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When you move into a new home, what's the first thing you do? You might open the windows or light a candle before you begin to unpack your boxes, but would you consider setting fire to some sage so you can waft smoke into the corners if each room?

If you're not familiar with smudging, it's the ancient ritual of burning a tied bundle of herbs (these can include cedar, sweetgrass, juniper, pine needles, cypress, and commonly, sage). It's a practice used by many spiritual healers, thought to cleanse, heal and transmute energy.

However, it's the more practical benefits of smudging that have drawn mainstream popularity in recent years. It can help to improve sleep, eliminate unwanted energy, reduce stress, help with respiratory illnesses, improve your memory and cognitive function, and make you feel healthy and well.

While smudging with white sage is ideal for clearing the air on an energetic level, it also has a few other practical uses. It releases negative ions that fight against things like dust and pollution. Research has also shown that it can clear 94% of bacteria (for up to 24hrs), which is why it's great to use when you've not been feeling well.

Silja Miller, a white witch, finds the timing can also help with specific issues. She believes you can use it on a particular day to magically enhance the effects, such as Monday for female problems, Thursday for money, and Friday for love problems.

Moving into a new home is the perfect time to smudge according to Maria Afentakis, author of The Spiritual Scientist, to get rid of any unwanted energy, or you can use it after a breakup or an argument to clear the air. The environment will start to feel cleaner and clearer afterwards. It can leave you feeling more relaxed, uplifted and positive about life.

And, there's no absolutely right or wrong way to smudge your home, you can create your own smudging ritual, and it can be as spiritual or straightforward as you'd like. It is a very calming ritual though and so please try and find at least 15-20 minutes to enjoy it.

Remember, when performing a space clearing, the intention is key. Before you start, take some time to contemplate what your wishes are for your home and family. When you clear your house, there's a vacuum that's created. You want to welcome your intentions into the newly cleared and open space.

I like to set an intention before I get started, something simple like 'Please cleanse my home of any energy or negativity that no longer supports me and my higher purpose' works just fine. You can also say a prayer or affirmation. Or, simply take a moment to feel centred before you begin, it's more important that it feels right for you.

It goes without saying to be safety conscious with your smudge stick, and throw open the windows to let the smoke out. It's useful to have a fireproof container, like a small clay bowl, to hold underneath the smudge stick to catch any ashes or embers. Native Americans use an abalone shell for this, bringing in a water element. I recommend you use a new container (bowl or plate) that you love and only use for smudging ceremonies.

Light your sage stick over your flameproof bowl until a small flame has caught. While holding your sage over the bowl lightly blow on the flame until it goes out. The sage will then smoke gently like incense. Remember that it's the smoke that does the work and so the stick does not have to remain lit.

Walk around your home clockwise, carefully using your hands or a feather to waft the smoke into all areas of your space. Include all small spaces that collect negative energy like corners, windows and behind doors. It's also good to open cupboards and wardrobes because they can also hold stagnant energy.

If you want to get more creative, you can add some other fragrant herbs to your smudge stick to enhance the smell and spiritual energy of the ritual. Try:

  • Lavender to create a spiritual space and for general calmness,

  • Lemongrass to think clearly,

  • Rosemary to get rid of nightmares or

  • Basil to remove financial obstacles.

State your intention as your smudge to clarify and strengthen the power.

To end the ritual, pour the remaining ash into flowing water or under a strong tree. Offer thanks to the positive spirits for their help.

Sharon Cole

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