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Smudging vs Cleansing

"Smudging" has become such a trendy thing to do these days, But do many folks really know what it is?

"Smudging is traditionally a ceremony for purifying or cleansing the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place"

There is a lot to smudging. It is actually a sacred ceremony performed by indigenous peoples. Its a ceremony/ritual that only those who practice it and have practiced it know the specifics of. Its information passed along the lineage only. Its not information that is freely given to those who aren't part of the culture. Along with particular medicinal herbs that used for smudging, it is common practice, when harvesting white sage, to leave the roots and give thanks and/or say a prayer. For a long time, up until about 1978 when Jimmy Carter enacted the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. American Indians actually had to fight to participate in many cultural rituals. Which, in my opinion is just crazy. America was theirs first, they shouldn't have to fight for the right to do anything! But that is a whole different rant.

Moving right along, a big debate is rather or not using white sage is cultural appropriation or not. This, I feel, depends on who you ask. I spoke to an old friend of mine. Her name is Shiloh. She is a Shaman and belongs to the Yaqui and Chirichahua Apache Tribes. I asked her about her thoughts on the matter and she said:

"Anyone may smudge with sage. Natives are not the only ones that do this. Many different Cultures use sage in many ways for protection"

I googled this to see what other cultures do this and I got "Native Americans and other indigenous peoples have burned sage for centuries as part of a spiritual ritual to cleanse a person or space, and to promote healing and wisdom. It's been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians and Romans to treat digestive issues, memory problems, and sore throats."

Many people today know that "smudging" can be useful when you need to cleanse yourself or your home of negative energy. It can also be used to cleanse items such as crystals, tarot cards, books, amulets, etc. People have used smudging as a means to rid a home of bad spirits. A common method for doing so is to use white sage.

White sage is another topic of debate, as well as palo santo. Due to the trend of smudging, white sage and palo santo are definitely over harvested. in some areas, it is hard to keep up with the supply demand of each of these. It is honestly best to grow your own.

Once I have space, I'll be growing various plants that I will sell or give away, as opposed to using a supplier. I can not personally see for myself how my current supplier cultivates their sage. I would feel much better growing it and making the bundles myself. I prefer to remain as transparent as possible when it comes to spiritual items. I will welcome locals to come to my garden and take what they need for any spiritual reasons. This of course, will happen once I have the space for a garden. I hate that it may take so long to happen, but it is one of many ways I can help stave off the over harvesting of white sage (and other precious plants).

What about palo santo? well, it has been rumored that this too is endangered. In the past it may have been. Its another cleansing plant that is native to Peru, Ecuador, and other various South American areas. It is great for physical ailments such as the flu, asthma, headaches, etc. I did some research on this as well and found this:

So, is Palo Santo really endangered? No. In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a review of Palo Santo’s conservation status in late 2019, declaring it to be “of least concern”.
Where does the confusion come from, then? The IUCN has declared Palo Santo to be “of least concern” on a global scale; however, national governments also determine a plant’s regional conservation status. This means a plant can be listed as endangered in one country and not another. For example, back in 2005, Palo Santo was listed as endangered. This is no longer the case.

I highly recommend checking out that article to gain further education on the the matter of palo santo.

Later in this article, I will cover the different types of sage and other plants as well as alternatives to smudging.

So what is the difference between smudging and saging? Well, as I mentioned above, smudging is traditionally a sacred ritual. During the smudging ritual, the 4 main elements are acknowledged earth, air, fire and water. The bundle of sage represents earth. Sweet grass, tobacco and cedar are often used during smudging rituals as well. A shell is often used to represent water. The abalone shell is most used. A flame to light the medicine represents the fire (of course). The air is then represented by the smoke and often a feather or fan.

Saging is a term folks use when referencing the burning of sage in an act similar to smudging. However, what they are actually doing is a "smoke cleansing". while similar, it is different. Smoke cleansing does not acknowledge the four elements and can be done with other things that provide smoke, such as incense and other herbs.


Now that we have cleared a bit of the smoke, lets discuss alternative ways you can cleanse your home, yourself and your items.

Cleansing yourself

I get it, you're stressed. Today's world is so full of negativity. From general atmosphere, to politics and what seems like the plaque. There are many reasons we may need to cleanse ourselves, our spirits, and our auras. Indicators that could mean you need to do a cleansing on yourself could be things like, feeling angry for no reason, depression, anxiety, arguing with family or loved ones and any other feelings of negativity.

Some of these also work on your items. I'll reference them later on rather than making oyu read it over again.

