Unveiling the Ancient Practice of Smudging

Let’s talk about the importance of being mindful of the energy in and around your home. Your home marks both the beginning and end of your day, making it worth taking a few moments to reflect on the energy it holds.

You’re probably well aware of the benefits of maintaining a clutter-free home. Of course, achieving that can depend on factors like your available free time and the dynamics of your household – whether that includes kids or even our four-legged canine companions.

However, there’s an aspect that’s often overlooked: the actual energy that permeates your home. Think of it as the underlying harmony that complements a clutter-free space. By parting ways with items that no longer serve you and clearing out what’s unnecessary, you effectively restore the energy flow within your home.

But have you ever paused to consider the subtle, unseen energy that may be lingering? It could be the emotional residue from a bad day, disagreements, or simply moments when the atmosphere felt a bit heavy.

This is where the idea of smudging comes in. Let’s start at the beginning.

What is Smudging?

Smudging is a sacred cultural practice and not a religious ceremony. It is part of spiritual tradition and used in ceremonies and rituals for many indigenous people all over the world. When you smudge, begin with a prayer or intention to honor the cultures that have been using smudging for generations.  

You may be more familiar with smudging with sage to remove negative energy from your home and energetic body. It is an ancient spiritual ritual of Native Americans and may be most common in North America.

I’ve heard of Palo Santo, but not sure what it is.

Palo Santo is a sacred tree native to South America. People of its land have used it for spiritual healing and in healing ceremonies for centuries, much like sage has been used by Native Americans. 

Shamans believe burning Palo Santo (sacred wood) removes negativity and attracts good fortune. You can clear your home regularly by smudging with sage or Palo Santo or just rooms that may need it more often.

When is the best time to Smudge?

Real answer – Anytime you feel called to smudge… you should probably smudge. 

Smudging on a new moon is a great way to work with moon energy to clear your home as you set new intentions.

You may feel the urge to clear your home after an argument (on the phone, through text or in person). Anytime you have had yuckie feelings or energy is a good time to smudge. 

You may also want to smudge after you’ve had company in your home. It doesn’t mean the company had bad or ill feelings. You may just choose to clear their energy to return to your own.

In addition to smudging to clear your home and crystals, smudging may be used to calm the mind and become present in the moment before meditation or prayer. 

I often smudge myself before sitting down at my desk to work or create or at the end of an intense day.

How do you smudge?

Step 1.

Light one end of the wood stick or sage bundle, allowing the flame to extinguish and begin to smolder. (if the flame does not extinguish— shake to extinguish, don’t blow on it. Native American Tradition says if you blow on your smudge stick you are blowing your spirit away.)

Step 2.

Offer a prayer to call in your angels, guides, ancestors, or Source (choose what resonates for you). Ask them to remove energy that no longer serves your family and home, making way for all the blessings to come.

Step 3.

Be sure to clear the corners of rooms and closets. Every nook and cranny where stagnant energy might be hanging out.

Step 4.

When complete, open a door or window for unwanted energy to leave your space. In larger spaces you’ll want to open a door or widnow along the way. 

When you begin to smudge your home, start at the front door, move in a clockwise rotation, and return to the front door for completion. Remember to open the front door (and windows along the way) for energy you’re clearing to leave your home. 

The beauty of smudging is it is a part of many different cultures and traditions. Like spirituality, if you honor the history, you can use various methods and find what resonates for you. Here are a few other ideas to explore and add to your smudging ritual. 

To deepen your smudging practice, before you begin, include an invitation to the energies of the east, west, north, and south. I like to also add in – all that is above and all that is within.

How do you incorporate the four elements into smudging?

Another practice for smudging is to include the four elements in your practice. 

  1. To hold your ash, use a shell to represent water (either one you have purchased or collected yourself.) 
  2. Burning sage or Palo Santo is a gift from mother earth. 
  3. The flame used to light constitutes fire. 
  4. The smoke that is created represents air as the final element. 
What do you do with the ash?

In Hindu tradition, the ash left after smudging is sacred. It represents purity. When placed on the forehead, it represents the purity of the mind. Placing a bit of ash on your forehead before meditation will help to clear your mind and prepare for meditation.

Can you make your own smudge bundles?

If you prefer to make your own smudge bundles, you can use garden sage, cedar, sweetgrass, rosemary, or sagebrush. If you prefer, you can smudge with loose herbs you have grown or gathered. 

Use caution with loose herbs to not burn yourself or your home. I use a selenite offering bowl for burning loose sage and as a way to collect the ashes. Any dedicated fire-safe dish will work.