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Go Smudge Yourself

November 26, 2019 No Comments

Last year I attended a meditation circle. A friend of mine asked if I’d smudge people before they entered the space. I agreed to do it for the gathering, understanding it’s benefits in clearing the space for the event.

I began by lighting the bundle of sage over the abalone shell and used a feather to waft the smoke around each person. Most people welcomed me into their personal space. Some people lifted their arms and feet so I could direct the smoke over every nook and cranny. 

One woman stopped me and said, “This smells really good, but why are we doing this?” 

I began explaining to her and discovered others in the room were curious too. One woman asked if I’d demonstrate the proper way to smudge and to make sure she was doing it right.

To help answer the most common questions around smudging, I’d like to share my wisdom and experience with this ancient shamanic practice.

1) What is Smudging?

Smudging is a Native American tradition that involves the burning of special ceremonial herbs to clear out negative energies. The most popular smudging sticks are dried sage bundles or palo santo sticks. You can also use sweetgrass to bring in positive energies afterwards. Feathers are important to direct the smoke around the person or the living space.

2) Why Do It and When? 

The purpose is to clear the air and wash away negative energies. Afterward, the air feels lighter and it’s easier to breathe. I generally smudge my house with sage once a week or bi-monthly. Another good time is after you’ve had guests in your home. The process returns the space to a more peaceful state after all the activity.

3) What Will I Need and Where Can I Buy the Supplies?

To get started you’ll need a fireproof vessel like a shell, a feather and herbal bundle of your choice. There are many places on-line but I prefer Tao’s Herb. They have a wide selection and competitive prices.

4) Does Smudging Purify the Air?

Other than the good spiritual mojo we create, there are scientific reasons to smudge. There are many studies on the antiseptic properties of medicinal smoke. There was a remarkable 2007 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology that describes how burning medicinal herbs can completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within a confined space. Here is a link to an abstract of the study –Medicinal Smoke Reduces Airborne Bacteria.

5) How Do I Smudge?

There are a few ways to smudge. This depends on your beliefs and what feels right to you. Your intention is more important than following a precise formula. Here’s a simple process to use:

  • Crack open a window or two. This will set the stage and provide an exit space for those unwanted energies to flow.
  • Light the sage or palo santo stick. Be careful with embers falling to the floor. You may want to hold something to catch hot ashes, such as an abalone shell.
  • Use a feather to waft, or direct, the smoke into the air. Some people allow the smoke to naturally find its way into the air from the burning end. Try not to use your hand to waft the smoke in the air. In theory, if you put your hand in the smoke, you can “catch” some of it. 
  • Travel counter-clockwise smudging from corner to corner in every room on every floor. Repeat to yourself: ”Only light and love may exist in this space. All others may move on.” Again, your intentions are most important here. 
  • Smudge yourself at the end. Guide the smoke over and around you and let it clear you of any unwanted energy. Remember, energy is neither created nor destroyed, so this process is about moving unwanted energy on and cleansing the air of micro-organisms.

I hope you found this article useful. If so, please comment, like or share below. Happy Smudging! 

Kim Manning

Kim Manning, MA, CHES, NBC-HWC is a health coach and health educator in Massachusetts, who has a passion for nature-based healing traditions. For more information on Kim please visit

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