We do so much to make sure our bodies are squeaky clean, inside and out. We shower, exfoliate, infrared sauna, mask, fast, detox, drink green smoothies, and go on sugar cleanses. We are learning so much about the benefits of meditation for clearing our minds and thought channels to make shifts in our lives. Cleaning our physical spaces of clutter can do wonders for our moods and minds as well, so why not do a deep energetic sweep?
Smudging is not a new rite—it goes back thousands of years, all over the world. Indigenous Americans have been using the specific practice of burning sage as a sacred herb to spiritually cleanse a physical space, an aura, or an energetic or spiritual field. Many discoveries about herbal smudging have been made recently, and the benefits are real.
Not only are sage and other smudge herbs and plants like lavender, mugwort, calendula, and palo santo soothing to the senses, but the ritual itself can be considered a cleansing experience. You have to be present while you do it. You can’t be texting, firing off emails, or in the midst of an argument. You walk around your home, office, or personal space with purpose, letting the smoke waft into the corners of the room, ruminating on places and things that feel instinctively like they need extra attention.
You have to be connected with your intuition to understand why an area of your space must be saged, and practicing intuition is like a deep stretch for your confidence and spiritual intelligence. When we believe we can alter our spiritual realm into a healing state, the power of our thoughts—or energy—is real, and effective. If you just can’t get behind that notion, there may be some science behind it to help you out.
Certain types of sage, including salvia sage and white prairie sage, contain a compound called thujone. Studies show that thujone is a traditional treatment for anxiety and unrest, and it is said to be “found in many plants used in cultural spiritual rituals to enhance intuition.” It’s easy to see why smudging and saging can be a way to cleanse negative energy in your space, or a call to energy you want to attract.
Science also says that “medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria.” So if you can’t hop aboard our energy-cleansing train, at least you can cleanse the air in your home, literally. It was observed that a “[one-hour] treatment of medicinal smoke emanated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs [such as sage] on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts.” Cleaning your home just got way more herbal.
A recent study has proven that sage can also be a brain-enhancing tool. It goes on to state that several species of the plant contain “a large array of active compounds that may enhance cognitive activity and protect against neurodegenerative disease.” Plus, it smells good. Our moods and cognition are greatly benefitted by natural and botanical compounds via our olfactory system. It’s the reason aromatherapy and essential oils are so effective and time-tested.
You don’t need much to get started. We suggest lighting a candle (preferably a natural beeswax candle or a lovely non-toxic scent that won’t combat the sage’s olfactory experience) as opposed to using a lighter, so that you don’t douse your herbs in lighter fluid. Start in the corners of your space, lowering to the floor and lifting up toward the ceiling in each corner. Spend time and attention around your plants, damp areas like the kitchen and bathtub, and yourself. Don’t press down on the sage to put it out, simply set it in a cute glass or ceramic dish and let it burn out on its own—it won’t stay lit for too long.