Smudging, or the act of burning dried herbs, has been around for generations, crossed culture lines, and is now a common modern practice. If you’ve used white sage to cleanse your space, for you saging your house on moving day may have become an essential routine. But if you’ve only heard about it, you may wonder why the tradition has become hot.
“Burning sage is a very important thing to do when moving into a new space, because it gets rid of negative or difficult energy in a space,” said Diane Ronngren, author of Sage and Smudge: The Ultimate Guide. “I’ve moved a lot in my life, and I’m conscious of the fact that something has happened in that house before I got there, and I want it clear before I move into it.”
And burning sage is also known for creating calming environments, providing better sleep and possibly killing airborne bacteria. All great things to have in a new, unfamiliar home.
If you want to learn more about burning sage, or smudging, keep reading to hear more from Ronngren and another saging specialist. Both burn sage and use aromatherapy before and after they move!
History of Saging Your House
People have burned herbs, a practice widely known as smudging, all around the world for thousands of years.
Burning dried white sage, or saging, originated with Native Americans, who used it as many do today: To cleanse of purify a space, according to an article by Rosalyn La Pier, a professor at the University of Montana.
But burning other herbs and incense has been used to cleanse spaces in many western cultures, as well, said Ronngren.
“In the 1300s, they smudged in churches to clear out illnesses using a variety of different herbs to clear air and energy,” she said. “It’s just something that’s prevalent device for clearing space or creating ambiance.”
Today, many people burn sage out of tradition, or for spiritual reasons. Smudging influenced commercialized versions of air purification, like scented candles, stick incense and plug-in air fresheners.
Some continue to burn sage because they believe research that dried plant smoke helps kill germs.
“Burning plant material, in some research studies, removed 94 percent of airborne bacteria,” said Amanda Linette Meder, a writer with two science degrees who specializes in all things spiritual.
Why Burn Sage on Moving Day?
If burning plants does kill bacteria, then burning sage is a great way to literally clean a space. And if you like the smell of sage, it’s a great way to make your new space feel like home!
Like many others, Ronngren burns sage before, during and after moving day to create a spiritually positive space in her former and new homes. By burning sage, she and others believe the smoke clears a space of any negative energy or bad experiences that happened there previously.
“People don’t think about the space they create their lives in,” she said. “We have every different feeling and event in the home, so they should want to create a space for calmness and happiness.”
Smudging is just one of the tools Meder uses to de-stress, along with yoga. She finds burning sage comes in handy during stressful moves.
“Typically, I recommend burning sage as a final touch before leaving a home,” she said. “Once the last of the furniture is out, it’s a nice gesture to smudge to set a new, clean tone. It’s the final kiss on the moving out process.”
How to Sage Your Home
If you’re ready to get smudging at your new home, you can find dried white sage online or at local natural food stores. Your farmers market may also have some to buy!
Our experts say the process of saging a house is up to personal preference, but it should always be done safely to avoid any hazards.
Ronngren has a very specific smudging routine for her home, one that she’s mastered through her many moves.
“I walk counterclockwise through the space with sage or herbs,” she said. “I go around everything. Each corner, each door, outside doors, outside windows. I focus on the living spaces, because that’s where you’re most venerable. Especially the bedroom, because you want good sleep and dreams.”
Some scientists consider burning sage a type of aromatherapy and say these pleasant smells will improve sleep and relieve pain, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
If you live in a small home or apartment, Meder recommends burning a small sage leaf (pictured above) instead of an entire stick. She also recommends that people with a smoke sensitivity to diffuse a white sage oil instead.
“Go through every room with the smoking sage, and you don’t need a lot,” she said. “You can light one leaf, because a smudge stick will smoke a lot.”
Both experts recommend burning sage regularly, even after you’ve finished moving, to purify the air and keep balance.
“I recommend cleansing the space by smudging any time you do a seasonal cleaning, three times a year at a minimum,” said Meder. “I burn sage every Sunday, during my major week cleanups, to reset the space.”
“It’s like my organic Febreze,” she added.