Smudging, or burning dried herbs, is a ritual that has been around for centuries. It’s not just for hippies either- read on to find out how to smudge and why you should try burning smudge sticks in your house today!
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about smudging, including benefits, what you need for smudging, how to smudge your house and yourself, and more. Soon I’ll also have a post ready for ya on how to make your own smudge sticks with herbs you dry at home!
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Does smudging work?
You know how you can feel the negative energy when you’re in a room with two people who are mad at each other, even if they aren’t obviously angry? You can feel that energy because of your aura.
More and more scientists are beginning to realize that we aren’t just physical. We have electromagnetic properties, which are also called our electric biofield, Chi, or aura. Your aura protects you, supports your immune system, and projects energy. It is what is damaged when you’re exposed to too many EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies).
What smudging supposedly does is it clears the air of bad energy. This isn’t just good for your mood though! Smudging your house and yourself has numerous benefits.
Benefits of smudging
There are studies that suggest numerous benefits to smudging, such as one study that supports the claim that medicinal smoke can eliminate bacteria in the air of confined spaces (source).
The energy cleansing of bad air is also meant to help with air-related symptoms such as asthma, respiratory problems, colds, coughs, and headaches.
This is a great way to clean your house and purify the air you breathe without using toxic cleaners or harsh chemicals.
This happens in part because smudging also clears energy by removing positive ions (which are released during storms, stress, and moments of tension) and replaces them with negative ions. The same thing happens when you ground (or earth) yourself, or touch your skin to bare earth.
Smudging (especially smudging with sage) is also reported to help to improve memory function and boost your mood and awareness. (source)
So although smudging has been a spiritual practice, the smudging ritual also has numerous health benefits! But you won’t know exactly how great smudging is until you try it for yourself at a time when you really need an energy cleansing. So when is that?
When to smudge
There are no bad times smudge your house, but there are plenty of times when smudging is a good idea! Remember how we were talking about how smudging clears negative energy? Well, there are times when your home might have more negative energy than others.
Usually, you can kind of feel when your house needs its energy cleared, but there are a few times that are especially good for smudging.
When you should smudge:
- After an argument
- Moving into a new home
- After a sickness
- After having negative guests over
- When you feel stressed or tense
- Before meditation
But of course, you can smudge whenever you want! Just make sure that you have everything you need, as well as enough time to take it slow- smudging isn’t something to rush!
What you need for smudging
I hope I’ve convinced you that you need to start smudging! Before you learn how to smudge, though, there are a couple of tools you need.
Here’s everything you need to get started with smudging!
There are lots of different types of smudge sticks to choose from, in stores, at farmers markets, and online. There are big ones and small ones, wreaths and bowls. So how do you choose a good smudge stick? There are a couple of guidelines to follow when choosing items for smudging.
First, make sure you’re getting herbs that have been sustainably harvested! This is super important. Sage smudging is a sacred ritual to some groups of people, and we shouldn’t just take all the herbs and plants we want! Be mindful of where your smudge stick is coming from, and make sure that they’re from sustainable companies.
And if you’re making your own smudge sticks, make sure you aren’t getting your herbs from anywhere that has been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides! You don’t want to breath that in while you’re burning your smudge sticks.
You should also know that you can use smudge sticks more than once– so buying a big one can be a good idea because you can use it for a long time.
There are also numerous types of smudging herbs. White sage is the most popular, but it’s also the one you have to be the most careful with to ensure sustainability. Lavender smudge sticks are also a great choice (burning lavender smells lovely), and there are also cedar smudge sticks. Sometimes smudge sticks use a variety of smudging herbs as well.
Where to buy smudge sticks
There are lots of places you can find smudge sticks. To support your local businesses and avoid plastic, you can look for smudge sticks at farmer’s markets or your local co-op.
There are also some good places to buy smudge sticks online.
I like buying smudge sticks from Starwest Botanicals because I trust what they sell. They have large sage smudge sticks, small white smudge sticks, blue sage smudge sticks, and a trio of cedar and white and blue sage smudge sticks.
Other than smudging herbs, there are a couple of accessories you need to start smudging.
The first thing is a good candle- you might need to light your smudge stick a couple of times while smudging, and that could use up a lot of matches! Make sure you get a high-quality beeswax candle with a cotton wick.
Conventional candles are derived from petroleum, they usually include carcinogenic fragrances, and some even have lead in the wicks! You don’t want to be breathing in those toxins while you’re smudging… That would be kind of counterproductive!
You’ll also want a small ceramic plate or something to put your smudge stick on. Traditionally, people have used abalone shells for this, as well as a feather for wafting the smoke. This way, you receive the benefits of each element (water, fire, earth, and air) as you’re smudging. It’s up to you whether you want to do this ritual the traditional way or not.
Other ways to smudge
Finally, if you’re looking for creative ways to smudge your house or yourself and you don’t want to buy a normal smudge stick (you non-conventional smudger, you!) then there are a couple other options as well.
