Smudging, or the act of burning herbs and flowers, has been done for thousands of years. Tracing back its origins to ancient cultures such as the Native Americans Indians, smudging cleanses energy through the use of something called a smudge stick. When a smudge stick is burnt, it gives off resinous smoke that burns up toxic energy, restoring people and places back to harmonious balance.
Smudging is frequently done to cleanse people, places and objects. Benefits include an increased sense of calmness, well-being, mental clarity, confidence, optimism and physical vitality.
Common herbs and flowers used include:
- Lavender (peace of mind and restfulness)
- Mugwort (intuition, banishes negative energy)
- White Sage (joy, wisdom and restores harmony)
- Rosemary (mental acuity and purification)
- Thyme (positivity and courage)
- Pine (serenity and rejuvenation)
- Heather (new beginnings and self-discovery)
- Meadowsweet (love and calmness)
Almost any herb or flower can be used to smudge. However, it’s important to research your chosen herb, flower or plant before burning it! Some species may emit noxious odors that can provoke asthma or illness.
Thankfully you don’t have to pay an arm and leg for the many pre-made smudge sticks out there. You can make your own! In fact, you’ll probably be surprised by how easy, quick, cheap and fun they are to make.
How to Make a Smudge Stick
I’ve chosen rosemary from my garden for this simple demonstration. Historically rosemary is one of the oldest forms of purification, stimulating the mind and calming the heart. It is also a very grounding herb.
Before you begin, go look in your garden. You can forage for your smudging herbs for free as often the best herbs are home-grown varieties such as lavender or thyme.
It’s important that you use organic grown herbs or flowers that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides (for obvious reasons). Growing your own herbs is very simple and inexpensive. Not only that, but they give you an endless source of natural food seasoning and material for DIY smudge sticks!
What you will need:
- Herbs/flowers (feel free to mix them up)
- Yarn (preferably cotton, hemp, or a natural fibre)
1. Collect your herbs.
Make sure they are all about the same length. I used seven rosemary sticks here as seven is a sacred number. You can make your smudge stick as thick or thin as you like.
2. Tie a knot around the stems.
I like to tie the yarn around twice and knot it. Try to make the knot as firm as possible.
3. Make a “handle.”
Wrap the yarn around the end a few times. Alternatively, if you have bare stems, you can use these as a handle, and make a knot further up where the leaves begin.
4. Wind your way around the herbs.
Wrap the yarn tightly around the herbs at an angle. I like to do a zigzag: I go up at an angle, then down. Then I repeat. You can use this technique, or one of your own. Ensure that you tie the yarn very tightly as the herbs tend to shrink as they dry out.
5. Tie a knot at the end.
Once you’ve reached the top of the smudge stick, tie a knot. This can be a little tricky if the yarn is tight, so make sure you loosen it a bit first.
6. Let it dry out!
Now you’ll have a fresh, DIY, organic smudge stick. I told you it was simple! Next, all you need to do is let it dry. You can opt to leave your stick out in the sun to dry, hang it up in the shade, or put it on a rack/in a paper bag. Generally it takes about two weeks for fresh smudge sticks to dry completely. Sometimes less (such as in Summer).
How to Use Your Smudge Stick
What you will need:
- Dish or bowl
- Bowl of sand
Learning how to make a smudge stick is easy, but using it requires more forethought. Firstly, when you’re ready to use your smudge stick, ensure that you have a dish to catch the cinders and ashes. This can be a simple bowl, dish, or even shell.
Before using your smudge stick, ensure that you set an intention. For example, what do you want to accomplish? Why do you want to cleanse yourself, another, another, or a particular space? Make sure that you hold these wishes firmly in mind when smudging. Smudging is a ritual infused with meaning. Do it at a time when you are not stressed or bothered by others such as in the early morning, or late at night.
Once you are ready, use a match to light the tip of the smudge stick. Once a flame arises, blow it out quickly. Walk around the place or space that you want to cleanse, holding the dish underneath the stick. Allow the smoke to wash away any stagnation or negativity, welcoming in freshness and vivacity.
If you’re using the smudge stick on yourself or another, draw the smoke around the body parts that need to be opened and cleared. Concentrate on your intention/desire and allow the smoke to carry away any blockages. Now is a good time to make use of visualization.
When you have finished your ritual, snuff out your smudge stick in a bowl of sand.
Share With Me …
What tips, tricks, or recommendations do you have about learning how to make a smudge stick?
Also, I’d love to know what your favorite herb, flower or plant is!
About Aletheia Luna
Thanks to Loner Wolf for this article
Photos by: LonerWolf ©