Smudging is a critical first step in any sacred ritual, as well as an important way to complete and seal sacred work. This ancient practice clears low vibrations and stuck energies.
I smudge daily to purify my sacred space before ritual, ceremony, or meditation.
The main purpose of smudging is to cleanse or protect yourself, your objects and/or a place. It can be done before other ceremonies or by itself, in addition to being a spiritual ritual
Smudging your sacred space, your home or office, or even your body with sage is like taking an energetic shower or doing a deep metaphysical cleansing. The smoke from dried sage actually changes the ionic composition of the air and can have a direct effect on reducing our stress response.
The use of incense and other smoke and vapor to connect humans to the spirit world, can be easily traced throughout the East in parts of Asia and even dating as far back to Ancient Greece.
The use of dried white sage however, is a 2,000 year old Indigenous American practice. The shamans used dried sage plants on their fires as a ritual of calling upon ancestral spirits. Any conflict, anger, illness or evil was absorbed by the sage smoke to be released or cleansed from the energy field of a person.
Next, sweet grass would be burned to call forth the energy of peace and love. This ancient shamanic mystical ritual is a simple one to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine, or any time you feel like you might need a little aura polishing. You can never really smudge too much!!!
Burning sacred herbs and resins is perhaps the most time-tested method for energetically (and sometimes physically) cleansing a space. For millennia, our ancestors have believed that sacred smoke raises vibrations and assists with magic. So when we smudge today, we also connect with our lineage in a powerful way.
Incense was, in fact, the first form of perfume! Perfume literally means through the smoke.
Yes, our ancestors also used smudging as the primary way to scent their bodies. Our Egyptian and Roman ancestors “perfumed” the air with the incense they burned. In pre-Christian times, frankincense was the most valued type of incense; it was rare, expensive, and prized. No wonder it was one of three gifts brought by the Wise Men to Christ’s manger; it was a gift fit for a king.
Some ideal (or necessary) times to sage smudge your aura and/or space would be:
Sage: Has the power to drive away negative energies.
Sweet grass: Has the power to call in positive energies.
Tobacco: Has the power to absorb our prayers and carry them to the Creator
Cedar: Has the power to protect us from negative energies.
How to Smudge
I was taught that to begin smudging, you would need a container such as a bowl or shell to burn the plant material in. Some people use an abalone or other seashell. These shells, being a gift from the lakes and oceans, help to call in the element of “Water”from which all life on earth begins and is, water is the direction of the West and the Emotional realm and of Fall. This helps to balance the four elements in the smudging ceremony. Most people use matches to light the fire. A feather or fan is used to fan the flames. “Fire”represents the direction of South and of Summer. The feather is to acknowledge the “Winged Ones” who dwell in the sky and to call in the element of “Air”,the Mental Realm and direction of East and of Spring. The Herbs used in your Smudge represent the element of “Earth”and the direction of the North, and of Winter
I have been taught to perform the smudging ceremony in the following manner, which I will share with you. You are free to use it, or you may choose to learn another method or to create a way that feels right to you. There is no right or wrong way, only basic rules that most people follow.
Place the shell in front of you and thank it, aloud or silently, for the life that created it and for it helping you in this ceremony. Place the smudging material that you will be using in the shell, thanking each plant for providing the ingredient. They have sacrificed so that you could make this sacred smoke. You should express “gratitude” not “guilt” in your prayer for their sacrifice. One day you will give up your body for the other beings of the world.
Next, light the smudge mix. As the flame grows, thank Father Sun, from where all fires originate. Thank the spirit of fire for helping you with this ceremony. Make sure each plant in the shell has caught fire. This way, the resulting smoke will contain all the energies you have chosen to work with. Fan the fire gently with your feather until all the material is burning enough to create sufficient smoke. Then use the feather to put out the flames, with one or two quick passes. If the smudge looks like it is going to go out, fan it vigorously until it is smoking again. If it does go out, it is alright to relight it.
This is where you may choose to clear your Smudge Feather, if you are using one. You can pass the feather to the east, then to the west top and bottom, then to the north and to the south, once again top and bottom of the feather.
Now, using both your hands as a cup, catch some smoke and bring it up to your heart. Catch more smoke and pass it over your head and down your neck. Then using each hand, one at a time, pass the smoke along your opposite arm and hand. Then using both hands, bring more smoke into your navel and down your legs to the ground. This process cleanses our hearts, minds and bodies and helps us to remain grounded. While doing this, we see the smoke carry away our cares and mental & physical injuries. I personally love to also do the bottoms of my feet, as we do much release work from this area, so it’s a great idea to pass the smudge under each foot.
You can now smudge any objects you want, by passing them through the smoke from the four directions, starting with the east. Ask that the object be cleaned for either your use or for a giveaway. If you are smudging with other people, smudge yourself first and as you are “pure” you can then hold the shell by the edges for others to smudge. You can also smudge a house or room that needs cleansing. Go around the room with the burning smudge, and using the feather, you can push any negative energy out through an open door or window.
When you are done, let the ashes cool and return them with respect to the soil. This is the element of “Earth”. New life arises out of the soil, enriched by the nutrients provided by the ashes. As you empty the ashes thank the plants and the fire for their assistance in this ceremony.
As the smoke rises into the air, picture your intention, whatever it may be. If you are clearing negative energy, picture its density and see it lifting away. Healing? Then imagine the smoke cleansing any illness or injury. Whatever it is – envision it floating away on the smoke. You can pray or chant if you feel so called. Use your hands or a smudge fan to guide the smoke over yourself and around your sacred space. We begin facing east, then turn south, west, and north before finally turning east again. After making this ceremonious circle, we douse the burning embers. I love honoring the cardinal directions in my smudge ceremony; it roots me to the Earth.
Many people smudge before any other ceremony, to start the day. For us, this is a very important and real ceremony. Afterwards, we feel better, our energy feels stronger, and the day goes better for us. It is good to smudge our houses on occasion to clear out any negative energy.
The beauty of smudging is that it can be done at any time, as often as you need, no matter your background or culture.
NEVER dump your sage bundle or container into the garbage or a toilet bowl!
If you’re unable to bury/release your ashes back to the Earth, place them into a container for spring or summer. Best practise is to place your ashes to the east until you can return back to earth then place into a garden or flowerbed, or under a tree.
Essential Energy Healing
Cynthia is the Soul Owner of Essential Energy Healing and is a Certified Reiki Master Teacher, Goddess Empowerment Facilitator, a Moon Momma, Wellness Warrior and offers Reiki Classes & Sessions, Goddess Workshops, Space Clearings, Meditations in the Red Deer area