When you step into the world of ritual, ceremony and sacred space, you’ll quickly learn that smudging seems to be at the center of just about every spiritual practice. For centuries, this simple yet mystical tradition—in which palo santo, sage and other clearing plants like sweetgrass are burned to signify the start of a ritual—has been used by a multitude of spiritual faiths, including Hindus, Buddhists and indigenous cultures in North and South America.
What Exactly is Smudging
Today, smudging has evolved into a daily ritual for a variety of seekers looking to attract and maintain good vibes in their lives. But how exactly does this ancient ceremonial practice work? The clarifying smoke released from smudging herbs emit negative ions that can uplift your mood and cleanse people, places and even objects like jewelry, crystals and photographs from negative energy. Much like washing your hands before the start of a meal, smudging is the act of cleansing your aura before you feed your soul through ceremony or ritual.
New to smudging? Or looking for a new way to bring it into your practice? Try this simple ritual:
How to Smudge
STEP 1: Collect your tools and open a window.
Gather your smudge bundle or palo santo stick, a lighter, a feather, an abalone shell and a small handful of sand or sea salt grains to protect your shell from the heat of your smudge. Then take a moment to open a window to keep it from getting too smoky and setting off the fire alarm during the ritual. Keeping your space ventilated during the ceremony also helps to transmute and shift any stagnant energies.
STEP 2: Prepare the bundle.
Tilt the smudge at a 45-degree angle.
STEP 3: Light your smudge.
Light one end of the bundle and rotate it in a circular motion around the flame so it’s fully lit.
STEP 4: Summon the sacred smoke.
Gently blow on the smudge after every rotation around the flame until the smokiness is to your liking. Pour the sand or sea salt into the shell to protect it from heat, then place the lit smudge inside.
TIP: Do not create too much smoke, as it could oversaturate your space and even set off fire alarms despite having the window open.
STEP 5: Smudge.
Gently wave the feather through the smoke. Start by smudging all corners, doorways, sacred objects and any other areas of your space that you feel need an energy clearing.
STEP 6: Close the ritual.
When finished, run the feather through the smoke one last time to clear away any energies it made contact with during the smudging. Then, once your space has had time to air out, close the window to seal in the good vibes.
Explore our smudging tools and energy-clearing essentials below.