An Introduction to Smudge Sticks
A smudge stick is a bundle of herbs (usually sage) that, when burned, produces smoke that is used to cleanse a person, object, or space of negative energy.
Have you ever seen a person dressed like a shaman blow smoke all over someone’s body or walk around a room waving a feather over a bowl of burning herbs? If you’ve seen this in either a movie or real life, you’ve witnessed a “smudging.”
This practice originated as a sacred ceremony specifically practiced by Indigenous groups in North America. Over the years, it has been adopted (and culturally appropriated) by diverse members of modern society and molded to fit various needs.
This guide will introduce you to the origins of smudge sticks, how to use them, and how they can help you with investigations.
Nearly every culture employs smoke as a form of spiritual cleansing. Smoke cleansing is an ancient practice that has been around since before recorded history. One of the earliest written records of this practice comes from the ancient Hindu texts known as the Vedas. The records describe the use of incense as a tool for creating a clean, peaceful, and nurturing space in which to heal.
In ancient Egypt, smoke cleansing in the form of incense was a significant element of ceremonial worship. They had certain types of incense that were used to purify the home space with a pleasant aroma and help people sleep well, and others that were intended specifically for ceremonial use in the temples.
African spiritual leaders and traditional healers were known to burn herbs on charcoal or by throwing them into a fire so that the smoke would envelop the designated person, connecting them to the spirit realm or helping them heal.
Throughout the centuries, the use of incense in Asian temples became so widespread that every Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto temple employed them for the veneration of their ancestors.
Lighting incense to remember the dead and honor ancestors has always been an important part of Asian culture.
The ancient Romans burned cinnamon during funerals and used rosemary smoke for healing. And, of course, in the Biblical story of Jesus’s birth, frankincense and myrrh were two of the three precious gifts the three wise men gave, highlighting their significance in Judaism and Christianity.
The Native American tradition of smudging goes back thousands of years. This practice is believed to be a derivative of the “Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing” where a mixture of herbs and resins were placed into a bowl and burned to initiate a spiritual cleansing. The First Nations People believe that smudging is a way to connect the spiritual plane and the material plane and that the spirits of the plants can be summoned to keep negative energies at bay.
Nowadays, a growing number of new-age people can be seen casually using easily accessible pre-packaged herbs such as sage bundles to do a quick cleansing on the fly in the presence of a negative “vibe.” But how do smudge sticks tie into the field of ghost hunting?
Recommended Smudge Sticks
What Are Smudge Sticks Used for in Paranormal Investigations?
Ghost hunting can be a dangerous hobby. Sometimes, going into an investigation without some form of protection is like asking for an attachment to happen. An attachment is when an intelligent spirit or entity becomes so interested in a person that it “follows” them home. Does the ghost sit in the back of their car on the ride home? No one knows exactly how an attachment works, but the idea is that upon returning home, an investigator might begin experiencing paranormal phenomena that were previously attributed to a certain spirit or location.
The degree to which the attachment manifests depends on the individual’s spiritual practice and belief system. The more you believe you are experiencing something, the more you will see signs of it manifesting in your life. A strong spiritual defense system can prevent or limit any attachment from a paranormal investigation.
Smudging is something a lot of paranormal investigators do to protect themselves while ghost hunting. This can be done proactively or defensively. Some people like to burn a smudge stick, waving the smoke around their bodies before entering a haunted location. You can do this silently or make a statement out loud declaring your intention. Some people like to say a prayer while they are burning the herbs.
At the end of an investigation, before leaving the property, many investigators will perform another smudging to cleanse any negative energy that they may have picked up during the investigation. Additionally, you could use a smudge stick whenever you need to defend yourself from any spiritual attack or negative energy.
Although sage is the most commonly used herb in smudge sticks, some people are sensitive to the scent and prefer an alternative. Palo Santo, Rosemary, Cedar, Mugwort, Wormwood, Angelica, and Thyme are all herbs associated with protection and can be used in smudge sticks.
In addition to spiritual cleansing, smudge sticks are also believed to have health benefits. Sage, which is the most frequently used herb in smudge sticks, has antimicrobial properties, and some sages even have antibacterial properties.
Burning sage can neutralize dust, mold, pet dander, and different forms of pollution that make an environment dangerous to people with allergies, asthma, and bronchitis. It is widely believed that smoke can repel insects and keep infectious bacteria, viruses, and fungi at bay.
Smudge Sticks Are a Great Tool for Paranormal Investigators
Smoke is the way to go whether you’re trying to cleanse pet dander or spirits. Regarding spiritual protection and safety, smudge sticks are the go-to tool for many ghost hunters.
With this information, you should now understand how smudge sticks work and the best practices for using them to protect yourself before, during, and after investigations. All that’s left for you to do is grab your own bundle of herbs and begin your own paranormal adventure!