Have you heard of smudging before? If not, it’s the name given to the act of burning random bundles of herbs or small pieces of wood. But they are not random. Whether it’s a real estate agent burning a sage bundle in an ‘unpopular’ listing or members of a clergy burning incense before a church service, smudging has been around for thousands of years. It began in ancient cultures as a way to eliminate “bad spirits” or set the space for sacred ceremonies. It’s become very popular in Western cultures and you just may want to add it to your spiritual practice.
Smudging is the burning of bundles of herbs, leaves, or wood such as sage or palo santo. You let the smoke from the bundle circulate the space, changing the energy of your house, spiritual area, or even your body. It can also alter the vibrational level and frequency surrounding you and your space.
Let’s look at what smudging does, some of the benefits you can receive from smudging, and how to perform different cleansing ceremonies.
What Does Smudging Do?
Smudging can be used for a variety of reasons. Traditionally, bundles that included sage were, and are still, used in First Nations ceremonies. They were burned to cleanse people of spirits and before holy rituals. Certain herbs were even smoked for spiritual reasons. Religions from Christianity to Buddhism all burn some kinds of herbs, often in incense, during holy ceremonies.
Smoke blends the elements of air and fire. Also, what you put in your smudging bundle can have its own specific spiritual or medicinal properties. But as the smoke circulates, it helps move the energy around. It can either cleanse or purify.
Cleansing Vs. Purifying
You may have heard these terms and they can often be used interchangeably. But there is a big difference between cleansing and purifying in smudging.
Cleansing is getting rid of stagnant or negative energy. If you have a bad experience or want to clear the energy of a room, smudging the space with white sage, or cedar can get that energy out. Other cleansing herbs include Frankincense and pine.
Purifying is how you set intentions for energy. It’s an invitation for positive energy into your body or space. Burning palo santo, also known as holy wood, yerba santa, or holy herb, can help you begin a ceremony or invite something into your life. Other purification herbs include juniper, lavender, and Myrrh.
The Benefits of Smudging
As a Reiki practitioner, I use smudging before and after I perform Reiki. It helps me balance my energy and also clear out my workspace. Any energetic healing or intense emotional moments can release energy. I don’t want anyone else’s energy in my space or body! I use smudging to protect myself from any energies that do not serve my highest good.
Intense and traumatic moments can affect the energy of the space. It can leave imprints of that energy. Smudging can help release any trapped energy. Smudging can help clear the energy of a new home, the scene of a bad memory, or the room after a fight with a friend.
I also like to use it in combination with my crystals. You can use smudging to cleanse or charge crystals. You can use some herbs like a sage bundle to clean new crystals or cleanse them if they’ve broken, fallen, or been touched by someone with energy you don’t enjoy. You can also use palo santo to help purify the energy of crystals and charge them with positive energy or new intentions.
Smudging can also have real biological benefits. The smoke from burning herbs can be antibacterial and antimicrobial. The smoke literally shifts the particles in the air. Also, the shift in smell can help naturally reset your brain.
Smudging can help improve your mood and expel stress from your body. The focus that you harness from smudging can go a long way with improving your overall mental health.
It can release fear and make you feel more protected.
If you are anxious or depressed, smudging can boost your mood and make you feel more at ease. The intention of smudging is the most important part. And taking this time for yourself to shift your energy can be an important part of self-care.
Need to focus? Try burning a smudge bundle while focusing on where the smoke is going. You can also do this with your eyes closed. As you connect to the smell of the smoke it can help you get back into your body and connect with your intuition.
Cleansing a Physical Space with Smudging
While there are various ways to perform a cleansing ritual, there are a few basic guidelines you can follow to successfully dispel negative energies from your space:
- Light one of the ends of your smudge bundle until it burns for a few seconds. Let the flame extinguish on its own or move it around a bit to help it self-extinguish.
- Softly blow on the lit end of the bundle a few times to increase the burning of the smudge.
- For catching the ashes and to protect yourself and your space from being burned, try using an abalone shell, porcelain bowl, or bowl filled with salt or sand.
- Be sure to have a window or door open to allow the negative energy to release from your space.
- While there is no best direction to smudge in, some people choose to go in a clockwise direction from the front door or entryway of a room paying particular focus to dark or unused corners and outlining all windows and door frames.
- Once finished, be sure to successfully put out your smudge bundle. You can purify and bless your space with palo santo, incense, or any other purification herb. When you do be sure to be clear about what energy you want to invite into your space.
A good tip is to smudge yourself before you smudge others. Like in an airplane, you want to clear your energy so you can more effectively cleanse and purify. Most importantly, smudge with intention! Be clear about what you want out and in your space. You can say a prayer or mantra before you begin. You can even state your purpose for smudging out loud.
There are no “rules” for smudging! Some people and cultures like to smudge their living spaces a few times a year. Others like to do it weekly. There are even some firm believers that like to smudge themselves and their spaces daily as it gives them peace of mind and helps with their healing. Just be sure to honor the plants you are using. That means don’t smudge every 5 minutes.
I hope that smudging can help you better manage the energy in and around you. Check out the Things I Love to see all of the smudging tools and kits that can inspire and heal you.
XO – Serena