“So you’re a witch now?”
That’s the question I got when I made smudge sticks for the first time! It made me laugh out loud, because that we had just learned that the tiny town we moved to is rumored to have a high witch population! But I definitely am not interesting enough to be a witch! The real reason I made smudge sticks was because we had sage growing out our ears! I had already dried and preserved about 5 mason jars worth for tea and still had tons left over. Making DIY smudge sticks to use throughout the year seemed like a fun new way to preserve the sage and create a handmade gift to give to friends.
What is a smudge stick?
A smudge stick is a bundle of tightly wrapped herbs that is dried and then burned to “cleanse” an area. Many say the tradition dates back to Native Americans culture where bundles of sage and herbs were burned in spiritual ceremonies. But to be honest, little of our modern day use of smudge sticks resembles the highly sacred tradition of the Native Americans. The customs and rituals that Native Americans performed by burning sage were highly religious and were performed for a variety of reasons. Our modern day understanding and use of smudge sticks most likely came from a combination of many different religious and New Age traditions. And since the origins of the smudge stick are derived a bunch of different religious and spiritual practices, it means you don’t have to be a witch (or any religion for that matter!) to make and use your own DIY smudge sticks!
The burning of smudge sticks can be used to symbolize anything you want it to. They can be used to mark a mental starting point after a particularly hard time or break up, to promote “good energy” in a new home, or to perform a blessing. There is even evidence that is now suggesting that smudging may help clean the air in your home! For me, burning a smudge stick is a way to practice mindfulness. I have found that burning a smudge stick at the start of a new season helps prepare my mind and spirit for the changes that are to come. And they smell delicious which is always a bonus – especially after a good spring cleaning! I always feel a little fresher, lighter and more focused after taking a couple of minutes to burn a smudge stick in my home while breathing deeply and slowing my mind.
How to make your own smudge sticks using garden fresh herbs:
Smudge sticks can be made in minutes and are a fresh new way to put your garden herbs to use. To make smudge sticks, you will need herbs, natural string (or twine) and scissors.
Some of the best herbs to use for smudge sticks:
basically any herb or plant that smells delicious!
**Note: Everyone is different and may have allergies to different plants. Stop burning the smudge stick immediately if you notice a reaction to the herbs that were used.**
To Assemble the Smudge Stick:
1. Snip herbs at the base of the stem. You will want them about 6-8 inches long.
2. Bundle herbs together. I prefer to place smaller, more delicate herbs in the middle of the bundle and use the larger sage branches and leaves to wrap them up and hold them securely.
3. Secure the bundle by tying the string or twine in a knot at the base of the stems.
4. While holding the bundle in one hand, use your other hand to wrap the string/twine up the bundle. As the herbs dry over time, they will decrease in size so it is important to wrap the bundle tightly.
5. You can then wrap your way back down the bundle and tie the string off at the base of the bundle. I like to create a little “handle” by wrapping the string around the stems several times. The handle will not be burned (but it is completely compostable!)
6. Once you have assembled your smudge sticks, allow them to dry completely in a cool, dry area with good air flow. Store in a cool, dry location.
How to use your smudge sticks:
Hold the handle portion of the smudge stick and use a lighter or candle to light the top of the bundle. You can let it burn for a couple of seconds and then carefully blow out the flame. Allow it to smolder as you cleanse the desired area of your home. As always, be smart and please don’t light your house on fire. Hold a fireproof ceramic bowl under the smudge stick to catch any embers that may fall. Once you are done burning the smudge stick, extinguish it by compressing the smoldering end against the bowl. You can save any unused portions of the smudge stick to burn at a later date. Relax and enjoy!