The Smudging Ceremony: Remove Bad Energy with Sage Smoke

My Spirit Care, 25 Years of Psychic and Spiritual Advice for Thousands of PeopleMany of you want to know how to perform a cleansing ceremony with the use of burning sage, also known as “smudging.” A smudge stick is a dried and bundled plant. One can also use loose leaves in smudging, but before we get to the particulars of such a ceremony it will help to have an understanding of the origins of this sacred practice and how it will cleanse, heal, and consecrate an energy field, or thing, or space.

The Origins and History of Smudging

People commonly credit smudging as being a Native American practice, but the use of rising smoke in spiritual rituals has been practiced across many cultures for thousands of years. The ancient Hindu texts reveal this was practiced 6,000 years ago with the burning of incense.  Smoke purification was performed in Egypt, with the burning of aromatic resins for religious ceremonies.  It was practiced in Babylonia, Greece, Rome, Japan, Tibet, China, among the ancient Hebrews, and among indigenous tribal cultures around the world, with the native tribes of North America being only a portion. Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, which are an amalgam of pagan beliefs and practices, use incense in religious ceremonies, adapted from the pagan rituals popular when the Christian theocracy was legalized by the pagan-turned-Christian, Roman Emperor Constantine, in 325 AD.

So the use of smoke to purify in a spiritual way is not exclusive to the Native American tradition, although we have them to thank for the wonderful and deeply spiritual practice of burning sage and other sacred plants as a purification practice. This tradition is a very beautiful gift and the most effective method commonly used in spiritual cleansing ceremonies today.

How it Works to Cleanse and Purify

Smudging is an intrinsic part of shamanism, the world’s oldest medicine. Shamans recognize that every form of life on this planet has a spiritual purpose and a sacred consciousness. They know that plants have invaluable healing properties. Human animals, as it turns out, are not the top rung of creation’s ladder even though we think we are because we have big brains and walk on two feet. All beings, whether plant, animal, or mineral are divine and have sacred right to life; all have something to offer to the manifest “other.”

To approach a smudging ritual and to be effective in cleansing away negative energy, one must be reverent of the plant being used and even the energies being cleansed. All energy is divine at its core, whether Light or Dark. Respect for all life is essential to any smudging that you undertake. If you cannot feel reverent about this sacred practice, don’t do it. Find someone who is spiritually qualified and energetically prepared to do it for you.

Although many different plants can be used for smudging, indigenous American tribes consider four plants to be especially sacred: sage, sweetgrass, tobacco, and cedar. Each plant is considered to have a special function and this can vary by tribe and tradition. While sage is used for purification, sweetgrass is used to bring in positive energies, and its smoke is considered to carry prayers to the Creator.

When to Use Smudge

If you are feeling down, negative, stuck, or in a spiritual low place, smudging is an excellent way to change things for the better.

  • When your house, your property, or any place or space has been exposed to heavy and negative energies, or painful experiences and even illness, they should be cleansed with smudge.
  • When you move into a new location, it should be smudged to cleanse the psychic imprints of previous occupants.
  • If you feel the presence of bad energy in your living quarters, or if a solitary room makes you feel bad or uneasy by being in there, it’s time to smudge.
  • If you want to create a protective barrier against outside negative influences, such as neighborhood issues, it’s time to smudge.
  • If you want to make your prayers stronger and if you want to feel more connected to Spirit, it’s time to smudge.
  • If your vehicle has been in a fender-bender or you’ve had a close call in your car, smudge it, inside and out, to remove negative energetic imprints that can attract more negative experiences.
  • Cleanse second-hand items with smudge to remove psychic imprints of previous owners.
  • You can consecrate and energetically charge your garden by smudging.
  • You should smudge to clean yourself and your space before engaging in any psychic contact or spiritual ceremony.
  • You can smudge anytime just to connect to a state of spiritual clarity and harmony! Remember, you “clear the air” in your life with the help of sacred smoke!

Sacred sage and other wonderful herbs are Earth Mother’s gift, and once you understand how important a tool they are in your own spiritual welfare you will never be without a supply on hand. They are a fundamental part of your spiritual first-aid kit, given by Creation to heal wounds upon the soul.

To read another article and gain more information about how to smudge, please go here.


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  1. Sharon


    My heart feels heavy as well as my home and my health seems to be going down hill, ever since we moved into this house 19 yrs ago all of my grandkids are scared to be in the house alone, I have lots of experiences in this home like cigarette smoke floating in different rooms and 2 children voices 1 male and 1 female calling mom, lately I have had no energy and feel very emotional and cry alot, everything feels heavy and gloomy here, I had a dog who I truly loved and had to have him put down cause of bone cancer and we’ve had alot of deaths in the past 6 yrs mostly suicides I can’t help to think its someone from that but I don’t know. My heart races my heart is heavy my health all of a sudden isn’t great, I have saged, and blessed my home for many years now but something is wrong here I feel and I can’t figure it out do you have any ideas for me? A few yrs back I was told I was a sensitive I have felt spirits around me especially when I went to my dad’s place in Arizona and my husband and I walked to the cemetery where on the reservation out there they do things different I was standing in front of a grave and reading about this young man who died he was recently buried I felt him next to me and it scared me so I told my husband let’s go looking back I wished I would of been stronger about it but I feel odd at certain places and now here in my home it just feels heavy I cannot sleep my heart races something is just not right. There’s a lot more to tell but it would take awhile and I don’t want to scare my husband for he was kinda a non believer and my kids and grandchildren are terrifed to be in my home alone if I go out of the house they follow my 8 yr old will not sleep alone in his room at all, my dog stares at certain things like someone is standing there I could go on but I will stop for now and ask you for some ideas if you wouldn’t mind.
    Thank You,

    • Diana


      Sharon, there are changes needed in your lifestyle and associated connections. Please contact me for a session as I would love to help you. I wish I could do and the only way I can do that is in a personal consultation. Blessings to you my dear.

