By Emily Valentine | Style Me Tactical
When I posted to social media that I had saged/smudged the house I was surprised by the response. It was interesting to learn that so many of you actually perform this cleansing ritual too. On the other hand, I wasn’t surprised at how many didn’t know what the heck it was and the reaction to the photo of the sage stick was, “Is that a huge joint? “ LOL
As I went through answering questions about it, it occurred to me that a post about smudging might be in order. I first learned about smudging around five years ago. The yoga studio I used to go to would smudge the room at the start of each practice to help clear any negative energy. I don’t know about you but I’m all about bringing in the positive vibes any way that I can.
What in the World is Smudging/Saging?
It’s process of cleansing and purifying a space or person to remove any negative energy using certain herbs known as a smudge stick. Some may think of this is as stuff prescribed by some witch doctor but it’s actual an ancient practice originally started by Native Americans. The smoke from the smudge stick is said to be highly cleansing and that the negative energy clings to the smoke. As the smoke clears so does the negative energy.
I’ve been smudging our home yearly since I learned about it. I’ve always been intrigued and welcomed alternative healing and medicine so the thought of clearing our home of negative energy is right up my alley.
When to Smudge?
It really depends, but “experts,” say four times a year with the change of season or during certain moon cycles. But for the most part, it tends to be event based.
- Before you move into a new home
- At the start of a new year
- After a personally emotional experience; loss, break-up, etc.
- Before starting a new chapter in life; job, relationship, personal endeavor
You can really smudge your space and yourself whenever you feel the need to rid any negative energy. A lot of people do it daily as part of their meditation or prayer practice. Personally, I smudge the house at the start of the new year; while I’m not big on resolutions I like the ritual of cleansing the previous year’s energy out to make room for what the upcoming year has to offer. I see it as a way to welcome in positive energy into my home and life.
What Supplies are Needed to Smudge?
The great thing about smudging is that you don’t need a lot of supplies. You really only need one thing and that’s a smudge stick. Depending on your level of devotion to this type of ritual you go can go all out. There are plenty of sites that will tell you how to set up an alter and all that stuff to really turn this cleansing practice into a sacred experience. Personally, I keep it pretty simple but the key components of a smudge kit should consist four items, each representing four elements: earth (smudge stick), fire (lit smudge stick), water (abalone shell dish), and air (smoke).
- Smudge Stick: This is the bundle of dried herbs used to perform the smudging. The most common herbs used in smudge sticks are made of white sage. You can find smudge sticks from online, Whole Foods, health food stores, some yoga studios, and more.
- Bowl or Dish: Something that is heat-proof so you can set the smudge stick in while it’s lit and to catch any embers that fall. A lot of people like to use a dish made of abalone shell to represent the water element.
- Matches/Lighter: Used to light the sage and/or candle. I also slip the matches in my back pocket because I often have to relight my smudge stick during the process.
- Optional – Feather : A feather is used to spread the smoke from the smudge stick into the air. Using your hand will do just as well.
- Optional – Sand: To put the burning smudge stick out; alternatively, you can just use the bowl itself.
- Optional – Candle: While you can just use a lighter or matches to light your smudge stick, a candle helps in two ways. One, you don’t have to hold the match/lighter and the smudge stick at the same time. You can light the candle and have it sit on your table while getting your smudge stick lit. Second, you can use the candle to represent the start of the ritual and once you light the candle (before lighting your smudge stick) you can verbally or mentally set your intention or prayer before you start.
The great thing about smudging is that there really is no set time limit; which means if this is something you are new to you don’t have to worry about devoting an entire day to it. It takes me about 30 min from start to finish to smudge my home. But I also live in a small condo.
Personally, I like to smudge the house after it has been clean and I don’t have a lot of clutter around. Smudging is all about clearing negative energy and if my house isn’t straightened and cleaned I feel like it kind of defeats the purpose. I turn all my electronic devices off so there are not interruptions and open all the closets, bathroom, and bedroom doors for ease of moving through the house during the practice.
If you are using a candle, light the candle and set your intention. Proceed to light the thicker end of the smudge stick, rotating it as needed to allow it to catch fire and then let it burn for several seconds. Once the flame extinguishes gently blow on the lit end to start burning the embers; the smudge stick will start to smoke. Place the smudge stick in the bowl.
Using both of your hands you can waft the smoke or wave the smudge stick over your head and down the front/back of your body to cleanse yourself. You want to ensure that you are cleansed before you move onto cleanse your house or others. After you have smudged yourself you can move onto smudging your space. Depending on the style of house you live in, you will want to start at the lowest floor, moving room-to-room, and then work your way up to the top floor. Within each room, you will want to start at the corners of each room working your way towards the center and the rest of the room. The last part of the room you want to sage is the door frame, on your way out, as you leave to sage another room.
As you are in each room, starting in the corners where the ceiling meets the walls, gently wave the smudge stick around (being mindful of the burning embers) so the smoke can rise into the air. Using your hand or feather, waft the smoke into all the corners, working your way through the rest of the room. You can use the feather (or hand) to guide the smoke in the direction you want to go.
Focus on your intention, prayer, or mantra, as you pass the smoke through the spaces you are clearing. As the smoke dissipates, envision the negative energy clearing with the smoke.
Once you have finished smudging, go back to your candle and give gratitude to yourself, house, and smudge stick for healing energy it just provided. Extinguish your smudge stick by stamping it out in the bowl and blow out your candle.
I like to think of smudging as a ceremonial practice. My first time saging wasn’t pretty but I’ve gotten better each year and have come to really appreciate that time.
So I want to know…do you currently practice smudging and how often? And if you haven’t, are you inclined to try it out?