What is smudging?
Smudging is used for the practice of spiritual cleansing with smoke, especially from sacred herbs. You may smudge a person, a place, a building, or even an object. “Smudge” is both a noun and a verb—a bundle of herbs burned as incense is also called a smudge.
This term derives from the Middle English word smogen, from which we also get the words smoke, smog, and besmirch.
Smudging is the practice done, with the intention, to remove bad energy and bring a feeling of peace and clarity. Many people are able to tell when a place just doesn’t “feel” right. Smudging uses the natural qualities of aromatic plants, along with the smudger’s prayers and intentions, to improve the psychic environment.
Smudging is a basic ritual, but it can be a very effective one. It is an act of will that removes negative influences and sets a positive intention for your home, tools, or workplace.
Some people also use smudging as a first step in setting sacred space. Smudging is a way to invite higher spiritual vibrations into a place of healing or meditation.
How often should I smudge my home?
Most people smudge on an as-needed basis. These are the most common occasions for performing a smudging ritual:
- When moving into a new space. You wouldn’t wear used clothes without first washing them, and some people won’t move into a new home or office without smudging. Smudging helps clean up the psychic debris from previous occupants, so their energy won’t influence your thoughts and emotions. Some people even smudge when they move out to create a welcoming space for the next resident.
- When there has been a psychic disturbance. Some events tend to leave their mark on a space in the form of unpleasant energy. They can be major disturbances (such as hauntings or acts of violence), or minor disturbances (such as when people in the house have been arguing).
- To mark an important positive change. Smudging is a way of hitting the reset button on a home’s energy, so it makes sense to do it when you’re ready for a fresh start. For example: When you’ve finished seasonal housecleaning, when a toxic person moves out, or when you’re celebrating breaking a habit or addiction.
- When it’s that time again. Some people do smudging at regular intervals, as a kind of scheduled spiritual hygiene. Regular smudging keeps your home’s vibe fresh and stops anything negative from taking hold. Like clutter, the buildup of stale energy may not become noticeable because it’s so gradual.
Annually, monthly, weekly? It all depends on your needs. You may wish to use magickal timing or personally significant dates for your smudging regimen. You can schedule smudging rituals for the New Moon, New Year, your birthday, solstices or equinoxes, or other important anniversaries.
Do you need to be religious to smudge?
Smudging is associated with various Pagan, shamanic, and New Age ideas. However, the practice itself does not require any specific religious beliefs. Smudging, like all magick, is based on intention. All you really need to believe is that you can cleanse yourself, your space, and your possessions. Even skeptics and atheists have told me they see benefits from performing self-cleansing rituals.
Many spiritual paths use incense to help draw one’s thoughts to the Divine. Most also hold in common the benefits of prayers, blessings, and acts of hospitality. I don’t see a conflict between smudging practices and any world religions. However, if you have concerns, you can always speak with a leader within your faith.
A simple smudging ritual for houses and apartments
The keys to a successful house cleansing are intention (knowing strongly what you want) and visualization (being able to "see" your actions being effective).
First, clean your house. Sweep the floors, throw out the garbage, and just tidy your belongings as best you can. Physical clutter and dirt can trap stagnant energy, and make it harder to feel the effects of your efforts.
Choose a smudging herb that you like—one whose energy and aroma is agreeable to you. Hold it between your palms and thank it for lending its energy to your rite.
As you light the smudge stick, say a prayer that your home is a place of love, peace, and harmony. Ask that all who live there and enter as guests be blessed and protected.
Before you begin smudging the house, you may want to smudge yourself first. Wave the smoke around your body, starting at your head and working down to your feet. Visualize any fear, anger, or worry you carry in your body blowing away into the air or traveling down into the ground, to be absorbed and cleansed by Mother Earth. (Some people "see" or visualize negative energy as dark, cloudy energy.) Take a deep breath and replace it with clean fresh air and white light. Allow the white light to flow down from your lungs and heart, joining the clean smoke in your hand.
Now you're ready to cleanse the home, room by room. (I usually do a full circle of my house, starting and ending at the front door.) Let the smoke float into every hallway and corner. As you walk from place to place, see the old, unwanted energy dissolving and floating away. You can speak your intention aloud, or just use a silent prayer or visualization. If any areas feel particularly thick or heavy with bad energy, spend some extra time there.
When you've returned to where you started, extinguish the smudge by rubbing it out in a dish of sand. Affirm that your work is done, such as by clapping your hands and saying, “So it is!” Then sit for a moment and savor the difference in how the energy feels.
Smudging isn't permanent and will need to be repeated eventually. I smudge my house once a month, at least. But it's up to you when you feel like smudging.
Thank you for your time on reading this and Happy smudging. May you and your space be blessed.
Disclaimer: Nothing on this website should be taken as medical, financial, or legal advice. All herbs are intended for external adult use only. Some herbs may not be suitable for all persons—consult a licensed professional if you have concerns. Incense, candles, and herbs can cause fire hazards. Please observe proper safety precautions when using these products.
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With Love & Blessings, Jacqueline B