This week's bit of magical advice is a commonly-asked question that has come up again recently: How does one use a sage smudge? WARNING: We know some people with severe allergies to sage and other herbs. Always check that no one who lives in that space is allergic. Even if you aren't allergic to sage, for instance, your room-mate may be; sometimes, even the remnants of a smudging done earlier in the day can set off a reaction later that night.
The Short Short Version:Light your smudge like you would an incense stick, so that it smoulders but isn't on fire.
The Longer Version:Smudging can be done in a few different ways, depending on what it is you want to cleanse.
Smudging Your Own Person or Someone Else's Person.Light your smudge and spend a moment to focus on your intention to bless and purify the recipient. You will then slowly circle the person (or move the smudge around yourself) counter-clockwise from feet to head. Have your recipient sit and breathe in the smoke for a few minutes before putting the smudge out.
Smudging a House or a Space.Similarly, if your intent is to purify or bless a home or sacred space, you will work counter-clockwise, and top to bottom. There are a couple other steps to add in, naturally.
- First, close all the exterior doors and windows to your house on all floors, but open up any doors to closets, cabinets, and rooms.
- Next, place yourself at the entrance to your home or space, facing inwards. If you are doing a smudging to banish a spirit, be sure to address it out-loud, ask it to leave in peace. Be firm, but polite.
- Begin your tour of your home or space, visiting each room counter-clockwise to where you began. Trace each wall with the smoke of your smudge, including inside any closets or cabinets.
- If your home has more than one floor: do the basement next, then any floors above.
- Return to where you began and put out your smudge.
- Let the smoke sit in the house for 15-20 minutes before opening up the windows to let out the smoke and any negativity and negative spirits along with it.
- Do not be surprised if your smudge goes out! Herbs don't burn evenly and while it might burn without trouble, sometimes it might need re-lighting. Try not to let that discourage you: it isn't a sign that the smudging isn't working.
- Because smudges are bulkier than incense sticks, the ash that falls from the smudge will also be bigger. Some people like to catch the ash in an abalone shell or a bowl of some kind, or will carry the smudge in a shell to begin with.
- To put the smudge out, tap the herbs out gently using a bowl or a shell with salt or sand in it.
- If once you have finished smudging you have some of your smudge left over, you can put it in a paper bag and store it away for another day. There is no stigma against using the same smudge again, or even sharing it with someone else.