There are several approaches to maintaining your space and yourself, ranging from burning incense sticks & candles, potted plants, fresh flowers to adapting minimalism and tidying up with professionals. Almost all of them are directed towards making things better and more positive for you. Burning sage, also known as smudging, is one such purifying practices to allow positive energy in. Should you choose to burn sage? How can smudging help you? Let’s find out.
What Does Burning Sage Do?
Burning sage is said to be a Native American practice. It is a ritual which is believed to cleanse your body and your space over which you are burning sage. Depending on which school of thought you are hearing it from, sage does some wonders such as dispelling negative energy or getting rid of the bacteria in the air, either way helping you make your space better. However, smudging is not limited to your space, but also your body.
Salvia officinalis, as the sage plant is scientifically known, is known to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties in essential oil form. This is supported by a more recent 2017 research paper published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, which cites antimicrobial, antinociceptive, and antimutagenic, amongst other pharmacological properties of this plant.  
Burning sage can also release these oils and thus clear the space of microbes in the air. With this, it could help purify it, which in turn could keep diseases at bay. This practice can be used to cleanse your home, you and your family, your workspace, or a corner of your house or a single room.
How to Practice Burning Sage?
Smudging is a practice that can be carried out using different herbs. For smudging by burning sage, you need a bundle of dried sage, a small dish to hold it, a matchstick and a candle, a feather or something to hand fan the sage. You can also keep some incense sticks or rosewater handy.
Choose a time, open your windows to let the light & wind in, and prepare an altar. The altar is not for ceremonial purposes but rather to give a sense of intention to the ritual, which would otherwise be burning of dry sage leaves. Smudging is more purposeful when you chalk out your intention for this practice, be it purification or peace. Thus, the altar could be a small table or anything similar.
Set out your sage bundle and other elements onto the table. Now is a good time to define your intentions clearly, believe in them, clear your heart & mind, and be welcoming to positive energy and light.
While you can use a matchstick to light up your sage bundle, a candle is a better option. While some traditions use an abalone shell, a representation of water, to place the sage bundle, you can use a small dish. Once lit with a candle, let it burn till you see signs of smoke. This should only be a few seconds.
Put the flames out by using a feather, a paper, or card paper. Once done, you will see smoke rising. Place it back in the dish or hold it in a safe way. Bring the smoke to you with your hands. Let the energy into your heart, mind, and body. You do not have to inhale this smoke, as it could cause discomfort.
When you have smudged yourself, start with your house. You can start from one side of the main door, go by the walls, and end back at the door. All this while, it important to be positive and emphasize on your intentions. You can also have a chant for this.
You can now leave the sage bundle in the dish or put it out in the dish itself. Burning sage is said to the masculine energy which expels negativity. To now fill the space with positive energy, spray rose water or burn incense sticks.
When to Smudge?
The practice can be carried out whenever you feel the need for it. Usually, it is suggested that it should be repeated every week. It can be done before and after having guests over, before new beginnings, after having recovered from a disease, before a meditation or yoga session, or having come home from a crowded or a negative situation.
Simply put, smudge whenever you want.
Where to Buy Sage for Smudging?
Sage is now easily available in several local stores as well as global and local e-commerce websites. Alternatively, you can grow and dry your own sage. However, pick it gently and with permission.
If you have picked your own sage, tie it on one end into a bundle, and hang it upside down in a dry corner of the house. Let it dry uniformly before you have tied it in a bundle.
Precautions When Burning Sage
When burning sage, it is important to remember that it is a traditional, common practice steeped in belief and culture. While it might have its benefits, it is important to remember a few things.
- Smoke: Smudging could create a lot of smoke. If you live in a setting with fire alarm, or someone might construe this as a fire emergency, be cautious. Be cautious with the smoke alarm.
- Do not inhale: Burning sage is good for eliminating microbes in the air but will not help you if you fill your lungs with it. Be gentle, and do not try to aggressively fumigate your space with this smoke.
- Kid-safe & pet-safe: You can smudge the little ones in your house, including their sleeping space and playing area.
- The ash: It is better that you dispose of the ash in soil, rather than disposing it in a trash bin, or down the flush.
- Alternatives: If you are unable to smudge your space with smoke, there are alternatives available. There are sage mists and sprays which should work the same way. As with burning sage, remember that your intentions matter.
Now that you are clear with the basics of burning sage, let the positivity in!