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6 Reasons To Smudge Your Home + DIY Wild-foraged Smudge Sticks

Smudging your home comes with many benefits, from cleansing the air to creating a calm and peaceful space.

However, if the burning of herbs to cleanse your aura and your home of negative energies sounds strange to you, keep reading with an open mind. After all, being curious often leads to great insights and discoveries.

Not that smudging is anything new. Or anything to be afraid of.

Native American and other indigenous cultures have been smoking away for ages, creating both ceremony and ritual experiences through the practice of burning native herbs. Dried herbs, such as Indian tobacco, sweetgrass, sage and cedar were tied into bundles called smudge sticks.

Smudge sticks were burnt to cleanse the mind, body and spirit.

I know that is something we could all use today.

Before you dismiss smudging as something too “woo-woo” for you, consider the many reasons to try it first. Always being careful to respect the beliefs of others who came before you.

Be sure to cleanse the corners of your home when smudging, then open the windows to release the smoke.

You can also just think of a smudge stick as an ancient form of incense.

Even if you aren’t burning herbs to connect to the spirit realm, you can certainly benefit from smudging your home in other ways.

Benefits of smudging your home

The first time you burn a smudge stick, either made by you, or purchased from an artisan, I trust that you will find the scent uplifting. Even instinctive and primordial.

When we think of our ancient past, there is always an image of smoke that lingers from the many fires that kept us warm and safe.

It still does the same thing, especially when your intention is right.

Prior to going through the steps of creating your own smudging ceremony, let’s highlight the six main reasons to smudge your home.

1. Clear negative energy

To ward off negative energies, could it be as simple as smoking – or smudging – them out?

If you have a cluttered home, chances are good that there is more that lingers than meets the eye.

Think about it, there is so much of life that goes unseen. Either because we simply can’t see to microscopic detail, or the energy of things eludes us. This includes the electromagnetic field.

Clutter can even lead to higher levels of cortisol, which brings on stress.

If you know someone in your life who is stressed out, you can be sure there is some negativity surrounding the entire situation.

Smudging, or creating a “smoke bath”, is one way to help remedy that – (re)moving stuck energy.

If you have an argument lingering in the air, it can be as simple as lighting a match and clearing the air – so to speak. Just be sure to open the windows afterwords. Which you should be doing every day, anyway.

2. Clear your mind

Smudging can act as a natural anti-depressant in the way that it removes positive ions from the air.

Sadly, our modern homes are full of positive ions. And that is a negative thing.

Positive ions are generated in our homes, offices, schools and buildings by the presence of technology, phones, carpeting, lights, paint, printers, etc. Nature also produces some positive ions, though they are nowhere near as harmful as man-made ones.

If you have spent any time earthing (grounding or walking barefoot on the soil/sand) you will likely have heard about the beneficial negative ions. Those are the ones that foster the anti-inflammatory response. Negative ions also boost our moods and our energy.

In essence, they clear the space to clear our minds.

3. Clear the air

Smudging your home can actually destroy bacteria in the air.

If you are feeling down, or ill, in any way, smudging may help you get better faster. Because not only does it eliminate bacteria, smudging also helps to clear the air of pollen, pet dander, mold spores and dust.

For someone with respiratory problems, asthma or allergy symptoms, smudging may be what the doctor ordered. But, have someone do the smudging for you, then enter the space once the smoke has cleared.

Mainly it is sage that is used in making smudge sticks. Sage is antimicrobial, meaning that it fights against infectious bacteria, viruses and fungi.

As you will find below, there are plenty of garden plants you can add to your smudge bundles. You are not limited to burning just one herb.

DIY smudge sticks made with wild-foraged mugwort and yarrow.

4. Cleanse objects

In a metaphysical sense, all objects have energies attached to them.

That locket that belonged to your great-great grandmother? Yes, it holds more than just her memories. It holds an energetic history. And if it isn’t a positive memory, then it is a negative one at worst, or a neutral one in the middle.

Smudging objects that are newly brought into your home (both old and new) can help dispel that negative energy. The practice of smudging can come in handy, especially when you purchase second-hand items such as clothes, furniture, mirrors or jewellery.

Give everything you buy a nice welcoming smoke bath as you introduce it into your home and avoid the frustration of not knowing/feeling whether something feels off.

5. Experience calm and relaxation

Removing the negative and bringing in the positive energy can affect your body in so many ways.

As you clear the space, you also improve your mood.

Release tension and lower your blood pressure as you create a calm atmosphere.

Smoking white sage (Salvia apiana) activates specific receptors in the brain that reduce stress and ease pain.

How’s that for an easy way to relax?

6. Improve sleep

If you find that an occasional smudging of your home gifts you with a sense of peace and relaxation, then perhaps you will also discover that you can sleep better too.

The variety of sage that is often grown in the garden (Salvia officinalis) is reported to not only improve sleep, but to soothe anxiety as well.

Add that to your own wild-foraged smudge sticks and you are well on your way to a restful night’s sleep.

DIY wild-foraged smudge sticks

Smudge sticks can easily be purchased online, mainly made from cleansing white sage. This is a wonderful option if you don’t have a garden or the plant materials to make your own DIY smudge sticks at home.

Yet, making your own smudge sticks adds another dimension to the ritual of smudging your home.

Mugwort smudge sticks wrapped with handspun cotton and hemp thread.

When your herbs are hand-picked, hand-dried and hand-wrapped, you can be sure there is love and intention in every wisp of smoke that fills your space with magic.

There are several dried herbs to tie up in your smudge stick.

Some can be harvested directly from your garden, others can be foraged from the wild.

Each plant has more specific properties related to relaxation, spiritual cleansing, protection, purification, attraction, lucid dreaming and more.

Freshly harvested yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris).

