What the F is smudging?
A regular feature on Instagram, alongside crystals, affirmations, succulents and yoga mats, smudge sticks have gone millennial-mainstream. We spoke to healer Tamara Driessen a.k.a Wolf Sister about what they are, what they do and why to do it:
WHAT ARE SMUDGE STICKS?
‘Smudge sticks are bundles of sacred herbs — commonly white sage, lavender, sweetgrass, which have potent cleansing and protecting properties — that are wrapped together and dried.’
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THEM?
‘Smudge sticks are used for smudging, which is a ritualistic practice used for purification, protection and blessing. The smoke is said to harness the spirit of the sacred herbs to clear negative energy to restore balance and harmony. This practice is performed in ceremonies and rituals, sacred spaces — including new homes you’d like to clear of unwanted energy, initiations, to bless personal items and to cleanse crystals, the body and aura — especially after a busy, stressful or laptop-heavy day. Essentially, the aim is to heal and reset by helping one feel more grounded.’
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SMUDGING?
‘Recent scientific studies have shown that medicinal smoke can rid the air of harmful bacteria, but burning the herbs also has an uplifting effect. By releasing large amounts of negative ions into the space, it neutralises the charge of positive ions.
‘An ion is an electrically charged particle formed when its atoms have either lost or gained electrons (lost electron = positive ion, gained electron = negative ion). Even though we can’t see them, ions are floating everywhere. The electromagnetic eld (a.k.a aura) around our body and environment can accumulate positive ions, which can have a detrimental effect by causing us to feel overwhelmed, lethargic and burnt-out. Positive ions are triggered in nature by strong winds, storms, humidity and pollution, as well as by fluorescent lights, electrical equipment, home appliances and hairdryers.
‘Negative ions are abundant in nature, near moving water, in forests and in other places where plants are photosynthesising, which is one of the reasons why connecting with nature can be so restorative for us and why keeping plants in your home can be beneficial — especially when you remember to water them! Living busy lives in urban jungles can restrict our access to these natural highs and simple tricks, like smudging, can offer a quick fix to bring some balance into our lives and our crystals.’ (Excerpt from The Crystal Code)
AND THE DOWNSIDES?
‘It can leave you smelling quite smoky and, if you aren’t careful, the ash can fall on the floor and cause damage. Where possible, make sure to use them in a well ventilated area with windows and doors open.’
View this post on Instagram
WHAT’S THE HISTORY BEHIND THEM?
‘The practice of using smudge sticks comes from Native American and, like other indigenous practices, the sacred herbs used to make smudge sticks are native to where it originated.’
WHY HAS THERE BEEN AN INCREASED INTEREST IN SMUDGE STICKS?
‘There are a few explanations, but currently, there are a lot of people feeling stressed, overwhelmed and experiencing anxiety, so using smudge sticks is a quick-fix for ridding their life of some negative energy. Especially when they’re experiencing some kind of conflict; whether it’s troublesome co-workers, a frenemy or an ex that keeps lurking in the background. A lot of people are using smudge sticks as a tool to try and move forward with their lives, and not be so distracted by what other people are doing around them.’
IS THERE ANYTHING TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING THEM?
‘White sage, which is traditionally used for smudge sticks, is rare in the UK and is a protected plant in the US. It’s important to make sure that the bundles you’re buying are sustainable, ethically sourced and 100% natural, as any plastic can become toxic when burned. Any plant that is known to be poisonous, like ivy, shouldn’t be used for smudge sticks.’