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Why do you burn sage as a witch? Is it always cultural appropriation to burn sage? And what is the purpose of burning sage?
Learning how to properly sage your house can improve your spirituality and help you avoid potentially dangerous practices.
But learning how to burn sage properly isn’t the only consideration. We must consider cultural and ecological factors, as well.
Should You Burn Sage?
You may have heard around the internet that it’s cultural appropriation to burn sage.
Or maybe you’ve been told that sage is an endangered plant.
When you go to the new age store, do you sometimes stare at the pretty bundles of sage?
They’re wrapped up intricately, sometimes with other dried herbs like lavender.
It’s such a pretty sight, but they leave you with questions.
What do you use that sage for?
What is the purpose of burning sage, and how do you use it properly?
Sage is a common herb used in cooking as well as magic.
The practice of burning herbs for purification is well established in many ancient cultures, including what is called Smudging.
What Is Smudging?
Smudging is a Native American cultural and spiritual practice (but it’s not practiced by all Native Americans).
Smudging specifically refers to the Native American practice.
If you are not involved in those communities and cultures, what you will be doing is simply called burning sage or smoke cleansing.
A modern witch should be sensitive to other cultures and should never steal terms that are sacred.
Ethically Sourcing Sage
It’s also important to source your sage ethically.
Further, white sage is the specific species that is culturally and religiously important to many Native American practices.
While white sage is not endangered, it is improperly harvested even by many companies that claim they harvest it ethically.
You can use common garden sage and other easily grown and properly harvested forms of sage instead of white sage for the same purposes.
Sage grows easily from seed, so you can grow your own or source it from others that do.
If you buy from unethical sellers, you run the risk of furthering the problem of over-harvesting of wild white sage plants.
Other Points To Consider
Animals, especially birds, have sensitive respiratory systems.
While you may feel fine when burning sage, that doesn’t mean your pets do.
Do research before you do any form of smoke cleansing, including with sage.
I know you don’t want to send your pet to an early grave, but that is a very real possibility if you burn incense or sage near them.
And consider your allergies or the health issues of those who live with you.
Someone may have a health issue that makes breathing in smoke dangerous for them.
Sometimes, when someone asks us not to do something we consider religiously significant, it can make us feel alienated.
Try not to have an angry response is someone asks you not to burn sage when they’re around or in the home they live in.
Don’t forget to follow the rules your landlord has in your contract, either.
If they find out you were burning sage when it’s explicitly forbidden in your contract, there may be consequences.
For instance, you could lose your security deposit.
The Benefits Of Burning Sage
So, why do you burn sage? Burning sage can purify the body and the rooms of your home.
This purifying action removes spirits, bad energy, and even nasties like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Actually, it has been found that burning medicinal herbs in general helped remove 94% of airborne bacteria.
This kept the space clean for at least two days after smoke cleansing!
Burning sage can help to enhance our intuition, as well.
And it helps to heal your spirit.
The smoke of this plant is great for cleansing objects like tarot cards and crystals.
Cleansing these objects opens them up to receive new, more positive energy and prepares them to be used by you.
Sage brings mindfulness to the boring tast of cleaning your home.
When done regularly, burning sage can make cleaning into a spiritual practice. It can bring you closer to your higher self or the gods.
Sage also has a calming effect that can help with concentration and focus.
When To Burn Sage
Smoke cleansing with sage can be useful at any time, but there are times when it may be particularly helpful.
If you decide to use sage to cleanse your home, yourself, or your belongings, when is the right time to do so?
There are a few times in our lives when we really need to move negative energy out of our lives.
You can probably think of many of these times. Whenever trauma occurs, cleansing should happen.
After A Traumatic Event
For instance, after a death in your family or friend group, you may want to smoke cleanse.
My suggestion in cases like that is to allow yourself to grieve first, and then cleanse.
Or, cleanse regularly through the grieving process.
Another good time to smoke cleanse with sage is after a breakup. Especially if it was a nasty breakup or an abusive relationship.
That negative energy can cling to things, making you miserable for longer than necessary.
When You Feel Negative Energy Around You
This feeling can be hard to explain or justify. But if you feel like there is negativity around you, it may be time to smoke cleanse.
If your home feels haunted, for instance, you can do a banishing of any spirits in your home.
Follow the banishing with sage cleansing and then a blessing of your home to keep the spirits out.
Or, if someone negative visited your house, that is the perfect time to smoke cleanse.
You can remove their negative energy, and then put up a protection spell to hopefully keep them from returning.
If there has been an illness in your home, you can use smoke cleansing to remove its energetic profile.
And since smoke cleansing has been found to kill germs, I think it’s just a good idea to do so after an illness.
I also think smoke cleansing after a family argument is prudent.
Removing that negative energy can help to stop another argument from happenings.
During Life Changes
When a new baby is born, someone graduates from college, or a wedding happens it can be a good idea to smoke cleanse.
Clearing out all of the energy in a home or room can make room for positive emotions and fresh starts.
Just make sure you never smoke cleanse when a baby or anyone with weak lungs is in the room.
Give it a few hours and open the windows for the smoke to clear before you let such people go into the room.
This is also useful when you first move into a new home, or when you are leaving your home to move somewhere else.
I think it’s just polite to clean your house thoroughly before someone else moves in. And that includes cleaning it of your energy!
Seasonal changes are also a good time to smoke cleanse. Clear out the summer energy to make room for autumn.
Especially if the previous season was bad for you!
Spiritual Times To Smoke Cleanse
Many people like to burn sage when they are meditating.
The smoke can help increase focus and concentration, so that makes sense.
It’s also a good idea to cleanse your tarot decks and crystals after buying them.
This removes stagnant energy from previous owners or from the spiritual dead spaces where they were manufactured.
Another great time to smoke cleanse is at the new moon. The new moon represents new beginnings.
What better time to push out old energy and bring in new energy?
Mundane Times To Burn Sage
There are, of course, totally normal and mundane times to burn sage.
When you are cleaning your home, you may like to burn sage. This helps to get rid of the messy, chaotic energy and bring in ordered, calming energy.
Another good time to smoke cleanse is when you bring home anything from the thrift store.
Buying second hand is great for the environment. However, those items definitely come with a weird energetic profile.
You have no idea who handled those items before you bought them.
It could have been a nice old lady, or it could have been a murderer.
Better to cleanse the objects in whatever way possible than to worry about evil energy around you!
Of course, the best time to burn sage is any time that you want!
These are just my suggestions for times when burning sage is most sorely needed.
The Magical Properties Of Sage
- Sage is sacred to Jupiter / Zeus
- Promotes wisdom and good luck
- Builds emotional strength
- Heals grief
- Grants wishes
- Used in magic for immortality, protection, and wisdom
- Associated with Jupiter and the Moon
- Associated with the Crone
- Its nature is masculine
- Sage’s element is Air or Earth
- Scent Profile: Woody, Herbaceous, Sweet
Health Issues To Consider Before Burning Sage
of course, whenever you are burning something, fires can happen.
Burn sage and incense in a fire safe container. Never leave burning sage unattended, and make sure the sage is put out completely when you’re finished with it.
People with asthma can be sensitive to smoke, and this can be very dangerous for them.
Also, animals do not handle smoke as well as humans do. They can be more sensitive to the chemicals.
Birds, especially, have very sensitive lungs. Burning sage or incense around birds can kill them.
Always leave windows open while smudging.
This is not only to prevent inhalation of smoke! This also helps the energy you are trying to remove to get out of the space you are cleaning.