You may already be familiar with or have been curious about the practice of saging your space. But what is it exactly, and how does it fit into wellness and self-care? While it has become popular, it’s an ancient ritual that requires some consideration beforehand. Below, we’ll unpack this different kind of cleansing self-care method so you can see if it’s right for you.
What Is Smudging, and What Are Its Benefits?
The ritual of sage burning, also known as smudging, is an ancient practice of ceremonial burning of the herb for its medicinal and therapeutic properties to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
It is a sacred act to many Native American communities and cultures. Although not always with sage, smudging has also been an ancient custom throughout Africa, Latin America, and Asia. In traditional Indigenous culture, burning white sage is associated with purity and thought to be spiritually and energetically purifying. It will purify negativity (aka bad vibes) from the environment and dispel unwanted energy. It can also be used to cleanse people of the same negativity and promote healing, clarity, and mindfulness.
There is scientific veracity to the potential physical benefit and its cleansing effect on the air. Studies on sage smoke have shown it to have antibacterial properties, which can help cleanse the air of bacteria and airborne pathogens.
How to Ethically Burn Sage and Clear Negative Energy
Because the ritual of burning sage is sacred in many communities, it deserves our utmost respect when practiced. It should always be done with intention and gratitude.
One way to do so respectfully is by using only ethically sourced sage that will minimize the impact on the natural environment and by purchasing sage from native shops or sellers. This is the best way to directly support those communities where smudging originated and to receive a sage bundle prepared with care.
Gather Your Tools and Open a Window
All you’ll need is a few items on hand, and you’ll be ready to get started. The basics are:
♦ A sage bundle
♦ A holding vessel like a ceramic or glass bowl to hold burning sage or capture ash. An abalone seashell is often used in some cultures and is a recommended option.
♦ An optional fan tool for fanning smoke in a large area
Set Your Intentions and Mantra
First, make sure all your windows are open. It’s ideal to have good airflow when smudging. This is an essential part of your ritual, as the smoke should be directed out the window, taking the negativity with it. To effectively cleanse your space of negativity, it needs a pathway out as it drifts away with the smoke.
Before beginning the burning, if you are spiritually cleansing, now is the time for setting your intentions, which are key. Take a moment before you light the sage to focus on what you want to purify from your space. You can utter a mantra internally or out loud to enhance or amplify this intention with something simple like, “I’m letting go and releasing this.” Some find this aspect very healing, reflective and grounding.
Light Your Sage and Walk Around Your Space
Hold your bundle horizontally, light the ends thoroughly for at least 10 seconds, and then cautiously and gently blow it out. You should see illuminated embers and billowing smoke. Begin to walk around your space, wafting the bundle in your hand while holding your ash vessel.
Be sure to thoroughly waft in every nook and get corners, doorways, etc. All the while, you should be guiding the wafting smoke toward the open windows. Try to remain present and mindful as you move about your space.
How to Sage Yourself
You can sage yourself, too; just follow the same previous steps by having open windows and setting an intention first. Start at your feet and work your way up slowly while keeping the sage arm’s length away from the body so as not to breathe too much in. You can envision the smoke clearing you of any and all lingering negativity.
Extinguish Your Sage Once You’re Finished
Once you’re ready, go ahead and put your sage bundle out. For safety, always ensure your bundle is completely extinguished by firmly swirling the lit end into your dish, ensuring all the embers are out. Try not to use water because it can be difficult to ignite again.
Sage burning is an ancient and powerful practice. Done respectively and with the right mindset, it might be just the right thing to cleanse your space of toxicity, quell anxieties, and soothe your soul. Let your intuition identify negative situations that could uniquely benefit from this practice. If you could benefit from daily or more frequent cleansing, you can also use different herbs, and woods like rosemary, juniper, tobacco, sweetgrass, cedar, and palo santo for a less intense and lighter cleanse (or a sage spray when on the go in no-smoke areas). Just remember, there are no hard rules on how often to do so, and we are our own best guides for when it might be needed for our mind, body, and soul.