Fresh sage leaves
Other herbs or flowers like lavender, roses, thyme, rosemary, or eucalyptus (optional)
Make a bouquet of sage: Use about 8 to 10 sage leaves to make a small bouquet, keeping all of the stems together. You can also incorporate any other long-stemmed herbs or flowers you have on hand. Pretty much any flower or herb that dries well, or even small cuttings from pine or cedar trees, will work. If you're using other herbs or flowers, bundle these first, then wrap the sage leaves around the outside of the other stems.
Cut a piece of cotton twine: Measure and cut a piece of cotton twine about eight times as long as your bundle.
Tie the bundle: Gather the ends together and tie a knot with the twine about 1/2 inch up from the stem-end of the bundle. Leave the twine long on one side, with a short tail (about 2 inches) on the other side.
Wrap the twine around the bundle: Start wrapping the long end of the twine around the bundle. Keep the wrapping pretty tight, like you're making a cigar, because the twine will loosen as the herbs dry and shrink up a bit.
Wind the twine the other way: When you reach the end, wind the twine back the other direction, crisscrossing the twine already on the bundle.
Tie off the twine at the end of the bundle: Wrap any extra twine around the base and tuck the ends under the wrapping. This creates a nice handle when you're ready to light the incense.
Air-dry the herb bundle: Find a cool, dry spot to hang the herbs and let the bundle air-dry for 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure the bundle is completely dry before burning.
How to use: When the herbal incense is ready, hold the handle end and light the other end until you get a flame going. Blow out the fire and let the herbs smolder. Place the dried herbs in a small heat-proof bowl or dish and enjoy bringing the scents of the outdoors inside.
The use of dried white sage however, is a 2,000 year old Indigenous American practice. The shamans used dried sage plants on their fires as a ritual of calling upon ancestral spirits. Any conflict, anger, illness or evil was absorbed by the sage smoke to be released or cleansed from the energy field of a person.
Next, sweet grass would be burned to call forth the energy of peace and love. This ancient shamanic mystical ritual is a simple one to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine, or any time you feel like you might need a little aura polishing. You can never really smudge too much!
Some ideal (or necessary) times to sage smudge your aura and/or space would be:
When you move into a new living space
When you begin a new job or start your own business
Before and after a guest enters your home
Before and after a yoga or healing session
After an argument or any illness
Upon returning home from crowded situations
And here is a simple 3-step sage smudging ritual to try:
1. Use loose dried white sage or a white ceremonial sage bundle (aka wand), which is usually bound together by a thin string. You can find sage bundles at your local herb shop or health store, Wiccan/pagan bookstore, metaphysical store, and even some yoga and healing arts centers. Or, if you have a sage plant, you can make your own — just bundle and tie it, and then hang upside down in cool dark space until it is completely dried out.
2. Next, place it on any heat-proof burning surface like an Abolone Shell — a traditional vessel used by Indigenous American people that represents the element of water. Light the bundle by holding a flame to it until it begins to smoke. If a true flame appears, shake the bundle gently or blow until it is just embers and smoke. I often find that I have to re-light my sage bundle a few times during the ritual process. If you are burning loose leaf sage, the best method is to use a charcoal burning disk inside of a censor or small cauldron.
3. Once you have a nice smoke going, use you hand or a feather to direct the smoke over your body from your feet up to your head, then back down again. As you do this, visualize the smoke taking away with it any negative energy from your life, any darkness or malady.
If you feel comfortable with this incantation, repeat the following:
"Air, fire, water, earth. Cleanse, dismiss, dispel."
The sage ceremony lifts the veil between the everyday and the sacred. As you say your incantation, you are shifting energy at will.
Once you have smudged your body, begin to move through your space. Wave the smoke into all corners, across doorways and into shadow spaces. To maintain the atmosphere of ritual, keep repeating the incantation in your mind as you diffuse the smoke.
Once the space is cleared, allow the sage bundle to either burn out or gently press it out in your heat-proof shell or container. You can even bury the remaining smudge in your garden to really feel the completeness of the cleansing ritual. Once buried, the sage has done its work in completing the elemental cycle. Ideally, you should try to use a new smudge for each cleansing.