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What are the rules of smudging?

Smudging is an ancient practice used by various indigenous cultures for spiritual and energetic cleansing. It involves burning herbs, such as sage, cedar, sweetgrass, and lavender, and using the smoke for purification and healing of the mind, body, and spirit. Smudging has gained popularity in recent years, and many people now use it as a way of clearing negative energy in their homes, workplaces, and even themselves. However, for a smudging practice to be effective and respectful, certain rules need to be followed. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basic rules of smudging that you should know about before starting.

1. Respect the Herbs

Smudging herbs are considered sacred and should not be taken lightly. Before using them, it is recommended to learn about their history, traditional uses, and cultural significance. Treat the herbs with respect by gathering them mindfully, seeking guidance, and expressing gratitude for their presence. Respectful harvesting practices involve asking for permission, avoiding over-harvesting, and leaving an offering in return, such as tobacco or cornmeal.

2. Set Intentions

Setting intentions is an essential part of smudging. It involves clarifying your intentions and desires for the smudging ritual. You can do this by taking a few moments to meditate, pray, or reflect before lighting the herbs. Focus on what you want to release or attract, and use the smudging smoke to help manifest your intentions. By setting intentions, you create a positive energy flow and align yourself with the healing power of the herbs.

3. Choose the Right Time and Place

Smudging can be done anytime, but certain times of the day or year may be more auspicious. For example, some people prefer to smudge during the full moon, new moon, or equinoxes, as these are times of heightened energy. Similarly, certain places may require extra cleansing, such as after a negative event or in a new home. The choice of place and time will depend on your personal beliefs and the circumstances of your life.

4. Use the Right Tools

To perform a smudging ritual, you will need the right tools. The most common tool is a smudge stick, which is a bundle of herbs tied together. You can also use loose herbs, a charcoal disk, or an abalone shell to hold the herbs. Other tools may include matches, a feather, a fan, or a bowl of water to extinguish the smudge stick. When choosing your tools, it’s essential to select high-quality, ethically sourced materials that resonate with your intentions.

5. Start with Yourself

Before smudging your house or space, it’s important to start with yourself. This means using the smudging herbs to cleanse and purify your own energy before moving on to the surrounding area. You can start by lighting the smudge stick and smudging yourself from head to toe, paying special attention to the chakra points, such as the crown, third eye, throat, heart, and solar plexus. As you smudge, inhale the smoke deeply and exhale slowly, letting go of any negative thoughts or emotions.

6. Respect Boundaries and Privacy

Smudging is a personal and often private practice that should be respected. If you’re smudging in a shared space or around others, it’s essential to ask for permission and respect any boundaries. Some people may not want to participate or may have their reasons for not wanting to be smudged. Respect their wishes without judgment or pressure. Similarly, if you’re smudging someone else’s space, seek permission and respect their privacy. Avoid moving or touching their belongings without permission.

7. Properly Dispose of the Ashes

After smudging, it’s important to properly dispose of the ashes and residual smoke. You can do this by extinguishing the smudge stick in a bowl of sand or water. Alternatively, you can let the stick burn out naturally if you’re smudging a large area. Avoid blowing on the smudge stick to extinguish it, as this can spread the ashes and smoke. Once the ashes have cooled down, you can dispose of them in nature or bury them in the ground as an offering.


Smudging is a powerful and effective way of cleansing negative energy and promoting healing and harmony. However, to practice smudging respectfully and effectively, it’s important to follow certain rules. These include respecting the herbs, setting intentions, choosing the right time and place, using the right tools, starting with yourself, respecting boundaries and privacy, and properly disposing of the ashes. By following these guidelines, you can create a safe and sacred space for smudging and invite the healing power of the herbs into your life.


What should you not do when smudging?

Smudging is a sacred Indigenous practice that involves burning dried plants, typically sage, cedar, sweetgrass, or tobacco, to purify and cleanse the environment, oneself, and others. It is a ritual that has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years, and it is still widely practiced in Indigenous communities today. While smudging can be a powerful and transformative experience, it is essential to remember that it is also a highly spiritual and religious act that demands respect and understanding.

When smudging, it is crucial to know what to do, but it is also equally important to know what not to do. One thing that should never be done when smudging is to force or pressure someone to participate in the ritual. Smudging is a personal choice and should never be imposed upon anyone. Everyone has the right to decide whether or not they want to participate in the ritual. If a person indicates that they do not want to smudge, it is essential to respect their decision and not pressure them to do so.

Moreover, smudging should never be used as a gimmick or a trendy item for the sake of aesthetics or fashion. The use of smudging as decoration or fashion has been seen as disrespectful and offensive to Indigenous people. It is also essential to remember that not all plants are meant to be burned, and not all smudging practices are the same. Each Indigenous culture has unique smudging practices that should be respected and understood before attempting to engage in the ritual.

Finally, it is crucial to approach smudging with the appropriate mindset and intentions. Smudging is a sacred and spiritual act that should be undertaken with the utmost respect and reverence. It is essential to approach smudging with a pure heart and positive intentions and to do so with respect and gratitude for the Earth and its gifts. Similarly, it is also important to be aware of the significance of smudging and to show respect to those who are leading the ritual.

Smudging is a powerful and spiritual Indigenous practice that requires respect and understanding. It is essential to know what not to do when smudging, including not forcing or pressuring someone to participate, not using smudging as a gimmick or fashion, and approaching smudging with the appropriate mindset and intentions. By following these guidelines and showing respect for the ritual and its practitioners, we can honor and appreciate the sacredness of smudging.

Can you smudge if you are not native?

White sage smudging has become a popular practice among non-native people in recent years. Smudging is a ritualistic way of “clearing negative energy” by burning sage, sweet grass, palo santo, and other plants. However, it is essential to understand that smudging is a sacred practice in many Native American/Indigenous Nations. White sage, in particular, holds a spiritual significance and is considered a sacred medicine.

As smudging has gained popularity outside of Native American/Indigenous communities, some members of these communities have expressed concern about non-natives using white sage and engaging in smudging practices without fully understanding their significance. This concern is valid as cultural appropriation and misuse of Indigenous practices can be harmful and disrespectful.

Furthermore, there are ethical considerations when it comes to the commercialization of sacred practices and plants such as white sage. Over-harvesting of white sage can lead to a shortage, impacting Indigenous communities who rely on it for spiritual and medicinal purposes. As such, some Native American/Indigenous people have called for non-natives to find alternative ways to “cleanse energy” that do not involve sacred practices and plants.

While non-natives may be drawn to the idea of smudging for its purported benefits, it is important to acknowledge and respect the spiritual and historical significance of such practices and plants. It is advisable to educate oneself on the cultural and spiritual significance of smudging and to understand the ethical considerations involved, including questions of appropriation and sustainability. non-natives should approach the practice with sensitivity and respect for Indigenous communities and their traditions.