What is Sage Smudging & Why have Humans been doing it for thousands of years?
Updated: Apr 7
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Smoke to Smudge
It’s become more common to be approached by a well-meaning soul with burning sage, who will Smudge you down as you enter a wellness event. Personally, I find it amusing to witness the reactions of unsuspecting individuals. There’s a mental process of trying to understand what it means, whether it is religious, and how to respond without being rude. Some are like Deer in headlights, asking themselves “what do I do... like... just stand here?”
Do not fret my friends, I've got the Tea. In this article I want to demystify Smudging, giving you context and perhaps even have you on your way to a personal practice of your own. I will reveal the spiritual, medical, emotional benefits of this ancient practice, giving you all you need to discern what's right for you and how to honor the practice in other spaces.
Lets Tap In...
Smudging is the ceremonial burning of specific Herbs and natural materials like wood as a spiritual practice, and has been used for centuries in cultures around the world to cleanse and purify a space or object. I like to put it this way... If you consider every person has a vibrational makeup, so do plants. Have you ever been around someone with negative or low energy and it “sucks the life out of you?” Have you ever been around someone highly charged and they laugh, are in their joy and elevated emotions... How does that make you feel?
Let us consider the vibrational or energy state of certain plants. Some calm, like Lavender, some cleanse and elevate emotion and atmosphere like Sage or there are forces that ground you, like Cedar. Everything in existence is made of elements of matter, non-material, frequency.
So a “medicine” of a thing is not just on the physical levels. It also can be accessed vibrationally, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Over the centuries humans have tapped into the frequencies and impact of our kin in the plant world. When we want to treat the body with an herb we often ingest it. But when we are addressing our energy, emotional body or mental state is can be appropriate to use the application of smudging or bathing with the “medicine” of choice.
Got it!!!? Ok, Let’s get into it.
Mood and Mental
Smudging has a positive impact on mood and mental health. Burning certain herbs, such as lavender or palo santo, can create a calming and relaxing effect. In fact, a study conducted in 2006 found that burning lavender incense was effective at reducing anxiety levels in dental patients.
Put it In the Air
One of the primary benefits of smudging is that it can help to purify the air. When you burn certain herbs, such as sage, the plant will release negative ions into the air. Negative ions are charged particles that can help to neutralize pollutants and other harmful particles in the air, such as bacteria, viruses, and allergens. This is why smudging has been shown to be effective at reducing airborne bacteria, including Staphylococcus and other pathogens.
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that burning sage and other herbs reduced the bacterial count in the air by up to 94%. Another study found that burning palo santo had antimicrobial effects against several strains of bacteria.
I Set it on Fire & Get Lifted
Not only are familiar scents a great way to program the mind into a particular mental state. Smudging will support a shift in the energetic field around you. Finding a practice, a moment in your day that you imply intention to a particular smudge blend can support you. This could be a time for cultivating creative space, positive self talk or prayer.
Herbs are an essential element in smudging, and each herb has its unique properties and symbolism. Understanding their unique properties and uses is a great first step to determining what your smudge practice looks like. Now, we will explore the properties and symbolism behind some of the most commonly used smudging herbs, including sage, sweetgrass, palo santo, lavender, copal, and Cedar.
Sage is one of the most commonly used smudging herbs and has been used for centuries by Native American tribes. Sage is believed to have antimicrobial properties and can help to purify the air and kill harmful bacteria. Symbolically, sage is associated with wisdom, purification, and healing. Sage is often used to cleanse negative energy and promote positive energy.
Sweetgrass is a fragrant herb that is commonly used in Native American smudging ceremonies. Sweetgrass is believed to have a purifying effect and can help to attract positive energy. Symbolically, sweetgrass is associated with healing, peace, and harmony. Sweetgrass is often used to promote positivity and to invite good spirits into a space.
Palo Santo is a South American wood that is often used in smudging ceremonies. Palo Santo is believed to have a purifying effect and can help to cleanse negative energy. Symbolically, palo santo is associated with protection, grounding, and clarity. Palo Santo is often used to promote a sense of calmness and clarity.
Lavender is a fragrant herb that is commonly used in smudging ceremonies. Lavender is believed to have a calming effect and can help to promote relaxation and sleep. Symbolically, Lavender is associated with love, healing, and purification. Lavender is often used to cleanse negative energy and promote positive energy.
Copal is a resin that is commonly used in Central American smudging ceremonies. Copal is believed to have a purifying effect and can help to cleanse negative energy. Symbolically, copal is associated with purification, protection, and spiritual connection. Copal is often used to promote positivity and to connect with the spiritual world.
Cedar is a fragrant herb that is commonly used in Native American smudging ceremonies. Cedar is believed to have a purifying effect and can help to cleanse negative energy. Symbolically, cedar is associated with protection, strength, and wisdom. Cedar is often used to promote positivity and to protect against negative energy.
When practicing smudging, it is wise to acknowledge that each herb has their own unique properties and symbolism. Whether you are using sage to promote healing and purification, sweetgrass to attract positive energy and promote peace, palo santo to promote grounding and clarity, lavender to promote relaxation and love, copal to promote spiritual connection and purification, or cedar to promote protection and wisdom, each herb can help to cleanse and purify a space or object, and promote positive energy.
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of Jade is my special project to help spread awareness of mindfulness, spiritual practices, and cultivate a space to discover our most authentic selves. If you enjoyed this article it would mean so much and be so helpful if you shared it with others and followed me on Instagram.
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