Humans evolved with plants, learning to utilize them for food, medicine, and well-being since the beginning of time. Because of the healing abilities of plants, they were considered Wise Spirits in the natural world. Indigenous Tribes of all directions used Sages solo and combined with other plants in ceremony and prayer, to cleanse and purify. No matter the continent, or the culture, plants and resins have been used as sacred offerings for eons.
"Smudging" is the word used to describe the Native First Peoples practice of burning Sage and plants for cleansing, blessing, and offering. It is the ceremonial use of Sacred Smoke from plants and herbs, waved or "washed over" oneself and space, in ritual, gratitude, and prayer. Smudging has been practiced by tribes across the Americas since the dawn of civilization.
Today, "Smudging" offers us an opportunity to create a meaningful ritual using the very same sages used traditionally, to help us clear our spaces and restore balance to ourselves and spaces. With the help of Plant Spirits, we move the cleansing smoke around ourselves with a hand or feather. It is common practice when conducting your own ritual, to also ask for help from your chosen Creator or Spirit Guide.
How does Smudging Work? In Smudging ceremony we set our Intentions to be cleansed; to remove the old energies and air, in and around us so that we can move energetically forward to a better place. Smudging provides a ritual way to set new intentions, to let go, to start fresh. More than just burning incense, Smudging is a serious practice whereby we become aware of ourselves, where our minds are, and what energy we are carrying within and around us. It works by a combination of our setting our intentions on what we want to clear from ourselves and environment, along with special plants and their Sacred Smoke, to carry our intentions forward. Some teach that the Sacred Smoke carries our intentions to where they are heard. Other say that ions are created in the space around us, that removes negative energy.
Is Smudging a Religious Practice? I see Smudging as a way to work with energy. As I was taught, Smudging is a ritual that moves energy, positive &/or negative, around us. Smudging combines well with whatever faith, religion, or spirituality one carries. Many faiths use Plants for ceremony; Christians have used Myrrh, Frankincense, and Benzoin for centuries; Copal has been used by the Mayans and Aztecs; the Inca have used Palo Santo wood, Mua Mua, and other plants. There are so many sacred uses of Plant Spirits among each faith, and each has a long history of traditional uses.
How do I Smudge? I am afraid I'm going to do it wrong. While smudging is an important and meaningful ritual, there is no need to bring worry to your ceremony. I recommend letting go of feelings about doing it wrong or inferiority. Relax and try to feel connected to light and love. I was taught that smudging ceremony requires only an open heart and mind, and a wish, prayer, or strong intention to receive blessings that will cleanse you and your space. Gratitude is the last step of the practice, for the Blessings received.
First~ Smudge Wise and Safely! *Use CARE in burning your herb bundles** Do not leave a burning smudge wand or charcoal unattended. Take extra care around children and pets. When finished burning, run the smudge tip under running water to make sure the burning ember inside is fully extinguished. Hang to dry for your next use. Smoke of any kind is not recommended for pregnant woman.
SMUDGING DIRECTIONS** Open a window first for air flow. Light the bundle tip, blow out flame. Keeping your sage bundle in a heat resistant shell or bowl, begin to fan smoke toward your heart first with hand or feather, and then over the head and all around the body- to cleanse and clear the space around you. (Asking for help from your chosen Creator or Spirit Guides is common practice.) Sage and Cedar are used to bless oneself, your living/working spaces tools, and each other. (Cedar and Juniper scents can be stronger than the sages, so start small and know that "a little goes a long way with many blessings.") Adding your intentions intensifies your offering. Just a few swirls of smoke is often all it takes to cleanse. When finished- extinguish the bundle ember- by passing the bundle tip under running water. Prop up bundle in a bowl to dry, and it will be ready for your next cleansing ritual! Smudge as often as you feel a desire to 'clear the air', start anew, and feel blessings.
My bundles aren't burning. What am I doing wrong? A bundle that does not burn usually means that the bundle is tied either too loosely, or too tight. We tie bundles when they are fresh and hold moisture. When the bundles dry, loosing moisture means the bundle leaves can become loose. Before you burn your herb bundle, check to see that it is tied firmly together (but not too tight!).
The most common time that a bundle will not stay lit, is after being burned once; the string will often come undone, and leaves may loosen up. No Problem! Simply use your own thin string- tie it first around the middle with a knot. Then wrap down to the base, holding firmly, and wrapping all the way back up to the top of the bundle. Tying another knot in the middle is often helpful.
Are Sages Abundant? Sadly, no; growing human populations are causing habitat to shrink for our native plants. Because every continent has its own native sages, helping is easy! Simply find out from your local nursery, what sages are native to your area, and plant them in your garden, yard, and neighborhood. Learn more about planting an Offering Garden of Sages here.
Sages are an ideal plant; they are independent spirits, generally deer and drought resistant, attract bees and hummingbirds, produce beautiful, mostly purple and lavender flowers. Once rooted, sages take very little care or attention. Planting your own sages will help us all keep a sustainable supply. It will also enable you to bundle your own plants that you have nurtured and grown yourself.
How can I help Preserve Native Sages? By planting native sages back into their natural habitat. And by supporting Sacred Land Sage. Each purchase of sages, stones, and supplies from Sacred Land Sage! means we donate 15% of the purchase price toward buying new Sage Plants for our Native Sage RePlanting program. This money is used to buy plants that are planted in native habitat all around northern California's cities and open spaces.
*Thank you for supporting Sacred Land Sage and our wild sage RePlaning Program!