Smudging involves burning of herbs to release their aromatic scent in order to purify an object, person or area.
The word smudge comes from Middle English and refers to making a very smokey fire specifically to ward off insects1, from there it was applied to the Native American purification practice of purification by smoke that has been appropriated and adapted into modern Witchcraft and magico-spiritual practice. It is purification or cleansing of an individual, object or location by means of smoke.
Smudging is very simple to do with materials that are very easy to gather. The herbs are simply burned, either in a bowl or another container, or bundled together to form a smudge stick, and the smoke from the herbs is wafted over an individual or object or throughout a space to purify it. The smoke may be directed toward to subject using a feather, a hand, or the practitioner's breath. Smudge sticks are made by bundling herbs together and binding them tightly with a string. Incense may also be used for smudging.
It is also interesting to note that most herbs used for smudging today actually have antiseptic qualities. That is to say, the burning herbs really do purify the air or bacteria and viruses!2 Many of these herbs were burned in sick rooms in ancient times for the same purpose. This practice, the purification of the air or a space by use of herbal smoke, is known as fumigation or suffumigation, though it is generally referred to as smudging today.
Smudging may be used to purify an individual before beginning magical workings, or to purify magical tools or the magical space before rituals.
Please note that burning any herb can release toxic gases and inhaling any smoke is unhealthy. Smudging should only be done in a well-ventilated space or outdoors.
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Some smudging herbs:
Agrimony - Agrimonia eupatoria
Bay Laurel - Laurus nobilis
Bistort - Polygonum bistorta, P. bistortoides
Chrysanthemum - Chrysanthemum spp
Hyssop - Hyssopus officinalis
Lavender - Lavandula spp
Marsh Mallow - Althea officinalis
Motherwort - Leonurus cardiaca
Mugwort - Artemisia vulgaris
Nicotiana - Nicotiana spp
Other Names Tobacco
Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis
Sage - Salvia spp
St. John's Wort - Botanical Name Hypericum perforatum
Thyme - Thymus spp.
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