What is a Smudge Stick?
A smudge stick, or sage stick, is a bundle of dried herbs that are burned as part of a cleansing ritual. Of course sage is the primary herb used and some sage sticks might only contain sage.
You got that right? The reason they’re called sage sticks?
Sage is primarily chosen for its’ healing and cleansing powers.
The act of burning these herbs is called a smudging. A smudging is a ritual to clear the energy and air of a physical space, or an object, or even a person.
We like to think of it as a renewal for a space, and that’s how we use ours.
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Why Use a Smudge Stick
Think of burning a smudge stick as similar to washing your hands before you eat. Smudging is really an act of purification. The smoke is cleansing and its’ actually been proven that the smoke can reduce bacteria in the air. It can even change the molecular structure of the air and energy in a space.
You may be surprised at how you feel after a smudging. The smoke can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed and happy. And no, it’s not any kind of hallucinogenic, but you’ll probably want to open a window to keep your eyes from watering!
You don’t even have to believe in any kind of hocus pocus to try it out. We think it’s a nice ritual to perform in a new or changing space. A little ceremony to celebrate change, and set our minds and intentions to being positive.
Why not give it a try and see how you feel about it?
When to Smudge
We don’t use our smudge sticks as regularly as some people do, but you can use them as often as you are comfortable.
In our house, we like to do a seasonal smudging. It’s a great way to clear the air and open our home and hearts to the new season.
We also smudge any new spaces, such as when someone rents or buys a house or an apartment. It’s just a nice ritual to perform to clear the air. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s also a great way to get rid of the stale air in a space that’s been closed up.
How Often to Smudge
You can smudge daily, weekly or monthly. You can smudge only on occasion or you might try it once and not like it at all. All of these are okay.
Spiritually and psychologically the burning of sage can mark a beginning or ending and a clearing of the mind. Some times that you might want to burn a smudge stick:
- To cleanse the energy from a space or object
- When you’re feeling anxious or unsettled
- If you need to focus your energy or thoughts
- When moving into a new home, room or office
- Before a special event
- After an argument
It’s a great idea to smudge before or after you have performed a healing practice such as meditation or yoga. It can be a continuation of the process (the ritual, if you like).
How to Use a Smudge Stick
No matter what your mindset is, when you are ready to light a smudge stick it’s a great idea to set an intention for your smudging. Visualize the outcome of cleansing your space. Think about chasing away negative energy and replacing it with positive energy.
Be sure to open a window before lighting your bundle. The sage smoke needs to be able to escape and it also gives the negative energy a way out of the space.
You might not like the smell because it tends to be strong, so having a window open will help the smoke dissipate faster.
To cleanse a room just carry the smoking bundle into the corners and use your hand to direct the smoke. You don’t have to spend a long time doing this, a few minutes is all it takes and the best way to determine how much time you need is to go by how you’re feeling about it. Once the room feels clean, you’re done!
Once you’re finished with your smudging, just run your sage stick under a bit a water and set it aside to dry. Then it’s ready to reuse later. You can reuse your smudge stick as many times as you’d like.
How to DIY a Sage Bundle
Making a sage bundle is not as hard as you’d think. All you need to do is gather your sage and any other herbs that you’re planning to use, along with some cotton string.
Be sure that the herbs you’re using are organic, we don’t want to be burning a bunch of chemicals. Same with the string, cotton will burn cleanly. You may want to use kitchen twine if you’ve got some of that on hand.
And a bonus from us, if you’ve grown the herbs yourself you get a gold star!
We use sage, lavender and rosemary in our bundles because that’s what’s growing in our garden. Those are the easy ingredients right at our finger tips and did we mention that they smell amazing? They smell so good while we’re making them and while they’re drying out.
Start Your Sage Bundle
We like to make a small loop in the end of the string and push the other end through the loop, in the form of a slip knot. This helps us get the start of the binding pulled tight.
You want to make your bundle pretty thick because it’s going to shrink up a bit when it dries out. And for that reason you also want to bind it pretty tightly so that it stays together once the herbs have dried.
It’s okay to just criss cross the strings a few times as you go up the bundle and then tighten as you go back down. You’ll have to judge how well you feel your bundle is being held together. If you have stray leaves you can push them under the strings or just trim them off the ends.
Perfection is not the goal here, we’re fine with having a few stray leaves.
We also like to add some flower petals if we have some just to give the bundle a nice look and add another smell. The smell of the fresh sage is wonderful and even when it’s dried it smells nice.
Just the process of making the bundles makes our house smell amazing.
We generally leave our sticks in a bowl in our dining room to dry because they look so pretty! It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks for them to dry out and be ready to use.
See how the colors fade and start to turn gray when they’re drying out?
Where to Find Supplies
You can probably source all of your herbs locally, many grocery stores will carry live herbs in the salad section. And of course there’s always the internet if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
If you want more information about all the different herbs and their meanings, or the process of the ritual, we have found that The Taos Herb Company is a great resource. They also carry everything you need to DIY a smudge stick or purchase one already made.
Try making one yourself and let us know what you think? We found it to be an easy and fun project and now we have a supply of sage sticks to use in the future.
You might also be interested in using herbs to Make Your Home Smell Amazing!
Be sure to pin this to your favorite pinterest board so you can find it later, and show us your photo’s when you DIY a Smudge Stick!