Smudging is done for a variety of reasons: to purify or cleanse a space, person or object, to connect with the land, to connect with or get the attention of spirits, including place spirits, Gods and ancestors, to drive away unwelcome spirits, disease or general negativity, to sanctify an object, person or area, or as an offering to please the spirits, Gods or ancestors.
Smudging is an ancient practice that clears low vibrations and stuck energies. I smudge almost daily at home, and my space feels 1,000 times better than it did when I first moved in. Smells better, too! Energy is real, and it vibrates. There are low, heavy vibrations, and there are high, light vibrations.
The high vibrations feel better, and we feel better when surrounded by them. Burning sacred herbs and resins is perhaps the most time-tested method for energetically (and sometimes physically) cleansing a space. Our ancestors have believed that sacred smoke raises vibrations and assists with magic. So when we smudge today, we also connect with our lineage in a powerful way.
Now, let’s discuss how to smudge. Light one end of your smudge, allowing it to catch fire and burn for several seconds. Once the flame extinguishes, gently blow on the lit end to fan the embers; the smudge will begin to glow and smoke. Lay the smudge on a heat-proof dish, such as an abalone shell, to catch the ashes as it burns. (Safety note: we should always respect the power of fire when using it in ritual.) Fan the smoke over and around yourself and your space. As the smoke rises into the air, picture your intention, whatever it may be. If you are clearing negative energy, picture its density and see it lifting away. Healing? Then imagine the smoke cleansing any illness or injury. Whatever it is, envision it floating away on the smoke. You can pray or chant if you feel so called. Continue to use your hands or a feather/fan to guide the smoke over yourself and around your space.
When finished, extinguish your smudge or let it burn out on its own. It’s often said that it will burn as long and strong as needed to fulfill the intention.