How to Smudge

Kristine Bonner

White Sage Smudge Sticks
White sage is commonly used for smudge sticks | Paloma Cervantes | Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Smudging can be a very effective way to feel more comfortable about, and in your environment, and even in your own being.

Many people choose to smudge after illnesses, arguments or disruptive people have visited the house or if they are feeling stuck in their life in some way. Some like to smudge periodically, near turns of the year, like equinoxes and solstices, or full or dark moons, or even once a week. Smudging after moving to a new home is a good way to feel it has been cleared and is ready for your new energies.

The most important thing is that the timing feels right. You need to be alone, or to have only others present who are willing to participate in your smudge ceremony in a serious spirit, and that you are comfortable with.  Assemble your smudge stick, fireproof or shell bowl and matches, lighter or candle. You may have a feather that you have found or purchased, usually a turkey feather as many types of feathers are illegal to possess.* If the weather allows, go around and open all the doors and windows of the house or space. (If you have a cat or a dog that might run away, skip this step!) Some people open all the cabinet and shower doors as well. You may want to silence your cell phone and play meditative music.

Place your smudging implements on a table in the space where you'd like to begin. Begin at the back of the house and work your way to the front. It's important that you end in an area that has a door. It can be a slider or any kind of door. You will want to finish by "sweeping" the smoke out that final door. Have your plan before you begin. First and foremost, do what feels right to you.

Calm yourself and get ready to begin. Start off with a prayer, or with meditation to focus your intent. Ask for the release of negativity in your space and in your life.

Plan to carry matches or a lighter with you, to relight the smudge stick if it goes out. Work out how to carry your bowl too, holding it underneath the smudge stick so that any embers that fall will be contained in it. You will be able to set the smudge stick in the bowl while it is smoking and use your feather or hand to waft the smoke around. Some people like to carry, or wear crystals that are important to them.

Light your candle if you have one, then light the smudge stick with the candle, or light the smudge stick with a match. Quickly blow the flame out, so that your smudge stick starts to smoke.

Sage burning in abalone shell
Sage burning in abalone shell

Being by smudging yourself. Waft the smoke around you as if you are washing yourself in it. Some people believe you should bath in the smoke from your head, then down your body to your toes. Others work in the reverse direction, toes to head. Do what feels best to you. You can set it down in its bowl and turn around slowly with your arms out to let the smoke smudge you. Smudge anyone else who is participating with you in the same way.

Next, waft your smoke into the corners of the room and into the open closets. You can keep your mind clear, or think or say whatever feels appropriate to you, like "I cleanse this space" or "Higher Power, help me cleanse this space." Your intent is the important thing here. Imagine stuck energies dissipating and exiting through open windows or doors.

Finish one room, then proceed to the next in the same fashion, not forgetting hallways that you may move through. Cleanse them too. Be sure to smudge any mirrors, cleansing the way you see yourself, or others see themselves. Smudge the fireplace, the hearth of the home, and the oven in the kitchen. Different rooms may evoke a different response or prayer from you. Allow yourself to be creative. Some people smudge their garage, and their cars too.

If the smudge stick goes out, simply pause and relight it. Be watchful for stray embers! Be ready to stamp them out if necessary. As you approach your final room, with the door you are going to end at, imagine any remaining negative or stuck energy dissolving all around you. Use your feather, or your hand to gently blow the smoke out the doorway. Envision any lingering negativity exiting through the door. Say, or think whatever comes to you along these lines: "I release all negativity now," "Higher Power, thank you for helping me cleanse my space and myself," or anything that feels appropriate to you.

Carefully, crush the smoking smudge stick into the fireproof bowl or shell. When you are sure all the ashes are cold, give them to the earth. Close all your windows and doors. Relax and enjoy your cleansed space. Be sure to blow out your candle if you lit one.


*Purchasing hawk or eagle feathers is illegal in the United States. It is illegal to own many types of feathers, even found feathers, as well due to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Check the US Fish & Game website for details.

Read a Short History of Smudging

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