A smudge stick is a tool for cleansing and purifying, which you can use on people, other living beings, and inanimate objects. Smudging is especially helpful for clearing space that has suffered the presence of negative energy. Most smudge sticks are bundles of sage, sometimes with other ingredients added, but the procedures outlined below will work just as well if you are using some other smudging object, such as a palo santo wand.
You may want to have something handy to catch ashes; shells are traditional. You may also want to use some natural object, such as a feather, to help direct the smoke.
You can light the stick with a match or lighter, but often it’s easiest to light a candle first and use that to light your smudge. Once the flame has spread to a little bunch of leaves, gently shake or blow it out, so that the leaves are just smoldering. (If it’s hard to light, it might help to spread the leaves a bit to let in some oxygen.)
To smudge yourself, direct the smoke around your body. To smudge others, first smudge yourself and then direct the smoke around the other person, animal, plant, etc. As you do this, move slowly around the place where you’re performing the smudging, praying or chanting as you go. Use a an invocation or prayer to set your intention. This can be something very simple, such as, “Mother Earth and Father Sky, please remove negative energy from my body and soul. I thank you for clearing and blessing me.” If you are inclined, you may also invoke the four directions or specific deities to help you clarify your purpose. Whatever you do, be sure to thank whatever powers you have called.
To smudge a group of people, form a circle with them. Start with the person to your east, and work your way in a clockwise direction around the circle.
To smudge an area, such as a room, start with an eastern window or door. Smudge your way once around the room, clockwise, lightly touching any windows, doors or other vulnerable places. You may fan the smoke up and down using your hand, a feather, or some other ceremonial object. If you have a whole house to cleanse, it’s best to do it one room at a time. Sometimes, however, it may be beneficial to do the whole house at once. In that case, simply smudge the whole house as if it were a large room.
It usually doesn’t take a whole smudge stick to perform one cleansing. When you’re done, you may put out the wand using a dish of sand, some dirt, or running water. Be sure all living fire is extinguished, then put the sage down somewhere safe to cool. When you’re all done, it’s a good idea to thank the spirit of the sage, and any other deities or powers you may have called on.
Alternatively, you may also leave the smudge burning. To do this, set the stick upright in a sand-filled container. Whatever you do, never leave a burning smudge stick unattended, and be mindful of pets and small children.
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