Cleansing Bath

This is one of my favorite ways to cleanse myself. It's so simple. Fill your tub with water and add herbs/oils/salts that help you in the ways you need. **if your drain/sewage system is sensitive and easily clogged, place herbs and other items in cheese cloth or a coffee filter tied with string and place that into the water and allow to steep.**

If you dont have a bath tub, use your shower. I'm more of a shower person myself. If you wish to use herbs, salts or oils in the shower, simply gather it in a coffee filter or cheese cloth and hang it so that the water passes thru it. Will this make the water flow different? of course. Will it be super magical feeling? absolutely. I like to use affirmations as well. For example, I'll say "I wash away this negativity, down the drain, away from me" while i imagine the negativity being washed off of me and running down the drain. You can say anything you like. It doesnt have to rhyme. I typically spend my whole time in the shower stating things i'm washing away. I love using Pretty Baby Naturals soap. my favorite is this Medicine Man soap.

Herbal Bundles

Gather the necessary herbs and bundle them together. It can have just one herb or many herbs. tie it all together with string and hang it up to dry. Next, if it is safe to do so (always always check, and double check) burn the bundle nearby in a fire safe container or surface while you meditate. You could also simply keep these items on your person. If you want, you can even make a "tea" and put that in a spray bottle and have yourself a cleansing mist.


Crystals are so effective when it comes to just about anything. Keep them on you, in your pocket, as jewelry or in your hair even. I'll make a list later on in my next article, detailing which crystals do what. As a general rule of thumb, Black obsidian is helpful in negating negativity and providing protection. Amethyst is helpful in drawing in positivity.

Say It

Simply speaking your intention is useful. Clear your mind if you can and start speaking positive affirmations. If you are depressed state things like "I am not what hurt me", "I am at peace", for anger say things like "I am in control of my emotions", "I am in charge of myself", in a stressful situation, you could say things like "This is temporary and worrying only wastes valuable energy" or "This situation is out of my control and is therefore, not my problem"

Sometimes, you just have to scream. go some place where screaming is not a concern and scream it out. Say all the things that are negative in your life. Imagine as you shout that your words are being carried to the universe to be handled by higher beings.


Cleansing Your Items

So You have managed to cleans yourself, now what about your items? or perhaps you just moved and the previous tenants left some residual energy that doesn't quite sit right. Your first thought is to grab that sage and smoke the negativity out. As i mentioned before, there are alternative ways to cleanse your items and your home. All of these methods are just as, if not more effective than sage.

Smoke Cleansing

This is the method many of you are already using. You can use herbal bundles, incense, or a combination of both, loosely in a fire proof bowl. As I mentioned previously, make sure that anything you burn is not going to cause harmful effects to your health and always use caution when doing anything with fire.


Sweep your floors, walls, ceilings, anything. You can use any plain old broom, or you can use a more ritual like broom. Making them is fun and you can add herbs and crystals and anything else you want to these ritual brooms. you can make smaller ones for smaller surfaces. to cleanse the air with one, simply making sweeping motions in the air starting at the furthest part of your house and working towards the front entrance. then you sweep that negativity our of your house.


Dusting is a method similar to sweeping. you can use a bouquet of herbs and incense (or a bowl of it) and rather than wafting smoke at your items, you can imagine an energy of your intentions coming from the herbs and waft that at your items, or through the air. You could also take parts of the herbs and sprinkle them over your items, in your door ways, in your window sills, anywhere you need.


With such easy access to the internet these days, you would be surprised at the vast amount of videos or playlists on Spotify or other streaming platforms that have sounds which help clear negative space.

I have used many different videos from YouTube or Spotify during meditations or ritual work. One method my grandmother told me about was bells. She had bells all over the house, little ones. I asked her once what they were for and she said "to scare away the scary things and to call on the angels". She never elaborated much on that, but I think of it often.


Now on to the fun part. Below is a list of herbs which can be used an alternative to sage. This is not a definitive list of all the herbs (or their uses) you can use. chances are good that you have what you need in your cabinets or yard.

I cant say this enough, do your research on each plant before you burn, consume or even touch. Some of these have super high allergy affects on some people. Please always use caution.

Juniper- protection, anti-theft, creativity, love

Goldenrod- love, intuition, grieving (help through process), luck

Yarrow- courage, protection, healing, purification

Bay Leaves- protection, purification, banishing

Lavender- calming, cleansing, intuition, anti-stress, protection

Mugwort- intuition, protection, purification, banishing

Golden Sage- purification, protection, cleansing

Rosemary- banishing, curse removal, healing, purifying

Cinnamon- love, protection, luck, intuition

Basil- banishing, wealth, protection

Mint- protection, healing, luck, love

Angelica- protection, intuition, love, luck, healing

Feverfew- healing (especially from headaches and fever), purification, health, love

Lemon Balm- anti-depression, healing, love

Majoram- healing, happiness, purification, protection

Saffron- strengthens other herbs uses, promotes love

Nettle- protection, intuition, curse removal, banishing

Basil- intuition, wealth, protection, love


What ways are you going to cleanse yourself or home with? If there is anything in this article which is wrong, or you would like to add to it, feel free to send me a message at

Thank you for reading! Merry Meet and Merry Part!


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