Smudging: The Ancient Art Of Cleansing

Smudging or  “spiritual cleansing” is the ancient method of burning sacred herbs to cleanse, purify, heal or assist in prayer rituals. Today, smudging is more commonly used to cleanse our homes, ourselves and others of negative energy.

Even a happy home can store unwanted energy from past visitors, clutter or stale oxygen. Smudging can be used for yourself or your space any time you are in need of cleansing. This may be during a meditation practice, when moving into a new home, or simply to signal new beginnings.

In theory, the smoke from burning various herbs and plants attaches to the surrounding energy. As the smoke clears it takes the negative energy with it. 2006 study on herbal smudging further revealed that the smoke from a variety of herbs proved highly effective in reducing airborne bacteria. The smoke’s ability to purify and disinfect the air was maintained up to twenty-four hours. Many of the pathogenic bacteria had not returned to the same room, even after 30 days. Now that’s cleansing.

While dried, white sage is the most commonly used herb for smudging, additional offerings such as cedar, tobacco, lavender, rosemary and sweetgrass, to name a few, can be used as well. You may also choose to use a smudge stick bundle that combines multiple herbs. 


smudge stick


Smudging Your Home:

The process of smudging is simple and can become particularly powerful when backed by a specific intention. It is best to perform smudging at a time when you will undisturbed for about 10-15 minutes. 

Once you have selected your smudging herb of choice, light a small part of the herb. Blow out the flame so only slow-seeping smoke remains on the smudge stick.

Hold the smudge stick over a fireproof container at all times to prevent burning or embers from falling on the floor as you smudge. You may choose to use a feather or your hand to help waft the smoke into high corners or in small spaces. Remember to remain connected to your breath and the intention of removing all negative energy. 

Starting at the front door, move in a clockwise direction around your house. Gently wave the smoke into the air as you move from room to room. Spend a bit more time smudging the room corners as they tend to accumulate stagnant energy. Be sure to open the closet doors and carefully smudge inside. Do not neglect the less visited rooms such as the laundry room, the garage or basement. It is also helpful to open windows to allow fresh air to flow in and old air out.

When you have smudged all areas of your house, return to your original starting point and gently extinguish your smudge stick by smothering it into a bowl of sand or gently dabbing it in a dish to douse the smoke. You may also run the smudge stick under water but this may make it difficult to reignite the stick for your next session.


Smudging A Person:

It’s a good idea to smudge yourself both before and after you smudge a space to expel any lingering energy that may be residing on or around your auric field.

Once your smudge stick is lit and smoldering, slowly wave the smoke toward you. Start with the area above your head and continue down to your feet. Do not forget to breathe deeply as you do this. Remember to recite your intention of clearing away any negativity and inviting only positivity. 

Smudging oneself can also be conducted in the reverse order, starting with the soles of the feet moving up to the crown of your head. Choose whatever method feels right for you. 

The same steps apply when you are smudging another person. 


Author: Valeri Spiwak

Valeri SpiwakBorn and raised by the beach in Southern California, Valeri Spiwak lives and breathes West Coast culture and its surrounding artistic charm. Valeri, with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and a Minor in French, continuously seeks to explore the beautiful and obscure, and shares her adventures through captivating wordplay, clever writing and skillful copy.

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