How To Burn Sage

In this post we learn how to burn sage, what sage symbolizes, how to smudge using sage and more.

how to burn sage
Reading Time: 6 minutes

When we talk about burning sage it opens up a whole host of other questions. Hopefully this article will bring a little clarity. No matter what your view is on sage, the fact remains it has been used for centuries right back to the Egyptian people and Romans[1].

The Egyptians and Romans used sage for medicinal purposes, mainly for digestion issues, memory problems and sore throats. Sage is still used for medicinal purposes today in many cultures.

There is a lot of debate over sage as there is more than 700 species, many people believe the species is irrelevant and we can use any sage for any purpose. However certain sage has it’s own specific purpose.

We can’t talk about sage without mentioning the Native Americans, as they were the first people on record to be found using sage for rituals and ceremonies[2].

Native Americans use white sage, even today among indigenous people white sage is considered sacred. They believe white sage clears negative energy from people and places and keeps bad spirits away.

We’re going to be taking a closer look at sage and it’s spiritual uses in today’s world.


Sage symbolises health, domestic virtue, wisdom and immortality. It is so easy to understand why sage symbolises all these traits. Sage has many health benefits, so is used in cooking all across the globe in hope it will aid medical ailments. People think with all the benefits of eating sage then we will be immortal as sage can have health benefits for many parts of the body.


Most spiritual people will tell you that you have to use white sage for spiritual smudging, and I would agree. This is the sage used traditionally by the Native Americans, it is sacred to them, and it grows naturally in abundance on their land and the surrounding land. Green sage has many useful purposes too, however smudging is not one of them.


Cleansing (also known as smudging) your house with sage is pretty straightforward, however if you live in a country where white sage is hard to come by, then the hardest part is actually getting the white sage. Thanks to the internet it has become easier to obtain, however if you are buying online, make sure it’s a reputable seller.

We use bunches of sage tied together called smudge sticks. If you buy your sage loose, then you can tie it into bunches yourself, using natural twine or coloured cotton.

A big mistake people make when they are smudging is they leave their windows closed. Where will all the negative energy go if the windows aren’t open, it will just keep circulating around your space. So be sure to open all of your windows before you start.

Some people have rituals which they adhere to, others just go straight in. I like to meditate before I smudge, to get into the right frame of mind. This also allows you to think about your intention (why you are smudging and what you expect the result to be, or what you want from the smudging)

When you are smudging you should have your smudge stick, something to light it with, something to catch the ash on, and preferably a feather from a bird such as an eagle (some people use the feathers from birds as the birds get closest to heaven) You can buy feathers online, we use the feather to spread the smoke around and direct it. It’s not good to blow on the smudge stick, as any negative energy you might have, will be put into the smoke.

Also if you are becoming more spiritual, and want to do things properly, I suggest you buy an abalone shell, this will be used to catch the ash in, but it will also be used to represent the water element. It will complete the synergistic loop, The unlit sage representing earth, the lit sage representing fire, the smoke representing air and of course the abalone shell representing water.

When you’re ready to begin, open all the windows, go to the corner of the room which is the furthest away from the front door, if you have an upstairs, start upstairs first and still the furthest corner from your front door. Light your sage, sometimes it doesn’t light first time and you have to try until it stays lit. It will begin to smoke. At this point think about your intention, some people say it out loud, while others just think it.

It’s believed the smoke binds itself to the negative energy or spirits and the smoke carries all the negative energy away and it carries our intentions to the universe.

Choose if you want to speak out loud or just think about your intention, then get your feather and start pushing the smoke into the corner of the room, go around the whole room and try to push the smoke towards the window, go into the next room and repeat, then do the hallway and try to push all the smoke towards your front or back door, open the door and push all the smoke out with your feather.


What you say or what intention to set all depends on the reason you are burning sage. People burn sage for many different reasons and we’ll take a look at some of the reasons here

  • When you move into a new home
  • When there has been an argument in the home
  • If someone new has come to live in the house
  • If you have some negative spiritual activity

When you move into a new home, you don’t always know the previous owners, how they lived or their lifestyle or history. So it’s a good idea to smudge just to get rid of the previous owners energy. In this case you could say – Please remove all the energy from this home, fill it with positive energy and protect us against anything negative.

If you have had an argument in the home, or someone else has argued, you could say – Please remove all the bad energy and replace it with fresh clean energy and love, bring peace and calmness upon this household and remove all bad feelings and intentions between the people who live here.

If someone new has come to live in your house, you could say – Please remove all negative energy from this person and their belongings, allow them and their belongings to smothered in the positive energy already flowing around this home.

If you have experienced negative spirit activity, then you could say – Please help this spirit find peace and remove them from my home, let them find the answers they seek to move on in the spirit world. Let this spirit leave and all the negative energy they carry or are surrounded by leave too. Fill my home with positive energy, peace and love.


As we touched on lighting sage earlier, and mentioned you have to try two or three times to successfully light it, we’re now going to look more in depth at actually burning sage.

Sometimes it can be difficult to light, this is often due to the smudge stick being tied to tight, and no oxygen being allowed to circulate. You can loosen the twine or cotton, and tie it up looser, this will allow the oxygen to travel around in the stick and help keep it lit.

Sometimes we don’t even need to open it up, you could try putting the smudge stick on a hard surface, then pushing down on it with your hands, this sometimes helps spread it out a little and will allow the oxygen to travel through it.

Once the sage is alight, it should start smoking, it burns for a long time and can totally burn out. The whole time the sage is burning, it’s promoting spiritual health and cleansing. Not only that but it provides a natural aroma which is better than using spray cans of air freshner.


There are many things we can use sage for in spirituality. Most people fill their mop buckets with hot water and bleach, not me. In my mop bucket I fill it with hot water, then add a full lemon cut into slices, a few drops of florida water and I put sage directly in their too, then add himalayan salt. Sometimes if I want a deep spiritual cleanse then I make up some van-van oil.

Sage has a lovely smell, and we know it is also used for cleansing. We can fill a pan with water, add in our sage and bring it to the boil, turn the heat to low and let the aroma engulf your space.

There are so many uses for sage in both medicinal and spirituality. Play around with it, make tea, add it to your bath water. We learn through experience, and if our ancestors hadn’t played around with herbs then we would never have found out their healing and spiritual properties.

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Thanks for reading!


1: Greer, John Michael (2017). The Encyclopedia of Natural Magic (First ed.). Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications. p. 185. ISBN 9780738706740.

2: Watson, S. (2019). Are There Health Benefits from Burning Sage? WebMD Health News. May 21, 2019. Fetched from on May 11, 2022.