Sage in Spiritual Traditions & Modern Research
Sage is one of my favorite space clearing tools. The practice of burning sage (and sometimes other medicinal herbs like sweetgrass ) can be referred to as "smudging" and is a great way to calm the mind as well as clear & refresh your space.
Smudging comes from Native American healing traditions, but many world traditions incorporate the burning of sacred herbs into ceremony and daily life. For example, herbs & offerings to the fire are a mainstay of many Hindu ceremonies, Buddhist traditions often incorporate incense and traditional catholic mass makes use of frankincense.
Modern medical research has also confirmed that burning medicinal herbs has a purifying effect on the air, in one study, eliminating 94% of bacteria counts for up to 24 hours in an enclosed room.
Smudging has been growing in popularity and even got a feature in Oprah magazine, although in the mainstream, the focus is purely on the scientific and not this practice's spiritual and energetic roots.
The Energetic Level of Sage
On an energetic level, burning sage helps to clear your field of the kind of unhelpful energy that we can sometimes pick up from other people, environments, or charged situations.
Understanding how astral or unseen energy works, how it can benefit and cause us trouble was once only the secret domain of shamans and traditional healers.
As a spiritual guide and licensed acupuncturist, I find it is very useful to give people a practical understanding of this realm of reality, how it works, and how you can deal with any issues that can arise where unhelpful energy is concerned.
Graduates of my self mastery training, The Body Wisdom Academy (BWA), learn the ins and outs of how to keep themselves and their loved ones free of any unhelpful energy that could cause them trouble.
Here's an experience one graduate shared with me after visiting a war memorial:
" I felt that tightness in my chest and heaviness as we walked through. As we stood out and looked at the [ ] Memorial, I realized what was happening..... I started saying the clearing phrases and I immediately started to feel lighter. I must have said it 3-4 times until I felt “back to normal”.
Here are three ways to incorporate sage into your life for a more peaceful mind and environment.
1. Use Sage to Transition from Work to Home Life
It can be tough to be out in the hustle and bustle of the outside world all day, especially if you are a more energetically sensitive person.
Burning sage as a centering ritual after you arrive home will help you energetically and mentally transition into a restful time at home. This practice will also encourage you to leave work agendas behind you at work so you can focus on your own self care, your family life and relationships.
2. Sage for Anxiety & Depression
One thing that my patients are often surprised and relieved to understand is that taking on energy that is not our own is a fairly common contributor to feelings of anxiousness or depression. Now, there are many biological, nutritional as well as psycho-spiritual causes that affect our moods so I am not insinuating that unhelpful energy is the sole cause of anxiety or depression.
What I've found as a clinician over the past decade is that there are often subtle body issues at play with most cases of persistent anxiety and depression. One of these issues that can be remedied by smudging is that of unhelpful energy that one has often unknowingly "picked up."
If this is the case for you, you'll feel a deeper sense of calm or lightness after smudging, or a greater sense of ease or relief.
If you'd like to learn how to heal your anxiety from the inside our without decades of therapy, you can discover your particular "Anxiety Type" as well as the herbs & supplements that will work best for you in my "Healing Anxiety Naturally" Course which you can access on my classes & trainings page.
3. Sage for Better Sleep
Where as our ancestors were naturally winding down their day with the setting sun, our modern conveniences allow our busy minds to stay active and on our electronic devices well up to bedtime.
This busy pace often makes it hard to sleep, and when sleep patterns get off balance, everything get's worse.
Smudging as a part of your evening bedtime ritual can be helpful in clearing your mind and transitioning towards sleep.
Here's a routine to try for 7 days straight to see how your mind, mood and sleep improve:
7 Day Smudging Routine for Better Sleep
This routine will be particularly helpful for you if a "racing mind" and trouble turning off your thoughts is a particularly strong contributing factor in your sleep issues.
1. I recommend first ending whatever you have to do on your phone or devices then putting them in airplane mode so that you are reducing the amount of electromagnetic fields that are around you while you sleep at night.
2. Perform your personal care rituals like teeth brushing, face washing and put on your pj's so you're ready for bed.
3. In a quiet space, ideally your personal altar or meditation space, light the sage with a candle until there is a decent amount of smoke.
4. Use one hand to waft the smoke towards your body, moving the sage past the lower and upper parts of your body (the order and direction is not particularly important.)
5. As best you can, include the space behind your body with the sage smoke, being mindful of fire safety.
6. Imaging that all of the outside thoughts and events of the day are being carried away with the smoke. Set your intention that you are giving back anything that you've taken on that is not yours, and you are calling back any of your energy that you may have given away inappropriately.
7. Take three to five deep and easy breaths, and feel a sense of gratitude for yourself for taking this time for you.
8. Extinguish the sage either in some sand in an abalone shell (traditionally used) or in a small cup of dried rice, sand, or small beans to snuff out the flame.
9. Head to bed and enjoy a peaceful night's sleep!
Leslie Huddart L.Ac. is a Healer and Spiritual Guide with over two decades of experience in natural medicine, yoga and spiritual practice. Leslie helps women on a healing path achieve their Heart's Desires and the live the life they're called to.