For centuries, Native American and our Indigenous ancestors practiced the sacred ritual of Salvia apiana or Sage burning or smudging. This ancient solemn ceremony comprises the ignition of a small evergreen subshrub, to improve your overall well-being by clearing the environment from any negative energy, purify or bless people, calm stress, fight anxiety, sadness, and clean crystals, plus, according to the United States Department of Agriculture the white sage has antimicrobial properties, that keeps away infectious bacteria and viruses. The entity also reported that white sage leaves and stems “will decrease sweating, salivation, milk secretions, and mucous secretions of the sinuses, throat, and lungs,” adding that “it is the best herbal treatment for decreasing lactation during weaning in either animals or humans.” Sage is traditionally considered as a medicine for women because it represents the maternal lineage.
According to the tradition, smudging is a practice to connect with our surroundings and the spirit realm; therefore, during the ritual, we need to say prayers to Pachamama or Mother Earth, and everything that belongs to her. Unfortunately, this ceremony has become a trendy wellness practice without intentions, and mass retailers have been commercializing kits that contain not native herbs and substances that are toxic when burnt. Cultural misappropriation is real, and consumers should always keep in mind that this practice deserves respect and should be protected.
“The smoke from burning white sage is used widely by many Native groups as part of their purification ceremonies. White sage is widely valued and cherished among many Indians and other cultures today, prized for its soft ‘feminine’ qualities,” revealed the United States Department of Agriculture in a fact sheet contributed by the USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.
Gathered and bundled to dry, Sage should always come from a safe source with high-quality standards and be ethically grown. In a phone interview with Shamans Market, a business dedicated to supporting the growing shamanic community in the U.S. and provider of a fair trade outlet for the artisans and the indigenous people of the Andes, and the Amazon, their products support the Amazon rainforest preservation, indigenous non-profit charities like Camino Verde, Amazon Promise and Green America.
As reported by the Indigenous Corporate Training, Inc., there exist four elements involved in a smudge: “The container, traditionally a shell representing water, is the first element. The four sacred plants (cedar, sage, sweetgrass, tobacco), gifts from mother earth, represent the second element. The fire produced from lighting the sacred plants represents the third element. The smoke produced from the fire represents air, the fourth element.”
How to Smudge
We can do smudging at any time and before any kind of ceremony. Set your intentions sitting in a quiet space and take full deep breaths, connect with the earth, and stay focused. “If you have moved into a new place, or have had an argument in your home, you might want to give it a smudge to cleanse the air. To prepare the room, cover mirrors, close windows, open doors (including cupboards), and turn off all electronics. You start on the left side of the door and you stay to the left all the way through the house or apartment while praying the whole time. With the smoke you ask for the good spirits to stay and the negative spirits to go away,” says Eddy Robinson, Ojibwa cultural educator and founder of Morningstar River, which provides aboriginal culture education.
What You Need
What to Do
- Open your windows or doors.
- Place the herb in the bowl.
- Light the Sage always with a wooden match until it catches flame.
- Wave the Sage with your hand until there’s no flame the smoke rises.
- Wave the smoke over your face with eyes closed, over heart and limbs, over the crown of the head and under the feet. If you are smudging others begin with the front body, then do their back body.
- Start smudging the rest of the home walking around and waving of smoke to every nook of the space.
- When the Sage is no longer releasing smoke take the ashes and return it to the Earth.
Chant this Shamans Market Rhyme While Burning:
“Negativity of this my sacred space I banish you by the light of my grace. You have no hold or power here, I stand and face you with no fear. Be gone forever you will obey. From my sacred space, you must away.”