It's always a good idea to clear the air and refresh our surroundings with new energy. Smoke has been used in many cultures for cleansing and healing, and one of the most common smoke-purification rituals is a Native American tradition called smudging. This traditional ritual of burning sage has some interesting science-backed benefits that we may want to add to our practices as well.
Scientific Benefits of Smudging
Although the spiritual benefits of these practices might be viewed with skepticism, the health benefits are actually proven. Due to our many tech gadgets, plastics, microwaves, and air pollution, our homes today have become what some describe as “positive ion prisons.”
Positive ions are the bad kind and they tend to concentrate indoors. To get rid of them, we can open the windows and let the natural air come in, eliminate carpet, switch to all-natural mattresses, decorate with living plants and salt lamps, or do a smudging ritual. This ancient practice literally does clear the air, as burning sage and other herbs neutralizes the ions, and has antiseptic, bacteria-killing properties.
Several studies have found the benefits of smudging to be:
- A natural antidepressant
- Clearing the air of positive ions
- Cleansing objects
- Relaxing effects
- Increased energy
- Improved quality of sleep
- Improved mental focus
- Reduce stress
How to Smudge:
- A clay bowl or abalone shell
- A few leaves of your dried herb of choice (or a blend)
- A flame
- An open hand or feather
Before you begin any purification ritual, make sure you’re fully present.
1. If you are inside, open the windows in the space you are in, creating a flow of air from outside.
2. Using a match or lighter, light the herbs in your bowl of choice. Let them flame for 20 to 30 seconds before sweeping your hand above them to extinguish any fire.
3. It is customary to smudge oneself first before moving on to others and the surrounding space. Using a cupped hand, draw the smoke around you. Starting from the top, bring the smoke over and around your head and down your body all the way to your feet.
4. Once you are finished with yourself, move in a clockwise direction around your home starting at the front door.
5. Use your feather or hand to guide the smoke gently into the corners of the room and over any plants or pieces of furniture.
6. Once you have finished smudging, tradition tells us that the ashes should be taken outside and returned to the soil. Call it superstition if you’d like, but many tribes believe that the ashes carry energy that must be returned to the earth.