Everything You Need To Know About Smudging - Simplified
You hear a lot of people in the spiritual community talking about smudging. It’s wildly popular right now, so much so that I even saw a clip of The Kardashians trying it out!
Despite its newfound popularity in the mainstream, I’m still getting a ton of questions from followers who aren’t really sure how to do it… or even why it needs to be done in the first place. I realize that there’s not a whole lot of information out there on this subject that’s actually accurate and trustworthy, so I created this breakdown for you. This is everything you need to know about smudging — simplified!
Before I get started though, let’s touch on why I’m over here trying to give you info on this process. I mean, who TF am I compared to some sage-stick wielding Kardashian? Why is my information any better than hers?
Great question! First of all, I’m an experienced spiritual practitioner. Working with energy and the spiritual world is my literal job and as an extension of that, it’s kind of up my alley to have my shit straight on the practice of smudging. In addition to that, I’m from a Native background. I know, I know. Every white girl and her mom these days wants to claim she’s Native because her great great great grandmother may or may not have been a quarter Cherokee or something like that. I see you rolling your eyes at me!
Seriously, though. My grandfather was born and raised on our tribe’s reservation. My direct ancestors are Native and it’s their traditions that I base my own spiritual practices around. The information I’m giving you here is based on a background in Native American spirituality and many years of experience in Witchcraft. This isn’t the kind of smudging tutorial you’ll find in the “new age” section of your local bookstore. That being said, let’s get into it.
What is smudging?
Smudging is essentially a smoke cleanse. It’s the practice of burning herbs and using the smoke to help achieve a specific goal.
What’s the purpose of smudging?
The smoke of different herbs can help alter energies in useful ways. Although there are many herbs that can be burned for many different purposes, in this post I’m specifically focusing on the herb that’s most commonly associated with the practice of smudging: sage.
The smoke of sage can energetically cleanse a space. It’s known to drive out negative energies and ward off any malicious spirits or entities that may be present.
How do I know if I need to smudge?
Negative energy is heavy. It will gather and linger in a space, usually in corners and in areas not typically frequented by foot traffic. The buildup of negative energy in a room will have a significant effect on anyone who enters that room, whether they realize it or not! The room or space will make you feel anxious, tired, sick, sad, or uneasy in some way.
You might be wondering how it gets there in the first place. An angry person can leave negative energy in a space. An argument will leave negative energy behind in the room it occurred in. If you came from a negative environment, you may have brought some of that energy home with you.
In addition, if your home is not well protected from the intrusion of malicious spirits or if you suspect that you have an unseen and unwelcome guest in your space, smudging will help with that.
It’s a good idea to keep the energy in your space clean. Staying on top of this on a regular basis is much easier than waiting until you are in desperate need of a good smudge. As a general rule, if you haven’t smudged your space in the last six months then it’s time.
How do I get started?
You’ll need some sage. There are a few different varieties available that you can use for this. White sage is the most common and, in my humble opinion, the most effective for this purpose.
Fun fact: the smoke of white sage is actually antimicrobial. So not only will it cleanse the energy in your space, but it will also clean the air.
You can also use blue sage, desert sage, mountain sage, all are acceptable for smudging. Just don’t use garden (culinary) sage! It doesn’t have the same energy cleansing properties, and it will smell absolutely terrible when you burn it.
You can buy smudge sticks, which are just bundles of dried herbs. They’re readily available online, and in many spiritual or metaphysical themed stores.
Hint: I have them HERE!
You can also burn loose herbs over a charcoal disk in a heat safe dish. It doesn’t matter how you burn the sage, just as long as it’s producing smoke and you can easily disperse the smoke around the room. Once you have your sage ready, you can get started with the actual ceremony.
Step 1 - Tidy up.
Yeah, seriously. Mess, clutter, and trash will collect and hold stagnant and negative energy. It’s always helpful to clean up before you smudge. I typically make sure that all clutter is dealt with, surfaces and floors are clean, etc.
Step 2 - Open doors and windows.
Go through the entire house and make sure that all interior entryways are open. You don’t have to open the doors that lead outside, but you do need to make sure that the interior doors are open so that energy can flow unhindered throughout your entire space. The exception to this would be if you’re planning on leaving a room untouched (like if you aren’t smudging a roommate’s room or you’ve designated a smoke-free room for your pets).
Once you’ve done this, be sure to crack a window in each room you’re smudging. You need to create an outlet for the negative energy you’re driving away to leave.
Step 3 - Smudge.
Start at the back of the house and work your way to the front.
Light the sage and get a good smoke going. This doesn’t have to be a fancy ceremony or anything. Despite what seems to be popular belief, you don’t need to say any opening words or do any crazy dance in order to kick off your smudging ceremony.
Personally, I like to loudly declare that this space is mine and I am the ruler of the energy here. I say a little something about what kinds of energies are allowed and what kinds I’m working to expel. If you feel comfortable calling in your ancestors, guides, angels, or anyone else you work with, you may do so now and ask for their help in completing this cleansing. This is not necessary though, as your own intention and energy is all you need to get this job done.
The important thing is to be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish, which is to drive out any and all negative energies that are lingering in your space.
Once you’ve done that, begin wafting the smoke around the room. Be sure to get in the corners, in closets, behind doors, etc. The room should be smoky. You should be able to see the smoke in the air. Don’t be afraid to really douse the room in smoke!
When you’ve smoked the room out, move on to the next room. Continue until you’ve covered the whole house (or whatever space you’ve designated for smudging).
Step 4 - You’re done!
Now all you have to do is put out your smudge stick. If you’re using an actual smudge stick, smother it to put it out. Dipping it in a bit of salt or sand will do the trick! You can save the rest and reuse it next time.
How do I know it worked?
You should feel a noticeable change in the energy. The air should feel lighter.
What else should I smudge?
Yourself! Smudge yourself to remove any negativity that’s attached to you. Wave the smoke all around yourself to accomplish this.
Your car. You should smudge your car every so-often, too!
Anything you’ve purchased second-hand. Items can carry other people’s energy with them, and you never really know what kind of energy that might be! Better safe than sorry, give it a good smudge as soon as you bring it home.
It might be a good idea to disable your smoke detectors during this process. I lost track of how many times I’ve triggered the smoke alarms while smudging my house. Just don’t forget to turn them back on when the smoke has cleared.
It’s NOT a good idea for your pets to be exposed to this, especially if you have birds or other small critters. Smoke is terrible for their respiratory systems and this can potentially cause long-term damage or even death. Separate them in a room that won’t be smudged or put them outside while you work if it’s safe to do so. I always move my entire bird cage to the back yard while I’m smudging.
Same goes for children. Sage isn’t toxic, but again, smoke of any kind isn’t good for little lungs. Leave the littles out of it if possible.
Your house will smell like sage for a while. You’ll smell like sage too. Keep this in mind.
This ended up being way longer than I originally intended, but I hope that I managed to cover all of the bases and simplify things for you. If you still have questions about smudging, leave me a comment below!