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Clearing the Air: A Beginner’s Guide to Smoke Cleansing.

Vanessa Neshevich

Have you ever brought an item home from an antique shop or had a stranger in your home then feel that the energy in your space is “off”? These people or items can carry incompatible or negative energies, shifting your own balance and harmony. Smoke cleansing is a powerful technique used by many cultures from around the world to cleanse themselves, their environment or objects of negative invisible energies then purify and invite positive energies back to them.

Although most closely linked with Indigenous peoples you can find the act of smoke cleansing documented by many ancients, from the Chinese to the Zulus to the Greeks to the Egyptians.  Each use ties back to purifying a person, space or item and returning them/it to a positive state. In witchcraft, we can also use smoke cleansing to cleanse and clear your sacred space before executing any ritual, ceremony, magickal work or meditation. In this case, think of smoke cleansing as the equivalent of washing your hands before cooking.

Before you Begin:

  • Consider how you will smoke cleanse.  Think of the plant material choice, the vessel and how you will spread the smoke.  If you are using a fan or feather, cleanse this first. You may be drawn to particular plants or vessels or choose ones that align with your ancestors.  This is a great time to smoke a joint or light a crystal pipe with a strain that encourages reflection and stress reduction.  A mild indica-dominant hybrid with a high CBD percentage such as Critical Mass is perfect.
  • Remove any items from the room you do not wish to smudge.
  • Cover all mirrors. Mirrors can be doorways to other worlds and you need to cover these doorways in order to focus your efforts in your present world.
  • If you are in a room with windows open your curtains or blinds.  The sun is a powerful healing and cleansing tool and welcoming in its rays will be beneficial.
  • Smoke cleanse yourself before cleansing your room or item(s).  Bath your hands in the smoke, then cleanse your front, your head and the back of yourself.

Smudging:

  • Center yourself. Set your intention for your smoke cleansing ritual: I will drive away all negativity from my energy and purify my space.
  • Light your plant matter.  You do not need to burn a lot of it to smudge as you are using the smoke, not the fire itself. Work with the plant. Gently blow the bundle down to an ember, as you build the smoke that will waft around the room.
  • Consider how you are cleansing.  Start at the door then move around to the edge of the room.  Clockwise will bring in positive energy, counterclockwise will invite negative energy to leave.  Use your hand, fan or feather to guide the smoke.
  • If you pray, this is the time to pray. If you are like me and do not pray and prefer to perform ritual and magick in thoughtful silence, ensure you are keeping strong positive energy in your mind.
  • Fill your space with helpful, well-intentioned thoughts. Recognize that energy and speak what you intend to be the outcome of your smudging.
  • As you complete the circle of the room put the ashes outside the door to release that which the smoke collected or if you need to cleanse an item, move the item to a white cloth or a cleared area of the floor, if you can, at this time.
  • Smudge the object by covering it in smoke completely.  If it is an item that can open or close, be sure to open all compartments and let the smoke flow freely in these areas.
  • Set your intention for the item: I will drive away all negativity from my energy and purify this item.
  • Finally thank your Spirits, Gods, Goddesses, Angels, ancestors or guides to close your smoke cleansing ritual.

A few times not to smoke cleanse:

  • If you have an item that was given to you by a loved one. Do not cleanse this item if you want to preserve their energy within it.
  • Artwork.  This is a direct extension of the artist. You should only purchase artwork if you are comfortable with the existing energy the piece has in your space. You may smudge and cleanse your artwork, however, you are messing with the artists intended energy (whether that energy is good or bad).
  • Mirrors are gateways to other worlds. They also can absorb the energy of the environments they reflect. Cover mirrors when smudging.
  • If you are physically or mentally in a negative space and cannot be present while cleansing. If your mind is on your big work project or figuring out when you need to pick up your kids, take some time to re-center and focus on your positive intentions before beginning.
Helpful Links

Looking for the perfect plant to clear energies in your item or space? Grove and Grotto highlight many commonly used smoke cleansing bundles and their properties.  For instance, Juniper is said to have masculine, protective energy, and is used in spells of cleansing and prosperity, while Lavender will inspire love and relieve anxious energy.

Making bundle sticks is a great way to build your own intentions and positive energy while practicing sustainability and building relationships with your local plants.  Druid Garden provides excellent step by step instructions on ethical DIY smoke bundle crafting.


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