If you’ve been interested in the Indigenous cultures (or even just been to a yoga studio), chances are you’ve heard of smudging. Smudging or burning herbs or plants for medicinal or spiritual purposes has long been thought as one of the ways of clearing negative energy. Smudging is a ceremony that has been practiced by Native Americans for centuries and it involves the burning of sacred herbs for spiritual cleansing or blessing.
If you ask scientists, some say that burning herbs and wood can clarify the air of bacteria while others seem to think smudging is almost as harmful as smoking but I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle and the best guideline for smudging, like everything else, is: all in moderation.
While we can’t really expect that burning sage will magically clear all our problems, if you like a DIY project, if you maybe have too many herbs in your garden and don’t know what to do with them, want to clear your space or would just like to burn something that’s maybe a bit less intense than incense sticks but smells lovely, read on.
While there has been quite some discussion about adopting these kinds of practices being cultural appropriation---the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture---and the line is really damn fine, it’s your decision to decide where you stand regarding that. Personally, even I am not completely sure where I stand when it comes to that topic but I’m reading and informing myself and you can expect an article on that topic very soon.
1. What you’ll need
Smudging 101. (Photo: Katarina Tavčar)
The obvious: herbs & plants
The less obvious: string + scissors
Extra bonus: incense stick + your favorite crystals + music to set the vibe
2. Collect all the herbs
Pick your favorites. (Photo: Katarina Tavčar)
Collect all your favorite herbs that you’d like to include in your smudge stick. You can choose by color (yes, the majority of herbs are green but you can always include flowers!), by scent or by the meaning that specific herb holds and the vibe you’d like to bring into your space. I tend to go with whatever smells the nicest and whatever I can find in our garden. You can always buy these, of course, but I feel like it’s always so much nicer picking and choosing the plants I’m going to include myself thus making the whole preparation a little mindful ritual of smelling, observing and just being.
Properties of some of the most commonly used herbs:
- sage: helps clear negative energies from objects, space, or people
- rosemary: removes negative energies associated with sickness, and clearing
- lavender: brings peace, relaxation, helps with restful sleep; purity and love
- peppermint: for purity, protection, release, and renewal
3. The intention
Set a positive intention. (Photo: Katarina Tavčar)
Just like in a yoga practice you can also set an intention for your little ritual of creating smudge sticks. Infuse it with the energy you’d like it to release later. It can be anything you’d like so I’ll leave this entirely to your imagination.
4. Start wrapping
Wrap the herbs in a tight bundle. (Photo: Katarina Tavčar)
Gather all the little twigs of herbs and grab the bundle at the bottom. Start wrapping the string at the bottom (at the stems), wrap it around the base of the bundle multiple times, then continue wrapping the little bundle all the way to the top, tightening the string as much as you can without tearing it (you reeeeally need to tighten it as much as possible since, by the time the herbs dry, they shrink and the string might end up being way too loose). Once you get to the top, wrap the bundle all the way down and make multiple knots to finish it. Tie all the smudge sticks together and hang them somewhere to dry.
5. The best bit
Ready to smudge! (Photo: Katarina Tavčar)
Start smudging! If you need some tips on how to do it, there are some good instructions at the bottom of this Elephant Journal article.
Now enjoy your newly-cleared high vibe home but don’t forget: the main factor that can make this home an amazing place is no other than you!
Note: While this is a fun DIY project, in order to be respectful of the culture it originated from, please be mindful of how you create and use your smudge stick and give credit to the tradition where credit is due.
Dreamer, creator, lover, yogi.