Rose Ariadne's Chitchcraft Blog

Dear Friends,

In the last post, I went over a basic technique that is important in your magickal practice. Just like that post, this one is dedicated to explaining something that is very important and sometimes misunderstood. Smudging is as essential practice in magick and it’s important to know how to use it effectively.

Smudging is the practice of using smoke from burning incense or herbs as a way of cleansing. You can use smudging to cleanse an object to consecrate it for your magickal work. You can also use it to cleanse your body before a ritual, or to protect your home or circle. The smoke from herbs can help dissuade negative energy and lingering bad feelings.

Just like you want to take a long, hot shower after a hard day at work, you can use smudging to take a “spiritual” bath. This removes all residue from your day and cleans up the space you’re going to work in. It is akin to salt water in this way in that it can cleanse and purify. The type of incense or herbs that you use for smudging can make all the difference in your success.

One of the most common herbs used for smudging is sage. I use it myself, and until I started researching for this article, I had no idea there were so many types of sage available. I knew that there were differences between the sage that is used as incense and the sage that is used for cooking, but there are also several subspecies of each of these types of sage. The type of Sage used for cooking is called Salvia, and has two major varieties: Garden Sage and White Sage. Evidence of sage’s healing and cleansing properties are evidenced in the name, that is based on the Latin word salvare which means to heal. Even though Salvia is commonly used for cooking, it can also be used for smudging.

Artemisia is the other common form of sage, that is also referred to as sagebrush. It’s found growing wild in California and other western states. Common Sagebrush and Mugwort are the two most common varieties of this type of sage.

Sage has a long history of being used in ceremonies for purification and protection. Native Americans used sage frequently in their ceremonies to banish evil spirits, remove negative thoughts and cleanse an area for ceremonies. The floors of sweatlodges of the Plains Natives were composed of sage leaves intermingled with the dirt. They were also rubbed on the body during the sweatlodge ceremonies. The Sioux Indians used a Sacred Pipe in their ceremonies filled with sage.

Cedar is another common natural element used for smudging. Although it’s not technically an herb it has very powerful properties that trace back to Native American traditions. The most common forms of cedar used for smudging is Western Red Cedar and California Incense Cedar. The Plains Natives burned Cedar while praying to the great spirit.

Today, you can use it to bless a house before moving in and to purify your house that you are already living in. Cedar is also known for attracting good energy to your home, so I always keep a bit around to burn on a weekly basis. You can never have too much help when it comes to attracting good energy! You can normally find Cedar in chips at herb stores. In order to use it, you need to add it to charcoal in a brazier. Make sure to light your brazier in a safe place and keep an eye on it while it is burning.

Sweetgrass is a favorite of mine when it comes to smudging. It has a crisp scent that reminds me of the outdoors. Sweetgrass was most commonly used by the Sioux and Cherokee Native Americans. You may already be familiar with sweetgrass or at least recognize it from your local herb or magickal shop. It’s sold in braids, like hair. I used to just light the end of the braid of the sweetgrass, but I went through a lot of the incense that way! If you’re on a budget, or just want to be economical, you can scrape parts of the braid into your brazier. It’s traditional to use sweetgrass after smudging an area with sage to call in the the good spirits.

No matter what type of ingredients you use for smudging, you should pay attention to your intentions as you allow the smoke to sweep over your body, through your space or around your tools. Picture the smoke acting as a broom and sweeping away the negative energy. Remember to thank the plants that the incense came from and honor their sacrifice for your benefit. When you keep things in this perspective, you’re smudging correctly. Hopefully you’ll make it a major part of your practice inside and outside of the circle.

Brightest Blessings,

Rose Ariadne
Your Warm And Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”

Posted by Rose Comment 1

1 Comment

  1. Tracy says


    Smudging is wonderful and you explained it beautifully! I love Sweetgrass myself!

    December 5th, 2008 | #

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