I always love the feeling of mornings because they mark the beginning of a day. Each morning brings with it a feeling of hope for the hours to come, it’s like a clean slate where all possibilities are on the table. Each morning I flow through a smudging ritual to clear my mind, body, spirit and home. This practice sets the foundation for my day and supports me to open up to the potential for creativity and growth in the coming hours.
Truth be told I don’t wake up every morning jumping out of bed with a giant smile on my face ready to give the world my all. However, that is starting to happen more and more because I am choosing it. Our day starts with the very first thought that surfaces in the morning. Making a practice out of paying attention to that thought is changing my life. Most mornings I course correct the negative thought right away by jumping into my daily meditation practice and smudging with sacred plants.
Years ago when I started working with sacred plants to clear energy I wasn’t aware of their long history. Like many, white sage was the first plant I encountered for this purpose and was immediately drawn to the huge streams of smoke that came off of such small dried leaves. The smell permeated every part of my body and filled my mind with white space. Of course it smelled a little like weed too so that didn’t hurt! I never enjoyed smoking weed, but always really liked the smell.
I was gifted a small bundle of white sage from a friend who instructed me to burn it before meditation, anytime I needed to clear the energy in my home, or when I felt the need for a personal energetic cleansing. Shortly thereafter white sage became a part of my life and over the years I have developed a deep connection to this healing plant.
Since then I have incorporated other healing plants into my morning cleanse ritual and often use them with clients and when I teach classes. These days I am using mostly Palo Santo and sweetgrass. Palo Santo is a potent medicinal wood and sweetgrass symbolic of feminine energy and purification. All three of these mystical plants have been used for centuries to clear and ground energy and to support healing and spiritual development.
Smudging is a very effective practice for changing the energy of a person or space. Smudging works with the Air element and has the ability to draw our awareness inward helping us stay grounded while keeping our hearts open. Anytime you smudge it is very important that you do so with awareness and intention, this activates the plant material and works to transform energy on deep levels.
Depending on how I am feeling on a particular morning or what I have planned for the day I will choose a cleansing plant that will best support me. If I have a big therapy session or major internal work to do I will start with white sage to get myself and home really clear and then burn sweetgrass at the end of my meditation practice to call in the feminine energy and help me stay connected to my heart. If I have many clients scheduled or meetings I will burn palo santo before my meditation practice to keep me focused and grounded.
To invite in more healing energy I find it very powerful to say blessings and prayers before, during and after my smudging session. This does not have to be fancy just pick a phrase or words that resonate for you and say them out loud as you work with the plant. It’s important to thank the plant as well, sending gratitude to nature helps is heal and stay connected to our essence.
When working with these plants take your time to cultivate your relationships to them. We live in such a fast world and plant medicine requires us to slow down and stay present. Each one of these plants can be used and studied for lifetimes, pace yourself and above all trust your intuition when deciding which plants you need to work with that day.
Palo santo, or ‘holy wood’, is a magical tree that is native to South American coast that is part of the citrus family. Palo Santo smoke is part of my morning ritual because it reminds me that good things come with time. The Palo Santo wood that I burn is from the coast in South America. They are wild harvested from fallen trees and have blessed by multiple elders in the area.
The rich smell of the medicinal smoke helps to clear the mind and energy, allowing more space to connect and create. Palo Santo also uplifts the spirit and brings good luck. When we burn this sacred wood we tune into our energy and are reminded that so many people, places and spirits are supporting our journey. Palo Santo also raises our vibration so it’s great when you need a little kick start to your day.
Light one end of your Palo Santo stick using a candle or match. Let it burn for about a minute and then gently blow out the flame. Holding the stick in your hand walk around the space where you are clearing energy. When the purification is complete place the stick in a bowl or vessel that is fireproof. The ember will slowly fade by itself.
White sage (Salvia apiana) has been used by healers for ceremonial and medicinal purposes for ages. It has the ability to clear negative energy when burned. I begin many mornings burning a small piece of white sage. It helps me start the day fresh and with clear intentions
I use white sage that is native to the southwest region because this is what I have access to and grow. There are many varieties of sage and if you live in a different region I encourage you to explore what is native to your area.
You can smudge yourself, others, a space (home, office, apartment) or any other healing tools you have like crystals. 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 fireproof dish on the floor and stand over it.
To clear a space go to each corner of every room and allow the smoke to trail up to the corner for a few seconds. Start with the room furthest from the front door to help the energy flow out. In each room follow that same logic of starting with the corner farthest away from the door. Repeat in each room as necessary. Feel into the energy of each room and notice when it changes. Some places will need more than one round of smudging.
Use your intuition here and smudge in a way that feels good to you.
Note, I only use sage bundles when clearing the energy of a large space. Learn more about how to harvest and work with white sage here.
Sweetgrass is one of my favorite cleansing plants. It represents the Northern direction and in Native American culture and is considered the hair of Our Grandmother Earth. Typically sweetgrass is braided and each section of the braid represents the mind, body and spirit. The braid is also symbolic of our community strength, we really are better together.
Like the name, sweetgrass has a mild sweet smell that is feminine in nature and is used to cleanse the heart, mind and body as well as attract good spirits. Sweetgrass smolders when burned and works well at the end of a meditation to help keep your heart open and bring about peace and healing.
To work with sweetgrass light the end of the braid with a match or lighter. Wave the smoke over your heart, head, body and then back to your heart. Alternatively you can place it in a shell or other natural container and allow it to slowly burn out on its own enjoying the pleasant smell.
*Please note that when you are working with these plants it is very important to make sure you have good sources. Plants that are commercially grown do not have the same energetic qualities as plants that are grown at your home or in the wild. Many retailers do not ethically source their plants and you don’t want to be part of that energy chain. I feel sad that I even have to write this but it’s something I feel very strongly about. These plants are are powerful healing tools that need to be treated with gratitude, love, and respect.
Photos by Asami Zenri