You can buy a smudge wreath that you can use more than once.
Or just buy loose herbs! Sage, lavender, or rose are all good options for smudging herbs. Starwest Botanicals sells whole dried white sage leaves. You can put the dried herbs in a small pottery bowl and burn it in that.
There’s also palo santo. This is a wood stick that you use the same way as a smudge stick, for purifying and energy cleansing. Please note that palo santo is endangered, and you need to make sure you get sustainably harvested palo santo sticks.
There’s palo santo included in the smudging kit I mentioned above as well!
How to smudge your house
On to how to smudge! Now, there is a lot of weird information out there on how to smudge by using hand signs to ward off evil, incantations, and stuff like that. I’m not going to go into that here.
Instead, I’ll give you a couple of general guidelines to best cleanse the energy of your house, as well as some things you can do if you want to make it more of a ritual.
First, make sure you have plenty of time to sage your house slowly. You also want to ensure that there’s adequate air movement by opening windows or doors in your house. This will help guard against any smokey smells.
Start at the front door of your house. Light the end of the smudge stick until there’s a constant stream of smoke. There shouldn’t be a flame on the smudge stick- blow it out if need be.
Then, slowly walk around the edge of each room of your house, going in a clockwise direction. You can either just slowly wave the smudge stick, or use your hand or a feather to gently guide the smoke towards the walls, and pay special attention to the corners of the house. Feel free to spend extra time bringing the smudge stick up and down wherever you want.
You might need to light the smudge stick again a couple of times in each room. If you’re using both hands, you can leave the candle in a central place in each room, and return to it each time you need to re-light.
Once you’re done with each room (including every closet, nook, and cranny) you can leave the smudge stick on the plate until it’s completely extinguished. Feel free to use the same smudge stick again next time, until it’s too short to use any more!
Store your smudge sticks somewhere cool and dry.
So just to recap saging your space, here are the steps for how to smudge your house:
- Open windows
- Take your smudge stick and a lit candle to the front door
- Light your smudge stick until there’s constant smoke
- Walk slowly around the edge of each room in a clockwise direction, wafting smoke towards the walls and corners
- Re-light smudge stick as needed
- After smudging each room, let the smudge stick go out completely before putting it away for next time
That’s it! Pretty easy, right? But maybe you’re wondering what you should be doing while you’re meandering through each room. There are a couple of guidelines for that too- let’s get into smudging affirmations!
Affirmations are something you say, or intentions you set, while you’re smudging.
So what do you say when smudging your house?
There aren’t any hard and fast rules for what to say or think while you’re smudging, but I can give you some tips.
First, as a general guideline, try to think positive thoughts while smudging. It would be counterproductive to smudge while creating negative energy to fill your space right back up with again!
You don’t need to think about that argument you just had, or about what’s wrong with your house, or how messy it is. This is a time for you to clear your mind as well as the energy of the areas around you.
There are also more specific smudging affirmations you can focus on while you’re walking around. When smudging your house, focus on the feelings and blessings you want to experience at home. It can be simple little sayings too. For example, just focus on the thought, “may this place to be filled with peace and joy”, “this is a place of abundance”, or “may positive energy fill this space”.
Personally, I like to pray while I’m walking around the house smudging. You don’t have to say a specific smudging prayer, although you can look up prayers to say when saging your house. I enjoy praying specifically about each room I’m in. For example, when I’m in our dining room I might pray for God’s blessing on guests that come over, and for good conversations and lots of love and joy during shared meals.
Use these smudging affirmations to make your house smudging into something more of a meditative ritual, and enjoy the pleasant feelings that come with it! Below are some more affirmations for when you’re smudging yourself.
How to smudge yourself
Smudging yourself is a good way to cleanse negative energy from yourself. Do it after an argument or sickness, when you’re feeling lousy, or before meditation. Saging yourself is a good way to practice self-care.
Read on for how to smudge yourself!
You can smudge your body immediately before or after smudging your house if you want. I like to do it as a part of meditation.
Some people do it naked, but that’s up to you. =)
To smudge yourself, start by lighting your smudge stick the same way described above. Keep a candle nearby, and, starting at your feet, wave the smoke towards yourself using either your hand or a feather. Another way to do it is to light the smudge stick, place it in a bowl, and stand over it.
Breath deeply while you’re smudging, and work your way from your feet to your head.
Afterward, let your smudge stick extinguish and put it away til next time!
You might want to try some smudging affirmations while smudging yourself as well.
Affirmations for smudging yourself
Just like with smudging your house, there are affirmations you can say or intentions you can set while you’re smudging yourself.
You don’t need to follow any specific pattern or prayers, but here are some ideas for you!
First, you can visualize the smoke carrying off negative energy. Picture it lifting off sadness, sickness, or anxiety. You can also focus on specific affirmations as you move the smoke over different areas of your body.
