Smudging is a symbolic exercise common to feng shui practice, many Native American traditions, Pagan/Wiccan practice, and alternative healing practices. It involves burning selected herbs or other materials in a manner that fills your home or self with the fragrance of the smudge stick smoke to clear negative energy. Smudging can sound a bit intimidating to beginners but it is quite easy and completely safe when you follow simple steps.
Smudging is an ancient and sacred ceremony, so it is best to perform it with full awareness and in a slow, mindful manner. Even the happiest homes accumulate negative vibrations over time, so healers and alternative practitioners find it helpful to smudge the home at least several times a year. Some people smudge as much as often as once a day. It all depends on you and how you feel.
When should you smudge? When your home is full of turmoil, after an argument, when you are just feeling "out of sorts", when your kids are acting up, when you are feeling emotional, ALWAYS when you move into a new space or home, after a large gathering at your home or office, when you sense a presence or spirit in your home, or whenever you think you need too. There is never a wrong time to smudge. I also recommend smudging during a full moon. I also smudge myself when I feel emotional.
How to Smudge? Place a fireproof container and the smudge stick on a table, desk, or any other appropriate surface. It is best to perform smudging at a time when you will not be disturbed. It is best if you create a sense of ceremony when you smudge your home or personal space—allow yourself at least 10 to 15 minutes if you can. I have had to smudge in an emergency and that's ok!!!
Hold the smudge stick over the abalone shell at all times to prevent burning or glowing herbs from falling on the floor as you smudge. You can use a feather if you have one, but it is usually sufficient to simply wave your hand through the air gently to waft smoke where you want it. Remind yourself to stay connected to your breathing throughout your smudging session.
Move in a clockwise direction around your house (usually starting at the front door), and gently wave the smoke into the air. Spend a bit more time smudging the room corners, as they tend to accumulate stagnant energy. Be sure to also open the closet doors and carefully smudge inside. Do not forget about spaces such as the laundry room, the garage, and the basement.
When you have smudged all areas of your house, return to the starting point and gently extinguish your smudge stick. Dipping it into your abalone shell or fireproof container with a small amount of salt while applying a bit of pressure usually works well. Wait a bit, then pack away your smudge and container until your next smudging session. I like to keep mine in a wooden box.
How to Smudge Yourself:
It is usually a good idea to smudge yourself, both before and after you smudge the house, when you are feeling negative, after an argument, before making a big decision, when you just "don't feel right", or maybe when you've been put in a negative situation. There may also be occasions when it is appropriate to smudge family members or friends.
Once your smudge stick is lit and smoldering, direct the smoke waves to the overall energy field around your body, starting with the area above your head and continuing down to your feet. Do not forget to breathe deeply as you do this.
Smudging can also be done in the reverse order—starting with the soles of the feet, going up both sides of the legs, torso, arms, and finishing by smudging the space above the head. Choose whatever method feels right for you. The same steps apply when you are smudging another person.