If you’ve ever been somewhere that just feels heavy, then you know what it’s like when a space just needs an energetic spring cleaning. Smudging is the act of using the smoke from sacred plants like white sage, palo santo, and cedar to cleanse a space of energies like frustration, anxiety, negativity, and the like. This ritual comes from the North American Native American tradition, but isn’t exclusive to the region or these people. Smoke has been used to cleanse for thousands of years by everyone from the Chinese and Hindu to the Maori. The act of burning incense in churches is indicative of this ancient custom as well.
The smoke from different plants changes the molecular structure of the air and energy it dances through, and since smell is one of the strongest senses, it makes sense it affects how we feel emotionally as well. Burning different herbs cleanses the space in different ways, but clearing stagnant and negative energy is a given when smoke-cleansing an object or space. You can buy beautiful, handmade smudge sticks from your local metaphysical shop or sites like Amazon, The Hoodwitch, and Crystal Cactus.
It’s a widely held belief that as you burn whatever herb you choose, you’re forming a relationship with the spirit of the plant. So when you burn white sage, you’re working with the spirit of the sage to cleanse and clear your space. Deborah Hanekemp, also known as Mama Medicine, is a seeress and an initiated Amazonian Shaman who works with sacred smoke and plant spirits in her medicine readings. She suggests to…
She also suggests using White Sage because it’s like “spiritual bleach.” It’s also important to note that each element is represented in a cleansing ceremony — the unlit herbs representing earth, the lit herbs representing fire, smoke representing air, and an abalone shell representing water.
Thankfully, working with sage isn’t as hard as it seems. Whether you’re moving in, moving out, or just want to cleanse your space after a heavy day or argument, using smoke is a safe and practical way to do that. Just make sure you live in a smoke-friendly environment! Here is a simple smoke cleansing ritual you can do whenever you need.
What you’ll need:
Herbs (you can use loose or in a smudge stick):
White sage — to cleanse negative energy
Mugwort — to cleanse and promote connection to intuition, spirit guides, and lucid dreams
Palo Santo — to cleanse negative energy and raise your vibrations
Sweet Grass — to foster love and compassion, as well as calm
Cedar — to cleanse negative energies
Pine — purification and financial abundance
Abalone shell (a fireproof bowl also works)
A match or lighter
A feather (optional)
Especially potent at the Full and New Moon or whenever you feel energetic buildup, after an argument or a negative experience.
Start at the front of your home or space:
With your unlit herbs and lighter in your hand, take a second to feel into your feet. Ground yourself, imagining the soles of each foot growing roots that extend into the earth. Take a few deep breaths, feeling this energy. When you’re ready, light your herbs, keeping the flame lit for a few seconds before extinguishing it to make sure the herbs smolder. You can ask your guides, angels, the universe, or god/dess for guidance, saying something like…
Starting at your head, use the smoke to cleanse yourself. Work down your body, paying special attention to places where you feel and carry tension — like your jaw, heart, or shoulders. Imagine someone you love giving you a hug. These herbs are meant to connect you to your heart space, so everything you do should feel good.
Walk the walk:
Continue to feel rooted in the earth, imagining white light emanating from the smoke. With your feather, or hand, waft the smoke as you move throughout your space, from front to back. You can continue to ask whoever for guidance and to clear negative energy. Deborah suggests saying “blessed be” as you walk throughout your space. Stagnant energy tends to accumulate in corners, so make sure to get those, too! You can also use smoke to cleanse furniture, humans, and pets! Walk around your space, continuing to waft the smoke.
Ground and center:
Once you feel like your ritual is complete, come back to the front of your home or space. Feel your feet once again rooted to the earth. Thank whatever energies you worked with and ask them to bless your space. Take some deep breaths, feeling grounded and supported. Pressing your forehead to the earth and thanking her for her support after this feels amazing. Then, drink some water and enjoy your space! Repeat as many times as necessary.