exit.

Set your intention & choose a mantra

What is a mantra?

A mantra is a word, phrase, sound, or syllable repeated either silently or aloud during meditation or as part of a spiritual practice. Mantras are used in various cultures and religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, as a means of focusing the mind, achieving a state of concentration, and invoking specific energies or qualities.

The repetition of a mantra is believed to have a calming and transformative effect on the mind and consciousness. It can help individuals enter a meditative state, reduce distractions, and connect with deeper aspects of their inner selves or spiritual beliefs.

Mantras can vary widely in content and purpose, ranging from simple sounds or syllables to longer phrases with specific meanings. Some mantras are associated with particular deities or spiritual principles, while others are more universal in their application.

Before lighting the sage for smudging, it’s essential to set your intention and have a mantra or prayer ready. This helps you focus on what you want to purify or release from your space. Take a moment to think about your specific intention, and then choose a mantra or prayer that expresses it.

You can create your own mantra, or if you need some guidance, you can use one like Giselle Wasfie suggests:

I let go and release what no longer serves me.

This mantra encapsulates the idea of releasing what no longer benefits you and aligning with your intention for purification during the smudging process.

Modern Uses
Set your intention & choose a mantra

Light up

When you’re prepared to begin, hold the sage at a 45-degree angle and use your match or candle to ignite it. Allow it to burn for approximately 20 seconds. After this brief period, softly blow out the flame, leaving you with smoldering embers at one end. As you do this, you should see a plume of smoke rising from the sage.

Take a leisurely walk

Take a leisurely stroll around your space, allowing the smoke to gently spread. Direct the smoke, along with the negative energy, toward the open windows or a door, providing an escape route.

Giselle Wasfie suggests paying particular attention to certain areas, such as those in front of mirrors, corners, foyers, hallways, and doorways.

Additionally, consider smudging electronic devices like phones or laptops by holding the sage wand beneath them and gently waving it around. This can help clear any stagnant or negative energy associated with these items.

Safety first

When it comes to sage burning, always stay attentive! If you notice small embers falling to the ground, promptly extinguish them. Never leave burning sage unattended for any reason. Additionally, be cautious not to inhale excessive amounts of smoke.

Irina Logman, a licensed acupuncturist and certified herbalist, advises against inhaling the smoke directly. She explains:

While smudging is an effective way to clear stagnant or potentially negative energy from your home or office, it’s best to avoid inhaling the smoke directly. Our lungs are delicate, and any type of smoke can be drying and irritating to the respiratory tract.

Extinguish the Sage

When it’s time to put out your sage smudge stick, press the burning end down firmly into a fireproof container, dirt, or sand until the smoke stops rising.

Read more:  A comprehensive guide to choosing the perfect smudge sticks for your home

A helpful tip:

Avoid using water to extinguish the hot embers, as it can damage the tip of the stick and make it more challenging to light in the future. Instead, store the smudge stick in a container until you’re ready to use it again, as suggested by McCann.

When it comes to sage burning, always stay attentive!
When it comes to sage burning, always stay attentive!

How to smudge yourself

Here’s how to smudge yourself:

  • Stand in a T-shape position with your legs slightly apart, similar to how you would in an airport TSA line.

What is TSA? 

TSA stands for the Transportation Security Administration, which is a U.S. government agency responsible for overseeing security in transportation systems, particularly in aviation. The TSA was created in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States and is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The primary mission of the TSA is to ensure the security of travelers and transportation systems within the United States. TSA agents are responsible for conducting security screenings at airports, including checking passengers and their belongings for prohibited items and potential security threats. They use various screening technologies, such as X-ray machines and body scanners, to accomplish this task.

TSA also sets security standards for airlines and airports, provides training for security personnel, and continuously assesses and enhances security measures to adapt to evolving threats.

  • Hold the sage stick at arm’s length from your body. Begin at your feet and move the sage stick upwards.
  • While you do this, repeat your chosen mantra either silently in your mind or aloud. Imagine the smoke is cleansing you, removing any lingering negativity as you go.

Before smudging yourself, it’s a good idea to assess which areas might benefit most from the cleansing. For instance, if you frequently shake hands, focus on smudging your hands. If your work involves a lot of talking, pay special attention to smudging around your throat.

As a precaution, avoid inhaling large quantities of smoke, and make sure the sage is held at a safe distance from your body. If you have long hair, it’s advisable to tie it back in a bun. And remember, once you’ve completed the smudging ritual, be sure to extinguish the sage safely.

How to smudge yourself
How to smudge yourself

How often should I smudge?

There are no strict rules regarding how often you should smudge. The frequency of smudging can vary based on personal preference, the specific circumstances, and your intuition. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Intuition: Trust your intuition. If you feel a sense of heaviness, negativity, or discomfort in your space or within yourself, it may be a sign that smudging is needed.
  • Events: Smudging can be beneficial during significant life events or changes, such as moving into a new home, starting a new job, or after a period of stress or conflict.
  • Regular Cleansing: Some people choose to smudge their space and themselves regularly, such as once a week or once a month, as a preventive measure to maintain positive energy and clarity.
  • Seasons: Seasonal changes can also be a good time for smudging to refresh and reset the energy in your environment.
  • Special Occasions: Smudging can be incorporated into special occasions, rituals, or ceremonies, such as during meditation, yoga practice, or spiritual gatherings.

