Have you wonder about smudging, or why do it? You might think it’s all hokey pokey stuff. But there are many uses and benefits of smudging. Let’s look at smudging, what it is about and how it can benefit you.
Traditional peoples in different countries used ‘smudging’, AKA smoking, in ceremonies to ward off ‘bad spirits’ or negative energy but also for other reasons. It is common to more than one culture. You could describe it as a simultaneous invention by separate past cultures. It’s like a synchronicity of ideas.
Native Americans used white sage in smoking ceremonies. They also collected cedar and sweetgrass to use in meaningful rituals, according to various sources.
The practice of burning plants to cleanse and renew is not unique to north America, although the use of white sage in this context most likely is. For instance, the Australian First Nation people collected and smouldered native Australian plants in traditional spiritual rituals to ward off bad energies and to bring forth new energies with favourable outcomes.
Meaning of ‘to smudge‘
The term “smudging” comes from the English language, in the context of smoking. The 1982 Webster Dictionary (Simon and Schuster) defines smudge as a fire made to produce dense smoke. It elaborates with such smoke being produced by burning a substance in containers esp. to drive away insects or protect plants from frost. It goes on to define “smudging” as “to protect (an orchard) with smudge”.
A search of the internet today associates the origin of ‘smudging‘ with ceremonies of Nth American indigenous peoples, in which sacred herbs and medicines are burned as part of their rituals. Though ‘smudging’ has been assigned to this practice, indigenous peoples have had their own terms and phrases for this burning of substances, for example, atisamânihk and nookwez.
In a modern context, ‘to smudge” or ‘smudging’ refers to the burning of herbs to cleanse spaces of negative energy or to prepare for meditation and contemplation — a spiritual context similar to the traditions of indigenous people from around the world.
The many uses of smudging or smoking from smouldering herbs and plants:
- Reduce harmful bacteria present in the air
- Relaxing, calming effect on the senses, when feeling overwhelmed
- Spiritual meaning and intention (cleansing of negative energy)
- Protecting spaces from pests, e.g. eliminating mosquitoes
- Removing or masking unwanted odours
- Protecting plants from frost
What herbs to use for smudging
There are many used for smudging, but sage is a common herb that’s used in the practice of smudging. You can use common sage from your garden and rosemary and lavender are other herbs used in smudging. On the market, you’ll find ready wrapped smudge sticks.
Being in Australia, you could use a variety of native species, including eucalyptus, melaleuca, casuarina, acacia, lemon myrtle, and callistemon, in a smudge stick, similar to the DIY smudge stick by Planthunter.
Types of sage for smudging
If you prefer sage, you might be wondering what kind of sage is used in smudging. Here are a few types of sage used for smudging:
- White sage (Salvia officinalis) — clearing negative energy.
- Common sage (Salvia apiana) — culinary sage
- Blue sage (Salvia farinacea)– cleansing and healing rituals
- Desert sage (Salvia dorrii) — purifying and protection
What is the proper way to burn sage?
Smudge sticks are one proper way to burn sage. Light the end so it smoulders. Hold the stick away from you. Wave it in a mindful way to fill the space you wish to cleanse. Rest it in a clay bowl when between rooms. Or you can burn sage leaves in a bowl to smoke a room or space.
You may chant a mantra (here are some tips) if you wish, but more importantly, make sure your intention is positive.
Smudging how to
How to sage your house from negative energy:
- Start at the front door, with your smudge stick. Here you will light it so that it smoulders to release the smoke.
- Move to the next room and then to the next, clockwise around the house.
- In each room, fill the corners, crevices and hidden spaces with smoke, while moving clockwise around the perimeter of the room.
- Continue mindfully in this manner, ending back at the front door, and visualise your home emanating with bright white light.
How to put out sage after smudging?
Extinguish the smouldering smudge stick by putting the burning end in a bowl of sand. It’s a good idea to always have this bowl handy before you start.
One word that comes to mind from this as far as ‘what does smudging do’ and that is ‘protection’. Freedom from negative energies also arises.