Sacred Smoke:: Purifying by Smudging Herbs

The use of herbs in rituals is ancient, old as time itself. Centuries of ancestors have taken part in using herbs for cleansing, purifying and completing ceremonies. Despite the fact that its become popular in the Western world for the past few decades its roots are not in the "new-age" movement but stretching throughout many cultures and traditions around the world. Shamans across North and South America, Europe and Siberia have done smudging rituals for different reasons. They burned certain herbs and incense as a way of gaining access to the soul and power of plants for spiritual, ceremonial and magical use. [Source]

So, what's smudging?

Smudging is a spiritual technique for cleansing that "calls upon the spirits" of different plants on this earth, that are our allies in life. You can perform a smudging ritual by burning the plants that call to you, it is easy and you do not need any experience...only a willingness to try and feel for yourself. Burn the herbs that call to you from this list on a non-flammable surface (clay bowl, ashtray, etc.) Light the herbs, or bundle at the non-woodsy end and waft the smoke with a Peyote feather wand over the person/space/object you are wishing to cleanse.

Purposes for smudging include:

  • using the herbs as an offering to promote harmony and balance
  • for healing protection for self or others
  • to clear negative energies (believed that the smoke attaches itself and clears it out)
  • to purify a space before receiving a healing session, or a client, or an interview/meeting
  • to spiritually purify a land, a location or an object, furniture (when first placing them in your personal space)

Herbs typically used for smudging:

SAGE: The word sage comes from the Latin "salvare" which translates to "heal". Studies have demonstrated that the smoke of burning sage literally changes the ionization polarity of the air! You can use desert sage, white sage, coastal sage...and so on. Sage has been known to heal tears in the aura, and drive out negative thoughts/etc. Useful for cleansing and protecting crystals as well.

PINON RESIN: pinon resin utilized by Native American tribes for its healing properties that are nourishing, strengthening, and stimulating.

JUNIPER: Used in ancient times for ritual purification of temples. Aids in reviving a depressed state of mind, body and spirit. Burn in the morning time perhaps before your morning ritual of meditation, prayer, self-love etc.

ROSE PETALS: Rose petals promote a vibration of love, higher consciousness, welcoming higher dimensional beings. Burn before meditation, divination, psychic communication or connecting with your higher self. (Element is water)

HIBISCUS FLOWERS: Wrap the flower over sage and other herbs you like in your bundle. Flowers such as Hibiscus are excellent for rejuvenating the senses and inspiring your spirit!! In other words, they perk you up!   (Elements are water and fire). Click here to read my post on the Hibiscus flower essence.

LAVENDER: Burn to promote restfulness, draw away insomnia. Or fill a small pocket with lavender buds and place under your pillow with a few amethyst crystals (bye bye insomnia)! (Element is air.)

CEDAR: Use before sleep, to promote love and dispel fear in your heart, to allow for more pleasant dreams. Also useful to burn before doing anything that scares you (such as a big interview)! Try the Western Red Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and California Incense Cedar (Libocedrus descurrens), don't forget that to burn cedar must be sprinkled over a charcoal in a "brazier".

FRANKINCENSE: Stems from the resin of an African tree, and produces a thick smoke when burned. Use to settle anger, promote higher vibrations, ease tense nerves. Primarily element is fire yet can be used for invoking the four-elements during a ceremony.


◎ Smudging should be executed only when you have respectfully harvested the plants (asking the plant for permission before cutting it so that you are working IN spirit rather than against it). The plants have died now because of you and you should honor them in the process, respecting all of Earth's creatures. Ensure the herbs are organic and haven't been treated with any chemical synthetics because you could inhale the smoke. Proceed with utmost unconditional love.