The year is speeding to an end and soon the festive season will be in full swing. While this brings loads of excitement to our lives, it can also make things feel like they’re spinning out of control. Now, more than any other time of the year, we need to protect our energy by setting clear boundaries – especially with those around whom we tend to feel drained. Similarly, since many of our homes might experience an influx of guests, it’s the perfect time to freshen things up and make sure that any stale negativity from the past year isn’t lurking in the corners. This is where smudge sticks can play a role.
Burning fragrant herbs in the home is an ancient practice present in many cultures to help freshen and uplift spaces. In some cultures it was used purely as a practical means of chasing off unwanted guests of the insect kind, while others took a more spiritual approach, using smoke to help purify or bless spaces and people.
Smudging is one form of smoke cleansing that has gained quite a bit of popularity in recent years. Rooted in Native American customs and cultures, smudging ceremonies are normally performed using a bundle (or ‘stick’) of sacred herbs, of which white sage is the most important and prominent ingredient.
Of course, there is some controversy around the cultural appropriation of this practice and, if it is something you’re interested in doing to help purify or bless yourself or your home, it’s worth doing a bit of research to make sure you’re going about it in the most respectful way possible.
One way of doing this is to keep things earth-friendly by harvesting herbs from your own backyard (or, if you don’t have one, a generous friend or family member). This also adds an element of creativity, as you can make a smudge stick according to your own preferences.
Here’s a little recipe to kickstart your DIY Smoke Cleansing experiment:
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Freshly-harvested herbs:
- Lavender (assists with calming and relaxation)
- Rosemary (assists with gaining clarity and staying alert)
- Rose (encourages peace and can also aid in rekindling romance)
- Thyme (assists in renewal of energy and purification)
- Natural cotton or string
WHAT TO DO:
- Start the process by strolling through the garden and gathering your herbs of choice. Use secateurs to cut off a sprig of about 10cm of lavender, rosemary and thyme. To gather rose petals, you will simply need a rose bloom or two for plucking purposes.
- Once you’ve gathered a generous bundle of herbs, lay them out on a clean, dry surface. In a similar way to which you’d arrange flowers, start gathering together a handful of herbs and bind them tightly with your cotton or string. You will probably be able to make a few smudge sticks from your collected herbs, so feel free to play around with different combinations.
- Now that you have a few smudge sticks gathered and bound, it’s time to hang them out to dry. Depending on how warm and dry the environment is you’ve placed them in, it could take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks to dehydrate them sufficiently. If you’re feeling a bit impatient, you can speed up the process by placing them in the warm drawer of your oven.
- When they’re dry enough, it’s burn time! Make sure you light your smoke stick on one end only in a well-ventilated area, far away from any flammable objects. If you want to put it down, place it in a heat and burn proof container, such as glass or ceramic. Once you’re done, douse it with water.
If you want to add any other herbs to the mix, please do some research beforehand. Some plants are toxic when burned, while others may smell unpleasant. Of course, you would also want to pay attention to their properties – if you want to bring a sense of calm to your home, you don’t want to burn herbs with energising properties and vice versa.