Before you read this post any further – stop! Go out to your local metaphysical/new age shop and get a sage smudge stick. Got it? Good, now let’s talk about clearing out some negativity.
Why use Sage?
Sage dissipates negative energy. Use it to clear out residual negativity from situations that occur in the home. This is an Ancient Native American tradition and works beautifully. I personally smudge before any working, just to make sure I’ve cleared the air around me.
All About Sage (from Michelle Chihacou White Puma Klein-Hass)There are several varieties of each genus of Sage that are used for smudging. Salvia, or the herb sage used for cooking, comes in two major varieties: S. officinalis, commonly known as Garden Sage, and S. apiana, commonly known as White Sage. Salvia varieties have long been acknowledged as healing herbs, reflected in the fact that its genus name comes from the Latin root word salvare, which is the verb “to heal” or “to save.”
Artemisia is the genus commonly considered “Sagebrush”, and is more common in the wilds in California. There are two major varieties to the Artemisia genus: A. californica or Common Sagebrush, and A. vulgaris or Mugwort.
There are many other varieties of both Salvia and Artemisia, and all are effective in smudging.
Other Herbs to Use
Cedar: For smudging, the best is Western Red Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and California Incense Cedar (Libocedrus descurrens). Cedar is burnt while praying to the Great Spirit in meditation, and also to bless a house before moving in as is the tradition in the Northwest and Western Canada. It works both as a purifier and as a way to attract good energy in your direction. It is usually available in herb stores in chipped form, which must be sprinkled over a charcoal in a brazier.
Sweetgrass: Very important to the Sioux and Cherokee nations, its botanical name is Hierochloë odorata. In these tribes, the sweetgrass is braided like hair braids. It could be burnt by lighting the end of it, or (more economically) by shaving little bits of it onto charcoal in a brazier. Sweetgrass is burnt after smudging with sage, to welcome in good influences after the bad had been driven out. Sweetgrass is very rare today, and traditional Plains people have been attempting to protect the last of it.
How to Smudge
I personally use a sage bundle and a fire-proof vessel for it. Some suggest using an Abalone Shell but check on this – I have heard that Abalone is sacred to the Great Mother. I just use a ceramic plate.
I also have several gorgeous sage smudging fans which make it easy to direct the smoke around my space. I only cleanse my entire dwelling every six months or so but every time I cast I smudge the altar and any tools I am using.
If you do the entire house make sure to get the smoke into closets and drawers. You may feel a little silly but trust me – in the end it will be worth it.
After you smudge you will want to light a nice incense (sandalwood or lavender) and open the windows to let the negativity out. If you cannot open your windows – just open the front door for about 10 minutes.
I’ve also heard that lighting a white candle to help purify the space following it is a good idea. I always have candles lit anyway.
Keep your attitude very clear and focused – think thoughts of love and joy. Smudging is a powerful practice and makes a deep connected with Gaia (Mother Earth).