The Art and Practice of Smoke rituals

The practice of burning and using the smoke of various herbs to clear and cleanse energy is an ancient one.  It has been  practiced by many tribes and communities globally for thousands of years.  Traditionally, the spirit of the herbs and plants being used are called in and asked to assist in the removal of any negative energies or beings. The smoke from smudging is believed to create potent cleansing effects in our energy fields and the energy of spaces, carrying away any negativity, stagnation or low vibrations. This has actually been backed up by scientific research, proving that smoke from medicinal herbs literally changes and cleanses the molecules in the air.


Smudging is a great tool to bring more peace and clarity into your life. Adding the practice of smudging to your daily ritual can be simple and beneficial.  Its like giving your personal energetic field a bath.

On a daily basis, our stresses, negative perceptions and emotions translate directly into our energy field. To keep ourselves clear, energetically and emotionally is it important to bathe our energy bodies just as much as it is important to cleanse our physical bodies.


Basic Herbs and Tools used for smudging:

There are a variety of plants, resins, woods and herbs used for smudging, such as sweetgrass, mugwort, juniper, copal resin, cedarwood, sage, lavender, rose and many others… but now I am just going to focus on some the basics that are easy to find and use to get you started. It is important to learn about and work with herbs and plants local to your area and home. There are many plants local to you that make beautiful smudges. It is a beautiful thing to develop a personal relationship with the plants you are working with. If you would like to begin gathering and drying your own herbs for smudging please take the time to research ethical wild crafting. Always ask permission, and never over harvest. A really great book to read to begin learning how to have a relationship with wild plants is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmermer. Its one of my favorites.

Take time to learn about the herbs you are gathering and how to harvest each in a respectful way. Make sure you are identifying herbs correctly. If you would prefer to buy your herbs please purchase ethically harvested plants and blends from local herbalists that do have a relationship to the plants. These practices of respect not only benefit the plant world but make a difference energetically to your own ritual.

Sage. Sage is probably one of the most common herbs used for smudge ceremony. Its easy to find and start with, and it has a pleasant earthy aroma. Where I live in New Mexico we use a wild sage brush, which is actually an artemesia and is a different species entirely than white sage, but works beautifully and smells similar.  Artemisia usually is quite prolific and it is easy to harvest yourself if you can find some. Only take what you need. I've found that this wild sage grows in many different places, including Utah, Idaho and eastern Washington.  Sage bundles are commonly used, and I also love loose sage mixed with local wild rose petals, Juniper from my land and lavender from my garden. If you live in an area where white sage grows harvest respectfully if there is enough and you feel you have permission from the plant. It is also easy to grow white sage in many areas.

Shell or Stone.  A found shell or stone works beautifully as a container when you are burning any loose herbs for smudging.

Feather. Feathers are sacred pieces to this practice. The feather helps spread and direct the smoke over where you are smudging and clearing, whether its your own body or your home or some other space or person. Feathers carry our prayers to the skies. You can use a single feather or purchase or make a larger smudging wand. If you are a collector of feathers like me, choose a large sturdy one from your collection, and one that is very sacred to you.



Basic Techniques

Alright so you’ve got your herbs and whatever additional pieces you want to use. Here are the basics for smudging yourself & clearing your space.

Self Smudging. Create a little ceremony. Make a small space you can sit quietly in for a few moments. If you want, light a candle or bring out your crystals. Give yourself a moment of quiet to get centered and calm. Set your intention. Is there a specific event that happened or energy you know you want to remove? Did you get in a fight with a loved one or had a stressful day at work? Or do you just want to clear residual energy and start fresh?

Also, keep in mind, that you need to be prepared to let whatever needs to go go. Smudging will not help much if you just keep dwelling on negativity again 5 minutes later. The funny thing is that our own perceptions and thoughts bring on most of our energetic issues so… taking a moment each day to let that shit go and consciously cleanse is POWERFUL!

So now, once you are clear on your intention say a small prayer of thanks to the plant ally you are working with. Just something simple and acknowledging. If you work with any guides or beings, or you want to call in your ancestors and helping spirits you can do so now. If you are not familiar with this practice, your helping spirits or guides are beings that watch over you and help guide you (whether your aware of it or not). Think of it like guardian angels. They help keep you safe and help teach you.


Sitting or standing, begin to burn your herbs and guide the smoke with your feather or hand, waving it over your body. Start at your head and move down to body, under your arms and just try to be completely immersed in the smoke. Visualize the smoke carrying and washing away  any negative or unneeded energies. Once you are finished take another moment of quiet. Feel the love around you. Tap into that deep wellspring of peace you have within you and let the work you have just done settle for a moment.

Space Clearing: Space clearing is very beneficial in homes, strucures or rooms you spend time in. In enclosed spaces, energy tends to build like dust bunnies, and just as you would sweep or mop smudging is equally and beneficial in creating a clean and clear space.  This is especially good to do if there has been any negativity in these spaces, or if you have just moved into a new space (ideally you do this BEFORE you move in) or if you are just wanting to shift the energy. I like to smudge my jewelry studio regularly as it is my creative space and I feel I have better creative flow when I do this. Again getting clear on your intention and centering yourself is an important step to this practice. Burn your herbs and walk through the space, focusing on corners, doorways and windows is important. Let the smoke billow throughout the areas you are cleansing and visualize any stagnate or negative energy being washed away. When you are finished take a moment to visual your newly cleansed space filling with a beautiful golden light and loving energy. Feel this all around you.

I hope these techniques will be useful to you in your journey.

Bless - Holly || Catori Life