Smoke Cleansing for Beginners

What is Smoke Cleansing?


Smoke cleansing or “smudging”, as called by Native Americans, is a practice known to religions through the world and can be done with many different types of herbs as a way of cleansing, bringing focus and grounding oneself.  Buddhist temples use incense sticks, Catholic churches use Frankincense, Native Americans use sage and other herbs before every ceremony.  The smoke is ‘washed’ over the person or object.

 Cultural Appropriation (White Sage/Smudging)

To Indigenous tribes in North American, smudging is an important ritual for many.  Smudging is traditionally a ceremony for purifying or cleansing the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place.  When non-native people burn sage to “smudge” their homes or other spaces, it can minimize the cultural importance of this ritual, and have a negative impact on how the herbs are grown.  White sage is a sacred plant (medicine) given by Mother Nature for us to use, we must start becoming mindful about the energy that is behind how it is being harvested.  The plant itself grows wild but due to the increased use of it, it is being over harvested and/or not harvested properly.  It is ESPECIALLY important to ensure that, if you are buying White Sage, that you are buying from a place that sources ethically grown White Sage grown specifically for commercial use.  Or even better, grow your own if possible.  Our White sage that is sold on our online store is commercially grown in the USA ethically.  We do NOT sell any wild harvested White Sage even though a lot of our other herbs are wildcrafted. 

Another option if you are unsure where your White Sage has been harvested is to look at alternatives.  You can experiment with many other dried herbs including rosemary, mugwort, pine, cedar, or eucalyptus.  You can also look at essential oils for your cleansing needs by mixing them in a spray bottle with water and spritz around your home and aura.  You can also add crystals and charge up water on the New or Full Moon.  We sell a line of cleaning misters which feature 100% pure essential oils, witch hazel, moon water and crystal infusion.

The most important part of this is education and the fact that you are reading this article means a lot!  At the Bat Witch Cavern, out of respect for Indigenous tribes everywhere, we do not call any products we sell with the word “smudge” unless it is part of commercial packaging such as books or accessories.  Shara, the owner of the Bat Witch Cavern is Mi’kmaq by heritage originating in Newfoundland, Canada but only by DNA. 

How do you smoke cleanse?

Before you start anything, make sure that you are focused and grounded yourself.  Have an awareness of your intentions for what you want to accomplish with your smoke cleansing.  If you do not have an intention of why you are smudging, then you are simply just creating smoke and filling your area with it.  Depending on your spiritual goals, a lot of people will have prayers, mantras, or statements of empowerment that are said when smudging.  This helps to keep your focus, your thoughts and your intentions true.

Smudging is done with smoke from smoldering herbs or incense you want.  It is recommended that you have it in a shell, clay pot or other non-burnable container.  What you want to do is light it, allowing it to burn for about 20 to 30 seconds and then fan out the flames.  Again, what you want here is the smoke.  While smudging you may need to build up the embers from time to time by relighting.  It is recommended that you do not blow out the flame as the Native American’s believe you are blowing out your soul.  Realistically, we do not recommend it as you can potentially blow ambers around which can be unsafe.

It is also recommended that you use a feather or other device to move the smoke around, start by cleansing yourself from head to toe.  Focus with intent on what you want to accomplish when you are smudging yourself.  Your eyes so that you can see good things.  Your ears so that you can hear good things.  Your heart so that you can feel good things.  Next walk about the area, person, or object that you are smudging.  This clears the negativity, cleanses, focuses, and purifies that which is being smoke cleansed.  Use quick short movements with the feather to break up blocked or stagnant energy.  Use long flowing movements to smooth out energy, creating a calm, balanced and harmonious energy flow.

Another thing you can do is to do a blessing of a person.  You would begin by looking into their eyes for a moment to ‘greet’ them.  After you greet them, fan the smoke first at their heart and then clockwise around the body; head to toe and front to back.  For objects, bless them moving clockwise around them as well.  Crystals and tools for healing can also be cleansed by smoke cleansing.  When smoke cleansing a room, make sure you get the smoke into the corners and open doors or windows to let energy escape.

After you are done with our smoke cleansing, gather up your ashes and return them back to the soil.  This signifies the energy being given back to the earth and shows respect.

After you have completed the smudging, wait for a few days.  If you feel you need to smudge again, perform your ceremony again. 

Types of popular herbs and incense:

Sage
Sage is used to bless, cleanse, and heal the person or object being smoke cleansed.  It is used to ‘wash off’ the outside world when one enters ceremony or sacred space. 

Frankincense
Considered to cleanse and protect the soul.  It was once used to embalm the bodies of Egyptian Pharaohs and also said to ease depression. 

Cedar
A medicine of protection, often used to cleanse a new home or protect from unwanted spirits or influences. 

Myrrh
Said to clear the path to truth and help maintain a state of enlightenment.  It also connects one to the spirit of youth. 

Sweetgrass
For attacking new energy, its sweet, vanilla-like scent is used to sustain the effects of smoke cleansing.

Lavender
Used for the invitation of spirits.  It is also thought to be safeguard against evil.

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