  2. Faith


    So GLAD to know about tis ritual of smudging granddaughter died 3 weeks ago today .The air is heavy with grief ..I want to see her R.I.P. and go to a loving light . Be gathered in by our ancestors for eternity . Faith

  3. leeza


    Diana, I love your site and wanted to say thank you for your blog postings.
    I am an energy master, reiki master, and shamanic practitioner. I have worked with many since the 90’s with whom smudging is a regular ritual. I think that education and tools are our best friends in dispelling the fears and all that keeps us from moving forward.

    • Diana


      Thanks so much, Leeza! Please understand that your comment was edited, per my firm policy of protecting commenter’s identities, as well as protecting readers from unscreened contacts, but your core comment has been left intact.

      And you’re right about education. I appreciate, very much, the work that you’re doing, the spiritual contributions that you make. Bless you, and love.

  4. Mike


    Just pulled some roadside sage out in western Wyoming…… can I smudge using that please; preparation of the sage for the ritual is best accomplished how?

    46 “mid-life enlightening”

    MAKE it a great day! Yes?


    • Diana


      Thanks for writing, Mike.
      As far as gathering sage in the wild, you said “pulled” so right off the bat I have to say that’s not the best way to do it. As Western thinkers, we are not at all prone to have reverence for living things like plants–which is no slight to you personally, but merely to point out that the first preparation for smudging starts with deep respect for the plant. –Which means, we would prayerfully remove some of the top by cutting, after asking the plant’s permission to take some of it, rather than pull up the roots and thereby end the plant’s life.

      In the tradition that you are seeking to follow, all things are conscious and all things have indwelling Divine Spirit. Man is in no way superior nor are we master over the earth. We coexist as brothers of, and with, everything. The Native Americans call the plants, the birds and animals, the water, the mountains, etc. “All our relations.” So when we want to call upon the good energy of the plant, we need to first recognize how very special (and certainly equal in every respect) it is. ALL life is precious.

      However, Mike, now that you have the plant in your possession, it’s time to give genuine gratitude to both it and the Earth Mother for its sacrifice in your behalf. You can do this in an attitude of verbal prayer, while you wrap it into a bundle with cotton string. You may also use it loose (unwrapped) if you prefer.

      I will have an upcoming article on the technique of burning sage and the ceremony itself. Stay tuned. In the meantime, there are instructions on the Internet, but be sure to be prayerful and reverent in your use of the sage, and hold a mental focus of spiritual cleansing and healing energy to come into you and your situation.

  5. Andres


    Catholics burn incense at Mass because a description of a vision of heaven in the book of revelations shows angels burning incense in heaven before a altar and the incense represents the prayers of the saints rising up to God. Catholics priests do the same in imitation of that vision of heaven. It has nothing to do with purifying anything and has nothing to do with pagan customs as the book of revelations was written around 100AD if not earlier. Way before 325AD. Just because pagans also burned incense does not mean Christians do it because we adopted their custom. Please get your facts straight before you write nonsense about Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

    • Andres


      Just wanted to add the same goes for The Orthodox Christians since both churches were one Church when the book of revelations was written.

    • Diana


      Oh, my! Well…welcome to the website! I am happy to have you sit at the table and sup, as well as express your thoughts. As I prepared to answer your comment, I decided to search a phrase “pagan customs in Christianity” and I discovered that the top responses from search engines were links to Christian sites that are up in arms about those who are bringing to light the truth of Christian origins. There appears to be quite the movement afoot to put a corrected, improperly written history back into the prominent meme of religious assertion. –Which is to be expected. Christianity is in a mighty struggle to survive, not because it is being attacked but because some of the truth of history is no longer completely in ecclesiastical hands. (There are still mountainous heaps of truth tightly contained.) I have often said that the truth does not need humans to defend it. Humans defend beliefs, while truth stands on its own.

      As you are welcome at this table, and I am honored to have you, please accept some desert. You are welcome to research: Ramsay MacMullen and Robin Lane (ed.), Paganism and Christianity 100–425 C.E.:A Sourcebook. (A primary sourcebook for interaction between Pagans and Christians from the 2nd century to 425 CE).

      Organized Christianity began as a political movement that swept the globe, inculcating the indigenous practices of the people it absorbed as it went along. The Celtic goddess Brigid was adopted by the Catholic religion and made into a saint because that was an astute political move to blend paganism with Christian dogma in order to recruit recalcitrant pagans into the Christian fold:; also read:

      And that is only one small bean out of a huge pot. There is Halloween, Easter, Christmas…ah one could write a book and many have been written. As for smudging and the ritual of sacred smoke, you have no authority here because you have no extended knowledge. Tens of thousands of years before the establishment of the Christian empire, human beings the world over practiced smoke rituals to cleanse and to carry prayers to Great Mystery, to the Great Creator of All. Since this practice was prevalent in pre-history, you cannot claim the Christians did not take this from established belief. They made a doctrinal library from all established beliefs as in this world, there is nothing new under the sun. We merely reinvent.

    • Bobadmin


      We’re glad you’re here and thanks for taking the time and effort to comment, and give feedback. Much appreciated!:)

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