The Complete Guide to Smudging

What is smudging?  The purpose of smudging is to remove negative energy from a space or a person.  Cultures from all over the world for hundreds and even thousands of years have used sacred plants/natural incense to purify negative energy, bring good luck, and give protection from any sort of negative energy.

What do you use?  Smudges/smudge sticks are usually a bundle of leaves and stems of a naturally aromatic plant that has some medical/mental health benefits and/or some historical spiritual significance.  White Sage, a perennial herb native to South Western North America, is a sacred plant that is excellent for smudging, and traditionally most common.  Palo Santo, a tree native to Central America, is also a powerful spiritual tool used for smudging.  There are other many beautiful herbs and plants that work well for smudging, all of which have both some medical/mental health benefits or historical significance.  Cedar, Sweetgrass, Yerba Santa & Blue Sage to name just a few. 

Consider getting a natural Abalone shell to house your smudging tools before, during and after each use.  Abalone was used by Native people for bartering, food and bowls.  Abalone is very popular today and commonly sold in cans, the shell is the bi-product used for jewelry, art, decor and of course smudging.  All Abalone have natural holes in the side of the shell due to the natural form of this sea creature.  But don't worry, as long as you are a little careful, the ash shouldn't spill or fall out of the shell. There is also a rough patch in the center of nearly all Abalone species, this is a natural creation as well and perfectly normal.

One last item worth mentioning is the turkey feather.  A feather (traditionally an Eagle/Turkey feather) is used to gently fan the smudging smoke - which is optional and personal preference.

When should you do it?  Smudging should be done at any time you feel is appropriate and as little or often as you want.  You can smudge any kind of space like your home, office, car or even a person (just be really careful, obviously).  We personally burn a little sage or palo santo just about everyday, maybe 1/4 of a bundle/stick or less and it's mainly to enjoy the scent and calmness.  For most people, you'll want to cleanse your home or space at least once very thoroughly, maybe using 1/4-1/2 of a bundle or stick.  Then after that it's up to you to decide when the next smudging should be, or burn a little bit somewhat often and enjoy!  When you are not using your bundle or stick, let it rest in your abalone shell until you use it again. Do not leave your smudges in an area that is very humid.

How do you smudge your home?  First, we like to suggest cracking a window a little bit or at least being very cautious that the smoke doesn't build up too much - just something to keep an eye on.  You may set off a smoke detector if you let the smoke build up too much.

Ignite your smudge stick until there is a strong ember burning.  Blow on your smudge stick occasionally to keep the embers going, relight them as needed.  It can be very difficult to get your smudge stick burning well, some are harder than others and this is perfectly natural and normal.  Hold the smudge at an angle so the flame covers the entire end of the stick or bundle and hold the flame for around 20-30 seconds. DO NOT begin the process with a smudge stick that has a full flame - you should only have a smoldering ember in order to begin the process.

You can place the smudge stick in an abalone shell while it is smoldering, just be careful because the shell will get hot.  You can also just hold the smudge stick in your hand, just remember to be cautious of your surroundings.

Over the entire space, start in the East, then move South, West and North.  Start in a corner furthest away from the door or exit.  Move around the room eventually making your way to the exit.  Go high, low and side to side.  

Use this process throughout your home or space.  The smoke will cleanse and protect.  Make sure you get your entire space covered, be careful not to burn anything or anyone and always crack a window so the smoke does not build up too much.  Safety first! 

You may recite this JL Local blessing if you like - it is optional but many people do.  It is based on traditional ceremony and the meanings may be slightly different to different types of cultures.

The Sacred Sage Burns As I Walk With Creator
To Cleanse This Space And Protect My Home
To Heal, Bring Strength And Bring Peace
I Honor The Cycle Of Life And The Four Directions

From The New Beginning In the East, Birth
The Warmth And Light Of The South, Growth
Closing The Day, Bringing Change In the West, Maturity
The North Gives Wisdom And Guidance, Transition
To Heal And Strengthen, The Sacred Sage Burns

How do I smudge myself or someone else?  Use the same concept as smudging your home just apply the four directions to the person.  Let your smudge smoke naturally flow and fan the smoke as needed. 

What is the meaning or reasoning behind these methods?  Smudging is traditionally performed a certain way in honor of the four directions and Creator.

The four directions (North, South, East & West) have significant meaning to Native people.  When you are Smudging you are pushing out negativity and bringing in positivity and ancient tradition honors the important things in life like health, nature, stages of life, seasons of the year, the earth, the universe, animals, plants – everything around us that makes it all possible.  

The four directions:

East – Light and the start of a new day, new beginnings and the opportunity to grow and become wise.
South – Growth, our Earth and the warmth of summer.
West – Maturity, the direction of the setting sun.  Symbolic of the changing of the seasons and the end of our day.  
North – Wisdom & Guidance, the trials and journey we endure in life. 







Safety Disclaimer:  JL Local is not responsible for any damage to any persons or property as a result of purchasing any JL Local products or using any JL Local products or following the directions of use of any JL Local products or website content.  Use at your own risk, be cautious of your surroundings and do not leave anything burning unsupervised, out of sight or in a windy/breezy area.