Burning of sage, also known as smudging is a technique to clear or cleanse a space. However, you must find out exactly what smudging is. Having a good understanding would help you figure out if this cleansing technique is for you.

What is the Purpose of Burning Sage

So much is going on in today’s modern world, staying in good health mentally or physically can be a bit of a challenge. Undoubtedly, a healthy lifestyle with regular exercising, healthy diet and other activities such as meditation and yoga can help. There is another activity or technique that may help. The idea of cleansing your home space to bring positivity to your life sounds pretty good, yes? Burning of sage, also known as smudging is a technique to clear or cleanse a space. However, you must find out exactly what smudging is. Having a good understanding would help you figure out if this cleansing technique is for you.

What is Smudging

Smudging is an ancient spiritual ritual, a ceremonial act of burning sacred herbs. For the last millennia, smudging has traditionally been practised by Indigenous peoples of the Americas. It is often done as a form of spiritual cleansing or as a blessing, purifying the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place.

There are four elements involved in a smudge:

  1. The first element – the container, traditionally a shell representing water.
  2. The second element – the four sacred plants that are sage, cedar, sweetgrass, tobacco, gifts from mother earth.
  3. The third element – the fire produced by lighting the sacred plants.
  4. Fourth element – the smoke produced from the fire represents air.

The sacred plants bundled together is referred to as a smudge stick or smudge bundle. Sage is the most sacred of the plants and most commonly used. It is burned primarily for protection. Cedar is used mainly for purifying and also to introduce positive energy. Sweetgrass is used to dispel negative energy. Tobacco helps to carry the smoke, with your intentions, to the “heavens”, also considered an offering.

Besides the Native Americans, smoke offerings are found in traditions such as Buddhism and other spiritual religions. The smoke ceremony creates transformation and blesses a space and the inhabitants.

Burning Sage For Cleansing

In modern times, the practice of smudging has been adopted by new age practitioners. They use the practice to cleanse, clearing negative energy from rooms and homes.

Simply explained, the smoke from various herbs and plants attaches itself to negative energy and as the smoke clears it takes the negative energy with it, releasing it into another space where it will be regenerated into positive energy.

The word smudging comes from “smudge”, which is English in origin. The scientific name for sage is Salvia Officinalis, derived from the Latin salvus, which means “healthy”, or salvare, meaning “to heal”.

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

I cannot say burning sage works for everyone and helps in “healing” but if one feels uncalm and burning sage helps clear up the uneasiness, you may want to consider burning sage for cleansing. It is a simple and fast way to cleanse your home creating a sacred space.

If you choose to do this, it is important to KEEP IN MIND – Burning sage is a sacred religious practice in some Native American cultures. Please treat the ritual with respect.

Is it Smudging or Cleansing

Smudging and cleansing with sage may seem to be the same but the word choice can make a difference.

Smudging is a specific practice by the Natives and is profoundly tied to spiritual ceremonies and customs.

Cleansing is not bound to a specific culture and not intrinsically spiritual.  It is simply the act of burning plant matter so that its smoke may benefit the space.

Therefore, when you use sage to clear negative energy from your house, cleansing is the better word choice, NOT smudging.

Be respectful of indigenous culture by using the correct terminology.

How to Cleanse a House with Sage

Gather Your Materials

Candle and matches. Instead of using the matches to light the sage stick, light a candle. Light the sage stick with the candle flame and keep the candle nearby in case you need to relight it throughout the process.

Fire-resistant bowl. It is useful to have a fire-resistant bowl or container to hold underneath the sage stick to catch any ashes or embers.

Bowl of sand. This is a must to safely extinguish the sage stick after the cleansing process is complete.

You sage cleanse your house for positive energy thus it is wise and respectful to designate a proper place to keep these supplies and use them only for space cleansing.

Before you begin burning sage

The cleansing ritual should not be rushed. Always allow enough time for the entire process.

Before starting, calm your mind and heart. Spend some time envisioning what your intentions and wishes are for your home and family. You can write them down or simply say it in your mind to set the tone.

Know this, when you cleanse your house, a vacuum is created and this is where you welcome your wishes into the newly cleared space.

Start cleansing your house

Now you have all your materials and intentions in place, you can start burning sage for cleansing with a calm mind.

Before starting, open up windows and doors to allow the smoke to carry away the negative energy.

At the front door, light the sage and let it burn for about 10-15 seconds. This is to keep it alight so that when you blow out the flame, a red ember will still be there creating smoke. The fire-resistant bowl should be in hand to catch any ashes or embers.

You may want to start the process with self-cleansing by fanning smoke around you – head, heart and along the front and back of your body. Then and there, slowly begin walking around your house clockwise. Allow the smoke to drift into corners of the room and areas where you spend a lot of time. Not forgetting hidden spaces like closets and basement. Also, spend some extra time around the entryways. Always remember to keep your intentions in mind throughout the cleansing.

Once you have paced through every part of your house and back at your front door, speak your intention one last time, give thanks to the sage and snuff out the flame in the sand. Check the end closely to make sure there are no more embers burning.

Clean up the ash catching bowl before keeping all your cleansing materials at a designated area.

