Smoke cleansing rituals are all the rage, but ‘smudging’ with white sage or Palo Santo is a real environmental and ethical issue with both herbs being over-harvested, leading to negative impacts on the environments where they are grown, and shortages for indigenous Native Americans’ religious smudging ceremonies.
(NB: Smudging is the name for the original Native American practice of smoke cleansing. It's important to use the term ‘smoke cleansing’ rather than ‘smudging’ unless you are of Native American descent yourself.)
DIY smoke cleansing bundles are a brilliant alternative for SO MANY reasons. To level-up your ritual magic and make your own smoke cleansing bundles just collect and bundle up herbs native to you. Consider Lavender or Rosemary, in the summer months when they’re in bloom, then hang them to dry out ready to burn through to the next year. You can grow these herbs in the garden, in pots or even on a windowsill. Or, if you can’t grow your own you could buy some locally sourced from a florist, or even use this as a great excuse to visit your nearest lavender farm! You can even prioritise herbs readily available in the supermarkets, like lemongrass, sage, bay leaves and rosemary for example.
Here's A Few Reasons Why You Should Totally DIY Rather Than Buy:
1. Your bundles will smell a-maz-ing!
2. It's easy and can basically be free if you think ahead.
3. The whole point of this kind of spell or ritual is to connect with nature local to YOU, what’s better than using plants native to your local area?
4. So many people order sticks of Palo Santo and White Sage online that are both being over-harvested. This over-harvesting is damaging to the natural environment where they are grown, NOT in the spirit of honouring mother earth at all.
5. Smoke cleansing with Palo Santo and White Sage is culturally appropriating Native American smudging ceremonies, and means that there's a shortage for Native American people's religious and spiritual practices.
6. You have complete control over the intentions you put into growing and gathering your own bundles. You can send positive energy to the plant each time you water it and you know exactly how well it's been cared for. If you’re buying bundles online you’re getting a product which has picked up who knows what kind of energy from the harvester, the manufacturer and whoever else along the way.
7. Buying online also involves a whole lot of air miles - which again is very much not in the spirit of connecting with nature.
8. Growing your own is also much more fun and creative, which is exactly how a ritual should feel. You can mix herbs and get creative with your ritual practice and your own magick! I’ve mentioned Lavender and Rosemary but you can experiment with all kinds of herbs including homegrown Sage. You can even mix your herbs to make unique scents and experiment to find your favourite fragrances.
When To Do A Smoke Cleansing Ritual:
Smoke clearing makes a great space-cleansing ritual for a Full Moon
You can do it before an intention setting spell at New Moons
It can be carried out to mark pagan festivals like Ostara or Beltane to honour the energy of rebirth and resetting
Ultimately, you can do it anytime you want to reset the energy of a space
When NOT To Do A Smoke Cleansing Ritual:
If you are happy with the energy of a space it's best NOT to do any smoke cleaning. That’s because the aim of smoke clearing is to wipe the existing energy clean entirely. So if you’ve invested time or energy making a space feel positive already, it might be in your best interests not to carry out any smoke cleansing.
If you can’t open windows for any reason, skip the smoke cleanse. Open windows are important for ventilation and also provide an exit for the negative energies you’re clearing.
Don’t start your ritual if you don't have a fire-proof bowl or safe place to put your bundle once you’re finished. Make sure you get these ready before you begin.
Be extra careful if you or any people / pets you live with are sensitive to smells or smoke.
For so many important reasons making your own herb bundles is the ultimate way to instill more magic and good intentions into your rituals AND connect to nature and the turning of the seasons while doing so. Which is, after all, totally the whole point to carrying out rituals in the first place!
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