Smudge Sticks to the Rescue!

If you've been feeling some negative energy recently, now's the time for a spirit cleanse.

Ever been over at a friend's place, admiring their carefully curated bookshelf and perfectly aligned knickknacks, only to rest your eyes upon a small bundle of...dead plants? I have. I wasn't sure if I should point it out in case it was a pile of weeds pulled from the back garden that she forgot to properly throw out—so I politely ignored.

But upon returning home and doing a little research, I found that those bits of dried up shrubbery were not only intentional, they served a purpose. I had been indirectly introduced to the world of smudge sticks, and I liked the way it sounded!

Smudge sticks are a bundle of herbs, traditionally sage, that are burned and wafted around a space to purify and cleanse it of negative energy. While many cultures practice burning incense (the Roman Catholic Church is partial to frankincense), smudge sticks originate from Native American and other indigenous cultures.

Sage, specifically, is a popular smudge stick ingredient for its healing properties. In fact, Salvia, its botanical name, stems from the Latin word salvere, "to heal." Other plants burned to drive away negative energies include juniper, lavender, sweetgrass, tobacco, and cedar—each with their own specific purpose.

So how exactly does one smudge? It's simple!

  1. Open all the windows and doors so the smoke (and negative energy) has an escape route.
  2. Light the smudge stick—preferably with a candle, as the herbs may take some time to ignite.
  3. Once the smudge stick is lit, blow out the flames so that it begins to smolder.
  4. Starting in the center of the space and moving counter-clockwise, walk around the room with the stick, being sure to get into the corners of each room and focusing on any areas that seem especially dark.
  5. If you want to fully partake in the spiritual side of smudging, set your intentions as you cleanse the space, concentrating on positive thoughts and performing the ritual with reverence and love.
  6. When you are done, put out the smudge stick on a dish or in a bowl of sand, and be sure that the smudge stick it is fully extinguished (important!).

The perfect time to begin smudging? The beginning of spring (or, right now in the Northern Hemisphere)—so open up the windows on the first warm days of the season and clear out any lingering negative winter air. Below, we've rounded up our top picks to get you started.

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White Sage Smudge Stick

The base of most smudge sticks is white sage, also known as California white sage, an evergreen shrub with greenish-white leaves. This one is pure sage with no bells or whistles—the optimal stick for someone looking to get straight down to business.

White Sage Smudge Stick, $12, mooreaseal.com.

Wild Flower Smudge Stick

This white sage, fragrant lavender, dried roses, and colorful flower smudge stick by South Carolina-based Soulmakes can be used as both a smudge stick and incense. The bright colors make it the perfect option for anyone who wants something as beautiful as it smells.

Wild Flower Smudge Stick, $15, soulmakes.com.

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Meraki Nomas Sacred Smudge Stick

A bundle of California white sage, sweetgrass, lavender, and roses.

Meraki Nomas Sacred Smudge Stick, $12, meusshop.com.

Complete Smudge and Clearing Set

This smudging set from Connecticut-based Crystal Grids contains everything you need to rid your space of negative vibes. It includes Palo Santo wood, a sage smudge stick, an abalone shell, and a set of Himalayan sea salt and Dead Sea salt. A great housewarming gift!

Complete Smudge and Clearing Set by Crystal Grids, $42, etsy.com.
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Sweetgrass Braid

Sweetgrass Braids are another type of bundle that can be used for smudging and incense-burning. Sweetgrass has a sweeter, gentler, vanilla-like scent that some find more relaxing than sage.

Sweetgrass Braid, $15, ecochoices.com.

Winter Cypress Smudge Stick

Find sage a bit too heady or strong? With notes of ocean salt, campfire, and woody evergreen, this wildcrafted dried Cypress smudge stick will give off a much woodier scent when burned.

Winter Cypress Smudge Stick, $15, juniperridge.com.

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Smudge Spray

Lighting up a bundle of plants in not always possible (looking at you, dorm rooms). So when you're constricted to non-flammable cleansing rituals, a smudge spray is your go-to. This sage and frankincense spray is made with distilled water and essential oils, providing both a safer alternative to a smudge stick and an aromatherapy boost.

Smudge Spray, $21, ameliabk.com.

DIY Smudge Stick

Want to be more involved in the smudging process? Then make your own! DIY extraordinaire Gwen McKenzie has an excellent spring smudge stick DIY on jojotastic.com with step-by-step instructions for the most beautiful smudge stick around.

DIY Smudge Stick, jojotastic.com.


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