Everything You Need to Know About Burning Sage

Everything You Need to Know About Burning Sage

In Magick by Chris A. Parker

Smudging is the act of burning plant material for use in a purification ritual. With smudging sage, several varieties of sage, primarily white sage, are burnt, and the smoke is used for purification. When smudging sage, you spread it all over the surface of a building, a person’s body, sacred places, and even an object. The smoke takes away the negative energy and invites in positive energy. 

Burning Sage History – Where Did Sage Smudging Originate?

Sage has been treated as a holy plant for several centuries and in many cultures from ancient times. It gets its name from the Latin word that means to heal. Many cultures, from the Greeks to the Romans, to ancient Oriental cultures, have proof of burning sage for cleansing. 

However, with smudging, the elaborate spiritual rituals can be traced back to several Native American tribes who primarily used white sage. The white sage helps chase evil spirits, ward off bad luck, promote healing, and connect to the spiritual realm. These tribes were the first to be on record for having elaborate ceremonies and sage burning practices for purification. In decades past, they were persecuted for their cultural practices, which were treated as witchcraft. It is why you need to respect their customs to avoid instances of cultural appropriation. 

What Is the Purpose of Burning Sage?

You can burn sage for a variety of purposes. From its purifying quality and ability to get rid of negative energy, some of these reasons include;

  • To cleanse your home, office, or any other spaces energy
  • To ward off negative energies like psychic attacks, curses, and hexes
  • To purify a sacred place, including an alter or your meditation room
  • To enhance your communication with the Divine
  • To mark the end of or the beginning of something and thus seek to invite fresh, positive energy. 
  • To help with your manifestation 
  • To seek physical and spiritual healing 
  • To call for and bring in protection and blessings 

Benefits of Burning Sage 

So, what does burning sage do, and what are the advantages it offers? Burning sage not only releases negative ions that help eradicate the harmful effects of positive ions, but the released smoke also contains antimicrobial properties. Between these two and other positive properties of burning sage, you reap numerous benefits, including;

Benefits of Burning Sage
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How Does Sage Work Spiritually?

Sage’s spiritual effect is both in your mind as well as on your physical body. It acts on your mental state as it enhances your intuition, allowing you to have a stronger spiritual connection. It is also a potent agent of riding negative energy, including evil spirits, trauma, and bad vibes from other people. This purifying aspect allows it to be used to set the atmosphere for better meditation and also to promote spiritual healing. 

In the physical sense, it helps you to calm down, lifting your spirits and mood, which makes it easier for introspection and connects with your mantras. Burning sage releases negative ions in the air, which removes created positive ions in the air. These positive ions are responsible for bad moods, increasing stress levels, and triggering other ailments. 

What Are the Side Effects of Burning Sage?

Burning sage may have some side effects, which often happen if you are overexposed to the smoke. Some of the side effects include;

  • It may trigger reactions or worsen conditions in people with pre-existing respiratory diseases.
  • It can cause headaches and fatigue if done for long periods.
  • Heavy burning of sage can, in time, increase the risk of some airway cancers.
  • Heavy burning of sage releases many pollutants in the air, which can affect your health, especially lung health, in the long run. 
  • Long-term continuous exposure to smoke from sage can affect babies and children’s development.

Burning Sage Ritual

To perform a burning sage ritual, you will need a sage bundle or stick, which you can obtain from the instructions in the next section. You will also need a seashell or bowl for holding the burning sage and even the ash. The ideal material will be clay, glass, or clay. You will also need matches and a feather for fanning the smoke. 

Once you have this in place, set the intention or purpose for the ritual. Open your windows or a door before your start burning sage. Use a matchstick to light one end of the bundle and give it a few seconds to light up. Once it is lit, you can blow out the flame to have the stick smoking. Ideally, it should be a thick smoke with the leaves smoldering slowly.

Direct the smoke towards the surface you want to cleanse, whether on your body, another person, object, or surface. Let the smoke linger for a while, using the fan to direct the smoke. It is important that you do not allow too much smoke to fill any space while avoiding inhaling it directly. The burning ash should be collected in a ceramic shell or bowl. Once you finish all the surfaces, extinguish the tip of the sage stick by pressing it hard on the fireproof bowl or shell. You can also press it into sand or dirt. 

