Ever walked in a room and wrinkled your nose, appalled at the smell, and then felt all your hair stand on end from a creepy feeling? Ok phew, me neither. But I have felt, and still from time to time feel, stressed in my home. To be honest, sometimes it’s simply a matter of tidying up – a clean bed makes a clean head, right? but other times it’s more than tidiness.
Whether Matt or I have been grumpy (or the stars align and we’re both grumpy, in which case Charlie puts his paws over his ears!) or we’ve felt negativity creeping in the house from external sources – the news/social media, rambunctious neighbors across the street, or work has been unusually stressful, sometimes there’s just a feeling of negativity in our home. So when that happens, and/or if our home could use a yummy-scented pick-me-up, smudge sticks are a lovely answer.
There are approximately 20 kajillion wonderful elements of smudging – the primary four, IMHO (which I JUST learned means in my humble opinion) being:
- It works if you think it does. Years ago, I shared my love of meditation and yoga with Matt; specifically how quickly and effectively both practices cleared my head. My skeptical husband asked “do you really think that works?” and I responded “of course it does, because I think it does!” Intention goes a loooooong way, my wonderful friends!
- Creating a smudge stick puts me very close to nature. Practically meditative in nature (pun intended), gathering ingredients from our land for a smudge stick is peaceful and methodical; forcing me to focus on the task at hand as I seek out the best parts of a sage plant, carefully select other gifts from mother nature, and then hand-tie the sage bundle. 🙂 *Hippie alert, I know!
- Patience is a virtue, and letting the smudge bundle dry for a few days takes patience. I am not a patience pro, but with the end goal of a well-dried smudge stick, I learn to be patient and careful with the herbal bundle.
- You do you – meaning if you feel like adding rosemary, do it! If you see beautiful flowers and would like to add some to your smudge bundle, that’s cool too.
Behind the scenes info (bts, as the kids say): I started that list with the top two cool things, then had to expand it to four. I love smudge sticks 🙂
So first, let’s talk about how to create a smudge stick. Then, we’ll go over what to do with it!
As I mentioned in point #4 above, there are many different ways to customize your smudge stick. I have three pins with various examples of smudge sticks, and that’s helpful so I can gather ideas and see what I like.
I do believe in wandering around my yard, choosing to gather whatever herbs and flowers attract me at the moment, for my smudge bundle, but I’m also a researcher (not professionally, just more of a type A personality researcher!) so I like determining what traditional smudging involves, and why. For example, a Smudge-specific blog post describes smudging as traditional in Native American purification ceremonies, and that the following herbs each serve specific purposes:
- Sage is used to cleanse negative energy
- Catnip is for happiness
- Lavender promotes sleep and peace
- Honeysuckle is used for love, fidelity, intuition and money
- Rosemary is for powerful cleansing and purification, and stimulates memory and clarification
- Strawberry (this is a new one for me – I’m so excited!!) is for love and luck
In my latest smudge stick creation, I was inspired by my bestie T and added a new plant ingredient to the mix – wildflowers! I’m not sure if they serve a purpose in traditional smudge ceremonies, but they’re beautiful and felt like a natural (get it?!) add to the bundle.
Hopefully by now you’re feeling inspired to gather some wildflowers and herbs, but if you need additional incentive to start growing herbs, I’ll happily share that I began my thyme and basil plants from Target and Whole Foods, respectively. I think they cost me about $8 together, and considering all the use I’ve gotten out of them – between cooking, making tea and smudge sticks – it’s been well worth it!
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So, let’s talk about how to create a smudge stick. Gather your ingredients, and cheesy as it sounds, I like to make the whole exercise meditative.
Intentions: As you prune the herbs, inhale deeply and let the scents of nature relax your soul. Unwind the thread slowly, taking care to notice the tiny fibers that make up the whole. Remember what you’re creating – this is a way to connect with nature; a way of releasing negativity, and intentionally bringing joy into your home and soul, and it’s going to smell phenomenal – so enjoy the time!
- Cotton String (I use the kind in our sewing kit. My friend Rebekah at integratefull taught me to use red and blue thread for fire/water balance)
- Herbs (sage is usually a primary ingredient in smudge bundles/sage sticks, as they are thought to cleanse negative energy, but take your pick from the list above or what you have handy)
Instructions to create a smudge stick:
Step 1: Prune lengths of herbs about 2″. Gather enough so you have a bundle. Size doesn’t matter here, it depends on what you feel like! Bear in mind that you will be lighting the end of the smudge stick (once it’s dry!) so I’ve found that having a thicker bundle, even if it’s a little shorter, is easier than having a thin one that burns quickly.
Step 2: Arrange the herb snippings together, smoothing the leaves.
Step 3: Wind the string tightly around the bundle of herbs. As it dries, it will shrink, so don’t be afraid to pull the string tight – just don’t break the herbs 🙂
Step 4: Place the bundle in a dry, sunny spot by a windowsill to let it dry for at least a few days, or up to about a week.
Step 5: When the smudge stick has completely dried (make SURE! I learned the hard way that the herbs on the inside of the bundle may not be fully dry, despite the dried herbs on the outside – when I opened the plastic bag I had stored the bundle in, months later, it had molded :() store it in a paper bag, or a plastic bag left slightly unsealed to allow any excess moisture to escape. Or use it to smudge with the directions below!
How to smudge:
I like to gather a small bowl to carry with me as I smudge, to catch ashes. If that sounds safer to you, too, then grab a bowl, a lighter or matches, and your smudge stick. Open all of the windows in your home, or in the place you intend to smudge.
If you haven’t already, find your peace with a few deep breaths or a small meditation. Light the tip of the smudge stick, then after about 10 seconds or when the end starts to glow red, blow out the flame and walk from room to room, slowly and intentionally bringing the smoke of the smudge stick with you – if it feels right, direct the smoke into the corners, at the ceiling, wherever you feel you want to clear the energetic cobwebs and bring more positivity.
— Eliza S (@happycreativeHC) July 7, 2016
Does this sound a little “woo-woo”, as my mother says? Maybe. But if you believe it works, it works.
Sending you love, peace and positivity,
A Happy Wife