Smudging – North America

Display of sages used in smudging, blessing, cleansing

Smudging and Native Tribes

Many Native American tribes have used smudging as a traditional means of bringing about balance to their environment such as ridding the home of illness, loss, even spirits that are unwelcome to name a few. In many cultures outside of North America, there are similar practices using herbs or other material to fend off or appease spirits; for this article we will focus on the ones used in North America.

Guide to Smudging

A successful smudge requires the following steps. This article will guide you in those steps, as well as what equipment and elements, and in which order.

Common elements used throughout North America include Sweet Grass, Sage, Cedar and Tobacco. The belief is these plants, when picked and used, give their power. Always seek permission to burn prior to use.

Many native cultures believe that Sweet Grass is the hair of Mother Earth which is why they braid it. Sweet grass is for purification of the spirit, for healing or calming, as it attracts Spirits that are considered good once a smudging is complete .

Sage, another commonly used material in smudging has restorative properties. Sage is known to remove negative energy, remove troubled thoughts, as well as cleanse homes and items that are sacred.

Tobacco is, for many natives, a very sacred plant, used as an offering before going into a ceremony. It composes the mind and spirits. It is used as incense (not rolled into a cigarette) and can be used to ward off illnesses. For smudging, if no plant is available, use some form of unrolled tobacco or remove from a cigarette/tin.

A home or a person can be purified with cedar. Further, like Sage, Cedar, can also help in healing and burning a mixture of tobacco and cedar announces to the Spirits, an offering is being made. In addition Cedar provides protection as it removes evil/bad spirits.

Earth, Wind, Fire and Water

Each item used in a smudging or blessing should represent the four elements of Water, Fire, Earth, and Wind/Air. Use Shells or bowls during smudging to contain the ash of burning plants, as well as, representing the element Water. Sand, dirt, or unlit herbs represent Earth. Igniting the herbs represents Fire meanwhile the smoke and fanning of the smoke is Wind/Air.

Belief in the Process is Key

Keep in mind, this ceremony will not be useful, or effective, if those involved do not strongly believe in the process and effect of the smudging /purification. This is not a game.

Steps to a Successful Smudging

The person or persons involved in the smudging ceremony and all the items used must purified before beginning.

This is how:
1. Ensure that there is good ventilation and at least one window or door is open slightly.
a. The smoke will carry the negative/evil spirit out if there is a pathway for it.
b. Too much smoke can be harmful to animals and the people involved.
2. Calm and clear the mind of all negative fears. Ask for protection and guidance.
3. Light a small amount of sage/tobacco/cedar in shell or bowl for use in purification blessing of items and people.
4. Bless/purify the items; give thanks to the plant energy and ask that they will remove pure during the smudging.
5. Everyone involved in the smudging/purification ceremony should, with their hands or feather, bring the smoke over and around them completely, asking for protection and guidance from all negativity/evil spirits or elements.
6. The smudging can begin.

Depending on your desired effect, light a braid of Sweet grass, and/or a blend of Sage, Tobacco (unrolled), and Cedar. Using a blessed feather(s) or fan increases the amount of smoke that is moving through the air in a direction, though ones hand works fine.

Start by blessing/purifying each room slowly walking clockwise, slowly fanning the burning herbs, ensuring all areas have received smoke.

Interested in actually ghost hunting? Check out our article: Ghost Hunting Equipment.

For other related articles check out:

Have a story of your own? Have questions regarding this story? Visit our page at or join our group at