How to use Smudge Sticks
THE HISTORY AND WIDESPREAD USE OF SAGE
Sage has a long tradition as a magickal healer and sacred herb. The practice of burning sage (known as smudging) to clear bad energy and purify a space or person has been widespread in many ancient and scattered cultures around the world for thousands of years. It's antibacterial properties make it useful for cleansing the air. It also repels pests and bugs very effectively. Sage was widely burnt during plague times as both a physical and magickal way to ward off disease and evil spirits.
The Romans used sage as a magical medicine with many traditions and ceremonies associated with it's use. They held the herb sacred to Jupiter the Roman king of the Gods, believing it a great all round healer and good for the intellect and memory. It is thought they introduced it's use to Britain and Northern Europe two thousand years ago.
The Ancient Greeks also treated sage with a similar reverence, dedicating it to their god Zeus.
In folklore and traditions across Europe many diverse cultures including Celtic druids, Norse Vikings, plus local healers and practioners of wichcraft have associated sage with wisdom and long life, in particular in burning sage for the purification of a space, person or group of people.
Halfway across the world in a similar practice smudging with sage is also an important part of the Native American Shamanic beliefs. Modern day American Wiccans who smudge with sage are often accused of "cultural appropriation" of the Native American tradition by those unaware of it's equally long and ancient history and traditions back in Europe.
THE MAGICKAL PROPERTIES OF SAGE
Sage has for centuries been one of the most commonly used herbs in European magick, wicca and folk traditions.
It has been burnt or smudged for many centuries to cleanse and purify a space or a group of people. If smudged before a magic ritual or coven meeting it's thought to sweep away negative energy, purify the air and create a clear, fresh and vibrantly energetic space, keeping away bad influences that might be attracted by the open circle.
Sage gets rid of negativity, drives out bad thoughts, worries and stress, is used for protection, exorcism and purification, and brings wisdom, clarity and increased spiritual awareness.
Sage is also be burnt when seeking knowledge or guidance on a difficult decision, hence the expression "getting sage advice".
Sage smudge sticks are also often used by body workers and therapists before treatments.
Sage is considered a masculine herb. It's associated with the air and earth elements, the Gods Jupiter and Zeus and the granting of wishes. It's white or blue-gray colouring links it with the night and lunar magick, the light of the full moon and the wisdom of the Crone.
Sage is also believed to help alleviate sorrow and heal grief.
It is ruled by Gemini.
Carry sage or add it to a mojo bag to promote wisdom and to overcome grief.
A simple spell can be done by writing a wish on Sage leaf and burning it to release your intentions.
HOW TO SMUDGE WITH SAGE
Smudging is the term given to burning a bundle or "wand" of sage and wafting the smoke throughout the air to force negative spirits and energies away.
The traditions and practices of sage burning in cleansing and protective rituals have lasted for over 2000 years. The belief is that the smoke absorbs any bad energy and carries it up and away. Burning sage can lift your mood it can help clear stress.
Smudging is often used by healers. The smoke may be fanned over the person being healed either using the hand, a fan or a feather.
Rooms, people and even small items like crystals can all be smudged.
Smudging isn't complicated or hard to do. Allow yourself about 10 to 15 minutes. It's best to find a time when you will not be disturbed.
You'll need a smudge stick of course. This is a bundle of sage tied into a stick or a wand. You'll find a good selection of different types of smudge sticks in our shop. The most commonly used is white sage, but we have other types too with different properties if you'd prefer.
To catch the ash you'll need a clay pot or any fireproof container. It's considered best to use something natural or hand made rather than something factory produced. Many like to use a large shell. We sell large abalone shells which you can also find in the Smudge Sticks section of our shop.
You'll also need a lighter or matches and maybe a candle.
Before you start you should clear your mind of any mundane thoughts or the days agitations and stresses. Be focused on your intention Whether a straightforward cleansing or to evoke healing energies you should know what you want to achieve.
Place the smudge stick in your container or shell.