The smudge sticks we routinely make each summer contain the last two plants on the list.

Mugwort and yarrow happen to be two easy-to-forage herbs that are close to my heart – for teas, tinctures and for smudging.

Collecting the materials

You can bundle as many herbs into your smudge stick as you like, though you may want to test one first before combining too many scents.

Sticking with one herb is the safe – or sage – way to go. Adding two herbs creates a special fragrance. Three different herbs? Go ahead and try it, but four may already be too much.

After all, you need to enjoy the end product. Which, in the case of a smudge stick, is smoke.

I highly encourage you to first make smudge sticks with materials that grow locally.

For us, this is yarrow and mugwort.

Harvest mugwort branches before of after flowering.

While you are out foraging, be sure to collect more than you think you need. For a small bunch becomes even smaller when wrapped up tightly.

Drying the herbs

The simplest way to dry herbs is to tie them tight with twine around the stems. Hang them upside down and wait a few days, up to a week, till they are thoroughly dry.

All this yarrow needs, is a string to tie it up. In less than a week it will be ready for adding to smudge sticks.

Tying the bundles

Now comes the fun part. Preparing your herbs in a bundle for smudging.

You can make your own smudge sticks using fresh herbs, though they will take long to dry out. In the meantime you must also be weary of mold.

Another way to prepare your herbs, is to cut the branches/stems fresh, then let them wilt overnight before bundling.

Our fail-proof way of making smudge sticks that last for several years, is to use the already dried herbs.

How long to make a smudge stick?

The length of your smudge stick will depend greatly on the herbs you have collected.

Sage branches tend to be short. Most of the time you will end up with a smudge stick no longer than 5″.

Wild-foraged herbs tend to be much longer and you can get away with a 12″ smudge stick.

Using dried herbs makes more of a mess then fresh herbs. In the end you can sweep them up, toss them in a bag and sprinkle on outside campfires to help keep the bugs away.

What matters more is how tightly you wrap the stems and leaves – and what you wrap them with.

  • gather your fresh or dried herbs
  • a pair of scissors
  • natural string, such as hemp twine or organic cotton thread, that can be safely burnt

Let’s work through the steps to make your own smudge sticks:

  1. Divide your herbs into small bundles, being sure to stick to an average size.
  2. Start by tying a length of string at the base, about 4-5 times the length of the bundle. Then wrap up the herbs in a spiral.
  3. The tighter you wrap it, the slower it will burn. This is exactly what you want.
  4. When you get closer to the top, fold the herbs over, tuck them in and keep wrapping the string all the way to the tip of the smudge stick.
  5. Once you reach the tip, spiral all the way back down to the bottom.
  6. Tie the two ends together, trim off any unruly leaves and you are done.

If you have tied dried herbs together, your smudge stick is ready for use.

Should you have chosen to bundle up fresh leaves, let the smudge stick dry 1-2 weeks. You can either hang your smudge sticks, or lay them on a drying screen.

Making smudge sticks is enjoyable, burning them gives you even more reasons to express gratitude.

It’s time to get smudging!

Grab your smudging tools

  • matches and candles
  • container for catching the ashes – ceramic, clay or abalone shell
  • small bowl of sand or soil
  • a feather, or fanning tool, optional

The matches are for lighting the candle, while the candle is there to relight the smudge stick when necessary.

You’ll need a small bowl, preferably ceramic or clay for burning over. This will catch the ashes as they fall.

It is also wise to have a way to put your smudge stick out when you are done with your smudging ceremony. A small bowl of sand is recommended, though dry soil works equally well.

We often use water to put out our smudge stick. Give them a day to dry and they will be ready to go again.

If you are ready to do the smudging, but not so confident yet of the making, you can purchase a smudging kit, complete with abalone shell, tripod and white sage smudge sticks.

How to burn a smudge stick

In time, everyone will discover their own “right” way to smudge their home, though there are some smudging basics that you should follow.

Light your smudge stick with fire – matches, candles or lighters all work.

Using a candle to light your smudge stick is far easier than using a single match.

Once the herbs are engulfed by a steady flame, blow them out. Now, your smudge stick should be red-hot and smoldering.

You may need to blow on your smudge stick occasionally to keep it smoking.

Holding the smudge stick over a bowl or tray to catch the ashes, go around the room and invite the smoke to get rid of the old, to make space for the new.

If you are looking for new positive energies to take hold, consider using a mantra as you smudge your home. To add more intention and meaning to your new smudging ritual, read more about getting rid of bad energy here.

Light up your smudge stick, let the smoke waft around the house as it cleanses the air. Open your windows to let the negativity out, then deeply and completely enjoy your refreshed space.

It is that simple.

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Cheryl Magyar

Well, hello, szia and bună ziua!

My name is Cheryl Magyar and I am a homesteader, organic no-dig gardener and preserver of fruits, vegetables, herbs and life in general. I'm also a forager and a rewilder, rewilding myself and our land in Breb, Romania, along with my husband and our teenage daughter.

Since 2001 I have been living a simple life, going on 15+ years without running water inside our home, heating with firewood cut with a two-wo/man crosscut saw and enjoying the quiet solitude of the countryside where haystacks outnumber the people.

What you wouldn't guess about me, is that I was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago. If I can do this, you can too! It's a life you get to choose, so choose wisely. Because I know you're curious, I've spent 8 years homesteading (raising mangalica pigs, goats and ducks) and gardening on our tanya in Ópusztaszer, Hungary. This lifestyle is going on 8 years in Romania. I wouldn't change it for the world.

To discover more about me, and about us:

you can follow on Instagram
read into our website at Forest Creek Meadows
stop by for a visit and/or a (re)workshop
or shop our growing Etsy store Earth Gratitude Studio

Hope to see you around!