"While there is scientific evidence that smoke and heat can sanitize the air and repel bugs, the art of smudging is done as a form of spiritual purification, and should always include the setting of mindful intentions."
What is Smudging?
Traditional smudging involving the burning of sacred herbs or resins and has been practiced for centuries by indigenous cultures. I remember attending Catholic church as a child. Towards the end of mass, the priest would sometimes come around wafting the smoke of burning frankincense resin throughout the room as a way to atone the sins of the congregation. In the same way, many cultures burn different kinds of plants, herbs, and resins in ritual ceremonies to cleanse the energy of the participants. While there is scientific evidence that smoke and heat can sanitize the air and repel bugs, the art of smudging is done as a form of spiritual purification, and should always include the setting of mindful intentions.
What Should I Use?
Any herb or burnable plant that has spiritual value to you can be used. Although white sage, palo santo, and cedar leaves are both common and a few of my personal favorites, there are a few other things to consider when choosing your smudging application. In the US, white sage has become a commodity that has led to over harvesting in unsustainable ways. Consider purchasing pre-bundled sticks from local growers in your own community rather than buying them from stores offering mass-produced bundles. Consider the plants in your area. Just like eating local honey offers the best defenses from local allergens, burning local plants can have a positive effect on our bodies and we naturally have a deeper connection with them on a spiritual level. I grew 2 varieties of sage in our garden this year, white sage and garden sage, and incorporated both into bundles along with home grown botanicals like calendula and lavender, and herbs like thyme and fennel. Not only did these make beautiful bundles (as seen in the cover photo), but they also diversify the scent of the smoke. All those things considered make me happy, which is the ultimate goal of smudging.
Besides leaves and stems, natural resins are also fantastic alternatives to commercial incense for burning. Frankincense, myrrh, and opopanax resin can all be burned using charcoal tabs as a catalyst for the smoke. I like the natural smell better than incense sticks or cones which seem too artificially fragranced for me. If that isn't the case for you, burning incense in any form can also be used as a way to cleanse your space and bring about a more positive experience.
If smoke is too intense or lighting a fire isn't an option, using a smudge spray may be a better way to go. Some people experience headaches or have respiratory issues that make burning plants undesirable. A spray option that has been intentionally created with plant-based oils and natural ingredients is an excellent alternative, and can be used most anywhere, including on the body, clothing, bedsheets, and furniture. Certain essential oils, like lavender, are great at moving stagnant energy around. Many oils have uplifting, calming, and restorative aromatic qualities that can help with restoring energy to a positive state. I created a line of chakra essential oils to help with moving blocked energy through the 7 major chakras in the body. Created with the intention of energy flow in mind, these oil blends make excellent smudging sprays that can help us connect our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual natures for overall wellness.
Things to Consider
Because smoke attaches itself to the negative energy we seek to get rid of, smudging with the windows open not only helps with de-intensifying the smoke so it doesn't get overwhelming, but it also allows the energy an "escape" from the room. Be careful not to inhale too much smoke, as this could lead to respiratory issues. Be considerate of people around you with allergies, asthma, or respiratory illnesses. Move the smudging stick around your body or space with intention, even speaking out loud the purpose for the cleansing. Carry a small heat-proof bowl or shell with you, placing it under the burning bundle to catch any ashes or smoldering plant material. Before you discard your bundle or leave the room, make sure it has ceased burning...safety first!
Want to purchase one of my homegrown white sage or botanical bundles? Click here!
Interested in a smoke-free chakra smudge spray? Click here!
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