What’s The Deal With Smudging?

Updated: Aug 18

Smudging is the now common term for cleansing a space, object, or person with the smoke of burning plants, usually sage. The practice of burning plants or incense to generate smoke has been passed down through various culture for thousands of years. Traditional uses vary from culture to culture, including religious offerings, cleansing/purifying rituals, fumigation (ridding a space of bugs/pests), and healing (both physical and spiritual). The practice of burning sage that has gained popularity in recent years however, owes its roots to the Native American Tradition known as the Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing. Since this is a meaningful tradition in many Native American Tribes, it is important to be aware and respectful of the cultural roots of smudging. 

Usually the purpose of smudging is to cleanse a space, an object or a person of negative energy and restore balance and harmony. Even if you don’t believe in the spiritual effects of smudging, it can still be a beneficial experience similar to meditation. The process itself can help promote mindfulness and the scent produced can have a calming/grounding effect depending on the type of smudge stick used. Sage is also known to have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. 

Everything you need to perform a Smudging:

  1. Smudge Stick - a bundle of sage or a stick of Palo Santo wood, sometimes wrapped with additional herbs like lavender or sweetgrass. 

  2. A Fire Proof Container - traditionally an abalone shell is used to hold under your smudge stick and to put it out in when you are finished. However you can use any fire safe container like a ceramic plate or bowl, or even an ashtray. It is recommended that you use a new container that hasn’t been used for any other purposes, or that you cleanse the container with sea salt beforehand. 

  3. Matches and/or a Candle - It is recommended to light the candle with the matches and then light the smudge stick with the candle. Keep the candle lit during the smudging processes just in case your smudge stick goes out before you are finished and needs to be re-lit.

  4. OPTIONAL: Single Feather or Feather Bundle - This is the traditional tool used to help direct the smoke through or across the target of your smudging. You may also use your hand for the same purpose.  

  5. OPTIONAL: Bowl of Sand - Used to easily smother the end of the smudge stick and extinguish it once you are finished.  

A few important tips to remember:

  • When smudging indoors always make sure that you leave a window or door open so the smoke has somewhere to escape. It is believed that negative energy escapes with the smoke so you want to ensure that it isn’t trapped in the space. Do not directly or intentionally inhale the smoke produced, it is best to wave it away from your nose and face. Also be sure to remove pets and children from the space being smudged to avoid inhalation or irritation. 

  • Watch for stray ashes/embers that may drop from the smudge stick as it burns so they can be extinguished immediately. 

  • Set your intentions before you begin and keep that intention at the front of your mind as you smudge. Even if you don’t believe in the spiritual aspect, this is a great tool for promoting a positive attitude within yourself, similar to meditation.  

At New Age Herbal we carry a wide variety of smudge sticks and incense. Stop in to our Caldwell storefront to find your favorite scents and smudgers. We take great pride in stocking only the highest quality products available, and this includes our impressive selection of smudge tools and incense. If you have further questions about smudging, feel free to reach out to us or pay us a visit to learn more!

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