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Smudging or Saging


A Native Americans custom, smudging or saging is done to cleanse a person or a place spiritually. In a spiritual sense, when you smudge, you fill a space with dense smoke to eliminate negative energy and invite positive energy.  People use sage, cedar, and sweetgrass. Sage is so popular that smudging is also known as saging.


I prefer white desert sage, which comes either loose or in bundles. Sweetgrass brings in positive energy. Sage and cedar bar negativity.

Because shells are ocean creatures, members of the First Nation have requested us not to use abalone or clam shells to hold the sage when it burns. Any heat resistant bowl will work well. If using a smudge bundle, lay it across your container or prop it up after you light it. Because sage and cedar are oily, they tend to pop and throw off embers when burning so be mindful if you have carpeting. 

If you have carpeting, plastic or wooden floors, smudge with caution. To avoid burn marks when you light your sage, you might want to stand on top of a large towel or blanket. You do not want to recall your spiritual work negatively by seeing a burn mark on your flooring! As you go around your home, be extra careful to keep your container under the bundle. Alternatively, forego the bundle altogether and use loose leaves but not too many. 

How to Smudge


To prepare, open all the windows, doors, drawers, and cabinets in your home to allow before negative energy to leave and positive energy to replace it. Begin in the East, if you can, and move clockwise through your home. As you walk through the room, close all the other windows, closets, drawer, and doors after you sage. However, leave a window/door close to where you began open. You will close this window last. As you smudge, pay special attention to corners and behind doors.

If there is no opening to the East, use whatever direction faces an exact cardinal direction. If that is not possible, use the South East, or South West, North West or North East, in that order. 

When you return to the original place where you began, close the door as you enter the room. Then say a prayer to release negativity and invite positive energy. Sage that room again and close all windows/doors. If you can place the sage outside do so and allow the fire to die down on its own. If you cannot, find a spot on your altar and let the fire go out by itself. When the sage has burned down, Take the ashes outside and give them to the tallest healthiest tree you can find. Thank the sage for giving up its life to protect you. Do not keep the ashes inside. 

Follow your intuition, but do not overdo it. You are cleansing, not fumigating! If you have a very sensitive fire alarm, silence it temporarily. If you have Spirit Helpers, this is the time to ask them to join you in driving away negativity and bringing positive energy and balance into your life.

Smudging Yourself

Always begin by smudging yourself. How you smudge depends if you are using the bundle or burning lose leaves. If burning the leaves, hold the bow in your left hand and the feather in your right one. Bring the feather and container to your heart. Waft the smoke towards you with a feather, a fan, or your hand. Smudge your heart, then your head, arms, chest, stomach, genitalia, legs, and feet. If using a smudge stick, the process is similar. Bring the bundle towards you as close as you can and allow the smoke to waft towards you. When smudging yourself, it is difficult to cleanse your own back. Reach behind you and sage as much of your back as you can reach. 


You may use this prayer or find another one. As you smudge the front of you, trace a clockwise circle over the part mentioned with the sage and say: 

The front of your face and head: May your head have happy thoughts.

Your arms, extended in a cross: May your arms reach out for joy. 

Your heart and the area around it: May your heart be open to love.  

The area between your solar plexus, around the sternum, and the lower part of your abdomen: May your organs be strong. 

Your knees: May your knees be flexible  

Your feet: May your feet walk the path of truth.  


Note: If you can lift each foot individually, sage each one at a time.  

Reaching back, sage as much of your back as you can:

Your neck up and down: May your neck keep your head erect.

Your shoulder area: May your shoulders bear their burdens well

Your back, up and down and around it: May your back be strong and pliable.  

A circle around your hips and buttocks:  May your hips be balanced.

Up and down the back of your legs: May your legs be strong 

The space around your feet: May you always walk the path of beauty.

If you are a visual learner, you can go to these two videos for additional information:

Smudge Your Space

If you are fortunate to have a door or window that faces east, start there. Before you begin, close all your other windows and doors except that one. If you do not have an opening to the East, then start with the closest one to it. As you smudge, allow the smoke to enter your closets and drawers. You can even smudge under your clothing if you have time. When at a window, consciously ask the spirit of sage to banish negativity and invite the spirit of sweetgrass to bring in good energy in the future. As you finish smudging each section of a room, close the drawers, windows, and doors behind you, but leave the one door/window open until you finish. 

Begin by finding the East in the center of the room where you are setting up your altar. Approach the wall and, with a feather or the smudge stick, waft the smoke towards the East four times. Invite the help and assistance of the herb(s) you are using aloud. For example, you might say aloud, “I welcome the assistance of the Spirit of Sage to help me cleanse and create Sacred Space.” 

When done welcoming the spirits in the East, walk around your room in a clockwise direction until you reach the South. Repeat your words and actions, and do the same in the West and North. Notice that as you go around, you are moving in a clockwise direction and creating a circle. 


[i]Smudging,, Accessed, 8/19,2014. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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