The Art & Practice of Smudging

The practice of burning and using the smoke of various herbs to clear and cleanse energy is an ancient one.  It has been  practiced by indigenous communities for thousands of years.  Traditionally, the spirit of the herbs and plants being used are called in and asked to assist in the removal of any negative energies or beings. The smoke from smudging is believed to create potent cleansing effects in our energy fields and the energy of spaces, carrying away any negativity, stagnation or low vibrations. This is backed up by scientific research, proving that smoke from medicinal herbs literally changes and cleanses the molecules in the air.


Smudging is a great tool to bring more peace and clarity into your life. Adding the practice of smudging to your daily ritual can be simple and beneficial.  Its like giving your aura a bath. Our stresses, negative perceptions and emotions on a daily basis translate directly into our energy field. To keep ourselves clear, energetically and emotionally is it important to bathe our energy bodies as well as our physical bodies.


Basic Herbs and Tools used for smudging:

There are a variety of plants, resins, woods and herbs used for smudging, such as sweetgrass, mugwort, juniper, copal, cedar and many others… but now I am just going to focus on the basics, and two of my favorites that are easy to find and use to get you started.


Sage. Sage is probably one of the most common herbs used for smudge ceremony. its easy to find and has a pleasant earthy aroma.  Sage bundles are commonly used, and I also love loose sage mixed with rose petals and lavender.  (available here) 

Palo Santo.  Palo Santo is a beautiful and sacred wood traditionally used in Peru in Ayahuasca and Huachuma ceremonies.  It is a potent and strong plant ally to work with in personal ceremony and daily ritual.  (available here)

Shell.  A big shell works beautifully as a container when you are burning any loose herbs for smudging. Abalone shells are traditionally used but you can use any shell.

Feather. Feathers are sacred pieces to this practice. The feather helps spread and direct the smoke over where you are smudging and clearing, whether its your own body or your home or some other space or person. Feathers carry our prayers to the skies. You can use a single feather or purchase or make a larger smudging wand. If you are a collector of feathers like me, choose a large sturdy one from your collection, and one that is very sacred to you.

Basic Techniques

Alright so you’ve got your herbs and whatever additional pieces you want to use. Here are the basics for smudging yourself & clearing your space.

Self Smudging. Create a little ceremony. Make a small space you can sit quietly in for a few moments. If you want, light a candle or bring out your crystals. Give yourself a moment of quiet to get centered and calm. Set your intention. Is there a specific event that happened or energy you know you want to remove? Did you get in a fight with a loved one or had a stressful day at work? Or do you just want to clear residual energy and start fresh?

Also, keep in mind, that you need to be prepared to let whatever needs to go go. Smudging will not help much if you just keep dwelling on negativity again 5 minutes later. The funny thing is that our own perceptions and thoughts bring on most of our energetic issues so… taking a moment each day to let that shit go and consciously cleanse is POWERFUL!

So now, once you are clear on your intention say a small prayer of thanks to the plant ally you are working with. Just something simple and acknowledging. If you work with any guides or beings, or you want to call in your ancestors and helping spirits you can do so now. If you are not familiar with this practice, your helping spirits or guides are beings that watch over you and help guide you (whether your aware of it or not). Think of it like guardian angels. They help keep you safe and help teach you.

Sitting or standing, begin to burn your herbs and guide the smoke with your feather or hand, waving it over your body. Start at your head and move down to body, under your arms and just try to be completely immersed in the smoke. Visualize the smoke carrying and washing away  any negative or unneeded energies. Once you are finished take another moment of quiet. Feel the love around you. Tap into that deep wellspring of peace you have within you and let the work you have just done settle for a moment.


Space Clearing: Space clearing is very beneficial in homes, strucures or rooms you spend time in. In enclosed spaces, energy tends to build like dust bunnies, and just as you would sweep or mop smudging is equally and beneficial in creating a clean and clear space.  This is especially good to do if there has been any negativity in these spaces, or if you have just moved into a new space (ideally you do this BEFORE you move in) or if you are just wanting to shift the energy. I like to smudge my jewelry studio regularly as it is my creative space and I feel I have better creative flow when I do this. Again getting clear on your intention and centering yourself is an important step to this practice. Burn your herbs and walk through the space, focusing on corners, doorways and windows is important. Let the smoke billow throughout the areas you are cleansing and visualize any stagnate or negative energy being washed away. When you are finished take a moment to visual your newly cleansed space filling with a beautiful golden light and loving energy. Feel this all around you.


I hope these techniques will be useful to you in your journey.

Many blessings, Takoda || Catori Life



Daily Rituals. The art and practice of Smudging. Catori Life blog. Bohemian Lifetyle. Live inspired, stay wild. Sage, Palo Santo, how to smudge.jpg

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