I remember the first time I smelled sage burning. We were in New Mexico on a family road trip. My father made friends with a man at a diner where we stopped for lunch. This generous man invited us to his sacred land where his community was in ceremony all day. I was eight or nine that summer. The drive up the mesa felt long. As we walked around through the communal gatherings and witnessed the ceremony, I felt the incredible power of it all and this inner knowing that energy was being cleared.
Many years later on a trip to Ojai, California I picked white sage for the first time on the side of the road. Its smell instantly pulled me in. I was very drawn to the greyish white plant that held such strong memories from that family trip. Without giving it much thought I walked over to the sagebrush, said a little prayer of gratitude, and picked some of the leaves to take home.
Once the sage dried I started giving it away to friends because that seemed like the natural thing to do. I had enough, and I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. During this time I began researching sage and discovered just how scared this plant is. Sage has been used by healers for ceremonial and medicinal purposes for ages. It has the ability to clear negative energy when burned, a process called smudging.
You can smudge yourself, others, a space or any other healing tools you have like crystals. There are many methods for smudging but don’t worry so much about that part. The main thing is to smudge with intention and mindfulness. Holding a piece of sage, light the end with a match or lighter and let it burn well for a few seconds. You want the sage to burn slowly. Once you have a steady stream of smoke, gently wave your arm to allow the smoke to envelop you. Other options are to fan the smoke with a feather or place the burning sage in a small dish on the floor and stand over it. Use your intuition here and smudge in a way that feels good to you.
If you live in a desert area and want to harvest your own sage be sure to check that you’re not on private property. Ask permission if you need to. It’s best to harvest in late summer when the leaves are full, that is when the medicine is the most potent. Spend time with the sagebrush and notice its qualities. Make sure that the plant is doing a good job of reproducing itself and that you’re not taking away food from nearby animals. Once you decide what to harvest, thank the plant. Gather small amounts from each brush and place in a basket or bag.
When you return home you can bundle the sage with string. It’s best to do this before the sage is dry. Alternatively, set the sage out to dry in pieces and once dry, place them in a nice bowl. If you have a bunch of sage, store in glass jars once it is dry. Dried sage should keep up to a year.
It is important to be generous with this healing plant and share it with our loved ones. I have introduced many friends and students to the clearing practice of smudging. It’s a wonderful way to create a full circle of healing.
Burn sage as often as you like. I love smudging in the morning before meditation, when I work with clients or when I feel I need an energy cleanse. Smudging is also a wonderful way to connect to the earth and ground ourselves in the present. Happy smudging!
ASHLEY NEESE is a bold soul who empowers women to take good care of themselves. Her nutrition programs, yoga classes, and lifestyle blog guide wellness seekers towards bringing their whole being into each moment so they can heal and be at peace. Ashley works with clients all over the world and runs a life changing online Sugar Cleanse. You can find her sharing healthy recipes and self-care tips on her website, www.ashleyneese.com.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, Ashley will be hosting a workshop on Mindful Nourishment on November 8th at Communal LA: Coming together to prepare food and eat mindfully can be an incredibly healing and nourishing practice. When we slow down to connect with the medicinal energy of food we are able to feel more centered, grateful and vibrant. This lunch workshop will explore aligning with the season and mindful eating.