magazine | Mar 31, 2020 |
Smoke signals: A designer’s guide to smudging

We’re all familiar with burning incense, but how many have heard of smudging? In this emerging trend, designers are practicing the ancient ritual of burning plants to clear negative energy and promote spiritual wellness.

The origins of smudging reach back to the ceremonies of indigenous North American tradition, with a simple premise: The smoke that comes from burning bundles of certain plants is meant to cleanse a space of unwanted negative energy. Some believe that the ritual affords a clearer perspective aided by the sense of smell; others say it has cleansing effects on the soul—and then there are those who just happen to enjoy the aroma and process of burning beautifully wrapped herbs and plants. No matter the reason, here are the botanicals you’ll want to have on hand before beginning your own smudging session.

Cedar: Many cultures consider cedar to be a sacred plant; when burned, its pleasant aroma is believed to drive out negative energy, attract empowering and grounding influences, and bless a home when new inhabitants move in.

Juniper: Historically, this evergreen’s leaves were burned to purify temples; today, they are used to invigorate the mind and body.

Palo santo: Spanish for “holy wood,” this aromatic wood has roots in the Incan empire. Burning it is said to have energizing and cleansing effects, and many believe it facilitates creativity too.

Sage: Among the best-known and most popular plants used in smudging, sage is believed to offer cleansing properties, and is sometimes incorporated into meditation practices. 

Sweetgrass: In Native American tradition, sweetgrass is considered a bright and uplifting smudge plant. In Northern Europe, it was strewn at the threshold of a home on holy days for the sweet smell it emanated when trodden on. Often braided, with the three strands representing spirit, mind and body, its burning usually follows that of sage.

Homepage image: Shutterstock

This article originally appeared in Spring 2020 issue of Business of Home, Issue 15. Subscribe for more.

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