Sage smudging (a.k.a. setting a little bunch of sage on fire and waving the smoking bundle around in your room) has gone from shaman ritual to new-age gimmick to chic home interiors trend. I know. It’s a helluva journey.
In a nutshell, smudging is a way of getting negative energy out of a space.
New-age rubbish? Some think so. Soothing way to get rid of bad/weird vibes from a room? A lot of people on this team, too.
But how does it work?
Reasons to burn sage
It originates from traditional ceremonies such as those practiced by Native American tribes. Vogue (so you know sage burning has legitimately gone mainstream) spoke to certified “spiritual hygiene” proponent Colleen McCann, who trained with shamans in Peru.
“Burning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a person, group of people, or space and of getting rid of unwanted spirits,” she explains.
“The practice dates back to prehistoric times and it’s been documented as having been used in every corner of the world by our ancestors.”
There’s also some science behind it.
“Scientists have observed that sage can clear up to 94 percent of airborne bacteria in a space and disinfect the air. When sage is burned, it releases negative ions, which is linked to putting people into a positive mood.
“The Latin word for sage salvia stems form the word heal,” McCann says, adding that sage burning is also associated with “wisdom, clarity, and increasing spiritual awareness”.
It also smells quite nice, if you’re into that kind of thing but don’t like incense.
How to “properly” burn sage: the spiritual part
Accepted wisdom is that sage smudging is good for any fresh start: moving into a new place (or moving someone else out of it), farewelling a family member, or welcoming a new one, starting a new job or venture, or even as a simple personal reset button.