A couple years ago, when my ex moved out of our shared condo, I decided to keep living in it for a few months before moving into my new, more bachelorette-vibey place in the same Queen West area.
After he moved out, it was important for me to get rid of the old energy and to create a renewed space. However, now covering the full cost on a place in the heart of Toronto, I didn’t have the funds to get new furniture, or to splurge on a redesign.
A close friend told me I had to “smudge” my unit, and came over an hour later with her smudging bundle (a mix of dried sage — in her case, white and blue) to help me cleanse my space.
So what is smudging exactly?
According to Wikipedia: “The smudging ceremony is a custom of Native American and other indigenous cultures. For centuries many cultures have used smudging as a way to create a cleansing smoke bath that is used to purify the body, aura, energy, ceremonial/ritual space or any other space and personal articles.”
I’m a spiritual person, and many of the people I surround myself with are likeminded. Which is to say that, smudging is something most people in my network do on the regular. Whether it be done in the home or workplace, people do it for many different reasons, but often with the same goal in mind: to clear negative energy.
Vanessa Faria, a former Pilates teacher of mine (who’s also a soul therapist, spiritual guide and energy expert) wrote a piece on her blog about her experience helping clients transition out of their old homes and into their new ones by clearing the energetic pathways that are outdated.
When I interviewed her for this piece she told me, “My life has changed by sage-smudging my space because it allows me to clear the existing energy that may be lingering, offers me time to set intention for the space, and share my gratitude for all of the support I receive from my home.
“When I do this, I am showing my home that I appreciate all it does for me (shelter from the weather, a beautiful, inspiring place to work, a safe space to heal, renew and rest, places to gather, share laughs and play etc.) and allows that support to keep flourishing in my life.”
This perspective got me thinking of the many benefits of smudging — which is often done by lighting a bundle of sage, or Palo Santo, and moving the smoke around the space — and how doing something so simple can impact your state of mind and the energy that surrounds you.
Skeptics, you may be rolling your eyes at this process, but people have been smudging their living spaces for years.
I reached out to 10 Toronto professionals who subscribe to smudging to share why they do it, how they do it, and how doing so has changed their lives.
(Photo by Jessica Blaine Smith)
Wellness guru Amber Joliat smudges the movement studio she founded in Toronto’s west end, as well as her Parkdale loft. On. The. Daily. She says, “I smudge my space with clear intention, light smudge of choice (mine is Palo Santo), north, south, east and west, as a practice, and as a ritual. It’s a cleanser, a healer and heightens intuition.
I smudge my home each day to energetically clear the space and I smudge MISFITSTUDIO first thing in the morning, before and after each class and at the end of each day to invite in clarity, medicinal healing and positivity, ultimately to clear out and neutralize the energies throughout the day. For me, it helps to focus especially if the day is wild. I feel centred and grounded the instant I light my smudge, so attuned to the smell, I feel my heart rate slow. It’s like medicine. I use smudge at MISFITSTUDIO as a way of neutralizing and calming and quieting the massive energetic field the studio operates at and it smells amazing.
“I just started smudging my home a few months ago. I love the idea of clearing out the negative energy and making space for positive vibes to flow in. Especially as someone who hosts and has a lot of people in and out of my space, sometimes it can just feel ‘heavy’. I started smudging once a week and I remember looking around and honestly, my 550-square-foot condo just felt, bigger, more spacious, clearer. Sage was like the gateway for me. Then I added in using chimes and Palo Santo to raise the vibration. It’s a really nice weekly ritual to have and it makes my space feel pure and full of my own personal energy.”
Daniela Kelloway, president of ClutchPR
“I guess it came from my yoga practice but my good friend Britta is a very spiritual person and so I asked her to clear the space in the Junction before we moved things in. She gave a gorgeous reading that has roots with First Nations about the different energies taken from each direction (north, south, east and west). It was a beautiful small ceremony actually. Then before I move into any space I smudge it. I feel it clears the space of negative energy and allows for your own vibration to fill the space.”
