White sage is the most common variety you'll find in a smudge stick, since the colour is associated with purity. However, other dried plants such as juniper, lavender, rosemary, and cedar can also be used to clear energy if sage isn't your thing.
Aside from the metaphysical uses of smudging, research is showing that sage can also be used to benefit physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
In traditional Native American culture, burning sage is also thought to cleanse people of negativity and promote healing, wisdom, and longevity.
What you should know to burn sage respectfully.
The practice of burning sage is sacred in many communities and deserves our respect. To avoid cultural appropriation, it's something you should always be doing with intention, reverence, and deep gratitude to those who did it before you.
If you're new to the practice of smudging, there are a few more items you'll need to get started. Traditionally, people use an abalone shell to hold the sage and then use a feather to fan and spread the smoke around the space once the sage is burning.
If you're a bit sensitive to smoke or can't have smoke in a specific space like your office, there are plenty of cleansing smudge mist options available these days too.
Here's what you need to get started:
- A vessel for burning sage
- Sage smudge stick or a sage spray
- A fire source (such as a long match, lighter or candle)
- A fanning tool (not completely necessary but could be helpful if you need to cover a large area such as a home or office)
How to sage your house to clear negative energy.
1. Gather your tools and have an exit strategy.
First and foremost, ensure you have all the above-mentioned tools handy and that you've opened a door or window before lighting up. After all, that negativity (not to mention smoke) needs to have a pathway to get out.
2. Set your intention and say a mantra.
Intentions are central to the practice of smudging, so take a moment before you light the sage to determine what exactly it is that you're trying to purify or release from your space. Then, decide on a mantra or prayer to repeat while you smudge.
It can be something you come up with on your own, something along the lines of
"I let go and release what no longer serves me."
3. Light up.
Once you're ready, hold the sage at a 45-degree angle, light it using your match or candle, and let it burn for about 20 seconds. After that, gently blow out the flame so you see orange embers on one end. The smoke should now billow up.
4. Slowly walk around your space.
Slowly walk around your space and allow the smoke to waft around. Guide the smoke—and the negative energy—toward the open windows or a door, so it can escape.
Give special attention to areas in front of mirrors, in corners, and in spaces like foyers, hallways, and doorways, you could also smudge technology like phones or laptops. You can hold the sage wand underneath them and then wave it around them.
5. Be safe!
Always stay present! If you see little embers fall on the ground, tamp them out immediately. Never let the burning sage stay unattended for any reason. Also, take care not to inhale too much of the smoke.
6. Extinguish your sage.
Once you're ready to extinguish a sage smudge stick, press the burning tip firmly into your fireproof vessel, dirt, or sand until the smoke no longer rises.
Pro tip: Don't get it wet! "Don't use water to extinguish the hot embers—it will ruin the tip of the stick and make it harder to light next time. When you are done using the smudge stick, you can keep it in a vessel until you are ready to use it again.
How to sage yourself.
If you're interested in smudging yourself, you can essentially follow the same steps as above, but the focus will be on your body instead of your space.
Stand in the shape of a T with legs slightly spread. Then, keeping the sage stick at an arm's length distance away from you, work your way up from your feet. Repeat your mantra (either internally or aloud) as you go, envisioning the smoke is clearing you of any and all lingering negativity.
Do a little self-diagnosis ahead of smudging yourself to determine which areas might need it the most. For example, if you shake hands often, then smudge your hands frequently, or if you speak all day at work, then be sure to sage around your throat.
Again, don't directly inhale large amounts of smoke, and ensure the sage remains a safe distance from your body. If you have long hair, pull it back in a bun. Don't forget to extinguish the sage once you've finished the ritual.
How often should you smudge?
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to how often you should sage yourself or your space. We are our best guides when it comes to identifying negative energy—so pay attention to your intuition. If you feel weighed down by stress or worry, then maybe it's time for a smudging!
You can find our sage smudge sticks here.