White sage (Salvia apiana) is a plant native to high desert ecosystems and grows prevalently in California. For hundreds of years, white sage has been considered a sacred, cleansing, purifying and protective plant. Its leaves are a whitish-green, and if you rub fresh leaves between your thumb and forefinger, a refreshing and cleansing scent is released.
Native Americans started the tradition of using sage to ward off evils spirits and negative energies and it has also been used in ceremonies to seek blessings of health, prosperity and protection. I use sage to amplify clearing and protective techniques that I’m already using. For example, I clear my energy by closing my eyes and visualizing any energy that I have been carrying with me or may have attached to me over the course of the day or week releasing from me, exiting through my feet and releasing back to the core of the Earth. Then I expand this routine to any space where the energy feels thick or heavy. Sometimes this can be my living room after having a tiff with my husband. Once I’ve mentally cleared myself and the space, I bring in white sage for an added boost!
I like to burn the leaves of the sage plant which is known as smudging. As the leaves are burned, the smoke moves through the room or over a surface and attaches itself to any heavy or negative energies that are within the space, object or being. As the smoke clears, so are the heavy or negative energies that were once attached. I like to think that these energies regenerate into something positive.
White sage smudge sticks can be found at your local herb shop, farmer’s market or metaphysical book store – or make your own!
To get started, have a heatproof bowl to put the sage in after it has been ignited. Any piece of thick, fired pottery is good. You will also want to keep the air as still as possible when you smudge – make sure there are no fans on and no open doors or windows. Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing and tie back your hair, if it is long.
Light the sage at the very tips of the leaves on top of the bundle. Once the flames come to life, blow them out quickly. It’s important to NOT let it flame and burn. Once it is lit and the flame is blown out, it will smoke. The movement and release of the energy comes with the smoke and not the orange flames. Place the lit, smoking top of the bundle of sage, down inside the bowl, and rest the sides of the wand on the edge. Using your hand or a feather, “waft” the smoke in the areas that need cleansing. Sometimes the smoke will drift automatically drift to a particular part of the room, car, or person where the clearing is most needed. As I smudge, I set the intention to release all energies from me and my sacred space that no longer serve me, and welcome peaceful and loving energy in.
Smudging a room or house
Start in one corner of the room and gently waft the smoke after it spirals above the bowl, from the floor up to the ceiling. Always start from the bottom and move to the top – this is the natural pattern of smoke – to move up and carry away. Move from the back most corner of the room, and move to the next corner, following the same pattern. If you encounter a window, waft smoke into the four corners of the window, starting from the lower left corner of the window moving to the upper left, then to the upper right, then back down to the lower right. Seal the window by completing the “loop”, in other words, make sure the smoke is wafted over the entire window frame.
Move to the next corner, and waft smoke from the bottom to the top of the corner, and once you complete the final corner, move to the center of the move, raise the bowl to chest height, and waft smoke up towards the room center. You are now done with this room. When you leave, shut the door behind you and allow the smoke to penetrate the room for at least 15 minutes. Upon returning, open the windows and doors to release the energies that have attached to the smoke. Notice how the room feels different – lighter, clearer, more airy.
Start from the back of the house and move to the front. Start from the bottom floor and move to the top. Make sure to get all rooms and if you have a room with cabinets – open the cabinets and waft smoke into them the way you would for a window. Your last room should be the one with the front door. Upon completing the house, exit through the front door and close the front door. Allow the smoke to work for at least 15 minutes. Once you are ready to return, open the doors and windows of the house.
Bend over, so that the bowl is about the level of your feet and ankles. Gently waft the smoke upward. As you slowly unbend and straighten up, you are bringing the sage/bowl and fanning the smoke up, up, upward until you’ve sent the smudging smoke up above your head. If someone is smudging you, turn around in a circle, and ask them to smudge you, from feet to head on all sides. As you turn slowly in a clockwise direction, they will stand still and waft the smoke from your feet to your head. Make a complete circle, and thank them for their assistance. Next, offer to provide your friend with a smudging. Always ask permission before smudging someone else!
Smudging an object
If you have a crystal or a piece of jewelry given to you, or anything else that you want to cleanse, hold it in your hand. Waft the smoke from below the object, so that the sage smoke covers the object from below, traveling up. Swirl the smoke around the object until you feel the cleansing is complete. Remember to repeat your intention. If you are smudging a protection object such as a crystal that you wear and have asked it to absorb negative energies, you will want to cleanse this object periodically to make sure it is functioning optimally.