There are many different plant materials you can use for smudging. Some common ones are sage, cedar, sweet grass, and lavender.
What Is Smudging?
Smudging a way to energetically cleanse a space to invite positive energy. When smudging a space, you burn plant material. The smoke fills and purifies the environment.
My personal go-to is palo santo, a wood from South America. I find that it has a sweet, bright, and minty energy that’s perfect for everyday use.
White sage is probably the most common and popular herb for smudging. It is associated with purity and has a strong and heavy presence. It's definitely useful for when you need a major space cleansing.
As the smoke ascends, our wishes and intentions rise and mingle into the universe, connecting heaven, earth, and humanity.
Smoke offerings are found in Buddhism, Indigenous practices in the U.S., and many other spiritual religions. The smoke ceremony creates transformation and blesses a space and the inhabitants.
Gather Your Materials
Before you begin, take time to gather your materials. The mindfulness of a smoke ritual begins when you collect your supplies, so practice this with ease and care. Do your best to slow down and not rush through this first step.
Keep the ritual materials sacred by using them only for space clearing. You can store your other materials on your shrine or altar.
In feng shui, we also use dried orange peels called “chen pei”. It's also pretty intense. As a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, I also use juniper to smudge and purify.
There are dozens of new, small online retailers popping up that carry unique (and gorgeous) smudge sticks with all sorts of ingredients bundled together like rose, mugwort, rosemary, and more.
Candle and Matches
It’s recommended to have a candle nearby to relight the smudge stick during the smudging ceremony. Matches or a lighter is used to light the candle. And you will light the smudge stick with the candle flame.
It's useful to have a fireproof container, like a small clay bowl, to hold underneath the smudge stick to catch any ashes or embers. Indigenous peoples often use an abalone shell for this, bringing in a water element. I recommend you use a container (bowl or plate) that you love and only use for smudging ceremonies.
Bowl of Sand
A bowl of sand is a must. It is used to properly extinguish the smudge stick safely after the ritual is complete.
Before You Begin the Smudging Ceremony
Allow enough space and time for the ritual so you don’t feel rushed. If possible, meditate for at least five minutes to calm your mind and heart.
If anyone else is present during this smudging ceremony, you can include them in the ritual. Prepare some other space clearing tools that they can use while you are smudging. For instance they can work with sound and ring bells.
Remember when performing a space clearing, intention is key. Before you start, take some time to contemplate what your wishes are for your home and family. When you clear your house, there’s a vacuum that’s created. You want to welcome your intentions into the newly cleared and open space.
Smudging the Space
Now that you have all your tools and preparations in place, you can begin the smudging ritual.
Start at the front door of the home and light your smudge stick. Then, begin to move around the home. Move mindfully and with care, walking clockwise around the entire perimeter of the home. Be sure to allow the smoke to drift into even the hidden spaces, like inside closets, basements and dark corners. If there are stairs, just go up or down when you encounter them. Then keep moving clockwise until you meet the stairs again. Then continue to go down or up the stairs and resume the main floor.
Moving around a space like this is called “circumambulation”. It’s a practice that’s been done for centuries in ancient cultures to make a space more sacred. And, if it feels okay to you, it’s helpful to chant a mantra or a prayer that you’re connected to. I use the Tibetan Buddhist mantra “Om mani padme hum”, the mantra of compassion. This is a way to fill the space with more cleansing vibrations.
Closing the Ceremony
When you arrive back at the front door, chant your final mantra or prayer. Visualize the entire home is filled with bright white sunlight. Then speak your intention one last time to close the smudging ceremony.
Smudging rituals are a beautiful technique to clear a space. This can be done annually or more often. It’s especially powerful to perform a space clearing when you first move into a home, or on the lunar new year.