Many of us have used smudge sticks for years and felt its many benefits. Smudging is such a common, continuous practice that it almost seems modern. Yet smudging is a practice so ancient that we dont know just when or how it came to be. Perhaps quite by chance or by internal inspiration people have come to realize that the smoke from burning particular herbs had emotional, cognitive, and even physical benefits. Modern science has proven that the smoke from some herbs have cleansing effects changing the molecular structure of air and energy. In fact the aroma of sage has been found to actually increase the oxygen supply to the brain and also produce a physical relaxation of muscle tension.
We have come to experience that smudging has a purification benefit for our bodies, our living space and our consciousness. Some of us have come to believe that the smoke from burning some herbs acts like a messenger to realities and energies beyond our conscious comprehension and understanding. People from China, India, Asia, Europe and, of course, Native Americans have used smoke from herbal mixtures in their healing and spiritual rituals.
Many of us have come to realize the benefits of a soothing bath or shower to cleanse and refresh our bodies as well as experiencing the emotional feeling of well being from the cleaning. We have found that the use of water changes the structure of our physical and emotional energy pattern. Like water, the use of smudge sticks, a blend of certain herbs, for smudging is equally effective. Like the Native cultures around the world, we have found that the burning of herbs for spiritual, psychic, and emotional purification helps us relax and feel the balance of our physical and emotional energy. The rational for how smudging works, is that the smoke molecules from the herbals blends being burned, attaches to the negative energy and clears it away or actually changes the molecular structure of the energy.
Our sense of smell connects us to a deep instinctual part of our brain. We have all experienced this with the use of other forms of aromatherapy. Smudging is very effective aromatherapy form and very useful when we have been feeling depressed, angry, fearful, frustrated, resentful, grief or unwell. We have also found it to be useful when we have experienced irritation and conflict in our relationships. In fact, a space, e.g. a room, can also be cleansed of this uncomfortable energy. In addition, we can use smudging to enhance a celebration, special occasion, or ceremony. Smudging can help us experience a relaxed, open, meditative, and calm state.
Sage is the herb we most commonly use for smudging. The botanical name for sage is salvia which is from the Latin root savare meaning to heal. Smudge sticks usually made of white or another variety of sage or a are a blend of sage and another herb. Lavender is well known in aromatherapy practice, as a calming, soothing, balancing aroma. Lavender when combined with sage in a smudge stick provides wonderful benefit and experience. Cedar is a traditional cleansing herb used by Native people. The spirit or energy of cedar is considered to be very ancient and powerful. Cedar can also be bundled with sage to create a wonderful smudge stick.
Sweetgrass is a toll wild grass with a musty, sweet aroma. Sweetgrass is often woven into braids similar to braiding hair and used for smudging as a single herb. Sweetgrass has a wonderful essential oil quality that contributes to its burning slowly. Sweetgrass has beome rare in the wild because of development. Sweetgrass aroma promotes a very meditative, open conscious awareness. Sweetgrass is often used after the cleansing benefits of sage or cedar. However, blending and bundling sweetgrass with sage in a single smudge stick, provides an awesome aromatherapy and meditative experience.
There are various traditions and patterns of using smudge sticks. One powerful method when using a smudge stick is after lighting and adding the energy of breath to the embers, is to move the stick from foot to head on the left side of the body representing the female aspect of receiving, then on the right side of the body representing the male aspect of taking action, than bringing the stick around the body clockwise representing bringing ones self into the circle of life and finishing with touching the stick to the floor/ground acknowledging Grandmother Earth and raising it above the head moving the stick in a circular manor acknowledging Grandfather Sky/Sun. When cleansing a space or an object, the smudge stick can be moved in a counterclockwise circle representing unwinding or undoing i.e. cleansing and releasing.
Whatever tradition or pattern of ceremony or method of use of smudge sticks with which you are comfortable is quite acceptable and beneficial.
When using smudge sticks, be sure to practice the commonsense considerations that you would whenever using something that involves fire and burning. Extinguishing the smudge stick with water will ruin the stick for further use. It is best to extinguish the smudge stick by “smothering” the embers in a cup, bowl, jar, or other nonflammable container.