Tell me… have you ever felt like the energy in your space needed a refresh?
Maybe it’s your home, workplace, a community gathering place, or even a single room.
Sometimes the energy just feels stagnant. Even when you work really hard at being intentional in your impact and bringing the best of yourself forward, you still feel it in your mind, body and spirit… something isn’t right!
You may notice this stagnant energy in yourself or the people around you (or both) and it definitely seems to be connected to a particular space.
What if I told you that the energy in a physical space really can become stagnant, and that there is a way to clear out that stale energy while calling in fresh, positive energy that infuses the space – and the people who move within it – with a renewed sense of possibility?
What is smudging?
Smudging is the practice of burning organic elements to cleanse the energy of a space, opening it up to the positive elements we want to draw in.
Smudging is practiced across different cultures and traditions around the world and throughout human history. The general idea is that the smoke acts to cleanse the negative or stagnant energies of a space, while the person performing the ritual invites positive energies into the newly cleared environment.
However, there’s more to the ritual than just burning a bunch of leaves. From start to finish – from the moment you begin gathering materials, to the moment you’re putting them away – each step is meaningful and meant to be carried out with deep intention.
Smudging is like bringing a new beginning into a space. As you go, you visualize anything negative or stagnant being chased out of every little pocket of the room, opening the space up for good things to come in.
Smudging can be done:
- Whenever you feel a space needs to be refreshed
- When you move into a new home or office space
- As a seasonal ritual to clear out the old and welcome in the new
- When you notice a lag in energy within a space
- When you’ve had a recent change or upheaval such as a break up, a job change, an argument with a loved one, a setback at work and so on
In fact, with the ongoing pandemic, you may find that energy is becoming stagnant in your home, office or both on a regular basis!
There are many reasons to smudge. Some people even do it during or after an illness. Much like opening a window to refresh the air, smudging opens an energetic window to refresh the energy. Depending on the organic materials you use, there can be many additional benefits beyond energy. Sage, for example, is a commonly used smudging herb and has been shown to reduce bacteria in the air, reduce stress and anxiety, help you better connect with your intuition and even repel bugs. My personal favourite is palo santo sticks. The scent is light and fresh and is believed to promote creativity while calming the nervous system, making it ideal in many areas of life, especially in workspaces.
Smudging may be totally your thing, or you may be thinking… “You want me to do what?”
If you’re in the latter group, that’s ok. Some things will work for us, others won’t and it’s part of our journey to discover how we best navigate the world. I will ask you to open your mind for a moment though and just consider the possibilities. After all, if you want something different in life, it starts with doing something different ;)
How to Perform a Smudging Ceremony
What you’ll need:
What do you need for a smudging Ceremony?
- Palo santo sticks, bundled cedar clippings, bundled dried sage, or other bundled herbs (all nature is considered sacred and different herbs and plants can be used for smudging – there’s a great list here of the meaning, benefits and purpose behind different smudging materials)
- Candle with safe and stable holder
- Matches or lighter
- Ceramic bowl or other heat proof container filled with sand (for extinguishing the herbs or stick)
- Fireproof dish such as a shell (abalone shells are a traditional choice) or small clay pot or bowl (you’ll use this to hold under your burning herbs or sticks to catch any falling ashes)
Your materials should be stored together respectfully and only used for smudging ceremonies. For example, you should ideally have a pack of matches and a candle that are just for smudging.
How to perform a smudging ceremony?
- Prepare yourself and your environment. Make sure there are no distractions and that you’ve set aside enough time to perform the ritual fully, without rushing. Prepare yourself through meditation, deep breathing, or playing calming music. Think about your intention for the ceremony and try to clear everything else out of your mind.
- Take your time to gather and set out your materials, beginning at the main entrance of the room or building. If you’re smudging a whole building or multi-leveled unit, start with the main entrance of the main floor. Remember that each step is a meaningful part of the ceremony and should be done with reverence and intention. This includes gathering and setting out each item.
- Call in your higher power (for you this may mean God, guides, the Universe, angels, power animals… whatever you connect best with) to be with you while you perform this ritual.
- Light the candle with your matches or lighter and let the candle burn for about a minute. Then use the candle to light the end of your dried herb bundle or palo santo stick. You may need to occasionally relight it as you go along, so keep the candle lit (in a safe space and holder, of course) and easily accessible.
- Start with yourself, moving the stick or leaves safely around your body, clearing any negative energy that may be clinging to you. Start with underneath your feet, bring the stick or herbs up over both legs, swirling it in clockwise circles while moving up. Bring it over your torso, then stretch out your arms, moving it along each arm, up your head and finally, a little over the crown of your head. Then move to the main entrance of the building or room. Always hold your shell or fireproof dish under the herbs or stick to catch any falling ash.
- Work in a clockwise direction, ensuring the smoke reaches every nook and cranny – corners of walls and ceilings, bookshelf corners, kitchen cabinets, light fixtures, closets, those spaces between walls and appliances, the space behind your television – every single corner!
- What about stairs? If you are only smudging the room, go up or down the stairs when you reach them, then back again, smudging as you go, and resume your clockwise journey. If you’re smudging the whole building, go up the stairs when you reach them and smudge the next level in a clockwise direction. When you get back to the stairs, travel back up or down them and continue your clockwise journey around the main floor.
- As you smudge the space, be present with your intention for the ritual. Either out loud, or silently in your mind, invite in the positive energy you want to bring. It may be peace, healing, generosity, harmony, creativity, abundance… whatever you envision for the space and the people who occupy it. Many traditional practitioners recite a prayer or chant as they go. That may work for you, or you can simply hold your intention in your body, mind and spirit as you go along.
- When you arrive back at your starting point, carefully smudge yourself again to clear off any negative energies you might have taken on during the process, then take a moment to visualize the space being filled with the positive energy you’ve invited in. You may see that energy as a particular colour or as a glowing light. However you visualize it, hold that image in your mind and repeat your intention into the space.
- To end the ceremony, extinguish your herbs or stick in the bowl of sand, or you may want to leave it in the shell or fireproof dish to extinguish on its own. If you do, make sure not to leave it unattended. As the herbs or stick are extinguished, thank your higher powers for accompanying you in this ritual.
- When the herbs or sticks have fully extinguished, choose a spot outside to bury them along with any ashes that you collected along the way. I like to bury them in a garden or some area of lush growth, signifying good things growing out of challenges.
- Finally, take as much care in packing away and storing your materials as you did in setting them out.
Whenever we want to change something in our lives, invite in something new, or give ourselves a fresh start, it can be really powerful to try something outside our own personal box. Anytime we try something new, we open our minds up to new ways of thinking and new possibilities in the environment around us.
Smudging is a great way to clear out the negative and invite in the positive, but it only works if we are clear in our intentions and what we want to create. If that’s something you struggle with and would like help refreshing your energy or the energy of your leaders, team or organization, I invite you to connect with me to discuss the many possibilities open to you, of which smudging is just one. My approach is to work collaboratively, creating solutions and practices that work with the individual or group, including conscious leadership tools, high performance team building strategies, effective communication guidance and so on.