Clean Your House: Smudging

Feng Shui enthusiasts may have adopted this age-old tradition of cleansing the air and removing bad joujou (That's French for ju-ju) with clouds of fragrant smoke. It's important to note that the practice of smudging whether the use of incense or herbs has been used in churches and temples, including Native Americans, and other indigenous people through the centuries. In Scotland, the century-old practice is referred to as "saining." This practice was done to cleanse the air before a ceremony. 

Today smudging in the home is considered part of house cleaning - cleaning the negative energy out of the home and showing the negative its way out the door. Smudging has also become a popular practice when moving into a new space and removing any negative by the previous residents. 

The most common of the herbs to use is sage, however lavender, cedar, juniper, yarrow, and hand-braided sweetgrass may be used, and even a mixture of herbs or with an addition of rose petals. There are other ways to work with the healing and purifying energies of fire and herbs. Burning various resins, such as myrrh, frankincense, or piƱon may be used and smoldered on charcoal discs. Resins can be purchased online such as through Etsy, or even through your favorite new age book store (See a short video on burning resins). 

Palo Santo (Spanish for "Holy Sticks") wood sticks have become a powerful tool when smudging, but it comes with some controversy due to the harvesting of the wood, especially now with its popularity. Always best to learn about the various sources and use Palo Santo wood that was collected from fallen trees and/or regenerating agriculture practices. 

There are other controversies regarding smudging from what you should and should not use and to even using the term, such as critics claim the practice of smudging and the use of the name should only be used by Native Americans. Today smudging supplies are sold to the public at Native American celebrations such as pow wows, and even Etsy websites. These supplies have become a focus of income and livelihood for many Native Americans. 

Sage, Danshen (Red Sage), and Sage Wrapped in Rose Petals.

Stick Incense and Palo Santo (Holy Sticks).  

In various online groups, I have been told I should not use sage for smudging as it is "culturally inappropriate." In my garden, I have a very large sage bush that is at least 20 years old. Through the years I have shared starts from the old bush, and even invited friends to harvest a few sprigs for cooking or smudging. To these so-called "saged gatekeepers of the sage rules," I say, "Mind your own business." 

When should you smudge? You don't have to wait for the full moon or any specific sabbat or holiday, although these days and events can be used as a good reminder. Smudge when you do your weekly house cleaning or when there has been negativity in your home whether it may be from an individual person or an event. 

How to smudge? Smudging is done by lighting the tip of the smudge bundle or incense stick with the light from a candle, and then gently waving it in the air till the tip of the bundle or incense begins to smolder. Upon smoldering guide the smoke coming from the bundle or stick to specific parts of your house, or even parts of your body if you're feeling a bit negative. Waving a  feather can also assist in guiding the smoke and leading it out an open window or door. 

Should you pray or chant while you're smudging? That's up to you and your personal beliefs. It's also about your intentions. A chant can be as simple as - - 

"I command any negativity within this space to leave and go to the light. You are not welcome here. I command you to leave and go to the light."

One of the tools of smudging is the use of a container for the smudge stick to rest and also important to keep the process safe to catch any hot cinders and to avoid damaging your home furnishings. Later the container may be used to rest your half-used smudging stick. What kind of a container? Traditionally a large shell is used, especially an abalone shell. Glass, pottery, or a cast-iron container may be used. If using glass or pottery, be sure and add sand to the bottom of the bowl to assist in containing the heat. 

Remember to open a few windows or open the door and tell that negativity not to let the door hit it on the backside on its way out. 

"Surround yourself with people you don't have to use sage after you've been around them." 

Disclaimer: If you have asthma or other lung problems, check with your doctor before using this practice. 


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