What the heck is smudging?
Put simply, smudging is the ritual act of burning sacred plants, herbs and other flora matter to provide spiritual and energetic cleansing. It is one of the most ancient and simplest spiritual practices. The goal is to clear low vibrations and any stuck energies. It has the added benefit of being healthy for the home, as natural smoke has a physically cleansing element to a space.
“The Obsequies of an Egyptian Cat” by Weguelin (1886) depicts an ancient roman smudging ritual
We are more familiar with smudging than we might think. Fragrant candles and incense are types of smudging. Our ancient ancestors across the world perfumed the air with smoke, and not just by indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the ancient Middle East for example, frankincense (a plant resin) was the most rare and prized incense, and is mentioned in the Bible several times. The ancient Celtic druids of today’s UK often utilized smudging as a transitional aide, whether that was going into battle or blessing a new home. Japan's history of incense is ancient and perfected.
Backed by Science
It turns out, our ancestors were onto something. Research has shown that these types of smoke really do clear the air, by neutralizing magnetic charges in the air, releasing negative ions, and have antiseptic properties. Neutralizing negative charges and releasing negative ions are keys to mental well-being (forests, fields and bodies of water are famous for having these properties in the air, and it’s why we feel so good after a day at the beach).
Smudging can be done to any space, including your home, car, your office-any space that needs a refresh. You can even smudge a person or yourself! Spiritually speaking, as long as you smudge with mindfulness and intention, it can be an effective way of clearing the mind and easing into any type of transition.
What are the different traditions of smudging?
There are many different types of plant matter that have been considered sacred, but we are going to discuss the 3 most popular here in the west as of late, Palo Santo, Cedar and Sage. Below are some suggestions as to how some of these smudges have traditionally been used, but if you are drawn to one in particular, feel free to simply trust your intuition.
Palo Santo is a cultivated wood from South America, known for its prominent aromatic properties. It has a citrusy sweet scent with undertones of pine, musk and vanilla, and is used in warding off bad energy and in healing.
Known as a “holy wood,” it is calming and cleansing, and is said to bring good fortune to those who burn it.
Palo Santo is also known to be the most healing, and is used by shamans in healing rituals of the physical body, and to help clear the energy of a home or space where ailments have occured.
Cedar is perfect for keeping in a creative or work space, and is ideal for cleansing a new home or car. Because it helps to clear negative vibrations, it helps to revive sluggishness or fogginess.
Sage is probably the most well-known of the bunch, and it is widely used to clear negative energy and healing the soul. Sage it well-adapted to many intentions, and it is great for periodic clearing of a space, to keep your soul lifted. I especially love sage for after a negative event in my life happens, to help begin the emotional healing process. You can use sage to smudge your office space periodically (probably best after office hours!), and you can also use sage to clear your own bodily energy or the energy of other people.
How to Cleanse with Smudging
What you need:
- A smudge of choice (Palo Santo, Sage, or Cedar)
- small heat-proof dish or shell to hold smudge
- matches or lighter.
- 10-15 minutes in a quiet space, home, or self
1. Plan to smudge during a time when disturbances will be at a minimum. Silence your phone, and pick a time that feels the most quiet for you or in your home or space to be smudged.
2. Make sure whatever space you are planning to smudge is physically tidy and cleaned up. Clear clutter and mess, open windows and curtains. Smudging is a ritual, and should be treated with the mindset of ceremony.
3. Light one end of your smudge of choice, allowing it to catch fire. Once it begins to burn, blow the flame out and gently blow to fan the embers, your smudge will begin to glow and smoke. Either lay your smudge on your heat proof dish or hold it above dish (to catch ashes). Remember: You are holding something burning, so respect the power of fire and use caution.
4. As the smoke rises, bring your intention to why you are cleansing your space. Picture it being drawn in by the smoke and lifting away. If you feel called, you can pray or chant, but simple mindfulness of your intention is perfectly fine as well.
5. Use your hand to fan the smoke around your space, and slowly walk around the space, focusing on the perimeter and corners.
6. Your smudge embers may go out during the process, and if this happens just re-light and continue.
You can also simply light your smudge and allow it to sit in the space while the smoke burns, which is wonderful for meditation time, or during a time of transition in your day. This method works quite well with incense!
Smoke Free Smudging
We are very excited that some of our favorite brands have introduced energy smudging sprays that are excellent for an environment that might not allow smoke or burning things of any kind (such as a cubicle).
The same guidelines apply to mists if you use them to smudge. Just set your intention, and spray your environment or yourself, breathing and imagining the space cleansed of negative or sluggish energy.
The beauty of smudging is that it can be done during any time that’s right for you, no matter your background or culture.
Want to learn more about smudging? Out CLEANSE Event is all about educating those that are interested in all types of Energy Cleansing! Happening on August 18th. SPACE IS LIMITED so snag your ticket today!
To see all of our upcoming events, check out our Event Calendar Here.
To learn more about Energy Balancing, get familiar with the basics of Clean Beauty and more by Checking Out Our Blog.