Smudge stick: what it is and how to prepare the ancestral bunch of dried herbs that purify the house

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Elia Tabuenca García

Have you ever heard of smuge sticks? Let's find out what they are and how to prepare purifying dried herb bunches.

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Have you ever heard of smudge stick? These are bunches of aromatic herbs and dried flowers that are used to purify domestic environments or simply as natural home fragrances 

Smudging is a purification ritual that involves the burning of bunches. An ancient practice widespread among various indigenous peoples, who burned bunches during sacred ceremonies, believing that their smoke had healing powers and was able to lead people's prayers to God, according to "The Canadian Encyclopedia".

It is also said that shamans used them to help heal sick people by blowing smoke on their faces and bodies. 



Since ancient times, herbs were burned to give off fumes aromatic, which in various cultures were considered the proof of the existence of the spirit in matter. Burning herbs, roots, resins and barks represented the passage from their physical form, of this world, to the form of the spiritual world, smoke.

A practice that over time has been partly lost, although many rituals still include the use of smoke, just think of the incense used in church. 

The smoke emanating from the smudge sticks was directed with the hands, or with the use of feathers, around the person or object to be blessed, in other cases the smudge stick was placed directly on stones or abalone shells and left to burn. Or the herbs were placed on the shell and directly ignited, or even burned on a coal tablet. 

The ashes of the burnt medicinal herbs were not thrown away but placed on the ground, indicating that the negative energy was finally gone. (Read also: The ancient blessing that teaches us to be free)

Methods of blessing

Nowadays, when this practice is once again being talked about, several are proposed blessing methods. TaosHerbCo suggests blessing a person by looking into their eyes for a moment and directing the smoke to their heart, then to the right side of their head continuing in a clockwise motion. The smoke is then directed down the left shoulder and arm length, then back to the shoulder. And again along the left side of the torso, the left leg and the foot. We then move on to the right foot, proceed on the leg, on the torso and along the right arm returning to the shoulder. Now the person turns, turning to his right, and the movements are repeated blessing the back. 

Furthermore depending on the direction in which we turn the smoke, specifies TaosHerbCo, we welcome different energies.

  • A east welcome the energies and spirits of the East, the energy of the initial way, of the rising sun, of L'Aquila, thanks to which the vision becomes clearer. 
  • A South we welcome the warmth of the midday sun, the Coyote spirit, the spirit of action in the world, the energies and spirits of the South. 
  • A west we welcome the energies and spirits of the West, the spirit of the Bear that goes deep to renew us.
  • A north we welcome the energies and spirits of the North, the energy of wisdom, of grandmothers and grandparents, the spirit of the Buffalo that teaches us to be generous and to honor what we receive. 
  • Se let us look up, welcome the energy and spirit of Heavenly Father, of stars and clouds, welcoming all that is masculine. 
  • Looking down we welcome the energy of Mother Earth, the feminine principle, the spirit of our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters. 
  • Looking inside us, with our hands on our hearts, we welcome the energy of "Inside", the principle of connection with all things.

The best herbs to use


Some plants and aromatic herbs lend themselves more than others to the preparation of the smudge stick, in particular rosemary, sage, rose, cedar, lemon balm, juniper and lavender. This is because they are rich in beneficial properties and their scent is very pleasant.

Not only that, cedar and sage for example are considered sacred herbs in many cultures, rose is often used to promote meditative states and relaxation, lavender is said to bring peace and happiness, juniper invigorates mind and body. 

Smudge stick: how they prepare

Given that smudge sticks can also be purchased ready-made, making them with your own hands gives much more satisfaction. And it's not difficult. 

  1. Collect the herbs preferably in the morning;
  2. create small bunches,
  3. wrapping them with thin rope, twine or wool, which you will need to tie. You can use different plants or just one depending on your preferences.
  4. All that remains is to hang them and let them dry.  

When and how to use smudge sticks

Once they are perfectly dry, just light them with a match and blow them a little so that the herbs begin to release smoke. You can distribute the smoke in the various rooms of the house by holding the smudge stick in your hand or leave it to burn after placing it on an incense burner.

When to use it? Not at night but during the day, both to purify the rooms and to perfume them. 

SOURCE: The Canadian Encyclopedia/TaosHerbCo

Read also:

  • Palo Santo: history, properties, uses and where to find natural incense with a thousand benefits
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