The Basics and Benefits of Smudging and Space Clearing
Deliberately clearing space of negative energy is a custom as old as time. To some, this is spring cleaning, a house warming party, or merely the creation of order our of chaos. Some associate this cleansing with ritual on a deeper spiritual level. No matter the conscious intention, clearing space and negative energy from your home, workplace or anywhere you spend a great deal of time is all about creating organization and calm and letting go of old emotional baggage.
Clearing space also renews old and stagnant energy in a space or person and replaces it with a lively vibrancy. Space clearing is most successful when your intention is clear and no matter how you realize this intention, this is a simple and easy ritual you can practice regularly.
In many ancient cultures, including Native American traditions, herbs were burned in the ritual cleansing of a physical space, objects or individuals. The idea is they by burning certain herbs in a space, the smoke generated attaches itself to the negative energy and as the smoke dissipates, so does the negative energy. This burning of herbs can also be used for individual cleansing, after a particularly energetically depleting day or experience, for example or on crystals or personal objects used in ritual to ensure that they are not holding any negative energy.
People often cleanse themselves and their space after difficult events, when communication problems seem to be arising, when their feeling down or depressed, during times of meditation or other ritual. Smudging is also excellent to practice prior to a gathering or ritual or as people arrive and before commencing a ritual or celebration. This leads to open minds and hearts and the eradication of any lingering negativity.
There are several herbs used commonly in “smudge sticks” or “smudge wands.” In such a stick or wand, the herbs are bundled together and often tied with string. In ancient native American traditions, special smudge bowls were used but now, most smudging herbs come in wants or sticks that are easy to use. Common smudging herbs include:
- Sage, including White Sage
- Cedar and other Pine derivatives
- Lavender – for calming
- Osha Root
- Sweet Grass
- Mugwort – which is also used for lucid dreaming and protection
How to Smudge
Firstly, any cleansing ritual must start with a clear and simple intention. Focusing on clearing out the negative energy and pushing it out of your space and mind is of paramount importance.
Once you have your intention clearly in your mind, light the herb wand and then blow out the flame which allows the herbs to smolder and smoke without actively burning. Using a candle is recommended rather than a match or other lighter.
If you are cleansing a space, walk around the room or rooms slowly and focus on cleansing and clearing negative energy. You should focus on corners, behind doors and make sure you also smudge closets.
If you are cleansing an individual, fan the smoke around yourself or the other person and ask them to focus on pushing the negative energy down through their feet and into the earth. Make sure to fan the smoke from head down to the feet to aid in the process of moving the negative energy out. The other option is to have them focus on pushing the negative energy into the air and into the smoke.
If you are working with a particular chakra or energetic location, make sure to focus some of the smoke in that area while you are working. Healers often use smudge before working with reiki or other healing techniques. Healers can use feathers to fan smudge smoke to ensure and even distribution and to work towards creating balance in the body.
Some people also find it helpful to speak an incantation, a thought or to chant during cleansing but you can also be silent and simply focus on your intention and inner voice.
If you wish to cleanse an object, including a crystal or wand, hold the crystal or object in the smoke or fan the smoke around the item. Also, if you are cleansing an object before a specific ritual, focus on your intentions around that ritual as well as on the cleansing of the object to imbue the object prior to your work.
Putting Out Your Smudge Stick
When you are ready to extinguish your smudge stick or wand, ground it out in sand or earth or in another fireproof receptacle. Try to avoid using water.
SIMPLE SPACE CLEANSING, WITH OR WITHOUT SMUDGE
You don’t have to smudge to successfully clear or cleanse a space. The most important aspect of any cleansing ritual is to restore balance, whether energetically or in the more mundane physical sense.
The first step in successfully cleansing a space is to really clean it. This means to remove clutter, dust and any residual build up of actual dirt, dust or trash. Then you will continue with ritual cleansing, which can be done with smudge, as discussed above, or with incense, drums, fresh clean air, candles, water, plants, crystals or music. Many people call on their own element, that which speaks to them the most.
Once the space has been cleared, skilled practitioners will hone and refine the energy of the home. Using a bell, a singing bowl or your own voice and rhythm will solidify the clean energy.
Finally, you need to set the new intention of the space. You have removed the negative energy, and now you must push positive energy into the space to maintain balance. Declare your intention aloud or silently in your head and let your intention fill the space. If you have a home with multiple rooms, consider your intention in each space. Focus on rest in the bedroom, productivity in the office, nourishment in the kitchen and fellowship and relaxation in the living room and so on.
SPACE CLEANSING: COMMON TIMES WHEN BALANCING CHI IS IMPORTANT
As in all cleansing rituals, the first step is to clear out any old chi. In the tradition of “chi” it is thought that buildings which are long standing hold a great deal of energy and history. The type of energy depends on what the building is used for and how long it has stood and even what materials with which the building is constructed. For instance a library, a school and an old home will all have very different “chi” or energy.
A New Space
If you come into a new space, you need to consider who occupied it before you and complete your cleansing ritual accordingly. You need to focus specifically where they spent the most time and imbued the space with their energy the most. Complete your cleansing in the ways we have discussed before and focus on balance and the removal of any negative energy that interrupts the flow of chi in the home, office or other space.
Illness strongly affects the energy in the home. Illness subdues the energy in a home, whether physically or mentally in the case of the person suffering, or from the nervous tension and energetic output of the person tending the ill. Fresh air must be brought into the home, as well as plants and flowers, candles and some form of purifying water. By bringing the four elements into the home and the sense of a fresh clean, beginning, you will raise everyone’s spirits and incorporate balance into the home again.
Conflict in the home or violation in the form of constant arguing or anger or if the home has been robbed or damaged in some way can also strongly affect the chi of the home and its occupants. This is another instance where space clearing, regularly if necessary, can help you move on from negative energy and holding onto the past and moving forward into a happier future.
After Change or to Elicit Change
When change comes into life, whether positive or negative it can’t help but affect people and their environment. If you change jobs, lose someone you love, have to deal with conflict or resentment, or if you end a relationship, you need to make sure that you take the time to process your emotions and then cleanse yourself and your space. Honor the passing, mourn, grieve, let your anger or anxiety our and then work to let those emotions go so you can continue unencumbered on your path. Chi is all about balance – learning and moving forward and working to maintain harmony internally and externally. Clearing space is a good habit and one that can help you move on in all facets of your life with more ease.