Basics of Smudging

Smudging is a ceremonial way of cleansing or purifying a space, person, or object.

But there is far more complexity and ancient wisdom to smudging than just that simplified statement.

The Native Americans and Ancient peoples practiced sacred rituals, often using smoke or “smudge” to cleanse the energy of a space or object. Indigenous rituals, religious ceremonies, meditation practices, and the like often use a form of fire, or smudge, to cleanse and purify their sacred spaces. Churches still today use incense or smoke to purify their altars, temples, and congregational spaces. Buddhist temples traditionally have sticks of burning incense present for purification, as well.


Smudge Stick

Ancient and indigenous cultures believed that fire purifies, and smoke connects us to Spirit. Many religions believe that smoke carries our prayers and intentions to Spirit.

A smudging ritual not only cleanses the physical space such as a temple, object, or person, but purifies the emotional and spiritual energies around these places and objects as well. The scent of the smoke can raise the vibrational level of any space.



Indigenous people innately knew the efficacy of sacred smudge to cleanse the unseen energy of a space, and now modern science confirms that burning medicinal herbs has been proven to purify air and kill airborne bacteria. (see Articles to support the science of smudging HERE and HERE). Smudging may be an ancient practice, but it’s benefits on physical, emotional, and spiritual energies are extremely beneficial in our modern times, too.

Our present day society, we are bombarded with electromagnetic smog from computers, smart phones, televisions, wi-fi, and the like. That energy can be heavy around us, and the overabundance of ions produced with technology can make us feel lethargic, sluggish, tired, or just plain out of sorts. When you feel yucky like this, or just sort of stuck or unbalanced, a good smudge can actually neutralize any heavy energy and bring you back to clarity and focus.

Smudging is traditionally a Native American ceremonial practice. This sacred ritual encompasses the burning of herbs, and using their smoke to purify or cleanse the energy of a space or object. This ritual is common practice to cleanse and purify, but it can also be used to bless a space, as a sacred element in seasonal celebrations, or to prepare a space for an event as well. This ritual may have its roots in Native American ritual, but anyone can perform a smudging ritual to cleanse and purify a space.


Loose Sage Smudge

There are certainly a variety of medicinal herbs that can be used for a smudging ritual . The most common are sage, cedar, or sweetgrass, although many others may be used with excellent results. An indigenous South American practice involves smudging with Palo Santo, a holy wood. Eastern smudging practices utilize variations of incense. And a more modern-day approach to smudging could be applied by atomizing or diffusing essential oils. The most common herb for traditional Native American Smudging ceremonies, and the one I personally work with the most, is Sage.


Freshly Harvested Desert Sage

A smudging ceremony can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. Typically, you’ll need a medicinal herb such as dried sage, which can be obtained either in loose leaves or in bundles (visit my Etsy store HERE for loose leaf sage), a fireproof vessel such as a bowl or shell, a match or lighter, and a feather or fan to waft the smoke (visit my Etsy store HERE for handcrafted feather smudge fans made personally by me).


Loose dried sage, available in my Etsy shop

Some believe an abalone shell is the traditional fire-proof vessel for smudging. However, sage does not traditionally grow where abalone shells are harvested. Also, the tiny holes in the shell are potentially dangerous for burning bits of herbs to fall through, which can burn your carpeting, or furnishings. Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest believe that abalone represents Grandmother Ocean, and the abalone shell is most appropriately used in water ceremonies. Abalone shells definitely make a beautiful vessel, and can be a good tool for smudging, however take precautions by filling in the holes of the shell with a fire proof material, and placing sand in the bottom of the vessel before burning your herbs. Personally, I like to use a very small cast iron skillet.. it is fire proof, sturdy, and it has a handle!


Smudging Tools

It is traditional to use a feather or fan when performing your smudging ceremony. The ceremonial smudge fan is usually made of feathers. Native American tradition links feathers with the Spirit of Air. Birds in indigenous lore are believed to fly close to The Great Spirit, and in turn, connect us to a Higher Power. The quill of a feather is an open tube and this is thought to serve as a channel for prayers and communication between the spiritual and physical realms. Setting an intention, or saying a prayer, while working with smudge smoke and a feather fan, is a powerful communication conduit to Spirit.

You can use a simple, single feather, or an elaborate fan made for sacred ceremony in your smudging practice. Avoid using your bare hands to waft the smoke in your ceremony, as any unwanted energy being released can potentially stick to you.

Want to try out a smudging ritual for yourself? How would one go about cleansing their space with smudge?

