Benefits and Uses of White Sage
White sage (Salvia apiana) is a plant native to high desert ecosystems, and grows prevalently in California.
For hundreds of years, white sage has been considered a sacred, cleansing, purifying, and protective plant.
The leaves of the plant are a whitish-green, and if you rub the fresh leaves between your thumb and forefinger, a refreshing, cleansing scent is released.
Native Americans started the tradition of using Sacred Sage to ward off evils spirits and negative energies, and white sage has been used in ceremonies to seek blessings of health and prosperity, banish spirits, encourage protection. Sacred sage can amplify any clearing and protective techniques that you are already using. As a plant, and a living being, sage also has a Spirit. The Spirit of sage is dedicated to offering protection, blessings, and clearing.
How can you work with white sage?
Most people, including myself, choose to burn it.
Sage Smudging is a ritual where the leaves of the Sage plant are burned, and the smoke is directed into and onto areas that are in need of clearing and protection. The idea is that as the leaves are burned, and you speak express your gratitude for it's assistance, the spirit of the sage plant releases it's energy of protection and clearing into the space or onto the object that needs clearing. As the smoke moves through the room or over a surface, the smoke attaches itself to any heavy, negative energy that is within the space, object or being. As the smoke clears, the spirit of White Sage carries with it the negative energy that was once attached, back up to the Spiritual Light.
This heavy energy then becomes released, so that it may regenerate into something positive.
You can perform this smudging ritual on anything or anyone that needs a clearing (if it is a living being, remember to ask permission!). You can use White Sage to help you clear a room, a building, or a property. White sage can assist you in releasing energies and thought forms from yourself or another that no longer serves you. You can ask Sage to assist you in cleansing unknown energies from a stone, or an object that you received as a gift!
Sage Smudging Protocols
Obtain a wand or stick of white sage - find one here.
The first rule of working with White Sage is this:
After you light the sage, do not stop it from burning. The spirit of white sage knows just how much negativity or heaviness needs to be released, and will burn accordingly. In fact, I've burned entire wands of sage in one sitting, or had other wands stay 'lit' for only a minute or two. If you feel you are done burning sage, place the wand in a fireproof bowl, or on the stove and allow the sage to cease burning, naturally. If you watch the smoke, sometimes it will drift to a particular part of the room, car, or person - that is where the healing/protection energy is most needed.
A few safety tips-
Use a heatproof bowl to put the sage in, after it has been ignited. Some prefer to use an abalone shell, but abalone is endangered, so any piece of thick, fired pottery is beautiful and just fine.
Be safe and keep the air as still as possible when you smudge.
No fans, or open doors and windows. Any gust of wind could further ignite the sage and blow sparks and ashes out of the bowl! Avoid wearing billowy clothing and tie back your long hair, if you have it. You're about to have a mini-fire in your hands, treat it with respect and please be careful.
Light the sage at the very tips of the leaves on top of the wand. Once the flames come to life, blow them out quickly. Do not let it flame burn. Once it is lit, and the flame is blown out, it will smoke.
The movement and release of the energy comes with the smoke and not with the flames.
Place the lit, smoking top of the wand of sage, down inside the bowl, and rest the sides of the wand on the edge of the bowl. Use your hand, a small piece of cardboard, or a feather to "waft" the smoke.
Set an Intention. Using the smoke of the white sage to cleanse and protect, it's important that you ask and set the intention that this is going to happen. As you work with white sage to cleanse, I suggest repeating a mantra, to remind the energies that you are releasing that they are unwelcome and asked to leave.
For example, as you smudge, repeat:
I release all energies that no longer serve me to be released from me and this space and into the divine light. You no longer have nor hold power here. Loving and peaceful energy is welcome and invited in now. This is my sacred space, and anything that no longer serves me is released with this sacred smoke.
SMUDGING A ROOM OR HOUSE
Keep the windows and doors closed to the room you have chosen to smudge. Start in one corner of the room and gently waft the smoke after it spirals above the bowl, from the floor up to the ceiling. Always start from the bottom and move to the top - this is the natural pattern of smoke - to move up and carry away. Move from the back most corner of the room, and move to the next corner, following the same pattern. If you encounter a window, waft smoke into the four corners of the window, starting from the lower left corner of the window moving to the upper left, then to the upper right, then back down to the lower right. Seal the window by completing the "loop", in other words, make sure the smoke is wafted over the entire window frame.
Move to the next corner, and waft smoke from the bottom to the top of the corner, and once you complete the final corner, move to the center of the move, raise the bowl to chest height, and waft smoke up towards the room center. You are now done with this room. When you leave, shut the door behind you and allow the smoke to penetrate the room for at least 15 minutes. Upon returning, open the windows and doors to release the energies that have attached to the smoke. Notice how the room feels different - lighter, clearer, more airy.
Do each room in the above fashion.
Start from the back of the house and move to the front. Start from the bottom floor and move to the top. Make sure to get all rooms and if you have a room with cabinets - open the cabinets and waft smoke into them the way you would for a window. Your last room should be the one with the front door.
Upon completing the house, exit through the front door and close the front door. Allow the smoke to work for at least 15 minutes. Once you are ready to return, open the doors and windows of the house.
Bend over, so that the bowl is about the level of your feet and ankles. Gently waft the smoke upward. As you slowly unbend and straighten up, you are bringing the sage/bowl and fanning the smoke up, up, upward until you’ve sent the smudging smoke up above your head. If someone is smudging you, turn around in a circle, and ask them to smudge you, from feet to head on all sides. As you turn slowly in a clockwise direction, they will stand still and waft the smoke from your feet to your head.
Make a complete circle, and thank the Spirits for their assistance. Next, offer your friend a smudging!
SMUDGING AN OBJECT
If you have a crystal or a piece of jewelry given to you, or anything else that you want to cleanse, hold it in your hand (if it is small enough). Waft smoke from below the object, so that the sage smoke covers the object from below, traveling. Swirl the smoke around the object until you feel the cleansing is complete. Remember to repeat your mantra.
If you are smudging a protection object such as a crystal that you wear and have asked it to absorb negative energies, you will want to cleanse this object periodically to make sure it is fully functioning.
*This article includes affiliate links from Amazon.com. Above image credit: Las Pilitas Plant Nursery