Purifying Sacred Space –Smudging

Native Americans have traditionally called on the spirits of sacred plants to cleanse people and places of harmful energies, thoughts, and influences for thousands of years. This sacred act of purification, called “smudging”, is used to clear the atmosphere of negative vibrations and energies caused by anger, sadness, illness, or malevolent spirits, and to fill the environment with positive, uplifting energies. The burning of sacred plants is also traditionally used to consecrate sacred and ceremonial spaces. The smudging ritual is an important part of the ancient traditions of First Nations peoples and should always be respected and honored.

In the smudging ritual, the thick smoke of White Sage is used to drive away negativity, cleanse energies, and bless a place or person. Sweet Grass, another sacred plant to Native peoples, which smells like sweet, freshly cut hay, is used to attract positive energies and restore balance after a space has been cleared of negativity. The plants are traditionally dried and bundled into wands called “smudge sticks”, or braided into shiny braids. Other herbs typically used in the smudging ceremonies of Native Americans include cedar, pine, juniper, and yerba santa.

It is understood by First Nations peoples that these herbs each have different virtues and effects, and are each utilized to achieve specific outcomes. The spirits of these herbs are also known to be very different from one another and work on different levels of being in various ways. Many plants are considered to hold deep wisdom and healing ability. Prayer, spiritual wisdom, and a strong relationship with the plants used are all necessary to gain access into the higher wisdom of these sacred herbs.

How to Smudge a Room

  •  Light the Sage Stick or bundle of herbs on fire, then blow out the flame and place the smoldering wand in a ceramic bowl or abalone shell. Often times a bowl of sand is used.

  • Starting in the East side of the room, or at an entry way, and moving clockwise, use a feather or your hand to gently fan the smoke into the four corners of the room as an offering to the sacred Four Directions.

  • Fan the smoke so that it wafts down toward the floor to thank Mother Earth and up toward the ceiling to thank Father Sky.

  • Walk around the perimeter of the room, imagining all negativity attaching to the smoke and vanishing as it dissipates. As you do this, pray to the Creator to bring peace to the room and all the people who occupy it.

  • After smudging, extinguish the embers by pressing the lit end of the wand into a bowl of sand or by holding it against the shell or bowl.

  • Follow these same steps if smudging with Sweetgrass after Sage to invite positive energies into your cleansed space.

  • Enjoy the peace and balance left in its wake…