Commonly Used Smudging Herbs

What is ‘Smudging’??? – A powerful cleansing technique of an ancient Native American tradition. Smudging is a ritual way to invoke positivity and dispel negative influences or energies. This is an ancient Native American practice to cleanse a person or place by burning of herbs. It produces a feel of harmony in the area by making it free of negativity. The hypothesis behind smudging is that the smoke connects itself with negative influence and as it clears it takes the negative influence with it to discharge it into another place to be revived to positive energy. It is a very effective technique when you have been feeling unwell, resentful, angry, depressed, or after you have had a squabble with somebody. As well, it is nice to smudge yourself, the place and all the participants or guests prior to a ceremony or celebration or ritual. Moreover, smudging is even useful for cleansing the spaces of home, work area, car, gemstones, crystals, altars, sacred books, or any other spiritual item.

Commonly Used Smudging Herbs

There are lot of ways of smudging and a range of different smudging herbs have been utilized for this purpose. Smudging herbs are mainly used in the forms of “smudge stick” which are made by tying the herbs into a bundle. In traditional cultures, the smudging herbs are regarded as sacred and the smudge stick is treated with high esteem. Different traditions and tribes utilize different herbs for smudging. Every herb utilized in smudging has its function and the burning of each herb results in a specific change in the surroundings. Many people consider that burning of 2 or more herbs concurrently is a potent way to unite the energy of the different herbs in the ritual, ceremony or celebrations. Some commonly used smudging herbs include sage, frankincense resin, sweet grass, myrrh resin, lavender, pinion pine, copal gold resin, cedar and juniper. Let’s take a look at the individual uses of each most commonly used smudging herb.

White Sage

It is regarded as the king of all sages, because it is excellent for smudging, meditation, cleansing, divination and purification. The botanical name of White Sage is Salvia apiana and it is considered as sacrosanct by many Native Americans. The White Sage is recommended for using at the start of the smudging process because it has a vital quality to drive out the negative energy and to prevent it from re-entering in the area. It contains a sharp, minty odor which stimulates the senses. The utilization of sage gets you in the correct state of mind just sooner than you start to pray. It is even utilized to keep sacred objects – such as Peyote wands or pipes – safe from negative influence. Salvia may be burned loose, or bundled into a stick or wand. Many Native American tribes still utilize the leaves and stems as smudge during purification rituals.

Sweet Grass

The subsequent step after the burning of sage is the burning of sweet grass which is used for blessings to get good influences after the bad had been expelled. It is well-known for its properties of invoking the positive spirits and used most often in peace and healing ceremonies. Sweet Grass is also known as holy grass or vanilla grass, and botanically it is called as Hierochloe odorata. Like white sage, it is also found on the sacrosanct herbs list of the Native Americans. It raises the good influences and the good spirits. Sweet grass could be differentiated by its elevated height with a reddish base and it is somewhat moldy to the olfactory senses as it has a perfume-like, musty odor. It is cultivated mainly on the eastern side of the Rockies in Montana and adjacent Alberta in Canada. It is believed to be braided while used in smudging, and it should be burnt from the tilt to the root. Sweetgrass can also be placed in medicine bundles and pipe bundles together with sage to protect and purify sacred objects.

Frankincense Resin

The traditions all over the world widely use this herb in prayers. The botanical name of the tree from which frankincense resin is generally derived is Boswellia carterii. It is the resin of a North African tree which produces a dense, rich smoke on burning. In many religious cultures, spiritual aroma of frankincense is considered to confer divine blessing. Frankincense, together with myrrh is also memorized as one of the 3 gifts which have been given to the infant Jesus by the Magi. Frankincense resin does a wonderful job of soothing a disturbed soul with its fruity, pine-lemony aroma. The clean, citrus fragrance of frankincense with woody connotations helps the mind to focus; as a result it aids the contemplative state.

Copal Gold Resin

This herb is normally derived from a Bursera microphylla, a rare plant native to South America. Copal gold resin was extensively used as holy incense by the Mayans. It contains the distinct gold shade and that’s why it is called as copal gold resin. The aroma of this resin is gentle, soft and warming. The cleansing & divinatory properties of copal resin make it an essential ingredient for smudging. This ingredient arouses the mind, and supports spiritual and mental efforts. The aroma of this herb is noticeably similar to frankincense, and it is often referred as the American frankincense.

Pinon Resin

The pinon resin is obtained from the tree Pinus edulis which is belonging to the pine family. Surprisingly, it is found in the blistering climes of southwest America rather than the more favorable north. The dense smoke of pinon resin takes some time for becoming accustomed, but the base aroma being pleasant and wind up with relaxing you. Pinon incense imbibes mental strength, as well as it corrects the imbalance of energy. Its rejuvenating aroma harmonizes a tired soul, refreshes the senses and takes you into a deeper contemplative state.


Lavender has been utilized for a lot of different purposes. Besides being used in essential oils, various scented cosmetics and food products, lavender is also taken granted for smudge due to its soothing and calming properties. Botanically it is dubbed as Lavandula officinalis. Undoubtedly, lavender has been used in curing insomnia due to the soothing and calming qualities. Besides the sleeplessness, an aroma of lavender will relieve you from weariness and headaches. Its sweet, aromatic & refreshing fragrance eases nervousness and stress, and relaxes the mind. It refurbishes balance, creates a calm atmosphere and exerts a pull on loving energy.

Myrrh Resin

The Botanical name of this thorny shrub is Commiphora myrrha which is cultivated in the East Africa, Middle East and India. The myrrh tree is well-known for its divine properties. The resin derived from myrrh tree contains a sweet & balsamic aroma, but it produces a lot of smoke on burning. The earthy & piney fragrance of myrrh resin purifies the surroundings and evokes tranquility. The use of myrrh is believed to produce a positive transformation, building confidence and strength. It was used in rituals of Passing and Healing by the ancient Egyptians.


Cedar is known for its properties of expelling negative energy and raising good influences. It is used mostly as the same way as White Sage and Sweetgrass are used. But unlike Sage and Sweetgrass, cedar also attracts positive energy instead of just purifying. People burnt cedar at the time of praying either aloud or silently. Cedar is burnt in the air to purify a home during the House Blessing Ceremony in many Northwest Indian nations. Cedar’s spirit is believed very primeval and wise by Pacific Northwest tribes, as well old cedar trees are respected with prayers and offerings. It has sharp, piney fragrance and is believed to revive the tired body, mind, and spirit, and arouse contact with other humanities.

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