I’m *this close* to finishing an exhausting home renovation. My kitchen is finally in working order again, and I’m not greeted bright and early every morning by construction guys. I should be happy, thrilled with how it turned out. And I am! But, here’s the thing, now I feel a weird in the space.
It’s a disconnected feeling, like the rooms aren’t mine anymore. I couldn’t stay in my bedroom while work was going on in our adjoined bathroom because it was like sleeping in a construction zone. And when the bathroom work was done, I spent a week sleeping with my kiddos because my bedroom just didn’t feel right. It’s that feeling when you’re moving into a new space, but you haven’t quite settled in yet so boxes are everywhere and your things aren’t in the right places.
While the work of putting my bedroom back together continues, I experimented with a cleansing ritual to reset the energies in the space. A home has a living energy says energy healer Shaman Durek, and “when a home feels unsettled, it’s usually because the energies there are unsettled.”
That describes my weird feelings exactly. So I turned to a cleansing practice commonly referred to as smudging.
What is smudging?
Derived from Native American ceremonies to cleanse and bless people and places, smudging is the practice of slowly burning herbs and flowers in a space. Now science is proving out that smudging acts as an antiseptic to literally cleanse the air.
In fact, a 2007 scientific study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that medicinal smoke could almost completely eliminate bacteria in the air within a confined space. One hour of burning medicinal smoke reduced airborne bacteria by 94%, and the purifying effects lasted 24 hours in a closed room.
Sage vs Palo Santo?
Two of the most commonly used materials for smudging are sage and Palo Santo. White sage was used in North America tribes while Palo Santo was more often used in Central and South America. The materials are both considered to be ‘cleansing,’ but are used slightly differently.
In Spanish, Palo Santo literally means ‘holy wood.’ Harvested from the fallen branches and twigs of the tree found throughout South America, Palo Santo was used in ceremonies to combat negative energy and cleanse the space. Use Palo Santo when you want to move negative energy out of your home and surroundings. Energy healer Durek compares burning Palo Santo to ‘psychic bug spray.’
California white sage has been used by Native American tribes for rituals and prayers to bring balance and peace to a space. You have probably seen the little bundles of sage, and you can even make your own. Use sage when you want to to bring balance, peace and fresh energy into your life.
How To Smudge
When smudging, light your sage bundle or palo santo stick with match (not a man made lighter). Blow out the flame, and let the end continue to burn.
Fan the smoke into the corners with a feather as you move around the space. The smoke represents your prayers going out in to the universe and calling on the energy of spirit animals and the elements of earth, water, air and fire.
Place the still burning bundle or stick in an abalone shell. A glass or clay bowl also works.26