How To Smudge Your Space In 4 Easy Steps

The ritual of smudging, or burning herbs such as sage, can bring lightness and clarity to any room.

February 24, 2016
sage in a smudge bundle
ForeverLee/shutterstock

At a former job, when I moved into the office of a colleague who’d left, the woman who cleaned the place brought more than mops (try to Clean Like Grandma Did With These Homemade Scrubbers + Specialty Sprays). “The energy is bad,” she said. “I’ll burn sage.” Smudging, burning herbs like sage to purify spaces, is an age-old, global practice. The botanical word for sage, salvia, comes from the Latin salvere, “to heal.” People who regularly sage their homes say it brings lightness and clarity; after the ritual, my office felt calm, and work felt easier, happier. 

Related: How To Grow Sage

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For traditional specialists, smudging is a spiritual act. Janet WindWalker Jones, a Florida-based holistic health and wellness counselor, outlines her practice.

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Tools
A hollowed rock or heat-resistant pottery work to hold the burning sage, but Jones prefers an abalone shell because, for her, smudging is about clearing the spiritual energy in a balanced way. “The shell,” she says, “represents water, which indigenous people tend to consider feminine; it balances the masculine energy of fire.” To direct the smoke, she uses a feather. “It keeps the energy pure in a way that a manufactured item, like a hand fan, can’t,” she explains, adding, “I also like to have incense on hand. It’s nice to burn afterwards, to help soften the acrid smell of sage.”

Method
“When smudging a house, I smudge myself first, then move clockwise, cleansing the property boundaries,” Jones explains. She smudges herself again, along with anyone else involved, before moving indoors, where she focuses on “moving out negative energy and leaving clean, positive, spiritually healing energy.” Jones sages in silence or sings softly as she works. But I usually end by inviting participants to share whatever they’re moved to say,” she says. “There is no script. One speaks from the heart.”

 Here’s how to do it yourself.

 

1. Get Prepared

smudging sage
Kevin Sprouls

Health-food stores carry bundles or bags of dried white sage. To hold the herbs, get a heatproof vessel plus a tool to fan smoke, like a feather. Then meditate on the space. How does it feel? Is there lingering negative energy? Are you smudging to maintain good energy? Set an intention.

2. Light The Sage

smudging sage
Kevin Sprouls

Place the sage in its vessel, ignite it with a wooden match, and gently fan the flame. Let the fire die down to smoking embers, relighting it if you need to. Add more sage if necessary, but not too much; even with a beneficial herb, a large amount of smoke can be irritating.

3. Smudge Participants

smudging sage
Kevin Sprouls

 

It’s helpful for everyone present to be invested in the smudging’s purpose and benefits. If someone is sensitive to the odor, they may want to sit it out. Smudge each person front and back, directing smoke over their bodies, starting with their heads and working down to arms, legs, and feet.

4. Clear The Energy

smudging sage
Kevin Sprouls

Holding the sage in front of you, move purposefully, fanning the smoke with the feather to direct it into every corner. Develop a pattern that feels right to you, but cover the entire space. If you sense a need for cleansing in any spot, trust the feeling and go for it.