Growing up in a Caribbean household, the smell of sage was always omnipresent. My mother, aunts, and grandmother often reminded me to “clear the space” prior to getting cozy. Along with Florida Water (ICYMI: Solange brought her own bottle to the Met Ball), it’s been my saving grace in new or uncomfortable environments.
It’s no surprise that the practice of smudging has accelerated in popularity, but the ritualistic burning of woods and herbs is by no means new. It has been an ancient cleansing practice for many cultures, particularly those of Native American descent, and has roots in Asia and the Middle East as well.
“Smudging is the use of sacred plant medicine to bring or clear energy into a space using the combined elemental energies of fire (flame), earth (plant), and air (smoke),” explains crystal healer, Azalea Lee. In short, smudge ‘deposits’ the energy of the plant into the space helping to dissipate old, lingering energies. Essentially, the practice can “unstick energies stuck to the aura of objects and people,” according to Lee.
While there are many ways to smudge, people traditionally lean towards either palo santo or sage to keep the good vibes going. But there’s a bit of confusion about what to use (and when) since each plant medicine has its own unique benefits.
“Known as ‘holy wood’, Palo Santo is able to be used once these trees have naturally fallen in the rainforest and lie dead for four to ten years before they are harvested,” explains Sabrina Riccio, a soulistic alchemist, soul activator, and medicine priestess. “This sacred plant medicine offers a grounded and clear energy while also enhancing creativity and/or bringing forth good fortune,” she shares.
“Sage comes from the Latin word ‘salvia’ which translates as ‘to heal.’ Often, burning sage can bring forth wisdom and clarity as it increases your spiritual awareness,” she continues. “[It carries] more of the masculine/yang aspect. White sage specifically has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years for cleansing, purification, warding off evil spirits, and negative energies.”
After you set an intention [Editor’s Note: All three practitioners interviewed emphasized this] it’s up to you on how frequently you’d like to do it. “Some people do this [smudge] every day, as a ritual or way to start their day. I say do it when you feel your space needs it,” adds meditation and mineral guide, Lauren Spencer King. “There is no wrong time. When I smudge before I have