The Art of Smudging

Smudging is an ancient art practiced by different cultures for centuries that utilizes the smoke of burning sacred plants to cleanse and bless a space. Smudging is most commonly associated with Native American culture + ritual.

Smudging combines the power of plant energy with our own.  This combination is incredibly powerful and can accomplish amazing things. It is the smoke that is essential to smudging. The smoke acts as an energetic “bath”, removing the accumulated “dirt” or negative energy from daily interactions, thoughts, etc. The smoke acts as our soap and our focused mind acts as the water.  Together they have the power to cleanse us of negativity, bad juju, etc into a neutral state.

The smoke from certain plants releases large amounts of negative ions into the air we breathe and are surrounded by. Negative ions are the good vibe ions that are responsible for that feeling of bliss when we step onto a beach or are close to a waterfall. They can be found in very large concentrations in nature- one more reason to get outside more!

High concentrations of negative ions clear the air of mold, pollen, pet dander, and hazardous airborne particles. They attach to positively charged particles in the air and make them heavy, pulling them out of the air.  Smudging truly cleanses the air. Studies have proven this cleansing effect. In 2006, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology published a study on Medicinal Smokes which found that the air cleansing that occurs during smudging stays free from harmful bacteria even 30 days following treatment!

The smudging process clears negative energy by changing the molecular structure of the air and energy, which has more benefits than just cleansing the air. Smudging is a natural antidepressant as the positive ions in our environments have been linked to depression, sadness, and low levels of serotonin. Negative ions produced get into our bloodstream from inhalation.  This lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, normalizes breathing (perfect addition to meditation or night yoga), and leads to improved sleep. 

The plant we choose is important, but equally so is our contribution. We cannot rely on the plant to do it all.  We need to come to the smudging session with our game ON. Set your goal or intention for what you would like to achieve with this ritual. During the ritual, it can be helpful  to repeat a mantra or prayer to keep your focus on the task at hand. Our minds are powerful. Do not focus on the bad vibes that you want to release, but instead focus on the result. A peaceful and neutral living space.  

There are countless plants that can be used for burning purposes, each with different properties.  Just because you read someone is good doesn’t mean it the right energy for what you’re working with. If a particular plant catches your eye, trust it. 


The smoke of blue mountain sage is primarily used for healing and purification. With a scent that is both herbaceous and floral it is reminiscent of lavender when burned. Closely related to white sage, blue desert sage is a milder scented alternative with strong cleansing properties.


The smoke of cedar has long been used to purify space, mind, and body. It also wards off bad dreams and is a protectant.


The smoke of juniper is most often used for protection. It is said to be one of the earliest incenses used by Mediterranean Witches. It is also said to help the psychic powers and break hexes and curses.


Lavender adds a deeper sense of calm and peace to your space. It is most beneficial for a sleeping space or stressful home.


The smoke of mugwort is used to aid in prophetic dreams, psychic awareness, and astral projection. It can also be used for its healing and protective properties.


Soft wood, sweet mint; Palo santo is a wild tree native to Mexico, Central, and South America. Known as "holy wood" the wood from this tree is used as sacred incense. The smoke of palo santo is used for spiritual cleansing, purification, and healing. More specific uses include: good fortune, protection, calming anxiety and stress, clearing negative energy, and encourages love and creativity.


The smoke of sagebrush or desert sage is known for it's cleansing, purifying, and protective properties. It also encourages inner strength. It is said to bring pleasant thoughts and relieve headaches and anxiety.


The fresh hay + warm vanilla scented smoke of Sweetgrass has long been known to drive out evil and harm, and allow benevolent spirits to approach. It is also said to invoke love, kindness, and honesty.


The smoke of white sage is primarily used as a purification tool. Whether moving into a new space or needing to cleanse and renew this smudge is versatile, healing, and drives away malevolent forces.


The smoke of Yerba Santa is used to ward off illness and aid in healing. It is also said to increase psychic awareness and can be used for protection.


  • Start at the center of the space you would like to cleanse.

  • Light the end of your smudge and allow to smolder with the shell or a heat proof bowl underneath to catch embers.

  • Guide the smoke toward and around you from head to toe and front to back with your hand or a feather.

  • After this is done make your way around the entire inside perimeter of the space you wish to cleanse with your smoldering smudge guiding the smoke toward the walls with your hand or feather. Pay special attention to mirrors, closets, and any space that feels “off”.

  • Throughout the smudging focus your intention on the matter at hand. Feel free to state your intention to cleanse the space aloud or silently, or repeat the provided prayer if you prefer.

  • End the ceremony in the spot you began.