Burning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a person, group of people or space. While Native American sage burning is the most commonly recognized form of it today, it has nevertheless been a shared practice in other cultures too.
From the ancient Celtic druids who used sage as a sacred herb alongside Oak Moss for burning as well as medicinal purposes, to the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon whose Palo Santo (sacred wood) sage burning ceremonies are still practiced to this day.
The Latin for sage, ‘Salvia,’ stems from the word ‘to heal.’ The other qualities of sage when burned, such as giving wisdom, clarity and increasing spiritual awareness, are also indicated in the name. It’s no accident that we refer to wise people as sagely.
The benefits of burning sage can be harnessed very simply by burning sage in your home, office or any other place in need of cleansing.
Sage burning cleansing rituals can be as elaborate or as simple as you want them to be, but it’s of the highest importance that your intention be clear before you begin. If you are burning sage to purify a space, or a person (even yourself) then this needs to be clearly planted in your mind before you the light the sage, and while taking the smoke around a home, or through a space.
The process is simple enough. If you have a heavy earthenware pot (something heatproof), then place the bundled sage into the pot and light it for a few seconds before extinguishing the flame and letting the smoke billow up. Really dry sage will catch fire quickly, so watch your fingers.
Be careful not to breathe in the smoke directly, and not to fill the area too thickly with smoke—this is not a fumigation, just a cleansing, so no need to go overboard. Then slowly walk around where you are and take the smoke to each area you would like to cleanse. Concentrate on gateway areas, such as windows, doors, closets, as well as hallways. Also concentrate on the corners of a room. Most importantly, use your intuition. If you allow it, your space will usually inform you as to which areas need to be cleansed the most.
You may want to focus on particularly busy areas, both foot traffic wise (kitchen) and mentally (computer workstation). If you have a pet, be sure to sage them a little (if they allow it) and their sleeping area.
If you can burn sage in your living space on a weekly basis, then you are guaranteed to notice a lightness of energy and calmness descend into your home from this practice. It can be a way to cleanse the old energy from the previous week, and welcome in the newly beginning week and all the possibilities it holds.