Much like we wash our hands before a meal, our ancestors often used certain rituals and practices to prepare (people as well as their environments) for special events.
From ancient Egypt, to the American Indians and closer to home, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders all regularly used the burning of herbs, resins and other materials. The primary intention was to clear away any negative energy, including things like fear, anger and grief as well as earth bound or lower spirits.
Despite thousands of years of history, this use of smoke (sometimes referred to as smudging) was often dismissed in our modern world as a superstitious practice, akin to magic and without any scientific merit.
That was until a scientific paper entitled “Medicinal Smokes” published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology focused a scientific lens on the practice. Through research from over 50 countries around the world it found that cleansing smoke provided distinct health benefits for the lungs, brain and skin. While follow up studies proved that smoke based remedies also had powerful antiseptic benefits in confined environments.
In one particular study they found that: smudging cleared the air of 94% of bacterial populations. Not only this but one day later the space was still disinfected. And one month later – the pathogens originally found were still undetectable.
So you do NOT have to believe in earth bound spirits, entities or predecessor energy to gain some distinct benefits from smudging, or burning herbs and resins in your own environment.
Here are a few that you might like to explore:
Sage – to cleanse, bless & heal
Cedar – to protect against unwanted influences
Dragon’s Blood – to clear negativity & invoke spiritual protection
Frankincense – to purify & increase spiritual awareness (also a good antidepressant)
Sweetgrass – to attract positive energy & blessings
Rosemary – to release grief/loss, to bring clarity & energy
One of the most important aspects to keep in mind is not so much the individual qualities of the herbs or resins themselves, but rather their overall ability to convey your intentions (via the smoke throughout your space).
Be mindful and pay attention to the intentions you imbue your space with. If you ask for your home to become a sanctuary for your soul – it will be!