Burning bundles of white sage (smudging) for purification was practised by many indigenous tribes in North America for centuries. The smudge stick was passed around the body of a patient, a participant in a ritual, and a space that needs to be cleansed. Smudging is still practised today to cleanse the body and the home of negative energies or disturbing apparitions, The bulk of the energy of the ritual lies in preparation, so don't hurry through it.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Ritual garb (optional)
- Lighter or matches
- White sage plant and string or prefabricated smudge stick
- Fan (optional)
Make your own smudgesticks if you'd rather not buy them and if you are growing white sage at home. Snip nine-inch ends off of the white sage plant, ensuring you don't take more than one-quarter of the whole plant at a time. Hold all the cut ends together and gather until the bundle you're holding is about an inch and a half in diameter.
Tie the end tightly with a string, about one inch from the cut ends. Leave about a foot and a half of string dangling from this knot. Hang this indoors away from the sun for a few days, until the leaves become leathery and resist bending. Wrap the string snugly in a spiral up to about an inch from the top. Tie it off. This is your smudge stick.
Start by cleaning and cleansing the body. Bathe or shower, focusing on relaxing and releasing personal negativity. When the last of the bath water goes down the drain, imagine your worries, sorrows, anger or frustrations going with it. Dress in your ritual garb. This can be as simple as something comfortable and nonrestrictive. The idea is to keep the body comfortable and the mind clear and at ease.
Open the windows. Light the leafy end of the smudge stick, rolling the end to get it to burn evenly. Gently blow out the flame, leaving the smoking end. Imagine the smoke beckoning all the negative energies and gently wafting them up and away. Trace patterns around your body, starting from near the feet and working up. Release tension in your body as you go. Your mind and body are the driving force behind the ritual: keep them clear so they work smoothly.
Begin at a doorway, walking in a counterclockwise motion. Hold the smudge stick near the doorway, keeping the image of the smoke pulling negative energies from the doors and walls. Spiral inward in each room, working counterclockwise, before heading to the next room. Pay extra attention to areas where you or your loved ones often feel uncomfortable or unhappy.
Thank the spirits or gods you work with, and crush the end of the smudge in a censer or other fireproof vessel when you've reached the centre of the last room. Allow the breeze from the open windows to carry away the sage smoke and its luggage of negative energies.
Tips and warnings
- You may have to relight the sage a few times, so keep a lighter on you as you go.
- You can use a fan to gently urge the smoke into corners or closets. The breeze from the fan also helps keep the sage lit.
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