Burning Herbs: a smudging how to

I’ve been asked a lot how to burn the herbs. I know a visual is better than just the instructions text in the product descriptions so here we go… one rule; please ignore my pandemic isolation finger nails… 

A lot of us might be new to this, but our ancestors, indigenous canadians and other cultures from all over the world have been burning herbs and smudging for thousands of years.. at some point smudging became banned in Canada, but we are all bringing it back….more on the history of that in this article in the canadian encyclopedia on smudging…  Used for centuries for triggering brain centers related to healing, meditation, cleansing spaces and promoting positive energy. Used for cleansing a space; a new home, a yoga space or objects… also it can be used in your own invented spiritual practises that make you feel good. I have always been a bit of an omnist and draw from all religions and cultures to concoct my own personal practises. I don’t even say the words out loud depending on my mood though I know scientifically saying intentions out loud soothe the nervous system, sometimes I just don’t feel like speaking the words out loud.

It doesn’t have to be anything, it doesn’t have to be a religion, it doesn’t have to follow rules, as long as it lifts your spirits and connects you to what is important to you. No one else has to believe in it. Spirituality isn’t a one off, it doesn’t need proof, and it is very personal and could be influenced by so many personal beliefs and experiences along your life’s path. I like the wiccan phrase ” an it harm none, do what thou wilt”. I identify with that phrase but I don’t label myself wiccan though I like a lot of what I read on the subject. I believe in the earth, I enjoy earth celebrating practices; like moon baths and celebrating the equinoxes, and solstices…. I love history and learning about other cultures and the benefits of plants and herbs for beauty and health. I believe the earth gave us all we need, and I am an agnostic who believes in science but I am also very very spiritual and connected to myself and the earth. I believe in the self and honing your inner gifts if you will. I also don’t like to feel limited and am open to new knowledge and ways of thinking… I believe in growth. 

I will show you what I do personally and what I like, you can build on that. I suggest also reading what other cultures do too and draw from there your own personal conclusions. Some like the support of ceremony; You may want to seek out professionals who smudge for a living but it isn’t necessary, it will still work regardless. 

My favorite is smudging myself…

Here we go…

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First off smudging can be done with a smudge stick, a bundle of white sage or loose herbs like I will show you today. Sage is primarily used for cleansing negative energy, Palo santo wood can be used to put in positive energy after. You can use a feather to fan and move the smoke around or just your hand. The smoke is what cleanses and what you want. Shells are uses as vessels to hold burning items. 

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The most basic and original and traditonal way to smudge is with herbs in a shell. You light them and use the smoke, and light it again if need be and then again if need be.  I used a normal lighter here but I prefer long matches. It keeps your fingers farther from the flame.

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IMG_1252(1)I don’t like burns on my shell so I use sand to insulate the shell and protect it. I use sand I have collected from beaches I love. This sand is from Salmon Cove beach. This way you can carry the shell safely around the house and waft smoke around. 

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Upping your game . The charcoals are like BBQ charcoals, not necessary but they give you a longer burn and more smoke. Great for Spring Equinox, or Summer Solstice cleanses, or New Moon rituals… Summer solstice is coming up on June 22nd, I will for sure do a big burn then.  Windows open. Always. This is said to let out the negative, it let’s the smoke carry it away. You can emit your worries into it, your anxieties, your own negative emotions… and let it take it away. Visualizing this scientifically helps the brain release these worries and anxieties… Here on sand in a shell but I will show you my set up… 

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So I use a ceramic skull meant for burning oils or incense. It is a fire proof vessel, and does not heat up holding hot items. Other vessels could be a cast iron mini pot meant for incense burning or brass ones, just be sure to put it on a fire proof object and note you cannot move it once it has the charcoal lit. I keep metal tongs near by in case I have to move it quickly. You light your charcoal on the edges, you will get a fizzle and it should catch. ( be sure your charcoal wasn’t exposed to moisture or it might not light like regular bbq charcoals, you can even use those in a pinch). The benefit of these is the bowl shape to them. 