Enjoy the positive energy in your home space!

Other Benefits of Burning Sage

This practice is not just spiritual. It goes beyond psychological qualities too.

Sage is known to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may have the potential to improve air quality and immune function, clearing away toxins you breathe every day and mitigate the effects of exposure to dust, pollen and mold.

A study showed several compounds found in sage have cognition and memory-enhancing effects. Also, provide relief from sore throat, depression and anxiety.

Where to Buy Sage

As sage cleansing becomes more popular, there has been an increase in sage providers who may be overharvesting the plants. Hence, it is important to use sage that is collected responsibly and sustainably.

Buy sage from a quality source that is respectful towards the plant such as Shamans Market. They have a store on Amazon you may want to take a look.

Alternatively, buy from ethical Wildcrafters at Starwest Botanicals where sage is gathered responsibly, ecologically sound, and respectful. The plants were not harmed and nothing was wasted.

You know what? Instead of sage, you may try other herbs or plants such as bay leaves, rosemary, mugwort, cinnamon, cedar and juniper.

Health benefits or magical uses, will you burn the bay leaves?

Read more about the benefits of burning bay leaf.

All in All

Sage, specifically California White Sage has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years for smudging. It is an ancient ritual performed for blessings and cleansing or purifying a space or soul.

Today, many people have adopted this method to clear negative energies. Though you need to understand smudging is still a sacred religious practice in some Native American cultures and must be respected in all manners.

If you are not performing the smudging ritual culturally, use the word cleansing instead of smudging to avoid misunderstanding and appropriation. A simple act of smoke cleansing is not inherently spiritual or specific to a certain culture but you need to be mindful about its origin and significance.

Image by Kayla Maurais on Unsplash

You can sage cleanse your house when you feel the need for it. If the feeling of uneasiness, tension, sadness or nervousness linger in the air, burning sage helps expel negative energy creating a neutral space or brings in positive energy. You may even consider cleansing on a weekly basis. Space cleansing when you first move into a home will give you greater peace of mind. I have relocated several times and never fail to perform space cleansing at our new home before moving in.

With the increasing knowledge on the benefits of burning sage for cleansing, the demand obviously increased. This might lead to overharvesting. When you buy white sage, ensure they are responsibly and ecologically gathered, not forgetting respectfully. Else, there are other herbs and plants you can use as mentioned above.

Go on, sage cleanse your house for positive energy. I hope this method will leave you feeling spiritually calm and your intentions fulfilled.

Happy Cleansing!

From the Corner of My Home to yours – Spice Up Your Life with Herbs and Spices

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Please Comment & Share

Now, with your understanding of smudging and cleansing, would you choose this method to expel negative energy from your home and bring in the positive? Let us know in the comments section below. If any, share with us your cleansing or smudging experiences. Look forward to knowing more from you.

Please share this article with anyone that you think might find it useful.

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links as part of the Amazon.com Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that cornerofmyhome.com receives a small commission by linking to amazon.com and other sites at no extra cost to the readers.

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Sharon is on a career break, minding her family. During her free hours, she loves sharing her passion for herbs and spices. She learned how to build this website at Wealthy Affiliate University. If you have a passionate topic and would love to share, click here to learn how to build your own profitable website!

10 Replies to “What is the Purpose of Burning Sage

  1. I really enjoyed this article. It was very interesting learning new things, I have never heard about smudging before  I came across this article here, I have watched people burn sage in movies and documentaries but I have never seen it in real life, so it was very interesting reading in detail about burning sage and I never knew it had so much benefits as these

  2. Wow.  I just realise the importance of burning sage. The information about the four elements involved in a smudge is interesting – earth water fire air. I like how you talked about the spiritual aspect and also the physical aspect. I only knew sage is antioxidant benefiting our health. Great information 

    1. Now that you know burning sage has its benefits, will you be using this cleansing technique? If you decided to try, let us know how it goes for you.

  3. There are a lot of practices in different countries and cultures, and most times we barely ask questions to know why those practices are done. The burning of sage you are discussing is this article is one of them. Thanks for this explanatory article on the purpose of burning sage. At least now I know why it is done.

  4. Hi,Sharon! 

    This Burning sage process to remove negative and bad vibration at home is widespread in most Asian countries. There is a lot of plants which are dried and mixed together and ground in the powder form and mixed with benzoin powder and put in the fire while praying the god or doing rituals. People believe this to be very effective. I never thought this is prevalent in America also. This may have originated from the Natives. Thanks for a great article.

  5. Good afternoon Sharon,

    Ancient rituals and mindfulness is something that is lacking in our modern life. Harmonious vibrations are so important in your house, especially now as we spend way more time inside because of the virus. People are sitting on top of each other, so there is potential for a lot more tension in human relationships.
    Your article comes at the right time and I am sure many people will benefit from cleansing their homes.
    I heard that orchids are good air cleaners as well. The funny thing is that orchids love my house and grow extremely well here.

    Regards, Taetske

    1. Hello Taetske. Always nice to have you here. I couldn’t agree more with you. Indeed, a harmonious environment is important in any household and I value this very much.
      I can imagine how lovely your orchid plants are.


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