Smudging with Sage - How to and Origins and Practices
What is smudging? Quite simply, it is the burning of sacred herbs (usually Sage, though others such as Sweetgrass and Cedar are also used) to rid a person or an area of negative energy. It is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. At one time, these herbs were crushed into a special bowl and burned, as the smoke surrounded the person or the area needing cleansed. Later, these herbs were bundled together into sticks and became known as "smudge sticks". The concept was the same... letting the herbs burn and cleanse an area of unwanted energy.
Sage is the most commonly used herb for smudging. With its botanical name of salvia... a word derived from the Latin "salvare" meaning "to heal"... many believe in its power to protect against evil. Sage has many medicinal uses, including effectively treating strep throat and as an antibacterial agent. When burned, it is believed that the smoke clears away anything negative that might be in a certain area or emanating from a person. It is also believed to provide long-lasting protection against further negativity.
White Sage Bundle
While many people indigenous to the land now known as the United States have practiced smudging for centuries, it is not a concept unique to those nations alone. As far back as Ancient Babylon, the burning of herbs has been done during the offering of prayer or to ward off evil spirits. As a side bonus, they also discovered that it helped keep insects from destroying crops and bothering livestock. This added to the belief of its mystical powers. Many pagan religions also burn Sage and other herbs for protection and healing.
In Native American rituals, smudging with Sage has been practiced for centuries. Each nation had its own methods... but there were many common threads. All believed in the power of Sage to heal, not only the physical body but the spirit as well. For the body to heal and be strong... the environment must also be free of negative energy. The smudging was usually practiced by the healer, or shaman, however it was not limited to them.
How To Smudge With Sage
Smudging with White Sage Bundle
Each element must be represented in a traditional smudging. The shell or container that is used to hold the herbs represents the water. Earth is represented by the herbs themselves before they are lit. Once lit, the herbs then represent fire. The smoke itself is the air.
As the herbs are lit, the smoke circles around the person and the area, gathering the negative energy. The smoke is then fanned away from the person or place, carrying that energy with it. As it continues to burn, the remaining smoke is rubbed or "smudged" on to the chakras. These are the points on the body where energies are exchanged. Having a home blessed with the smudging of Sage is said to keep negative forces away and keep positive energy at the forefront.
Through all of this, the main focus is the intent of the one doing the smudging. Often, prayers or incantations promoting positive and banishing negative help keep the intent clear and free from distractions. When smudging a person, the intent is to heal the mind and spirit... the rest will follow. When smudging a home or area, the intent should be to cleanse negativity.
Smudging with Sage has become very popular in the last decade, with many people wanting their homes or offices cleansed. There are many positive reports of its effectiveness. It may be because the participants truly believe in the power smudging has... and maybe that belief IS the power.