Sage stick in hand

Energy Cleansing 101: A Quick Guide to Space Clearing

How to burn sage or Palo Santo to cleanse your home of unwanted energy

You've probably seen it on Instagram, perhaps even stumbled across some pretty bundles of herbs at the store. Maybe someone has waved a smoking wood stick around you—and you have no idea why. 

The bundles of herbs are white sage (sometimes they're blue sage but white is more common), and the wooden sticks come from a tree native to South America called Palo Santo, meaning “holy wood.” Only the wood from dead branches that have naturally fallen for 4 to 10 years can be harvested for use.

The practice of burning either sage or Palo Santo is referred to as smudging, a centuries-old tradition used by indigenous peoples in purification and healing rituals. The ritual marries the elemental energies of earth (plant), air (smoke) and fire (flame), and the resulting smoke and scent emitted from burning these natural elements is considered purifying, helping to rid spaces and objects of negative or unwanted energy. 

Energy clearing, or smudging with palo santo and sage, is particularly useful for:

  • General stress relief and alleviating anxiety

  • Enhancing creativity and inspiration

  • Bringing forth good fortune

  • Moving into a new home or office space

  • Conflict at home or work, or after any negative experience

With the pandemic forcing us to spend more time at home—and 2020 being a year rife with anxiety in more ways than one—many of us are looking for ways to feel better both physically and spiritually. Cleansing your home of negative energy removes bad or stagnant energy around you to allow for more positive, healing energy to flow. This helps you feel more open and light in your surroundings. Here's how you do it:

Gather Your Materials

Before you start, make sure you have all your materials ready:

  • Sage bundle or Palo Santo stick; other dried herbs with soothing, healing and purifying properties, such as lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, pine and eucalyptus, can also be used (either in addition to, or in place of, sage or Palo Santo).

  • Matches, lighter or candle for lighting 

  • Fireproof vessel to catch the embers and extinguish the smoke when the ritual is complete. You can use a fireproof bowl or plate, a bowl filled with sand, or an Abalone shell, which is traditionally used by indigenous peoples and brings in a water element. 

  • Feather (optional) for guiding the smoke

  • Crystals (optional) to help amplify intention and space clearing


    Set an Intention

    Intention is everything. Purification rituals are all about what you want to clear, and what you want to bring forth into your life. 

    Perhaps you want to kick out frustration, stress and anger, and bring in more joy, calm and love. Maybe you want to make room for good fortune and abundance. 

    Take a moment to center yourself. You might want to begin with a meditation. It helps to have a mantra or prayer you can repeat before and during your ritual, such as, "I release what no longer serves me." The words are less important than how you feel. Do whatever feels right and good to you.

    Light it Up 

    Make sure to open your windows, which allows the smoke (i.e. all the bad juju) to leave your space more easily. 

    Light your sage stick or Palo Santo at a 45-degree angle and let it burn for 10-20 seconds or until the flame has caught. Gently blow out the flame until you see smoke billowing up from the stick—remember, it’s the smoke that purifies, not the flame, so your stick does not have to remain lit.

    Cleanse the Space

    Holding your lit smudge bundle in your hand, walk around your space in a clockwise direction. Guide the smoke with your hands or a feather into all the areas, including corners, crevices, entryways and workspaces, that could be holding onto unwanted energy. As you do so, feel free to chant your mantra. 

    Allow the smoke to move around the space, and then guide it out through the open windows or door—all those bad vibes need somewhere to go!

    You can also guide the smoke from the bottom to top of your body if you're trying to purify your own energy, especially if you have recently had a negative encounter with another person, overcome an illness, or if you just want a mood boost.

    Put it Out

    Extinguish the sage stick or Palo Santo by pressing the smoldering tip gently into the fireproof vessel.

    While some might prefer to allow the stick to extinguish on its own, only do that if you’re able to stay in the room and monitor it. This goes without saying (but we’re going to say it anyway): never leave a burning stick unattended! 

    How Often Should You Cleanse?

    It’s really up to you. Cleanse your space whenever you feel like your surroundings could use a clearing. You might feel the need to perform the ritual every morning as a way to set forth positive energy flow for the day, or only on specific occasions, like before and after visitors. Listen to your gut—as in, your intuition—and you'll know when you need it. 

    Ready to cleanse? Visit our Energy Clearing Tools section for items to help you get started.

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