I love the fresh clean scent of herbs and flowers in my home. I’m a sucker for attractive candles, sweet incense, and diffusing scent climbing slowly up bamboo reeds and wafting through a room.
It’s probably no surprise that I love the thought of Sage Smudging to cleanse and purify.
Burning incense has been around for centuries, burning dried herbs and scented woods directly onto a brazier or charcoal has been around for even longer. But I was surprised to learn that smudge sticks, and using smudge sticks to purify homes and work areas, is relatively new in the Western world. It has been borrowed from Native American culture into modern day Wicca and witchcraft.
In my Daughter of Ravenswood series, Meagan uses a variety of the herbs and woods that are commonly associated with talking to the dead: wormwood, sandalwood, dandelion and willow. To protect herself from malicious spirits she uses birch, dragons blood, elder, frankincense and myrrh.
In one section she casts spells to protect her home, after burning sage leaves with a single drop of her blood, she smudges the house with sage.
There are a lot of sites devoted to new age witchcraft and to Wicca practices. I particularly like the website Wicca Spirituality – it does have items and courses for sale, but it’s also a beautiful explanation of modern day witchcraft with many helpful articles. The one all about smudging is here.
Cleansing with smoke – usually by using incense – goes back to the ancient Egyptians. They burnt incense to obscure ugly smells, and they also believed the pleasant scent deterred malevolent demons and appeased their gods.
At the same time Europe and Asia further refined the use of incense, native North Americans burned herbal smoke mixtures in their ceremonial cleansing and healing rituals. They have been using them for thousands of years, and still use smudging today.
It’s easy to buy smudge sticks, but it couldn’t be easier to make your own. I love the thought of growing your own herbs, tying the stick, drying it and using it, all done with intent and purpose.
You can make smudge sticks with Sage alone, or combine Sage with other herbs such as Cedar and lavender – use the herbs or woods that suit your purpose.
The herbs need to be tightly bound with a strong natural thread, and the pointy end lit with a gentle flame. The aim is to produce smoke, not flames!
In traditional ceremonies, the smoke is wafted over and around whatever is being cleansed with a feather.
As with all magic, traditional and modern, clarity of purpose is the most important ingredient; you visualise the smoke absorbing negative energy and carrying it away.