Once it catches you start putting your herbs on, I like starting with a resin piece, and then others. You get a feel for how much smoke you want and how much to put on…. you stay with it… Here is me burning some herbs in the video…  Once you have your smoke going to satisfaction you can recite some words, recite a traditonal ceremony or others you find online or one you wrote yourself, fan the smoke over you, do affirmations or just keep fanning yourself with the smoke running it over your body like a smoke bath.

It just depends on your mood, you could also just burn it because you like the smell, it works as an incense too and will still do what it does regardless of what you say or do.  I wasn’t satisfied with my burn in the video, I did have smoke but I wanted more so I lit it again mid way through, you will get a feel for it. I still wasn’t happy in the video with the amount of smoke, so I lit a new charcoal… my guess is it got moisture on it somewhere along the way and the self lighting agent on it gave up or my flame didn’t penetrate it enough, who knows, but like a bbq sometimes you need more flame or it’s bust. I couldn’t squirt lighter fuel on it like a cabin bonfire so I lit a new charcoal and dumped my herbs onto that one on the shell.  A good burn you will get this greyed charcoal effect in the next photos…. I like strating with a resin piece because if it is hot enough it will melt and thats’s a good indicator. 

Taking it a step furthur you can also cleanse objects in the smoke, like your stones or tools, something special to you…. 

Things you can say while smudging

This one is a version of the most traditional text for self smudging… The idea with this one is the cleanse your eyes ( waft smoke over that area) while you say ” I cleanse my eyes”, then waft smoke over your mouth while you say ”  I cleanse my mouth…”  

A Full Ceremony

I cleanse my Eyes so they will see the Truth all around me, allow my eyes to see the beauty I receive from Mother Earth and the Love I create within my family and my communities.

I cleanse my Mouth for truthful speaking. In my speaking words may I elevate my community. May I speak prayers of healing to Mother Earth.

I cleanse my ears so that I may Listen fully to the wisdom passed down from my ancestors, the creator, the Earth and my Spirit Guides. May I be open to hear the good and allow any negativities to slide off me.

I cleanse my heart so that I may feel the truth and be filled with compassion and gratitude. May my heart grow with purity, balance and joy.

I cleanse my hands so that I might create beautiful things. I cleanse my feet so they will guide me on this life’s journey as a light and truth seeker. May my feet stay grounded and remind me of how to walk in balance, love, joy and in harmony with my family, friends, earth, sky ,water, plant and animal worlds.”

A shorter version is here..

I cleanse my Eyes so they will see the Truth.

I cleanse my Mouth to speak the truth. 

I cleanse my ears so that I may hear the truth. 

I cleanse my heart so that I may feel the truth. 

I cleanse my hands so that I might create with truth. I cleanse my feet so they will guide me in truth.” 

Another thing I do sometimes, I say affirmations, ones I made for myself but can translate to most of us. Things that were important to me to re-affirm to myself and remind myself of. Here is my personal list, said three times each to help solidify the neural pathways in your brain or once it’s up to you and your mood. 

I am the wayI am confident
I am supportive loving kind I am fierey
I am loveI am safe
I am funny and I love laughterI believe there are good men out there
I am the light I trust myself
I love Nature I accept myself
I am compassionate I appreciate myself and ….
My feelings are valid My chi flows through my chi feild
I am the universe I nourish myself
I am healing I love this day
I am brave I have grieved, my greving is over
I am fearlessI am the truth
I am divine I am excited
I have a purposeI embrace my darkness
I take breaks for my brainI embrace my light
I let go of left brain logical thinkingI accept my feelings
I let my inuition and right brain flow I am comfortable with my pain
My whole brain flows I am enjoying my road
I am comfortable feeling I appreciate the lesssons
I take off my masks My new mindset is a reward
I love my hydes as well as my jekles I am a good space holder for others
I am connected to my spiritual integrityI am grateful for….
I am a cycle breaker I already have happiness
I am a survivorI am conected to my haippiness
I am very self awareI let go of strivings
I am in tune with my emotionsI am my own guru
I am StrongI am my teacher
I am standing up for myself I am the big rock
I know my true valuesI am the source
 I am the way

I hope this helps you with your burning herbs and smudging rituals. 

You can also read more about the burning herbs, my history with them and the benefits of certain herbs and  more about burning herbs. 

You can shop my Ritual Burning Herbs here..

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