The Smudging/Spiritual Cleansing

November 6, 2016


Smudging is the common name given to the sacred smoke bowl blessing, a powerful cleansing technique from the Native North American tradition. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and restore balance. It is the art of cleansing yourself and your environment using simple ritual and ceremony. For thousands of years smudging has been a part of Native American tradition but now its power of cleansing is available to everyone. 

Smudging is not newfangled, nor are they airy-fairy new-age waffle. Native North American tradition dates back millennia, and most traditional cultures -- from the Zulus to the Maoris, from the Chinese to the Balinese -- have age-old form of cleansing and blessing rituals. Even the West retains relics of them, although we have long forgotten the true purpose behind many such rituals and ceremonies. Incense wafting through a church cleanses the atmosphere just as surely ans the medicine man's bowl of sacred smoke, or smudge. The bells that ring out on Sunday are intended to purify the whole parish and lead the community into worship, just as the shaman's drum can lead us on sacred journeys to the spirit world. 



The Native American Way of Purification and Blessing


                                                 Burning white sage smudge stick.


 Originally, mixtures of sacred herbs and resins were burned in a special bowl. Smoke was then wafted around the person or place needing purification and cleansing. However, smudge sticks (bundles or dried herbs tied together with colored thread or a strip of hide) offer an easier way of smudging that is just as effective.The herbs most often used in smudge sticks are sage and sweetgrass. Sage drives out any negative thoughts, energies, spirits, and influences. Sweetgrass is used to attract positive energy after all that negative energies have been banished by sage. Native North Americans see smudging as a way of shifting between various levels of reality -- connecting us here in the material, physical world to the subtle realm of spirits.When to smudge?You should smudge your house regularly to keep the energy positive and the vibration high. As I mentioned earlier, smudging is not as efficient as a full exorcism ritual and will not get rid of very persistent negative energies, major demons or spirits that are bound to a place and haunt it, or firmly entrenched in somebody's energy field. However, smudging can take care of smaller entities, or those that just happened to travel through or linger, the so-called opportunists. Besides, smudging will raise the spiritual vibrations of a place and make it less attractive for negative entities to hang around.It is advisable to smudge your place whenever there have been arguments or release of negative energy, or if you have been feeling depressed or in a bad mood. Smudging is quite effective at removing negative thought forms. Therefore, always smudge after negative people have visited your place. Always smudge after each healing you do on a client. Always smudge when there has been a release of emotional pain or trauma, whether this energy was released by yourself, a family members or a healing client. If you had a spell of bad luck, if anybody in your house is sick or has been sick, use smudge to clear the energy. If you have done a complete banishing ritual or an exorcism of a house you may want to complete it by smudging as well. It is advisable to do smudging at the beginning of any sacred ritual or group ceremony. It will repel any negativity participants might have brought with them while clearing the mind and bringing a peaceful energy in preparation for spiritual activities or meditation.How to smudge?



- Smudging Ritual Items

You can clear your crystals, personal jewellery, or any other ritual tools by passing them through the smoke of white sage. You can also smudge your clothes, massage table, healing implements, your pendulum, tarot cards, etc. Simply hold a smudge stick in one hand and pass the items you want to clear through the rising smoke provided they are small enough to do so.

Just move the smudge stick over and around the objects until you feel that all the negativity has been cleared. Always beware of falling embers that might burn delicate items. All healing tools should be smudged after each use. Or, if a personal ritual item has accidentally been touched by somebody else, smudge it!


- Smudging People

Smudging summons the spirits of sacred plants, asking them to drive away negativity and put you back into a state of balance. It is the psychic equivalent of washing your hands before eating and is used as an essential preliminary to almost all Native North American ceremonies.

This can be done indoors or outdoors, while dressed or naked. The advantage of outdoor smudging is that you do not have to worry about falling embers so much. The smudge stick generally burns very well outdoors, because even a mild breeze will stimulate it to burn faster.

Smudging is best done in standing. Pass the smudge stick through your aura beginning from your feet and working your way up to the head or vice versa. Cover the whole front of your body, your sides and as much of the back of your body as you can reach if you are working on your own. It is much easier to do this with a partner who can help you with smudging your back. Or you simply take turns in smudging each other. Do not chat while you smudge, be silent and focused, receptive to the energies of the one you are smudging. 


- Smudging a house  

Smudging not only cleanses people; it can also clear a room or area of any old or stagnant energy. All rooms need cleansing, just as much as they need physical cleansing. If you life feel stuck or things just aren't going according to plan, you may just find that simple space clearing solves the problem.

Smudging space. (Picture from

For a quick yet efficient cleansing of the energy in your home, sacred ritual space, or healing room, light a smudge stick and go around the place while waving the smudge stick through the air. Do this gently because if you wave it too vigorously it will cause many embers to break off and fall. To avoid damage to your home hold a bowl or a fireproof vessel underneath the smudge stick so that falling burning embers cannot damage furniture and surfaces.

Do this is an quiet meditative state and allow yourself to be drawn to areas of heavy energy and negativity. You will soon get a feel of it. Typically, where the energy is heavy and negative you will be drawn to smudge longer. Sometimes the smudge stick will burn more intensely, when there is negative energy around emitting large quantities of smoke or making loud cracking sounds. When there is resistance to clearing or strong negativity the smudge stick may go off several times and may need to be relit. Move around the whole room or house smudging every corner and nook and cranny until you feel the energy is clear. Warning: in some houses this may set off your fire alarm. So take care of of your fire alarm before you begin. 

Adapted from:  
the Smudging and Blessings Book Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal by Jane Alexander

Shared by: Emi


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