A Guide to Smudging with Sacred Spiritual Tools

I light my palo santo and watch the smoke elevate the energy of the room in an ethereal way

Photo: Esoteric Esa

Photo: Esoteric Esa

I light my palo santo and watch the smoke elevate the energy of the room in an ethereal way. Albeit unseen, there’s an understanding that energy needs no confirmation of its existence or its power from the logical mind. It wasn’t always this way. A certainty of knowing that smudging is a real form of alchemy is one that develops over time. It’s a muscle that must be formed. Feeling in alignment with the tools you use is a relationship and connection that can only be fostered by constant tending to. In the beginning, when we first choose to work with sacred spiritual tools such as palo santo, sage or ocote, we feel kind of silly or awkward with our interaction.

Similar to the moment you explore having your first kiss, you just let your instincts guide you, although you have no clue what you’re doing. This can oftentimes be the first experience of trying to smudge for spiritual seekers who were never exposed to an environment that utilized sacred spiritual tools of the Earth. There’s no shame and no spiritual judgment here. This is a guide to help those curious to start working with smudging tools or those still feeling unsure if they’re “smudging correctly.”

Take away the perplexity. We’ve got you covered!wp_*posts

Determining Your Smudge Tool


There’s an array of sacred smudging you can apply to your personal practice. Before we get into that, please note it is extremely important to purchase tools that are ethically sourced from sustainable agricultural practices. Also, take into account that you will be co-creating alongside very sacred tools and it is important to respect your interaction with these elements. Culturally, the spirit of these tools (e.g. palo santo, sage, sweetgrass, ocote, etc.) have been held in high regard to the ancient practices they derive from. Understand that the approach to work with these sacred spirits in the form of smudging is one that you connect with from a deep place of gratitude and universal love.

How to figure out which smudge tools is one that you vibe with. That all stems from honoring which you feel intuitively guided to work with. If you feel guided to work with more than one, that is completely normal. Each plant will offer a different type of medicine. By medicine, I mean a unique purpose, and element. If you feel called to begin working with sage and months later transition to working with sweetgrass, that is completely part of the process. You will vibe with what is needed at that time in your life.

There are several types of sage bundles, don’t get too hung up on colors of the sage or colors of strings that the bundles are wrapped in. Just go with what you feel guided by. It is my recommendation to shop at your local metaphysical shop or from your local spiritual practitioner when it comes to making sure you’re purchasing legit palo santo or sage. There are a lot of vendors online (especially Amazon) that are selling fake products and products that are not ethically sourced. Besides, walking into a shop is part of the process of letting your intuition guide you. See what you feel tugged towards and go with that purchase.wp_*posts

How To Use Your Smudge Tool

  1. Connect with your plant that you’ll be smudging by giving thanks to its participation in making your intention possible. Giving gratitude to the spirit of such a plant is another form of expressing your connection to the universe and to the sacrifice of that plant.
  2. If you’re smudging in a closed space, you’ll want to open windows or doors so that there is a way for the energy to be released. Otherwise, energy can be trapped. Be sure to have a bowl of water or a container of water nearby in case you need to extinguish a fire. This is highly unlikely, but I like to practice safe fire practices just like we practice safe sex. You can opt to use a feather to fan the smoke, which is helpful to work the smoke around an object or space. However, it is not required.
  3. Before lighting, you’ll want to determine the intention behind why you’ve decided to smudge. Intentions for smudging are vast and limitless. The most popular account for smudging is to cleanse a space, an individual or to perform a limpia. Stating an intention aloud or in your mind is important. This helps set out a vibrational frequency to the universe. Prayers or affirmations are just words to mirror what an intention is. An example you can use if you’re just starting out is, “I give thanks to this palo santo for its assistance in removing any energy that is not serving me or my highest good. I release any stagnant energy from my vicinity and welcome vibrations of love and light.”
  4. After determining your affirmation/prayer/intention, you’ll light your smudging tool. Let it hold fire for 30 seconds before blowing it out or moving it until it goes out.
  5. State your affirmation/prayer/intention out loud or in your mind with conviction. This is where you have to feel confident about the process. If you’re doing this from a place of doubt, do your best to work past that. Remember, the more you practice, the more you’ll feel in alignment with your new practice.
  6. Work the smoke around your room and around your body. You can state your intention several times as you cover the entirety of the space you’re cleansing. If you’re cleansing crystal stones you’ll want to allow the smoke to fully engulf that crystal and state your intention as this is happening. You can work the four corners of a room with the smoke as you cleanse starting North and moving clockwise. Eventually, you’ll figure out your own routine and ritual as to how you want to work a room with this sacred smoke.
  7. Allow the smoke to continuously burn until it goes out on its own. Be sure to keep an eye on it and not leave it unattended. The smudging will last as long as it’s needed according to the density of the energy of the area it is inhibiting.
  8. Close space with a prayer of gratitude to the spirit of the plant and to your connection to the higher power that you believe in.

Smudging can be performed by anyone regardless of spiritual or religious beliefs. If you feel called to begin implementing smudging in your spiritual practice, please honor the call. I kindly remind you that smudging should be approached from a place of deep respect and not from a place of trendy mainstream appropriation. May you manifest wisely.

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