What Is Smudging?
The Powerful Ritual To Shift Stagnant Energy, Cleanse Negativity And Elevate Your Energetic Field.
Have you ever walked into a room and just felt a bit “off”? Or come home from a super stressful day and felt the need to shake off the residues of negative energy – only to not be sure completely how to?
Enter – smudging. A spiritual cleansing practice with roots tied to the indigenous people of North America, that in recent times has been rising, like the very smoke it is, in popularity for its ritualistic property to allow us to shift negativity and rebalance the energetic field of a person, or space.
What Is Smudging?
Smudging involves the slow burning of selected herbs, most often white sage or palo santo, to eradicate negative or stagnant energy and elicit a sense of balance and peace for people, a space or an object.
Like other subtle energy work, such as crystal therapy or sound healing, smudging exists within the knowledge that we are all made of vibration and are within an energy field that can be affected by external forces, whether they be physical or spiritual of source.
The act of smudging is thought to gently cleanse the accumulation of negative, stressful or misaligned energy/vibration that has gathered – somewhat like a spiritual wash.
The History Of Smudging Practices
Smudging has been a practice of indigenous ceremonies for thousands of years – as part of ceremonies intended to cleanse and bless both people and places.
There is strong symbolism behind the practice of smudging. The smoke created in the ceremony ascends, rising to the ‘heavens’ providing a conduit for thoughts, prayers or offerings to a higher being. Though the use of smoke has certainly been included within many various religious practices, the practice of smudging can be a spiritual, though non-denominational practice – simply it can allow the individual or group to bring on a positive intention with a higher purpose.
Sage Or Palo Santo: What’s The Difference And What To Use?
The two most common materials you will see used for smudging ceremonies are sage and palo santo.
White sage was traditionally used by North American tribes, whereas Palo Santo was favoured by those of South and Central America, where the wood grows natively. While each of the materials is considered to be cleansing, they energetically work slightly differently.
Translating to “Holy Wood” Palo Santo is believed to assist in combatting negative energy and efficiently cleansing a space, inviting a positive energy to enter the energetic field. It brings an uplifting energy.
White sage has traditionally been used for rituals or prayer ceremonies. Eliciting a sense of balance and of peace, it commonly helps to clear and then rebalance the auric fields.
Is There Any Science Behind The Practice Of Smudging?
Taking a scientific lens to the ritual of smudging it appears that the burning of these dried herbs could have an antiseptic quality, literally cleansing the air as well as the energy. While there is limited review, one 2007 study indicated that one hour of burning medicinal smoke could reduce airborne bacteria by 94%, with the purifying effects lasting 24 hours within a confined space.
How To: Smudging 101
Before starting, you want to open any doors and windows of your space to allow stagnant energy to shift out and clean air to enter in during the ritual.
To begin smudging, simply strike a match and light your sage bundle or palo santo, respecting the power of fire, you then want to blow out the flame and allow the bundle to begin smoking.
As you work around your space, gently move the bundle in counter clockwise circles. You can cleanse either your own auric field, moving around the body, or if you are cleansing a space, you want to move through the rooms, getting low into the corners, behind the furniture or trapped energetic spaces and allow the smoke to rise and circulate as you go.
If you feel called you may find working with affirmations, prayer or calling on the energy you wish to bring into the space, can add another layer onto the smudging practice.
Once you have completed the cleansing, simply place the smudge stick in a fire-safe surface – traditionally this may be an abalone shell to represent the element of water – but a glass or ceramic dish will do fine also.
When You Might Consider Smudging
So back to those times you feel a little “off” in a space – you know, when you get an eery sense, or the heebie-jeebies. That’s a time you may want to cleanse the space you are inhabiting. Those who smudge regularly, will practice the ritual when they move into a new home or space, to reset the energy for their stay.
If you are experiencing sensations of negative energy, stagnation, stress or extreme emotion, it can also call for a cleansing to take place. Likewise, many will use a smudging practice to set the start of a spiritual practice, be it meditation, movement or ceremonial practices such as a full-moon circle.
Even if you don’t subscribe to the concept – it can be a peaceful and calming ritual in which to set intentions and take a moment to centre yourself.