Smudging 101: How to Smudge

Smudging 101: How to Smudge

This post is part of a four part series on smudging. To see the first post, “An Introduction to Smudging,” use this link:

How to Smudge

               Smudging is not just burning plants in a room. First, you must understand that you are using the smoke, not the fire itself. You do not need to burn a lot of plant matter to smudge. Light your plant matter, let it catch, then put it out and use the smoke. You can always catch a bit more if you need it, but why waste the gifts of the plant people in the mean time? Partnership, not abuse, is key in working with plants. Before you begin, consider what you will do. Remove anything from the room you do not wish to smudge, and cover the mirrors (mirrors act as doorways to other worlds, thus by covering them you focus your efforts here in this world). Also consider how you will smudge as concerns the plant material choice, the vessel choice, and whether you will use a tool such as a feather or fan to spread the smoke, or if you plan to use just your hand. If you are going to use a tool that should also be cleansed when you cleanse yourself.

Second, you should smudge yourself first. When the smoke gets good and going, wash your hands in it, then cleanse the front of you, the top of your head and the back of you. Pay special attention to the intestinal area, the heart, and the head. Now that you yourself are clean, you can cleanse another place.

Then, consider how you are smudging. Do not simply put smoke in the middle of the room. Generally, you start at the door, cleanse the door way and then move around the edge of the room. You can go clockwise to bring in energy, counterclockwise to get it to leave. In the Lakota way I was taught, you enter and progress around the room from the left, moving to the left. I have found that this seems to bring in the power of the plant spirit more intensely, which them cleanses the place and aids in healing. Other practitioners will go the other way to cleanse the energy in the room, which energetically is correct for removing spirits of sickness and the like, but I find that this also pulls energy and spirits out of the room entirely, and so I prefer the other way. If you smudge one way and find that a spirit has taken that as a cue to leave, you can always welcome them back in and apologize for the mixed signal.

You should pray or, if you do not pray, at least keep a strong positive energy in your mind. It is customary in non-suppressed traditions to sing, shake a rattle and what-have-you to increase the energy and build intent. This catches the attention of energies/spirits and helps you with your work. If you know the names of the land and its features in the area, you can also empower it and call its attention to assist if it will in this way. The sound, if made with good tones, can also create healing in the room. Remember that when you cleanse, you create space, and that space will be filled. Fill it as you make it with helpful, well-intentioned things. We could do a whole magazine on the power of these songs and different ways to do them in powerful ways. For now, recognize that the energy, that is the emotion and intention, you put into the songs is the most important thing, not the actual words or ‘getting it right.’ Also, if you are using words and not just sounds, speak to what you are putting in, not the problem or the situation that has caused the need for the smudging. Speak what you intend to be the outcome. Put your heart in your song.

Next, when you have completed the circle of the room, put the ashes outside the door for a bit. They will carry that which the smoke collected, and should be buried or scattered on the earth when all the smoke is gone, or, if you are doing this prior to healing work or an event, once the event/session is over.

Now that you know how to do the practice, let’s take a look at some different plants you can use for smudging.

This is part two of a four part series on smudging. To read part three, “Plants Used in Smudging,” see here: