Burning sage (and other herbs)— also known as smudging — is an ancient spiritual ritual. The practice of burning sage is sacred in many Indigenous communities and deserves to be respected. It’s something we should always do with intention, reverence, and deep gratitude to those who did it before us.
** I will be using sage throughout duration of post as sage is one of the most common and well known smudging tools. However, there are many different herbs that can be smudging tools and they all have different properties*
Smudging has long been used to connect to the spiritual realm or enhance intuition.
For healers and light workers in traditional cultures, burning sage is used to achieve a healing state — or to solve or reflect upon spiritual dilemmas. Smudging is also used as a ritual tool to rid yourself — or your sacred space — of negativity. This includes past traumas, bad experiences, or negative energies from others. As you learn more about different types of sage, you will also learn that each type hones in on a different spiritual practice.
But let’s discuss how to properly burn sage so that you aren’t just burning and waving it around your house with no understanding of why you’re doing so!
Before You Smudge
Before burning sage, please open your windows. If we are burning sage to rid our sacred space of negative energy, how will the negative energy remove itself? Don’t trap the smoke ⎯ release it.
Next up; before lighting your sage, be sure to set intentions. As being intentional is one of the core parts of smudging it is important to think about what your purpose is for participating in a smudging ritual.
Some things to think about before beginning your practice:
- What is the purpose of your smudging ritual?
- What are you hoping to gain?
- To understand?
- To release?
Think of a mantra that best fits what your intention is. You can let the words come to you as you begin to light the sage but it’s nice to have the thought formulating beforehand.
Here are some tried and true mantras that may help you if you are new to the practice:
- I let go and release what do longer serves me
- I accept abundance into my life
- My vision and purpose are clear
Now, Let’s Smudge
These steps apply whether you’re smudging yourself, your sacred space, or a divine item.
- Hold your sage downward at a 45 degree angle.
- Light the end of the sage bundle with a match, lighter or using the flame from a previously (and intentionally) lit candle.
- Wait about 20-30 seconds for the tip of your bundle to fully burn. Gently blow out the flame.
- As the tips of the leaves begin to smolder slowly, the sage should now have orange embers on the end and should be releasing a beautiful, fragrant, thick smoke. Direct this smoke around your body and space with one hand (or a feather) while holding the bundle in the other.
- Allow the incense to linger on the areas of your body or surroundings you’d like to focus on. You may also use a fan or feather to help direct the smoke.
- Allow the ash to collect in a ceramic or wooden bowl, shell or cauldron.
A Few Extra Tips When Smudging
When Smudging Yourself
- Be sure to smudge your hands, your crown (head), your feet, your third eye, throat, heart, abdomen etc.
- Work slowly – there’s no need to rush the process
When Smudging A Sacred Space (i.e your home)
- Give special attention to areas that may be frequented by guests
- your hallways, the bathroom, the kitchen
- Sage the entrance to your home, any mirrors etc.
When Smudging An Object (i.e jewelry, an oracle deck etc)
- Hold your object over the sacred smoke so that the smoke can completely cover the object.
When Your Done
Press the burning tip of the sage firmly into your fireproof vessel, dirt, or sand until the smoke no longer rises. If you are able, try not to out the sage by wetting it. Doing so will ruin the tip of the stick and make it harder to light next time.
Last but certainly not least, remember to hold space for gratitude.
As you lit your sage with intention, so should it be put out with intentional gratitude.
You might say something like:
- Thank you for cleansing this sacred space.
- Thank you for any insights that I may now be able to receive.
or a simple “Thank You” will suffice.
Now that you know the basics, enjoy your smudging ritual!