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How To Make Sage Bundles

The simplest way to make a sage bundle is to make one while the leaves are fresh and leave it to air dry before use. For this, you need to pick about fifty fresh sage tips avoiding the woodier stalks as they do not have as many fragrant oils. Arrange them in a bundle about 6-10 inches long and tie them up with a natural plant-based thread like a fiber twine. 

Tie the bundle starting from the base and leave about an inch-long tail of the thread. Tie the thread about two times, ending at your initial starting point, and tie the two tails together. Leave the bundle to dry about a week or 10 ten days before using it for smudging. 

How To Dry Sage Leaves for Smudge Sticks

Drying sage is an integral part of your sage cleansing ritual. That’s because only dry sage can create the cleansing smoke you need for smudging. It also helps in preservation, especially for use over winter since during the cold months, the plant does not produce leaves. 

The first option for drying is to place the sage leaves you have washed on a cloth to dry the water and then put them on a tea towel or a parchment paper sheet. Place this parchment paper away from light and give them three to four days to dry before placing them in an airtight container for storage. 

Next, you can use air drying for either twigs or the leaves. If you have twigs, then have them in bunches and hang them upside down. For leaves, place them non a tight mesh or grate. Do not dry them in direct sunlight since it comprises on their quality even if it reduces the drying time. Also, ensure the location is well-ventilated and not humid. 

You can also use the oven to dry sage leaves with the temperatures at the lowest possible settings. You place the sage on a baking sheet, and you should constantly turn and check on it to prevent it from burning. You should also leave the oven slightly open to let the water vapor escape. This method is excellent for those short on time, but it does not leave the best quality of dry sage for use in smudging. 

Related article: Everything You Need to Know About Smudging – Beginners GuideOpens in new tab

Burning Sage
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How Do You Cleanse Your House of Negative Energy with Sage?

When cleansing your house by burning sage, follow the steps below;

  1. Plan for an exit: you want the negative energy to have a way of leaving your home. Thus, having your window or door open is vital. Without a path out, the negative energy is just going to stick around, making the cleansing incomplete. The other need for opening a window is to have excellent ventilation. 
  2. Get prepared: have all the items you are going to need for burning sage. Have spare matches should the sage stick get extinguished. It also helps to have an Abalone shell to hold the burning sage stick since they are easy to hold as you move around the house. Abalone shells are also heat resistant. 
  3. You should dress for burning sage: It seems a bit odd, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense to dress for the cleansing occasion. It is a spiritual process, and everything else is elaborate and planned, even the pre-clearing. The recommended dress color is black for three reasons. First, it helps you be invisible to evil or malevolent spirits and prevents any entities from sticking to you. Secondly, psychologically black helps calm you and keeps you grounded with a feeling of protection. Finally, black does not stain easily, saving you any stressful laundry.
  4. To light up the stick, hold it at the farthest end from the tip you want to light and at a 45-degree angle. Light it up, leaving it to burn for 10 seconds before gently blowing off the flame. Be sure your sage bundle is not too tight, as this will prevent oxygen from getting in, and the bundle will not stay lit. 
  5. Walk around fanning the smoke: With the bundle, start from the entry point and walk around the room fanning smoke to all surfaces in every room—expert’s advice moving in a clockwise direction across the rooms to get positive energy inside.
  6. Say a mantra before, during, and after the cleansing. Having a mantra or prayer is essential since it allows you to voice your intentions filling them with conviction. Ensure you clearly know why you are bunning sage, command the negative energy to leave, and be grateful for the occasion’s gift, among other things. 
  7. Extinguish the sage bundle. Once you finish cleansing the negative energy from your house, extinguish the bundle by pressing it firmly against a hard surface like a bowl, stone, in the sand, or in the dirt until the smoke stops rising. Avoid using water to extinguish the ember son the sage bundle. Using water damages the front end and makes it difficult to light up the bundle for the next use. 
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What Do You Say When You Burn Sage to Cleanse Your House?

