How to Smudge (A Cautionary Tale)
by Lorraine Annacone
Smudging your space is a great way to clear negative energy. The frequency depends on what is going on in your life. If you or someone in your family have been sick, had guests, arguments, etc., you should smudge to clear all negative energy. There are many choices of smudge; white sage, cedar, palo santo, mugwort, blends of sage and lavender, sage and pinion, and more. What to choose depends on your preference of energy and scent, and allergy concerns. You also have the choice of smudge sticks, which can easily be carried around, though a container is still advised for loose embers, or loose smudge which will need to be in a fireproof container. My preference is loose white sage in an abalone shell. Some like to use a feather to help move the smoke. For my blessing, I prefer to use sweetgrass. A blessing is important after smudging to bring in the energy that you want. This can be done with sweetgrass or other smudge, or a white candle, along with the intention and affirmation or prayer of the energy you invite into the space.
When I smudge, I first stand outside my door and smudge myself. I set the intention of cleansing all negativity and call on my guides to be with me. That way I am clear, body and mind, when I enter the space. I smudge all doors and windows, outlining them in in a clockwise fashion with the smudge and an affirmation. I like to say “I seal this window with love and light.” You can use an affirmation or statement of your choosing. I move room to room in a clockwise fashion if possible, and make sure to get corners and any areas that do not get good air flow. You can even clear beds with an affirmation of your choosing.
There are precautions however that you need to take. I was once smudging my home, carrying the smudge stick without a dish. A piece dropped on my couch. Fortunately I quickly noticed, but not before a small hole was burned into it. I’ve learned since, always carry smudge sticks in a dish, and tap it occasionally to release the loose embers.
Years ago I smudged my brother’s home after he and his wife separated. I made sure to do it while the home was unoccupied, smudged myself outside the front door, and took time clearing all spaces thoroughly. I thought I was alone, but one of his dogs snuck in. I looked down at him, and one of the embers had dropped onto his fur, burning a little hair. He was quite fuzzy, so I was able to get the ember out before it reached his skin. When I finished smudging, I put the stamped out smudge stick outside on the concrete porch, then went back in to do the blessing with sweet grass. When I came out, there were small flames near the doorway. I neglected to make sure the smudge was stamped completely. The wind blew it to a pile of newspapers and caught them on fire. Again, I was fortunate that I saw it quickly and was able to stamp out the fire before it got out of control, but it did leave evidence on the concrete.
Last year I decided to set up a little photoshoot with smudge in my bathroom. It was taking much longer than I expected. By the time I was finished, the room was filled with smoke. It was so thick, the smell lingered into my bedroom for weeks.
With all my mishaps, I’ve yet to set off any smoke alarms, though the smoke alarm has been set off at Mystic Elements a few times by employees. Smudge sticks are often still hot in the middle so be sure to stamp them out properly before storing. You can use sand, the sink, or if necessary, a little water, just be sure to allow to dry thoroughly before storing. Be aware of any occupants in the space, human and animals, it’s always best to smudge when you are alone. Some times the smoke can get quite thick, so be sure to open windows if this happens and be aware of the location of smoke alarms. You can also turn on exhaust fans. So when you smudge, do it with intention, and please take necessary precautions.