Posted on: October 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm
Last updated: October 15, 2020 at 5:06 pm

According to countless ancient ways of knowing, all plants possess a sacred spirit…a spirit that goes well beyond, and vibrates deeper, than its physical constituents.


It is this pure and hallowed nature of plants {and our inter-connectedness} that has led to their traditional/medicinal use in

  • healing {physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual}
  • cleansing {a space or our bodies}
  • consecration
  • guidance
  • protection
  • community-building
  • altering, or shifting consciousness
  • religious ceremonies
  • personal exploration

Contrary to popular thought, the use of plants for these purposes is not a new idea…nor is it new-age, super hipster mumbo-jumbo.


It is rather, a collection of methods humanity has used for millennia in order to maintain connection to the Earth — and to the spirit world as well.

One that has helped to heal and sustain us.

The Power of Smudging

“Nature understands fire and smoke better than words.” -Alfred Savinelli, Plants of Power

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I have fallen in love with smudging — the use of smudge sticks in particular! And while there are are a barrage of herbal preparations I use/consume on a daily basis…the burning of plants {a.k.a. smudging} has become one of the most powerful ways for me to experience their blessing.

As Jane Alexander says, in her book The Smudging and Blessings Book, smudging has the practical ability to help us

  • clear away negative or stagnant energy in a space {i.e. a home you’ve just moved into, a sickroom, a space in which an argument has taken place…}
  • leave old relationships behind and move on to new ones
  • celebrate different times of the year
  • wake up and greet the day full of confidence, energy, and hope
  • ease into the world of sweet dreams and deep, invigorating sleep
  • bathe away stress
  • look for love
  • feel more centered and protected from the world

Likewise, many cultures and religious structures believe the smoke of burning plants carry prayers to the heavens.

Smudging is a practice which involves the burning of herbs that are bundled, braided, or loose (for our purposes today we are taking about bundling, creating smudge sticks). But no matter if the herbs are bundled, braided, or loose…the process for smudging remains the same — smoke is fanned across the body {using hands or a smudging feather such as this one} or around a space for its intended purpose {i.e. cleansing or healing}.

What Plants Are Available For Use In The Making Of Smudge Sticks?

Plants used in the making of smudge sticks include, but are not limited to ::

  • sage (many varieties such as white sage and garden sage) — negative energy clearing
  • sagebrush — to treat wounds + headaches + colds
  • cedar leaf — cleansing + purification
  • pine needles — cleansing + purification
  • balsam fir — cleansing + purification
  • sweetgrass — healing + purification + brings positive energy {perfect to burn after smudging with a more potent energy cleanser}
  • mugwort — lucid dreaming + purification + calming
  • juniper — cleansing + purification
  • holy basil (tulsi) — purification + calming
  • rosemary — protection
  • lavender — calming
  • mullein — cleansing sickrooms + heals/improves respiratory function
  • rose petals — meditation + calming + attracts love
  • desert chaparral — negative energy clearing + protection + calm
  • peppermint — healing + protection
  • yarrow — eliminates toxins from the body
  • lemon balm — spiritual cleansing + calm

I highly recommend, when considering what plants to use in making your smudge sticks…look around…what grows near you…use it!

How To Make Smudge Sticks

  1. Cut the branches of the plant material you are using into 7-10 inch lengths. (Note :: I like to allow freshly cut branches to wilt for a day or overnight before beginning the next step.)
  2. Measure a piece of thin cord (I like to use this hemp cord, but cotton is just as good.) 4 times the length of the cut branches.
  3. Bundle the branches together (to your desired thickness).
  4. With the tips of the branches pointing down, begin wrapping the cord tightly around the base of your bundle.
  5. Then, wrap the cord around the bundle (while firmly pressing the plant material together) working your way to the tip of the branches.
  6. When you reach the tip, begin working your way back down toward the base.
  7. Tie the two ends of the cord together at the base.
  8. Trim the edges if you’d like to make it look all nice and neat.
  9. Set the smudge stick to dry in a basket or on a drying screen for 7-10 days (or as long as necessary).
  10. Enjoy.

How To Smudge

Light the tip of the smudge stick with a lighter, match, or candle. Once the smudge stick has a steady flame, blow it out so it is smoldering and smoking. I prefer to use an abalone shell — but a bowl or any other fire-safe receptacle will do — to hold under my smudge stick {this is recommended to catch any ash}. Fan the smoke over the body and/or throughout your space, using your hand or a feather.

So tell us…what are your favorite plants to use for smudging?

Many plant blessings to you all!

Frugally Sustainable
Homesteading Blog
Welcome to Frugally Sustainable. This blog will attempt to be a resource for all things frugal and sustainable. With current trends moving toward issues regarding the homestead, prepping, preserving, and restoration it is my desire to turn our faces in the direction of sustainability. Everything we need is provided in the natural world that surrounds us. Together let's discover!

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