When burn sage to cleanse your house, it is more effective when you use a mantra or a prayer while doing it to enhance your conviction and align your intentions to your actions. What you say should convey gratitude and positivity. Words carry great power, and some of those you can use include;

  1. I am grateful for good health, happiness, and abundance 
  2. I am letting go of all energies that are not serving me 
  3. I am placing trust in the universe/divine and my intuition to guide me/protect me
  4. I command all worry and negative concern to depart my body and home
  5. I welcome love, peace, and light into my home and body
  6. I call in loving protection to guard me and my home 
  7. I cleanse my home from any negative spirits and energy 
  8. I let go of any attachments and conditioned actions and welcome freedom and divine guidance 

Safety First

To reap the most benefits from burning sage without suffering any negative consequences, do observe the following practices;

  1. Only burn sage in areas with good ventilation.
  2. Have children, the elderly, and people with respiratory problems away from the presence of a burning sage. They can use alternative cleansing options that do not involve burning and smoke. 
  3. Do not inhale the smoke directly when smudging your home. 
  4. Exercise moderation in how much smoke you use in the rooms or on your person and for how long you carry out the practice. 
  5. Ensure you have safely and completely extinguished the smudge sticks and any charcoal embers you were using before disposing of them off. 
Smudging FAQ
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Burning Sage FAQ

Does Burning Sage Cause Headaches?

If you inhale much of the smoke from burning sage, you can experience headaches and fatigue. Some people also find the smell uncomfortable and may get headaches as a reaction.

Can You Get Sick from Burning Sage?

Burning sage is generally safe for your health. However, if you do it for long, you can develop sickness symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. If you also burn it in poorly ventilated areas, you could also experience these symptoms.

Is Burning Sage Bad for Your Lungs?

Burning sage can be harmful to your lungs if you expose yourself to it for long hours or if you burn in a poorly ventilated room or with windows closed. Its smoke can pose a health risk, especially to people with respiratory problems.

What Does Sage Do to Spirits?

Sage lifts up your spirits by bringing positive energy to the atmosphere. It can also be used to ward off evil spirits in your home, cleansing your home spiritually.

Can You Burn Sage Without Smudging?

Yes, you can, whether as part of incense or for your mediations. Smudging is usually a more comprehensive procedure and requires you to spread smoke all over the surface. You do not even have to use sage sticks to burn sage.

Is Burning Sage Safe for Dogs / Cats?

Burning sage is generally safe for pets, including dogs and cats. It may only pose a problem if the pets have existing respiratory conditions.

Is Burning Sage Safe While Pregnant?

The smoke could be uncomfortable for pregnant women. Some research has also shown that too much exposure to sage and its chemicals could affect safe pregnancy terms, and for lactating mothers, it could lower milk supply. Moderation is recommended.

Is Burning Sage Safe for Babies?

Sage burning can be a source of air pollutants which babies are more susceptible to, as they are still growing. It is advisable to have them out of the house when burning sage.

What Kind of Sage Can Be Used for Smudging?

There are different species of sage you can use for smudging, including garden sage, white sage, clary sage, and desert sage.

Does Sage Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Yes, sage is a good mosquito repellent, especially if you burn it, leaving with nice aromas and no need for chemical sprays.

How to Stop Sage from Burning?

Suppose you want to stop the flame, so you can do so by blowing them off using the smudging feather. If you want to totally extinguish the stick, press it in sand or soil until it stops smoldering.

How to Keep Sage Burning?

You can keep sage burning by fanning with the smudging feathers or a fan. You can also have lumps of charcoal on a bowl that you can use whenever your sage stick starts to extinguish.

How Does Burning Sage Clean the Air?

Sage cleans the air by introducing negative ions that neutralize and remove the positive ions, which negatively affect your physical and mental health. In studies, Sage smoke has also been shown to remove 94 % of bacteria found in the air while removing most of the common air pollutants like dander from the air.

How Often Should You Burn Sage?

You can burn sage anytime the need arises or on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. You can also work around the seasons. The thing to avoid is doing too often, like daily or within a few days, to avoid overexposure to any toxic chemicals.

What Time Is Best to Burn Sage?

You can burn sage anytime you feel it is necessary. With regards to time, most people prefer morning hours which allow them to set the mood for the day. You can also time it to match your meditation hours, allowing you to set the right mood for meditation.

How Long Should You Burn Sage?

It depends on the area you are cleansing. Ideally, just as soon as the smoke is well spread on every surface you are cleaning is enough.

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Chris A. Parker

Since 1998, researcher and blogger in practical occultism and Mind-science, who believes that the best way to predict the future is to create it…