by Peg Couch, author of Creating Smudge Sticks: 15 Projects to Remove Negative Energy and Promote Wellness.
“Protect your peace, get rid of toxicity, cleanse your space, cultivate love.”Author unknown
If you are not already aware, smudging is the act of burning sacred herbs (typically white sage) to clear a space of negative or stagnant energy. Smudging is deeply rooted in Native American tradition but can also be found in many cultures throughout the world. Recently, smudging has become very popular as more people recognize the benefits. However, this rise in interest has spurred a large demand for white sage, causing it to be placed on a watchlist for endangered species (and there is much controversy surrounding the unsustainable harvesting of it for commercial use). The best way to avoid using sage that has been irresponsibly harvested is to buy from a reputable dealer…or to make your own smudge sticks using locally-sourced ingredients instead.
When you make your own smudge sticks, you can combine base herbs with plants and flowers that not only look and smell amazing but also boost the benefits of your bundle. For general purification, start with sage. For protection, add rosemary. If you want to increase happiness and blessings, layer rose petals on top. For centuries, various cultures have associated meanings to herbs, plants, and flowers; there are many excellent resources available to identify them. Below are just a few popular plants along with their common associations:
Bay laurel – banishment of negativity, healing
Cedar – cleansing, releasing negativity
Eucalyptus – fresh energy, revival, renewal
Juniper – protection, prosperity, cleansing
Lavender – serenity, calm
Rosemary – protection
Sage – purification
Sweetgrass – healing, peace, positivity
Carnation – heart, healing, happiness
Rose – love, beauty, happiness, blessings
Yarrow – strength
Palo Santo – purification, creativity
Selenite – cleansing, clarity
It is helpful to know these commonly associated meanings, but what is even more important is your own intention. The memories, emotions, and connections you have with various ingredients should be the driving force for your own creations. If the aromatic scent of cedar makes you feel warm and cozy, use it for protection. If the intoxicating aroma of rose brings back memories of lost love, use it to attract romance. The idea is that you can manifest your desires by consciously creating your bundles and focusing on your intentions while burning them.
Once you are familiar with making a basic smudge stick, you can get creative. Enjoy the process of selecting and harvesting your herbs and flowers. Lovingly trim your petals and stems. Inhale the aromas as you work. Notice the different textures of the various ingredients. Arrange the colors and shapes to create bundles that are pleasing to all of your senses. This act of consciously creating and connecting with nature is a form of meditation.
When your bundles are dried, it’s time to burn them. Although there is no right or wrong time to burn your smudge stick (as long as you are following safe burning procedures), they are commonly used when you feel the need to cleanse, such as when moving into a new home or office or after a negative confrontation. They can also be used as a form of ritual to create a sense of calm and serenity – like after a busy day, during meditation, or before bed.
Safety first: Never leave a lit smudge stick unattended around children, pets, or flammable objects.
Creating your own smudge sticks is a form of creativity and therapeutic self-care that allows you to nurture body, mind, and spirit. I hope you will enjoy the process and realize the benefits you desire.
About the Author
Peg Couch specializes in creating how-to books that focus on creativity, wellness, and lifestyle. She has more than 20 years of experience in book publishing, including Better Day Books, which she founded in 2018. She resides in York, Pennsylvania.