Sage for Smudging and Wellness by Dr. Christie Smirl
Sage (Salvia apiana) is a perennial shrub that is native to the southwestern United Sates and northwestern Mexico. Sage belongs to the mint family with rosemary, oregano, lavendar, thyme and basil. Native Americans call sage qaashil in Luiseno, shihtaay or palhtaay in Kumeyaay , kasilile in Tongva, we’wey in Chumash, qas’ily in Chahuilla, shaliai in Paipai and Ihattay in Cochimi.
The leaves have oils and resins that are aromatic when rubbed. Active chemical compounds of sage include: 1,8-cineole, Camphor, Borneol, Bornyl acetate, Camphene, Alpha- and beta-thujone, Linalool, Alpha- and beta-caryophyllene, Alpha-humulene, Alpha- and beta-pinene, Viridiflorol, Pimaradiene, Salvianolic acid, Rosmarinic acid, Carnosolic acid, Ursolic acid. The leaves can be used to make team oils or a culinary spice. The seed can be used to make pinole, a food staple. The plants are also friendly to bees, hawk moths and hummingbirds especially when the flowers bloom in spring.
Sage has one of the longest histories of use of any culinary or medicinal herb. Ancient Egyptians used sage as a fertility drug. In the first century C.E. Greek physician Dioscorides reported that the decoction of sage stopped bleeding of wounds and cleaned ulcers and sores. Sage has been used by herbalists externally to treat pain, inflammation, sprains, swelling, ulcers, and bleeding, Alzheimers disease. Sage leaves has a long history of treating sore throats and coughs as a gargle. Sage has an anti-spasmodic action which reduces tension in smooth muscle, and it can be used in a steam inhalation for asthma attacks. Sage was officially listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1840 to 1900. Modern studies show that sage is an antibacterial against Staphyloccoccus aureas, Bacillus species, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Salmonella species and Candida brassicae.
Sage has been used by Native Americans and healers for thousands of years to dispel negative energies, cleanse, purify and protect. With Black-Foot Cherokee in my heritage, I have used sage for for blessings and now find it as an integral part of my everyday practices. Sage is widely used by spiritualists and healers for blessing ceremonies, health, prosperity and protection. The blessing ceremony is performed for many reasons.
- When you move into a new living space
- When you move into a new office
- Cleansing a room, building, property, object or person
- Before spiritual practices
- Before and after guests are in your home
- Before meditation
- After an argument or any emotional upset
- During or after an illness
- After returning from a crowd
How to use sage for Smudging
Sage smudging is a blessing ritual where leaves of the sage plant are burned and the smoke is directed into areas in need of clearing or protection. The smoke clears negative energy and creates protection.
- Set an intention for your blessing ceremony.
- Call angels and or ancestors to assist. My personal favorite is Arch Angle Michael for protection, Jesus for love and support, Dhanvantari for physical healing and Ganesha for removal of obstacles. However, this is a personal preference that depends on your individual faith and is not a requirement.
- Use a prayer or mantra of your choice, such as
- May this blessing ritual bring peace, grace and protection.
- May this blessing ritual release all negative energies and restore balance and harmony.
- Chant the Mahamrtyunjaya mantra for protection.
- Repeat Ma Ra Na Tha to increase divine presence of the Lord.
- There are unlimited prayers that can be used.
- Gently waft the smoke from the floor up to the ceiling, and into every corner, window, door way, closet, and region. Do each room or area in the above fashion. Keep windows and doors closed. Start the farthest back room or region of the house.
- Obtain sage leaves or sage bundles.
- Have a fire proof bowl, pot or shell.
- Light the sage leaves or bundle and allow it to burn actively for a few moments in the fire proof bowl. Normally the burn process will end naturally, but sometimes you have to blow it out for safety. Often times the sage will need to be reignited multiple times to complete the process.
- Allow the smoke to rise. Use a feather or hand held fan to waft the smoke.
- Close all windows and doors.
- Start in room in the farthest rear of the home and smudge every corner, window, closet, cupboard and under furniture.
- Upon completing each room the house, exit through the front door and close the front door. Allow the smoke to work for at least 15 minutes. Once you are ready to return, open the doors and windows of the house. Allow everything to air out.
- Afterward, you may also burn Frankincense resin, sweet grass, mist essential oils, play peaceful music or chant prayers for peace to increase the positive vibrations.
Blessing a person or animal
- Gently waft the smoke from feet to overhead, front, back, sides, under arms and between legs.
Blessing an object
- Object cleansing and blessing can be done on crystals, jewelry, prayer beads, or anything else that you want to cleanse.
- Waft sage smoke around the object until you feel the cleansing is complete. Remember to repeat your intention, prayer or mantra.
- Keep you hair and loose clothing away from the ember.
- Do not blow on or fan the sage leaves or bundle or it may re-ignite or spread embers. Only fan the smoke which has risen. The release of energy comes from the smoke, not flames.
- Do not ingest sage unless you are well educated or directed by a knowledgeable professional or healer.
- Web MD states sage is SAFE in amounts typically used in foods. It SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin in medicinal amounts short-term (up to 4 months).
However, sage is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in high doses or for a long time. Some species of sage, such as common sage (Salvia officinalis), contain a chemical called thujone. Thujone can be poisonous if ingested in high doses causing seizures and damage to the liver and nervous systems.
- Ingesting sage during pregnancy is LIKELY UNSAFE because of the possibility of consuming thujone, a chemical found in some sage. Thujone can bring on a woman’s menstrual period, and this could cause a miscarriage. Avoid sage if you are breast-feeding, too. There is some evidence that thujone might reduce the mother’s milk supply.
- Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Spanish sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia) might have the same effects as the female hormone estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use Spanish sage.
- High blood pressure, low blood pressure: Spanish sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia) might increase blood pressure in some people with high blood pressure, while common sage (Salvia officinalis) might lower blood pressure in people with blood pressure that is already low. Be sure to monitor your blood pressure.
- Seizure disorders: One species of sage (Salvia officinalis) contains significant amounts of thujone, a chemical that can trigger seizures. If you have a seizure disorder, don’t ingest sage in amounts higher than those typically found in food.
Dr. Christie Smirl has over 25 years of medical experience. She completed a Doctorate of Ayurvedic Medicine from American University of Complimentary Medicine, Nurse Practitioner from Loma Linda University, Master of Science, E-RYT 500 Yoga Teacher Trainer YACEP, Reiki Master/Teacher, Tantric Energy Healer and Musician.
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