Light the tip of your smudge stick with a candle, match or lighter. Again it's considered spiritually cleaner to use natural or handmade items so a handmade candle is considered best (which of course we also sell), however you can use whatever's practical for yourself. Sage will catch fire quickly, so after a few seconds extinguish the flame by gently pressing it into your shell or ashtray until any flames are gone and your smudge is smouldering, then gently wave the smudge stick in the air allowing the tip to smoulder.
Always hold the smudge stick over your shell or container so you can catch any ash or burning bits of sage that may fall off, or so you can immediately put the smudge stick down if the fire gets too lively.
The sage creates a thick, greyish smoke. Let the smoke billow up and fan it to disperse it around you with a fan or feather, or cup the smoke with your hand to direct it.
You'll probably want to smudge yourself first before you smudge anything else. Direct the smoke around your body, starting several inches above your head and continuing down to your feet. As the smoke surrounds you you should feel yourself and your aura being cleansed of negative energy. Keep your thoughts positive and relaxed. It's not a race so take your time. The smudge stick should last many uses so you can take several minutes to smudge slowly and calmly. Try not to fill the air too thickly with smoke or to get a face full. Breathing thick clouds of smoke is never a good idea.!
After smudging yourself you should now smudge any person that you're with in the same way. Remember it's the gentle cloud of smoke that's doing the cleansing so there's no need to go too close to them with the burning end of the smudge stick. Be sensible and safety conscious.
Now you can smudge the room or the space you're in.
Good magickal practise is to start at the front door or entrance way and work around the space in a clockwise direction. Fan the smoke gently into the air, paying attention in the corners or any small or unused areas where stagnant energies can occur. Also focus on windows, doors and other entrance points, plus any areas where people tend to accumulate. If you have "a feeling" that a certain area needs a bit more smoke give it the extra attention you feel it needs. Intuition is very useful when it comes to cleaning bad energies.
You may choose to speak an incantation such as "This sage is purifying, this sage is cleansing, all negative energy is flying away. This space is now clear." The exact words you use are not important, it's the intention that counts, and that is to rid the space of any negative, stagnant or lingering energies.
Once you're happy the smoke has reached everywhere you want it to, come back to where you started and gently extinguish your smudge stick by pressing the smouldering end into your shell or ash catcher.
Smouldering sage does not extinguish instantly so this might take a couple of minutes. You may find it easier to stub it out by gently rolling the end in a little sand, salt or earth held in your ash catcher or abalone shell.
Once you've stubbed it out let it rest in the shell or container for half an hour to cool down somewhere you can keep an eye on it to ensure it's still not burning.
If you have to extinguish the smudge stick in a hurry water will do that, but you don't want to be in the habit of using water as you'll need to let your smudge stick completely dry before you can use it again, and sage takes forever to dry.
As always be sensible when using flames or fire in your magick or cleansing. Don't leave any burning smudge stick or candle unattended and of course be mindful of any fire hazards or anything that may get scorched or burned.
WHEN TO SMUDGE
Smudging is considered an excellent way to cleanse yourself or an area before any form of magick or ritual work.
It's also good practice to smudge your home regularly in the same way you should keep it physically clean. There's no right or wrong answer to the question of how often you should smudge. Some people smudge twice a week, others every full moon, and others only once or twice a year. Trust your intuition and do it as often as you feel you need to cleanse the bad energies away. If your home feels like it has bad energies smudging often is a good idea. If you smudge your living space once a week you will soon notice a much healthier, calmer and more positive atmosphere.
Smudging is also recommended after there has been an argument, a sickness or any other bad event. It's also a good idea for when starting on something new, such as a new job, a new relationship, a new plan or a new year.
SMUDGE STICKS FROM COSMIC UNICORN
We have a good range of smudging sticks in different types of ethically sourced sage, plus also in alternatives such as Palo Santo wood. We also stock abalone shells and hand-made candles which you might like to use in your smudging.
See our Smudge Sticks and Beeswax Candles sections and find something you like.
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