Why do we burn sage?


Reader Question: I've heard of and seen the burning of safe used for some type of cleansing ritual. It seems like people use it all the time. I love sage, and grow it in my spice garden throughout our growing season in WNC, but what is the purpose of burning it, and how does it work? What is it supposed to do?


Dear Fellow Traveler:

I love your question and I think it’s great that you grow your own herbs! That is an added boost of energy for you since the sage is connected by its life force to your property. Sage, sweet grass and cedar are some of the more common herbs used in cleansing the energy of a space.

These herbs have medicinal properties that dissipate negative or low level energy and will purify the vibration of a space when you burn them. The idea around smudging (burning) is that the smoke will carry the negative energy out of the space by forming channels of connection to a higher power. This creates an energetic pathway enabling a higher vibrational energy to enter the space. You can liken low level energy to the heaviness you might feel in a room just after an argument, and the lightness to the peaceful way a church feels during a service. We are connected to our breath through air. The first thing we do as a baby is to take a breath into the body. We use our breath to create mindfulness and connect us to our spirit. The Spirit of Air is a transformative energy and bringing that energy into a ritual of cleansing is very powerful and very ancient. It offers a higher perspective by aligning with universal wisdom and additionally tapping us into our ancestors as we incorporate this into our spiritual practice.

I like to space clear a home by creating an altar on a table or countertop. The sage can be bundled or burned on an abalone shell and can then be taken around the room for the smoke to permeate stagnant spaces like corners or under beds. I often use a feather to wave the smoke into the spaces I feel are very low energetically. Some of the best times to clear your home are after family gatherings, parties, illness, transitions and spring cleanings. If you’re sensitive to energy you’ll notice the lighter feeling right away. I often sleep more soundly after I space clear. I hope you will give it a try and report back. Thanks for such a great question and good luck!

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