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Smudging Vs. Cleansing

"Into this smoke, I release anything not serving my highest self."

My favorite act of self care is a good cleanse! There are plenty of ways to cleanse the energy of your self and your home, from a good salt bath to your traditional smoke cleansing. A lot of times, we hear it referred to in different ways aka "smudging."

If you're deeply involved in the esoteric and metaphysical, you may have heard others say smudging is a closed practice and something not everyone can do. I wanted to dive into the differences between a good smoke cleansing and the traditional practice of smudging.

Smudging is a cultural ceremony practiced by Indigenous peoples all over the world.

Indigenous Smudging Ceremony

Not only referring to sage, many utilize dried herbs and medicine to not only cleanse the energy, but to remedy health problems. "Indigenous peoples have their own terms and phrases for smudging, including atisamânihk (Cree for “at the smudge”) and nookwez (Ojibwe for “smudge medicinally”)."1

Some other tools used in Indigenous ceremony are shells to carry the ash, and feathers to waft the smoke around the body or room. At the end of the ceremony, the ashes are discarded into the Earth to signify that the negativity or bad health is placed outside of our lives.

These sacred traditions are usually led by an elder, or shaman, although others are able to carry out their own private smudging's. Colonization banned smudge cleansings up until about 2017. Although they weren't explicitly banned, many ceremonies that involved smudging, were.

Now, onto smoke cleansing.

Smoke Cleansing

This practice has been around since, virtually, the beginning of time. The uses range from cleansing the energy of a person/space, to conjure spirits, or to simply clean the air. "Modern studies have shown that burning herbal smoke (it does not always, and should not always, be white sage) can drastically reduce the amount of pathogens and bacteria in the air, by up to 94%." 2

While many stake a claim of smoke cleansing to the indigenous, many other religions and cultures have used smoke itself as an offering or healing agent. For example, Catholics heavily use incense, as well as some Asian cultures. 

The white sage, traditionally used in Indigenous traditions, is in trouble of being over-harvested. It's no secret that there has been a rise in the popularity of white sage and the burning of it. Ensure that the white sage you purchase is being ethically harvested from the source.

If you're not comfortable smoke cleansing because you don't want to step on another cultures traditions, there are many different herbs you can use to achieve the same result. Lavender, roses, mugwort, cedar, basil, clove, mint, or bay leaves are all good substitutes.

Ultimately, what matters most is your intention in your practice. If something is telling you not to use white sage, or you just have a "feeling," listen to that intuition and substitute a different herb. While the smoke is rising, your prayer is all that matters. When it comes to the universe and metaphysical, all that matters is your intention.

My favorite prayer for smoke cleansing is as follows:

"I release into this smoke anything that does not serve my highest self. I invite all that is good and loving to stay and fill this home."

That simple. As I said before, your intention is what matters most. What are your favorite herbs to use in smoke cleansing? How do you feel about smoke cleansing? Let me know in the comments.

Lunaocity offers a white sage stick infused with dried flowers. This is the perfect stick to cleanse the home of negativity and invite love into your space. Click here to learn more!


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