Answers to Your Smudging Questions

Burning of Herbs for Spiritual Purification

Smoldering Sage Wand in Abalone Shell
Smoldering Sage Wand. Don Farrall / Getty Images

Using a smudging tool is part of many Native American traditions. The burning of herbs for emotional, psychic, and spiritual purification is also common practice among many religious, healing, and spiritual groups. The ritual of smudging can be defined as "spiritual house cleaning." In theory, the smoke attaches itself to negative energy and as the smoke clears it takes the negative energy with it, releasing it into another space where it will be regenerated into positive energy.

Common Herbs Used in Smudge Sticks

Who is Smudging?

Purposes of Smudging

What To Smudge

When To Smudge Yourself

  • When your spirits are low
  • After being around someone who is sick or depressed
  • During meditation
  • When in prayer

How To Smudge Yourself

Put the smudge stick to flame using a match or candle light. Blowing on or waving the flame with your hand to put out the fire. Allow the smudge stick to smolder, freeing the smoke to circle in the air. Fan the swirls of smoke around your body's aura from head to toe.

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Smudging Experiences from Our Readers

Mother Nature's Breath - My first experience with smudging is one I will never forget.

I had heard about smudging but had never tried it. We had family in the home for the weekend and when they left I felt suffocated with negativity. I noticed even my husband was talking negative. I told him no more talk like this and started smudging the house. I open windows to let Mother Nature's breath come in and help with the cleansing.

It was wonderful. I watched skeptically as my husband began speaking more positives tones and the air felt so clear. I lit a white candle and said a positive affirmation. I sat there for awhile with a hot herb tea and relaxed in this fresh and clean home. Now I smudge once a week and notice more positive things happening around me all the time.

Staple of Spiritual Folk I too work around sick people--those treated for cancer, as well as terminal patients. This is great to clear that energy that is connected to me and cleanse my home. Smudging should be a staple among all spiritual folks. I usually smudge once a week with sage, followed by myrrh and then frankincense. I cleanse, then sweeten my environment. It does makes a big difference. ~Maxine

To Relieve Nightmares - My father had an old mirror up in the attic and decided to bring it down and put it in my room, immediately I began to have nightmares and begged him to remove the mirror and put it back in the attic. After the mirror was removed from my room I was still plagued my terrible nightmares and I became very angry and irritated. I performed a smudging ritual and it eased my troubled mind. I no longer had the nightmares and I became peaceful again.

It was an uplifting feeling, if ever I feel any negative energy within my personal space I smudge and it helps to remind me to relax and stay at ease. ~sidhedraoi

It Worked But Not How I Thought - I smudged the apartment my boyfriend and I were sharing. He had a rough childhood and the effects of it still surface, so we were in a bad space and I felt it in the air. When I smudged I prayed and asked that all negative and evil spirits leave my home and replace it with lightness and love. Guess what? He moved out. Not the results I was looking for, but results nonetheless. ~Crissy

Absolutely Works! -Our house had always been very peaceful and calm until one night.. I had heard of this device called a "ghost box" before, but never used one. A good friend of mine lent me his so I decided to give it a try.

A bunch of horrible things started to happen after I used it. What ever I had invited into my home began effecting not only me, but my family members as well. I decided it was time to break out the sage. I smudged every room in the house and said prayers during the process. I'm glad I decided to. Now there is peace in my home. I definitely learned two things; smudging absolutely works, and to NEVER play with a ghost box. It's soooo not worth the danger. ~Elli

Sage Sprays -My first experience with sage was at a Reiki circle. I liked what sage did but as I suffered from COPD and the smoke was irritating to me and I wasn't sure I wanted to repeat the experience. When I was Sedona I was introduced to Bluestar ceremonial white sage spray. It contains 100% wildcrafted and artisan made cold extruded white sage essence and activated spring water. It has the same properties without the smoke. I use it to clear my aura, my Reiki room and my home. ~Gaiaweh

Impephu - African Holy Herb - I used to make a smudge stick from this highly effective herb. Impephu is used to remove lower energies. Commonly only found in areas south of Africa this herb was and still is used by traditional healers throughout South Africa. ~LadyKimberli

Negativity Cleanser - I have two experiences with smudging. The 1st time I practiced smudging was after a hurtful breakup. I lived in a two bedroom apt w/ my partner & she eventually started to sleep in the second bedroom. She moved out abruptly & I never went into the second bedroom b/c the energy in there was heavy and I didn't like the way I felt whenever I stepped into the room. I always kept the door closed so that energy wouldn't travel throughout my apt. One day I went to a local shop here & bought a sage/lavender wand. I smudged each corner repeating a positive affirmation to clear the room. After awhile, I opened both windows in the room to release that energy out of my home. The 2nd time I practiced smudging was when my ex (the same person) came over with her new partner & they spent the night in the very same second bedroom.

I was using this room as my Peace/Meditation room. When they left, again, I couldn't enter the room b/c of the heavy, negative energy. Smudging brings Light & Calmness. ~Whyzdm

Smudging with Sage Purifies - As Reiki Master and Massage Therapist, I was trained to recognize the negative energies being released from the energy field following the healing treatments. I would bring the client out of the treatment room to a clear area and examine their aura, then smudge up and around the full body aura and then balance areas I could see in the aura as dark spots, empty spaces, and waves of dark energy emanating from their aura that were still releasing energy. After a hug and a blessing I would then go back into the room and clean. Next, using sage to purify above and below the table and treatment room with a blessing and a prayer for purification. I kept an air filter running for a while and sprayed a mist of purified rose water. The pure energy and light in that room was so peaceful and welcoming, that every person who entered there expressed a "wow" as soon as they walked in. I had to give up that office and moved to another state, but am always grateful for the experience of having it. ~Iris Miller

Smudging Creates Positive Energy Space I didn't know what smudging was until I met many spiritual aboriginal persons here in Alberta, Canada. They introduced me to this amazing and effective way of cleansing and releasing what no longer fits. I started off by doing this for myself and others and have since incorporated it into my business of doing house clearings. The results are phenomenal. Smudging with sage or sage combined with sweetgrass cleanses what the naked eye cannot see thus creating a more positive energy space. Houses feel better which means a house for sale will most likely be sold shortly after a smudging. A house where someone is sick or has been sick will release the built-up stagnated energy making room for the positive. I am very grateful to have been introduced to smudging many years ago. ~Marlene.Checknita

Native American Sweat Lodge - My first experience with smudging was during a sweat lodge ceremony. Each person was smudged with a sage wand before entering the lodge. It felt like a pre-cleansing, kind of like rinsing your dishes before loading them up in the dishwasher. ~braid weaver

Learn more about Native American healing traditions
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