Sacred Smoke:  The Ritual of Smudging

Sacred Smoke: The Ritual of Smudging

Have you ever noticed that most times in sacred ceremonies, temples, places of worship and rituals around the world, no matter what symbols or prayers are used, one thing that is universally present is the use of sacred smoke?  Beyond aromatic scents, in many traditions, sacred smoke bridges the gap between the seen and unseen.  The practice of burning sage, palo santo, resins, or other dried herbs in personal smudging rituals combines ancient cultural, ceremonial, spiritual and medicinal teachings of the past.  Burning these herbs and natural materials is an intentional way to clear out negative energy and to replenish positive, healing energy, which can reflect in your mind and life immediately.  More recently, a scientific study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that smudging with “medicinal smoke” for one hour reduces airborne bacteria by more than 94%.  Essentially, smudging an office, home, object or person can correct the energy and bring peace and balance to a space.  Stagnant energy in your field (emotional, energetic, physical, mental, environmental) can produce feelings of negativity, depression, sluggishness or just feeling off, which can eventually manifest into things like a lack of joy and success, as well as pain and disease.  Smudging will help combat this energy.



What you use to clear your space will depend on what you have access to in your area.  In the states, we typically have access to tobacco, cedar, sweet grass, juniper, pine needles, and cypress.  Here are by step-by-step instructions and tips for a simple, intentional and sacred smudging ritual…

Items to Gather

  • Bundled sage or other medicinal herb (Earth Element)
  • Natural Abalone shell or other heat proof natural container (Water Element)
  • Matches or a lighter (Fire Element)
  • Feather (Air Element)

The Process

  • Clear your space of clutter and open windows to allow clean air to enter
  • Hold sacredness and respect when connecting with the plant that will assist you in clearing the space
  • Light one end of the sage bundle, palo santo stick or other bundled herbs with the fire source and gently blow out the flame while keeping the end lit
  • Circulate the sacred smoke around yourself to clear your physical body, mind, and spirit of any energetic disturbances within or surrounding you, making sure to invite the smoke around you from head to toe and front to back before smudging your space
  • Fan the smoke with a feather in the four directions (North, South, East, West)
  • To set down the hot smudge stick, place it in the natural shell, clay, or fire-proof container and give the feather a final pass through the smoke to clear away any energies it absorbed

A Smokeless Alternative

When you’re in an environment where you can’t have a smoke-filled space, consider an alternative like a sage smudge spray. Smudge sprays are a smokeless alternative to burning sage and are ideal for those with smoke sensitivities.  With pure essential oils like clary sage and other natural and pure ingredients, smudge sprays can clear and cleanse a room or body’s energy with a soft fragrance.


Here is a beautiful prayer to say while you clear your space:

May your hands be cleansed,

that they create beautiful things.  

May your feet be cleansed,

that they might take you where you most need to be.  

May your heart be cleansed,

that you might hear its messages clearly.  

May your throat be cleansed,

that you might speak rightly when words are needed.  

May your eyes be cleansed,

that you might see the signs and wonders of the world.  

May this person and space be washed clean by the smoke of these fragrant plants. 

And may that same smoke carry our prayers, spiraling, to the heavens.”

xoxo, Naima Woodson, Beachbum Wisdom

Follow my journey @beachbumwisdom and @beachbumwisdomtravels

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