Ultimately, the decision on how often to smudge is a personal one. Pay attention to your feelings, the energy in your space, and use smudging as a tool to promote positive energy, clarity, and well-being in your life.

Enhancing Your Holistic Health and Well-Being
There are no strict rules regarding how often you should smudge

Where to find sage for smudging

As the popularity of smudging grows, it’s crucial to choose sage providers who harvest the plant sustainably and respectfully, as overharvesting can be a concern.

Carmen Pasqualini recommends doing some research on how the sage you intend to use is handled and prepared.

“When using it for your energy-clearing ritual, it’s important that your smudge stick is crafted with care and thoughtfulness,” she advises.

While white sage is the most common type used in smudge sticks due to its association with purity, you can also explore alternatives like juniper, rosemary, or cedar if white sage doesn’t resonate with you. SageSmudgeStore is an excellent place to purchase high-quality sage.

 What is white sage?

White sage, scientifically known as Salvia apiana, is a sacred herb native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is a prominent plant in the traditional practices of several Indigenous American cultures, particularly among Native American tribes.

White sage is characterized by its silvery-white leaves and a distinct, pleasant aroma when burned. It is commonly used in smudging rituals, where dried white sage leaves are bundled together to create smudge sticks. These smudge sticks are then ignited, and the aromatic smoke is wafted throughout a space to purify and cleanse it of negative energy, impurities, and unwanted influences.

What is juniper?

Juniper is a type of evergreen shrub or small tree that belongs to the genus Juniperus within the cypress family, Cupressaceae. There are over 60 species of juniper, and they are distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Juniper plants are known for their distinctive needle-like leaves and berry-like cones, which are often referred to as juniper berries. These berries are used in various culinary and medicinal applications, including flavoring certain alcoholic beverages, such as gin, and providing health benefits in traditional herbal medicine.

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Read more:  Top 6 must-try sage varieties for smudging

Why Choose SageSmudgeStore?

  • 🌟 Premium Selection: SageSmudgeStore boasts a carefully curated collection of premium sage bundles, ensuring you receive the best for your cleansing rituals.
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  • 🎨 Variety of Options: Whether you’re looking for classic sage, unique blends, or alternative smudging options, SageSmudgeStore offers a variety that suits every preference.

Elevate Your Smudging Ritual – Visit SageSmudgeStore Today

Ready to take your smudging practice to the next level? Explore SageSmudgeStore’s online selection and discover the perfect sage bundles for your cleansing needs. It’s time to infuse your space with positivity and harmony.

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Wrap it up

Burning sage is a potent ritual with deep roots in Indigenous traditions, where it’s been employed for countless generations to dispel negative energy. If you plan to use sage for smudging in your home, office, or apartment, it’s essential to do so safely and with utmost respect for the sacred origins of this practice.


1. What is smudging, and where does it originate?

  • Answer: Smudging is a ritualistic practice of burning sacred herbs, such as sage, to cleanse and purify spaces, objects, or individuals. It has its origins in Indigenous cultures, particularly Native American traditions.

2. How does smudging work?

  • Answer: Smudging works by burning dried herbs and allowing the smoke to disperse throughout a space. The smoke is believed to carry away negative energy and impurities.

3. What materials do I need for smudging?

  • Answer: To smudge, you typically need sage (or other herbs), a fire source, a vessel for burning, and optionally, a fan for spreading the smoke.

4. How do I smudge my home or space effectively?

  • Answer: Start by setting an intention, light the sage, and walk through your space, directing the smoke into all areas, paying attention to corners, doorways, and mirrors. Open a window or door to let negative energy escape.

5. Can I smudge myself?

  • Answer: Yes, you can smudge yourself. Hold the burning sage away from your body, walk through the smoke, and visualize it cleansing you of negativity.

6. How often should I smudge my space or myself?

  • Answer: There are no strict rules. Smudge as needed, usually when you feel a buildup of negative energy or stress.

7. Are there alternative herbs for smudging if I don’t have sage?

  • Answer: Yes, herbs like juniper, rosemary, and cedar can be used for smudging if sage isn’t available or preferred.

8. Is it necessary to use a specific mantra during smudging?

  • Answer: No, it’s not necessary, but some people choose to use a mantra or prayer to reinforce their intention during smudging.

9. How can I ensure I’m using sage sustainably and respectfully?

  • Answer: Research where your sage comes from and consider buying from Native American-owned shops, as they often harvest and prepare sage with reverence.

10. Is smudging safe for everyone?Answer: While smudging is generally safe, those with respiratory conditions or sensitivities to smoke should use caution or explore alternative energy-clearing methods, such as smudge mists or incense.

Author Linh Vu
Linh Vu

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