Article by Angie Webster
Smudging is an ancient technique used by many cultures to purify and bless the energy of people and their spaces. In the West, it is most often associated with the many Native America tribes, but many cultures around the world have the custom of burning herbs or incense for these same purposes. Many places of worship use some variation of this before or during their rituals or services.
Typically, sage is the herb that is used for smudging. There are many varieties of sage and any can be used, though white sage is the most common. Sage smoke is very effective for clearing and removing negative energy. Cedar or sweetgrass or other herbs, such as lavender can also be used to smudge, although these herbs are generally better used to infuse positive energy and are not as effective as sage at removing negative energy. They can be useful to burn after smudging with sage, or can be bundled into a smudge wand along with sage to be burned at the same time.
Smudging is an excellent practice to do regularly for yourself and in your home as basic energetic hygiene. It is very useful to do after you have guests in order to clear the home of the energy of those that do not live there and any issues they may have brought in with them. It is also good to do during and after an illness or an argument to cleanse the home of the negative energy around these issues. If you move, smudging is a very useful way to clear your new home of the energy of the former residents, leaving a clean slate for you and your family.
If you want to smudge yourself or your home, you can buy a smudge stick, which is dried sage leaves bundled together, or you can simply buy loose sage leaves. Have a ceramic or clay bowl nearby before you start. This is to lay the smudge stick in after you light it and can also be used to safely extinguish it after you are finished.
I put a layer of sea salt in the bottom of my clay bowl. It serves as an addition aid in purification and I know that it won’t burn, and I can extinguish the sage in it safely without getting the entire stick wet. I usually use loose sage leaves, laying two or three directly on top of the bed of sea salt in my clay bowl. Sage leaves can be left to burn out on their own but it’s best to put a wand out when you’re done. Put it out by snuffing it in the salt bed in your bowl, rubbing it out, or wetting it.
Open a window in each room, at least a crack before you start. This encourages the smoke to leave the house, carrying any negative energy with it. Besides, you don’t want a heavy build up of smoke in your house! Set your intention to cleanse your space and call upon your guides. Call upon north, south, east, west, above, below and within.
Then you can light the end of you smudge stick (the leafy end, not the stemmy, woody end) or the few sage leaves in your clay bowl. Once they are burning well, gently blow the fire out. If you are using a smudge stick, lay it down in the bowl. Rub your hands together in the smoke, just as you would if you were washing them, allowing the smoke to wash the energy of your hands. Then use your hands to direct and “pour” the smoke over your head, directing it across the top of your head, your eyes, ears, mouth and throat. Intend that the smoke clear you so that you can think, see, hear and speak, clearly and peacefully, with love. Continue using your hands to direct smoke to your heart, solar plexus and lower belly. Then carefully pick up the bowl and run the smoke under each of your feet. You will quickly feel the shift in your energy, feeling lighter and more peaceful.
You can smudge another person by directing the smoke toward their body, using your hand or a feather. Start at their feet and work your way up, focusing on the chakra areas and hands and any areas of density you observe or sense in the aura.
To smudge your home, after smudging yourself, start at the front entrance of the main room of the home and move around the home in a counterclockwise direction (work to your left) Direct the smoke or let the smoke pass into all areas, especially around the perimeter and in corners. To be very thorough, open cabinets and closets and allow the smoke to waft into them as well. When you have completed the smudge and come back to the front entrance, take any ashes you have outside and place them on the earth to discard them.
If you like, you can burn a candle (beeswax candles are great!) or a sprig of lavender to seal in positive energy after cleansing your home through smudging.
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Angie Webster is a Reiki Master, Teacher, and Author. Angie’s primary focus is animal Reiki, which she adores. She teaches online classes on energy healing, flower essences, herbalism, and personal growth. Angie often works with nature healing and Earth healing, hoping to better understand our connection with Mother Earth. Angie is the author of Animal Reiki: How it Heals, Teaches & Reconnects Us with Nature and Reiki from A to Z. You can follow her at: angie-webster-healing.teachable.com and on Facebook (facebook.com/angiewebsterhealing).