I must admit that I have always been drawn to the idea of sage smudge sticks but have never explored them before. We are lovers of Indian incense and use them regularly. We choose the woodsy ones, not the sickly sweet ones, so smudging was never our Go-To before.
However, life takes us on new journeys and we find ourselves exploring different pathways through no choice of our own! A friend wanted an Aloe Vera plant from me and she messaged me that in return she had a sage plant for me. I messaged back, telling her I had more sage than I knew how to use. She didn’t get the message. Much to my joy and surprise, the sage turned out to be white sage!
I had normal grey sage, and mauve sage growing in the herb garden, but white sage is a first for me. The first thing that struck me was the strong smell! Wow, this baby has a strong, resiny smell when you brush past the leaves. No wonder it is used for cleansing and purifying rituals.
I waited (im)patiently for my sage to grow big enough to harvest. My friend Sharon had told me never to harvest more than a third of the plant at any one time. So as my white sage grew happily in it’s pot by the front door, I plotted my next move. Finally, harvest day arrived and I excitedly reached for the secateurs and gave thanks to the plant as I harvested my sage pieces, about 30cm in length. I had already done a quick online check to see how they are assembled. A quick forage around the garden and I had all I needed to begin to make my very own smudge sticks.
What struck me throughout the process is how important these moments of connectedness are. I was totally immersed in the process. It was therapeutic and beautiful, smelling all the aromas wafting around my senses as I gathered the herbs together and bound them. This process was as enjoyable as the burning of the smudgie! (Be warned, I don’t think that’s an actual term, but just my term of endearment for the sticks!). Sage smudge sticks were used ritually by Native Americans.
How to make a Sage Smudge Stick
- 30cm stalk of white sage
- Stalks of other common herb sage
- 30cm stalks of rosemary
- Lavender stalks
- Small flowers
- Cotton thread
Begin by gathering a selection of herbs/flowers around your white sage stalk, placing flowers strategically around the outside. Place a slip knot at the bottom of the bundle to secure them all together. Slowly wind the cotton thread around the bundle and upwards. Once at the top, continue to wind the cotton around the bundle back down toward the bottom, criss-crossing the previous upward threading.
I repeated the cotton thread spiralling up and down the bundle four times to secure all the straggly bits. Tie the cotton string securely at the bottom when finished. Now the hardest bit of all; patiently waiting for the bundle to dry out completely. It should take 1-2 weeks depending on the weather. I left them out on the coffee table, where they continue to release an aroma from the gently crushed herbs. The final drying was on a sunny windowsill for a few days.
Next process involves the lighting; make sure you have a bowl to catch the ash and be warned, little flakes of ash do end up floating around and landing on the floor (or was this because I was so in my element that I was dancing around the house, waving my smudgie around like a magic wand?). The smudge stick doesn’t burn magically on it’s own, it sometimes voluntarily goes out and one needs to gently blow on it to fan the embers (there is no flame as the embers simply burn slowly and gradually down the stick).
When you google what smudging does, one should probably take with a pinch of salt all the incredulous properties…. but I do believe it is a great cleansing of stale air or energy in the house. Well, that’s what we felt anyway. The smell, though somewhat smokey, is not unpleasant and has this woodsy smell about it. It has antimicrobial properties and has been found to release negative ions (the feel good vibes), improves mood, releases negative feelings and enhances sleep.
Remember to have a bowl to collect the burning ash, and never leave a lit smudgie alone. Open windows and doors to allow the smoke to escape and just enjoy the process. There’s really nothing too difficult about smudging really. Grow Your Own and Make Your Own! It’s fun! Why not make more than one smudgie, so you can gift one to a special friend? A gift from the garden and heart.