Smudging 101: How to Cleanse Your Home Using Sage, Palo Santo & Selenite
The idea of flowing or lingering energy has lived for thousands of years. Cultures around the world have believed that a person's energy is like perfume, and that once you come in contact with someone else's energy, good or bad, it tends to linger. So... what's there to do about it?
Cleanse the space of course.
Different strokes for different folks. Some use sage, while others use Palo Santo or incense and more. I use both and then some. Either way, I believe it's pretty significant to know the history behind why we do what we do, and best practices. So, as best as I can I'll share with you everything I know.
Burning sage or smudging is a beautiful practice that's lived on for thousands of years. The ancient ritual has roots within Native American. I've found references to the following tribes: Lakota, Chumash, Cahuilla.
Many believe this plant has the power to shift energy into a happier or calmer state, and it might have something to do with the idea that Shamans used the herb to cleanse people of negativity, to promote healing and more. But even science has begun catching up to the plant’s undeniable efforts of being considererd a healing herb. From a hard science perspective, sage has been proven to absorb over 90% of airborne bacteria. This gives credit to the debate that burning sage—its smoke—can be of aid to those with asthma, allergies or bronchitis to name a few. Many studies have shown that medicinal smokes such as sage have powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial qualities. This is why they can help to improve mood and cognition, help with sleep quality and even serve as an insect repellent.
Needless to mention, sage belongs to the salvia plant family and is derived from the Latin word salvere, which means "to heal.” Coincidence? Probably not.
Historical texts suggest the Natives used sage to connect to the spirit world and cleanse the body and space of impurities before a ceremony. Today, while sage may be used in a slightly different context—to cleanse homes, spaces or meditation—its powers live on. Personally, I use sage to cleanse my space about once a week, and Palo Santo a bit more often than that.
How To Use Sage
- Open all the windows, closets and doors in your home. While this isn’t exactly a practice of mine, I’ve read that we shoule visit each room and ring a bell to awaken the energy present.
- Head to your sacred space, or alter—this can typically be your meditation area or where you keep your sage, and crystals.
- Optional: Burn a candle, set an intention and then light your sage with the candle.
- OR: Light your Sage with a candle, match, or lighter.
- Allow it to burn until you see the golden embers surround the lit edge of the stick and blow it out. Unlike Palo Santo, Sage can burn for less time before it’s ready.
- You can begin by cleansing yourself first—bring the smoke towards your heart, then head, and front and back body.
- Cleanse the space beginning on the lowest level and moving from room to room. Use a feather or your hand to waft the smoke into all four corners, where the ceiling and wall meet. Then direct the smoke our through the windows and doorways. I make an emphasis on doorways and corners.
- Once you’ve finished, you can rub your sage in dirt or in your fireproof bowl or ashtray. I highly recommend purchasing an abalone shell. Do not put the sage out in water or you’ll run the risk of not being able to use it again.
- Sweep up any ashes and remains and dispose of them as you see fit. You can always rerelease them into Mother Earth.
About Palo Santo
Palo Santo (Holy Wood in Spanish) is an extremely fragrant wood often used in smudging and cleansing rituals in order to welcome good luck, fortune, love and good energy.
The Palo Santo or Bursera Graveolens tree, which grows off the coast of South America is considered mystical for many, and is related to Frankincense, Myrrh and Copal. It’s part of the citrus family and has sweet notes of pine, mint and lemon. The Incas and people of the Andes were known to use this fragrant wood for many centuries with purification in mind.
Similar to white sage, Palo Santo is often used to cleanse, to get rid of evil spirits and influences. Its smoke is believed by many to have healing and therapeutic powers. It’s also said to enhance creativity and bring good fortune to those who are open to its mysterious ways.
How To Use Palo Santo
- Light your Palo Santo with a candle, match or lighter.
- Allow the stick to burn for anyway from 30 seconds to a minute before you blow it out. If you burn it for anything less, it may not stay lit while you cleanse your space.
- Move around the space in which you wish to clear the energy, allowing the smoke to waft around each area.
- BONUS: As you take the Palo Santo stick into the corners of each room or space you are cleansing, say aloud something like: "I ask that the plant spirit of Palo Santo please infuse this space with blessings”. “May this space be filled with blessings.” “I ask that this Palo Santo remove any lingering energy I no longer have use for.”
- When you are done, place the stick in a fireproof bowl or ashtray and allow the embers to burn out. Do not use water as you run a chance it won’t light again.
Three Ways To Use Your Selenite
- Place Selenite around your home by placing it in the corners of a room to create a protective space from negative energy. It is believed to cast a protective aura whereever it is placed.
- Use a Selenite wand as an “energy eraser.” Start at the top of your head. Holding the wand about five inches from your body, slowly bring the crystal down your body. Visualize the crystal taking in all the negativity, anxiety and worries from your day.
- Hold a Selenite crystal in your hand during your end of day meditation. The crystal can be used to hold your focus during your meditation while, with every exhale, you release any negative or shifty energy from the day.