Herbs are a primary ally for us as human beings. We use them as medicine, as food, and we use the fragrant and medicinal smoke produced from burning certain herbs to provide energetic and spiritual cleansing for a space or a person.
Various plants contain unique constituents which cause them to create different smells and effects when burned. It is a traditional and ancient practice to burn plant materials in ceremonial and ritual settings in order to bring blessings, rejuvenation, cleansing, healing, and to give thanks. Here is some information on a few common smudging herbs and plants and how to smudge as well as a little science behind smudging as well.
It’s fairly obvious to feel the shift brought about when sacred herbs are burnt. The smoke produced envelops objects and people and fills the space, enlivening it with a refreshing and earthy scent, and there is a also a scientific explanation for why this is such an effective way to refresh energies.
When herbs are burnt, the smoke produced attracts and traps positive ions in the air, cleansing the space or person of the harmful and inflammatory effects of these charged particles and helping to put the electromagnetic field back into a state of balance and harmony.
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According to Luc Bourgault, author of “The American Indian Secrets of Crystal Healing,” this has actually been tested in clinical settings. Bourgault reports that his teacher Oh Shinnah, “wanted to verify this purification technique in a laboratory and find out why all the North American tribes adopted this procedure. She noticed that the smoke from those three herbs (sage, cedarwood and scented hay had the potential of seizing the positive ions in the air molecule and extracting it. That is why you must never forget to open a window when burning these herbs. If there is no opening, you will not really be able to drive the harmful elements out of the room…”
Apparently smudging produces similar effects as using a Himalayan salt lamp or taking an Epsom salt bath whereby the energetic charge is neutralized.
Sage: Sage is perhaps commonly known smudging herb in the west. It has been used widely by the Native Americans as well as many other groups. Traditionally it is burnt in an abalone shell with the help of a feather or feather. This is done because the feather represents the air element, the shell represents the water element, the sage represents the earth element, and when it is burned, the fire element comes to life, thereby enacting a simple but powerful ritual that enlists all four elements of life.
Taosherb.com described it well, “The use of sage is for healing. The smoke is used to bless, cleanse and heal the person or object being smudged. Sage is used to ‘wash off’ the outside world when one enters ceremony or other sacred space. Objects are likewise washed off with sage medicine smoke to rid them of unwanted influences.”
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Palo Santo- Is a sacred fragrant tree bark from South and Central America. One piece of the wood can be lit continuously and used to cleanse space or people. The smell is beautiful and one piece will last a long time. Palo Santo literally translates to “Holy Wood”.
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Copal- Copal is the resin of the Copal tree from Mexico and is used by the Mexica (Aztec) and other indigenous Mexican peoples. It can be obtained in pieces or chunks and small portions of it can be placed in burning charcoals. This is one my personal favorites as it produces a deep and extremely clean-scented smoke. I always have this one on my altar.
Sweetgrass- is another common smudging herb. It is traditionally used by the indigenous people in the northern part of the American continent. It is usually found in the form of a braided grass rope and is said to have a sweet, vanilla like scent, reflecting feminine energies.
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Frankincense& Myrrh- Are richly scented tree resins that have been burned ritually since ancient times by the Egyptians as well as by other religious groups. They have at times been considered more valuable than gold. These resins are associated with divinity and enlightenment.
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Cedar- Cedar trees carry ancient and wise energy. This tree is used to cleanse spaces and lend protective energy when burned. Cedar is sometimes favored for special occasions and in ceremony, where it can bring blessings and alignment.
Lavender– The lavender flower is native to Europe and has been reportedly used throughout history for a number or applications in cleansing, mummification, and spirit invocation. It can be burned as a smudge stick or on charcoal.
How to Smudge
Good times to enlist the help of smudging herbs are numerous. Anytime you are moving into a new home, after an argument, whenever you are returning home from being in public, prior to or during a ceremony or ritual, whenever someone is or has been ill or had surgery, for healing, before therapy or healing sessions, prior to giving energy work of any kind, etc. You may also wish to smudge off new items or gifts as they come into your home and use smudging to cleanse your crystals and sacred objects.
Smudging is very simple, you just need a sacred herb to work with, charcoal depending on the herb, and a fireproof dish or shell of some kind. Once the herb is lit, the smoke can be swirled around a persons body, chakras, hands and feet or it can be done clockwise around the corners of a room. When cleansing an object, the object can simply be passed through the smoke, giving the object a ‘smoke bath’.
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When you get a rich enough smoke going, it can become very thick. When this happens you will see the object or space being smudged become immersed in a smoke bath. Feel into the cleansing happening in that moment, sensing the old or non-resonant energies being enveloped by the smoke and carried away.
As previously mentioned, don’t forget to leave a window open. I have at times burned herbs with windows closed and it can cause a terrible headache. Show gratitude for the plant wisdom being shared with you and take a deep inhale as you enjoy the fresh energy that has been opened up. I hope you have found this information helpful. Enjoy.
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