The Essential Guide to Smudging

The Essential Guide to Smudging



Smudging, or the practice of burning herbs and plants, is an ancient tradition of indigenous people in North and Latin American culture. The bundle of dried herbs was used to cleanse people and spaces. By smudging herbs, their belief is that it clears the environment of negative energy and spirits.

The most commonly burned herbs are Sage and Palo Santo. Ancient healers used these herbs for medicinal purposes and to restore positive energy. For those looking to get into the practice, you might wonder if there’s a difference between the two and if you can burn these two herbs together.

As someone who takes mental wellness seriously and is also a chronic sufferer of allergies, I can attest to the benefits of smudging. Since starting the practice over a year ago, I have noticed a reduction of those pesky symptoms allergies cause as well as its calming effect on my anxiety. Though, I recommend this as supplementary care with a bigger mental health plan in place.

Let’s get into how smudging can help you.

Smudging with Sage

Some indegnious tribes believe smudging can cleanse a space of negativity. Though the science is limited, modern studies are proving this ancient practice as an authentic form of treatment to better one’s mood. One study found that just one hour of smudging cleansed a room of bacteria by 94%.

Not just that, but the burning of sage neutralizes positive ions and creates negative ions that naturally increase serotonin levels. Some of these added benefits are:

  • ●  Increased memory and cognition
  • ●  Mood improvement
  • ●  Increased feelings of calm and relaxation

    This peace of mind is due to the fact that burning sage increases negative ions. Commonly found in nature, negative ions act as a natural antidepressant. These ancient cultural beliefs are tied to scientific research.

Smudging with Palo Santo

Palo Santo, or “holy wood” as it’s often translated, is known for its sweet, pine-like smell. Palo Santo helps get the juices flowing and boost productivity levels for the creatively inclined. During the summer months, its aroma keeps insects at bay without causing any harm to them.

Like Sage, it can help improve mental health and wellbeing. Palo Santo benefits include:

  • ●  Relief from depressive symptoms
  • ●  Aids in healthy sleep hygiene
  • ●  Relieves arthritis pain
  • ●  Relieves symptoms of asthma

    Can You Burn Sage and Palo Santo Together?

    Burning these two resources together depends on the reason behind it. Since Native and Latin cultures believe Sage cleanses an environment of all energy, both positive and negative, you could start with this herb first. Palo Santo, on the other hand, promotes positive energy. Sage resets the environment, allowing Palo Santo to take full effect.

    For those who practice smudging as an emotional or mental health ritual, there is nothing wrong with burning them together, as it can be an invaluable aid for peace of mind and meditation.

    Is Smudging Cultural Appropriation?

    Since smudging is deeply rooted in Native and Latin culture, some may wonder if it’s cultural appropriation for them to practice it. Like in any culture or religion, approach it with curiosity and the desire to learn. It’s always best to respect any cultural significance and heritage. That includes knowing the history behind it and its people, too.

    When buying Sage or Palo Santo, it’s important to consider whether these resources are being harvested ethically. Because of the increase in popularity, companies may not use sustainable harvesting methods. Palo Santo, for example, is historically only harvested once the tree dies.

    Other cultures around the world also practice their version of smudging. Western religions, such as Catholicism light incense in their place of worship as well as various cultures in Asia. Those indigenous to Australia also use plants for smoke ceremonies.

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