Smudging or the burning of herbs, is a traditional, native American Indian practice which was used for the purification of sacred spaces prior to spiritual ceremonies. Each tribe would have one or more healers or spirit communicators who would perform the smudging ritual to drive out any evil spirits and to keep Gan’n (negative entities) away from areas where ceremonies were held. The smoke produced from the burning of the herbs attaches itself to negative energy and as it clears it takes the negative energy with it.
The most common herb burned in the smudging practice was White Sage (also known as Sacred Sage). Considered to be a herb of wisdom and longevity, the leaves of white sage were also widely used as a cleansing herb to purify the mind and body and were carried in charm bags to ensure personal and spiritual safety.
Today, the burning of this magic little herb is widely used to remove negative energies from places, people or objects. People smudge their homes or work spaces to get rid of any tenacious nasties, or cleanse crystals, their black cats or grumpy significant others of any lingering, negativity. Healers burn white sage to cleanse their healing rooms prior to and where needed in session to rid the client of any negative energy that they have picked up from other people and I can contest that this is amazingly effective.
Making and burning your own Smudge sticks
You can easily buy smudge sticks, but its much more fun to make your own. And its simple to do, you can use:
- Cotton string
- Plants such as sage, rosemary, lavendar
Cut off pieces of the plants in lengths about 15cm long. Cut a length of string about 1.5m long. Put several branches together so that the cut ends are together and the leafy ends are together. Leaving about 5cm of loose string at the bottom, wind it tightly around the stem of the bundle.
Then wind the string up the bundle in a circular pattern until you reach the top. Feed the string back down to the stems creating a criss-cross pattern and capturing all of the stray leaves. The string should be wound firmly so that nothing gets loose, but not so tight that it cuts off pieces of the plants.
When you get back to the stems, tie the remainder of the string to the loose piece you left at the beginning to complete your bundle. Trim off any excess leafy pieces so that the ends of your smudge stick are even.
Hang up the smudge stick for drying. Depending on what type of herb you used, and how humid your weather is, it may take a couple of days to a couple of weeks to totally dry out. When your sticks are dry, you can burn them in ritual for smudging by lighting the leafy end.
How to use your smudge stick
Light a candle and hold the leafy end of the stick over the flame until it is alight. Take the smoking stick around a room or over a person with the intent to remove any negativity. If you are clearing a room you may take a little longer in the corners as this can be where energy accumulates.