Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Modern Smudging 101


There are ancient spiritual beliefs behind the sacred ceremonial practice of burning herbs and it's becoming a more and more prominent practice in modern society as so many people seek to enrich their own personal spirituality and seek more "earthy" roots. Unsatisfied with pre-packaged spirituality, many are stepping off the beaten paths and creating their own ways of honoring the divine and connecting with nature. Society as a whole is becoming more global and aware of differing spiritual practices. Incorporating spiritual practices from differing and various cultures is becoming more the norm than the oddity. I love this. It is so refreshing to see people awakening from the hum drum and creating rich and meaningful ways of honoring the divine and nurturing their souls. People who are drawn to the beauty and energy of nature are finding the practice of smudging to be a very welcome addition to their lives.

The art of smudging comes from the beautiful animistic culture of Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples. Animism is the belief that all things whether plant, animal, element, even weather and the spoken word have their own life energy. "Anima" is a Latin word meaning breath, spirit, soul, or life. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to cleanse negative energies and to bring harmony and balance to physical spaces, bodies, minds, and souls. As I am learning in my herbalism studies, every plant found on earth has its own sacred place within the web of life, and each has its own "medicine", or gift to the world. Some plants have particular qualities that make them specifically exceptional for smudging purposes. I may write in more detail about the individual qualities of each herb in the future, but for now I want to introduce you to ways of smudging! If you're thinking it's too complicated - really, its not. And if you haven't given it a try you are most definitely missing out!

Essentially you need 2 things. Herbs plus a way to burn them. There are a few different ways to burn your herbs. A traditional way to burn the herbs is to use an Abalone shell as a type of bowl for burning the herbs. Abalone shells are quite beautiful with their shiny rainbow mirror like surfaces and are easily found online and at some local stores depending on where you live. They've been used for centuries for various spiritual purposes by Native cultures. For you vegans out there an option I like more is to use a clay bowl or vessel. I've been attempting to create some myself, with marginal success. I'm tempted to take a pottery class just to learn the skills! But, anyways for these purposes I found a pretty little vessel that works quite well. Its actually a little tea light candle holder and it actually works perfectly!

Okay, I'm going to assume you've got your herbs and your vessel. Now what? Well, you can certainly put some of your herbs in your vessel and light them up. Let them catch fire and then gently blow out the flame so that they slowly smolder. Or, if you want to smudge like a pro you'll need a couple more simple and inexpensive items: Small charcoal discs and either censor sand or rock salt. I prefer rock salt. I love the clean salty aroma of the warm salt and its easy enough to find at just about any grocery store. Just cover the bottom of your container or dish with either sand or rock salt. Think of it as making a nest for your charcoal disc. Then set your disc on top and light it. I have to mention that lighting charcoal discs is very fun, at least to me. They sizzle and sparkle for a few seconds and then you can watch the line of sparks cross from one side of the disc to the other. It's actually quite pretty! When the disc is ready it will stop sparkling. Now you can start sprinkling your herbs onto the hot disc. I like to add just a little pinch at a time. If you keep the disc engaged it will stay hot for up to an hour or so. Just keep adding little sprinkles every few minutes. Now, to complete the smudging with respect to the plants, it is best to give them back to the earth. What does that mean? It means don't throw them in the trash when you're done if you don't have to. Simply go outside and put them on the ground where they can complete their journey and nourish the earth. :)

I've got 4 amazing organic herbal smudge blends available in my Etsy shop. I spent tons of time researching and testing out various blends. Now, barely a day goes by without me burning at least a little bit. It's been such a nice addition to my days. Believe me, plant medicine is strong and wonderful! Xoxo


  1. It gives such a pleasing effect using some organic stuffs. Natural herbs are not only beneficial for skin but also their fragrance is immensely loud.

  2. Nice blog and f you just bought a new home or moved into a new apartment, sage smudging is a wonderful thing to do to cleanse and prepare the space.