Pretty much weekly, we get somebody in the store that picks up a bundle of palo santo or a sage smudge stick, twists it around in their hands, and eventually asks, “What is this?” A lot of people haven’t heard of it or are, frankly, just a little bit confused about the whole process. I sometimes find it hard to put into words, so I wanted to try out all of the “cleansing” options we have at Revival 119 to see what it’s all about.
Some Native American communities and other cultures (including Egyptian, Greek and Indian) are said to practice smudging, or the ritual act of purifying with the smoke of sacred herbs. Now, it’s become a popular personal ritual for clearing “bad energy” from spaces or people or whatever you wish. I have to admit, it’s really easy to hesitate under the circumstance of cultural appropriation. (See the links at the bottom of the post). But I’ve always been drawn to it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to clear out negativity or stale, shitty vibes. I’ve smudged after moving into new places, after arguments, and just when I want to freshen up and bring some positive attention to my space. It’s always helped.
This is your typical smudge stick. It’s the one I’m most familiar with. I grew up in the Nevada desert, surrounded by sage (I’ve even bundled my own), so before lighting it the smell immediately brings me to a peaceful, calm and nostalgic place. A lot of people tell you to set your intention before lighting it, so I do so. This can sometimes feel a bit awkward, but I roll with it and it honestly feels good to articulate. I light the tip of the bundle, holding a fire-safe dish underneath to catch the falling embers. I have to blow on it a little to keep it rolling. I drag the smoke around the room, bringing that calm energy to the space. Watching the smoke weave through the room, I visualize it cleansing the walls and floors and corners, etc. Don’t forget to open the windows and doors. It gets pretty smoky. Extinguish any remaining sage in water and enjoy your fresh space! We also have a mugwort option that is renowned for its dream inducing properties.
It’s known in Spanish as “holy wood” and is native to Mexico and Peru. Same thing as burning sage for the most part. Set your intention, light the tip of the wood, let the flame linger for about 30 seconds, then blow it out and drag the smoke around the room. Obviously, you don’t want to leave the room with a lit piece of wood hanging out, but it also tends to extinguish itself, so sometimes I’ll just let it rest on a ceramic dish. Kind of like an incense. My favorite smell in the world probably. It’s so fresh and earthy and calming. You can let it smolder or if you’d rather save it, you can extinguish it on a fire safe surface or in a glass of water.
This one was new to me. It comes with a charcoal disk and a packet of palo santo wood shavings and copal resin. Place the charcoal on a fire safe surface and light it. I was surprised at how much it sparked while it was heating. Be sure to leave the dipped side upright, because you sprinkle the palo santo shavings and copal resin in the bowl. As the charcoal heats, it slowly burns the wood and resin, releasing a killer smelling smoke. This will burn itself out as you release the smoke throughout your space. It took about 30 minutes before the entire process was finished, but you can always split the charcoal in half if you would prefer a shorter time frame. This specific smudge was incredibly meditative and effective for me. The smoke was thick and consistent and the smell was tops. Highly recommended.
A truly no frills smudging option from our dear friend Ty Bramwell of one of Iowa’s favorite apothecary and jewelry labels, Ebb + Flow. She calls it a “bad vibe shield”. Still made with those sacred healing oils of palo santo, white sage and cedar wood without the flame. It makes it an everyday misting ritual that is genius and so accessible. It’s also pet friendly, considering my pup and kitties hate anything smoky.
My takeaway from all of it? I’ve never been sure that smudging accomplishes anything momentous, but it really feels like it. It always smells amazing and earthy and really offers a calming yet energizing presence. Also, I think going through those motions and setting those intentions can really only bring positivity to the whole experience. It’s like anything. You get out of it what you put in. If I’m serious about the healing process and I really focus on bringing positivity to my space, I end the ritual feeling grounded and renewed. And that’s really the whole point.
For more information and to continue the discussion: