Burning sage, or “smudging,” is a practice that dates back to ancient indigenous peoples who were looking to remove negative energy from their lives. But does it work, and is there a dark side to burning sage?
Read on to learn more.
Clearing Negative Energy With Sage
Sage is an aromatic herb famous in America for its savory flavor. But long before it was used in Thanksgiving meals, sage was used for medicinal cures in Egypt, Rome, and Greece. Sage is known for its antioxidant properties and for reducing inflammation.
Burning sage is more controversial, however, as it’s hard to measure whether it can successfully purify people and places. When dried sage is burned, the smoke is pulled with the hands toward a person, ‘cleansing’ their body and the space around them. Many people have anecdotally found this purification to be relaxing and peaceful. Proving it by scientific study has been a harder task.
Benefits of Burning Sage
A research project from the University of Mississippi contributed to the belief that burning sage might be healthy, whether or not it cleanses negative energy from the air. An older study showed sage smoke removed as much as 94% of bacteria in the air. Maybe the anecdotal air purification is a real thing!
The pleasant aromatherapy of burning sage is believed to help with stress reduction, engaging the senses and relaxing the mind. Many scientists believe that the aroma of burning sage can bring health benefits regardless of its smudging effects.
The Downside of Burning Sage
There is a dark history to the practice of smudging, where ancient cultures were accused of witchcraft and taking advantage of the sage harvest. Some varieties of sage are illegally harvested due to being endangered. If you decide to take up sage burning, be sure to buy from reputable sources, and respect the ancient cultures that originally brought us this practice.