There are a variety of ways to perform a smudging ceremony. They can be quite elaborate, or they can be very basic. If you have never smudged before, or even if you are a veteran smudge practitioner, here is a simple smudging ceremony anyone can do:

  1. Open your door or window(s), to provide ventilation, and to create an exit for any unwanted energy that is released.
  2. Assemble your sacred tools. Place your herbs or smudge stick in the fireproof vessel.
  3. Take a few deep breaths, and center yourself. Quiet your mind.
  4. Set your intention, and speak it aloud as you light your herbs. Something like “Spirit of Sage, thank you for cleansing this space of all unwanted, lower, or negative energies that do not serve my Highest Good. Only good may enter here, and only good may dwell”
  5. Light the herbs. Once ignited, blow out the flame and the herbs will continue to smoke. The smoke is what does the work here. (NOTE: Be cautious, embers can fly when you blow on the ignited herbs; embers can fly when you fan the smoke, and/or herbs can stay ignited when your smudging ceremony is over. Do NOT leave unattended)
  6. Always smudge yourself first, and last. This practice will center you, and keep you grounded. This will also help to clear your thoughts as you walk through your ceremony. Smudge yourself by cupping smoke in your hands and wafting it down over your head and body. Smudge anyone else present, as well. Use your fan to direct smoke over the other person(s).
  7. Smudge your space. Start wherever you are. Hold the vessel with the smudge in your non-dominant hand, and your fan with your dominant hand. Walk through your space clockwise, wafting smoke in to the corners, cracks and crevices of your space. If a part of your space feels particularly heavy, it’s ok to spend a little extra time in that area. Use your fan to waft the smoke so that the energies you are cleansing and purifying do not adhere to you. You can also direct the smoke at objects such as crystals, or items in your home, if you feel led to do so.
  8. As you walk through your space, go in a clockwise direction. You can repeat your intention as you go, if you feel inclined to do so. Stop in the same place you started.
  9. When you are finished, smudge yourself again. State an affirmation to seal the ceremony. Something like “I declare this space a sacred space, cleansed and purified for my Highest Good. Only good may enter here and only good may dwell. And so it is” works well. If you have a bell, you could ring it at this time. Some like to burn incense to follow a smudge ceremony. Do what feels right to you.
  10. When your ceremony is complete, wash your hands, and have a snack and a glass of water to ground yourself. Take a shower or bath and change into clean clothes to cleanse the smoke off of your being.

Once you have tried this simple ritual once or twice, it will become easy and second nature. Do not get hung up on the words or the process. Energy follows thought, so keep your intention in mind as you perform your smudging ritual. Also keep in mind that your feather or fan is carrying your intention or prayer to Spirit as the smoke rises. Follow your intuition and do what feels right to you.


Sage Smudge Stick

Ok… What if you can’t light stuff on fire and waft smoke around in your space???

I know what some of you might be thinking… The boss might look at you funny, or someone might notice the scent or the smoke… or you could potentially set off the sprinkler system!!  No, please don’t do that.. I have a simple solution to this scenario.

The answer is to use a smokeless smudge spray! Yes, these DO exist, and they are quite effective! I have personally handcrafted a lovely and powerful smokeless smudge spray that includes essential oils of sage, palo santo, and cedar as well as grounding crystals specifically programmed to cleanse and purify and raise the vibration of any space.

The smokeless smudge sprays work similarly to traditional smudge, however, rather than fanning smoke in your space, you are simply spraying an aromatic room mist. There is a slight fragrance with the essentials oils which made from the same herbs used in traditional smudge, but it won’t set of your smoke detectors! This is a fantastic alternative for use in offices, automobiles, spaces where people are sensitive to smoke, and more!

Each individual bottle of my smudge spray is infused with Reiki energy and charged under a copper pyramid to give them an extra powerful punch of high vibrational frequencies. I have personally used these smokeless sprays in my business for years, with great results, to cleanse my treatment room between client sessions, and to regularly keep the space energetically cleansed and purified.

For more info, or to order my smokeless smudge and space clearing spray, loose dried sage, or smudging fans (also handcrafted by me), visit my Etsy shop right HERE.


Smokeless Smudge Spray handcrafted by me personally, available in my Etsy store

So there you have it, the Basics of Smudging. Have you tried any form of smudging yet? Got a question? Need some assistance? Get in touch, I’d love to hear about your experience!

Love, Cam xoxo

PS- Visit my Etsy shop for tools to perform a smudge ceremony for yourself! Click HERE!

Want to book a massage or energy healing session with me? Click right HERE for my online appointment scheduler.

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