For example, “may my hands do good work”, or “let my heart be filled with peace”.
Invite wellness into your body and set positive intentions.
Negative effects of smudging
There are very few negative side effects of smudging.
If you happen to be allergic to the herb that you’re using, that might not end up well. Obviously.
And one other part that some people don’t like is the smell… So what does burning sage smell like? Well, it can be an acquired taste. Some people think it smells like marijuana. The good thing is that the smell doesn’t last for long, and as long as you keep air moving with open windows, you should be fine!
Some people also wonder if smudging can make things worse. I can’t think of any situation where that would be true, except for cases of allergic reactions. Most of us could use an energy clearing in our house, and you really can’t smudge too much!
So, there are so few negative aspects of smudging, that I’d say even if there weren’t any benefits to smudging, you should still try it for yourself! You don’t need numerous scientific research articles to find out whether smudging makes you feel better or not. And if it feels good to you, do it!
Is smudging appropriation?
Some people worry that smudging is a sacred practice stolen from Native Americans.
I have a few thoughts on that.
I call it “smudging” rather than smoke cleansing simply because that’s what people know it by, and that’s what they’re searching on the internet. If it makes you uncomfortable using that term, then don’t!
It can also be called “sage burning” but it’s not always sage you’re burning, so that doesn’t work.
And besides, even if we called it something else it can still be disrespectful! That would be like wearing Bantu knots and calling them “little twisty buns” …nope, still appropriation, Karen. So how about smudging?
Is it cultural appropriation to use smudge sticks?
My answer is- it depends on how you do it.
We have to look at the actual practice. When burning sage sticks, are you doing a ritual, looking for your spirit animal, and singing like a Native American chant? Are you trying to copy the spiritual practice (that you probably don’t understand) of another culture? That’s not ok.
But are you simply burning sage to cleanse your house? No one has a monopoly on burning herbs, no matter what label you put on it. That’s fine.
Or are you dressing up in a feathered headdress and holding a big old smudge stick for your Halloween costume? Not ok at all.
The practices of other cultures aren’t something to fear or run from (aka racism), but we can understand and appreciate them. If you’re using customs from other cultures in order to make fun of them or be disrespectful, check yourself.
As for me? I’m thankful that other wise cultures are willing to share wonderful, healthy practices that all of us can now benefit from!
Smudging and Christianity
Some people think that smudging is an occult part of New Age mysticism, where people believe they’re gods and do witchy things. That’s not it at all!
Burning sage is actually a Native American ritual, and wasn’t invented for witchcraft. Even though some people have used smudging in a negative way, by trying to cast a spell of protection over their house instead of trusting God, that doesn’t mean that smudging is a sin.
Now, I couldn’t find any mention of smudge sticks, negative energy, or burning sage in the Bible. But that doesn’t mean those things are sinful- there’s no mention of the keto diet either! And God himself is a being of energy and light, holding everything in the universe together (Colossians 1:17). So it would be silly to think that energy has no power!
It’s my belief that God has given us plants for healing (Revelation 22:2) and he knew what he was doing when he made herbs and other plants.
Let’s look at another example of a healing plant in the Bible!
In Leviticus 14:52, God gives Jewish priests the job of purifying a house after it is defiled by mold. The priests are required to use cedar wood and hyssop. Hyssop and cedar wood were also used to cleanse a person who had been healed from skin diseases. They also used hyssop to mark doorways with blood during the Passover, marking those houses as pure and innocent.
In Psalm 51:7, David’s prayer for forgiveness after sinning, it says, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean, wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Now, this is obviously metaphorical, but the same idea is there.
The Jewish people were just following God’s rules at that time, but now we know that hyssop has strong antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties- God knew what he was doing! Aerial parts of the hyssop plant have also been used to help with minor infections and digestion problems.
What’s more, God gave us brains to learn with, so that we can seek wisdom (Proverbs 4:7) and seek God (Matthew 6:33) and use everything for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). There are a couple of things we can learn from that. If you’re smudging and you realize that you’re starting to rely on the purification from smudging instead of looking to God, that might be a good time to stop using smudge sticks for a while.
If you’re on the fence and you aren’t sure whether it would be a sin for you to smudge or not, I’d encourage you to pray. Seek God and question where your beliefs come from. Are your convictions because of the Holy Spirit or because of internalized misconceptions or guilt? Dig into the Word and science and see what you find!
On the other hand, if you can thank God for the tools and gifts he’s given us (James 1:17), you can gratefully use sage and smudge sticks as much as you want! Don’t elevate creation above the Creator, but appreciate what God has given us for wellbeing in this life. He cares for you!
There ya go! All my thoughts on smudging.
I believe it can be a beneficial, restorative part of a healthy lifestyle. I love using smudging at home to clear out negative energy and refresh my house with good intentions and positive energy.
So do you think you’ll start smudging? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!