Tessa Bain, business development
“So I’ve smudged my place for all different reasons and using different types of smudge depending on how I feel: Sage when I mean serious business, Palo Santo for new beginnings, love or romance or positive vibes, Grass is new to me and I’ve only used it a few times. I’ve smudged my bedroom before when I needed to bring in new sexual energy but mostly I always smudge my living room first and start with myself, typically the kitchen and the doors.
“If I’m intent on clearing out energy I will smudge every room and every corner. Most of the time I don’t do this and will light sage, smudge myself and around me and then let the smoke go where the energy needs it to be. Smudging clears energy, allows you to restart and for me it’s all about bringing in good vibes and attracting good things. I use it for protection when reading cards, etc. But the summary of it all is intention, attracting good energy, clearing yourself and protection and grounding.
Kayla Atayiu, mixologist
“I usually smudge before and after I have guests over to cleanse the space of any negative energies brought in by me or them. I used to use sage but when it burns it smells remarkably similar to marijuana and I have gotten complaints from neighbours. I burn cinnamon sticks to smudge now because it smells great and it has some amazing cleansing and protecting qualities.
“I've been Wiccan for over 10 years and have only recently gotten into smudging and it's honestly amazing. I wake up to a peaceful apartment filled with good vibes every day now. I also often smudge the bars that I work at to help give a positive work environment.”
Tara Noelle, photographer
“I have been smudging with my mother since I was young, it’s always been a part of our grounding/cleansing practice each seasonal change to release old, stagnant energy and lingering negative energy that has been hanging out in our home. I spend a lot of time in my home since my office is also located here as well and I find myself more sensitive to energies (good or bad). So I like to smudge more regularly to purify my space, myself and get grounded again by the four elements.”
Debra Sadowski, president and founder of rock-it promotions
"I grew up with an Indigenous family as my second family and burning sweetgrass was a ritual before any trip or significant event. We did it for luck and for making an offering (often with tobacco) and a blessing while 'washing' the person with the smoke.
"Smudging with sage came a little later when Jennifer (Podemski) gifted me an abalone shell. And since then I have always smudged whenever I move into a new home, office or when I feel there is a need to make a prayer or cleanse an energy that isn't positive. I travel with white sage and have one in my office drawer for anybody to use.
"At a big work event last year out of town, I forgot to bring it with me and had to send one of my staff out to find some on the road. It was a smudging emergency!"
Deanne Wilder, influencer
“After feeling sluggish and negative for a while, I wanted to do whatever it took to turn my frown upside down, so I decided to it was time to buy myself sage. I’ve heard so many great things about smudging and couldn’t wait to start to clear the energy and start anew. After doing some research, I learned there was a process to it, so I took those tips and applied them to my way of smudging.
“I open the front and back doors (or windows if you do not have a back door), start meditation music (which you can find on YouTube), dim the lights, meditate for at least a minute, and think about letting the negative energy go and bring in the positive. I use a feather to fan the sacred smoke on myself from head to toe, then I make my way around the house fanning the smoke on my walls, furniture, etc. from one end to the other.
“I end my smudging at the door to make sure I let out all the bad energy from my home. After I cleanse myself and space, I feel joyful, peace, and clear-minded. It’s something I like to do on a weekly basis, or when I’m feeling down.”
Jessica Blaine Smith, photographer
“I regularly smudge my home and myself with Palo Santo as a way to clear the energy. When I am about to embark on a new project or a deal with a difficult client, I smudge the space and myself. This ritual helps to clear the energy and allow me to put my best intentions into the task.
“Smudging is a ridiculously easy way to change your mood or frame of mind. It's peaceful and calming and really allows you to get grounded and centered. I am currently travelling in the beautiful state of Oaxaca in Mexico. Smudging was one of the first things that I did when we arrived in our apartment here. It was my way to make the space ours so that we can fill it with our own good energy and intentions.”
Julie D’Uva, director at ASC Public Relations
“My best friend is into smudging rituals and gave me a little bundle of sage, so I'm new to it. On New Year's Day I lit it up and smudged the corners of my living room and from toe to head on myself. I googled what to say and found something simple: “Air, fire, water, earth. Cleanse, dismiss, dispel.” I wanted to clear any negativity that was lingering and start 2018 with clear intentions. I felt great after and plan to do it weekly.”