Original Article - By Rachel Lapidos for Well + Good
Ever since I became more serious about my wellness game, I’ve incorporated more into my life than just avocados and workouts. Like, you can now find me lighting palo santo to chill out at the end of a day, tucking crystals under my pillow for different vibes and intentions, and imbibing adaptogens like it’s my job. (I mean, it is.)
But if there’s one wellness ritual I do that I’m a little unsure of, it’s saging, which is derived from the sacred Native American practice of smudging. “Saging is the act of wafting the smoke of white sage around yourself, your home, and your belongings to cleanse the energy,” explains Deborah Hanekamp, AKA Mama Medicine, a seeress and energy healer in New York City. “Smudging is the act of wafting the smoke of various dried herbs like palo santo, or even a cinnamon stick, around your home, yourself, and your belongings for various different spiritual reasons, like blessing, or protection.”
“It’s common to feel a sense of peace and light after saging yourself.” —Deborah Hanekamp
You’ll want to try saging when you or the space you’re in needs to be cleansed and emptied out of past energy. “Sage not only cleanses the spirit, but it also purifies the air around you,” she adds. “It’s common to feel a sense of peace and light after saging yourself.”
Saging is particularly good to do around times of change. “I think it’s great to do around the new and full moons as a ritual to check in with your own spirit,” recommends Hanekamp. “It’s also great to sage after major life transitions like moving into a new home, or a loss of some kind.” Just be sure to open all the windows while saging indoors to “let old, stagnant energy release,” she says. Back to what you actually say when saging, though—after asking two shamans, I’ve learned one main thing: You should definitely say something.
The prayers to say while saging, according to the pros
1. Be sure to set your intention. As I mentioned before, don’t just sage without a reason to. “When you’re working with sage, the most important things to consider are your attitude and your intention,” says Sameer Reddy, an intuitive coach and energy healer. Hanekamp agrees: “I think that personal intention is the most important thing,” she says. So the main thing is to approach the practice in a positive way. “I think of sage as a friend who is helping me out, so I approach it with respect and gratitude, versus an attitude of ‘using’ it,” says Reddy. “I also try to hold a clear intention before I begin working, so that its power is directed towards what I am aiming for—like, ‘Please clear this space of stagnant and negative energy.'” Rather than saying something out loud, Reddy notes that holding an intention is focusing your mind, body, and heart around a specific aim—which is the most powerful thing you can do in this scenario.
2. Focus on what’s blocking you. After you’ve set an intention, focus your mind on whatever you’re actually looking to cleanse from the space you’re working in. “If you’re feeling stuck and you are saging yourself with the intention of unblocking yourself, that is magic enough,” says Hanekamp. So pivot your mindset and if you can’t think of anything specific, set your intention, and focus on simply unblocking yourself.
3. Conduct a petition. “For those who are comfortable with reciting a prayer, you can recite your intention as more of a petition directed towards any deities or powers that you feel connected to,” recommends Reddy.
4. Use this example prayer. There are of course those who don’t follow a particular tradition. For those people, Reddy recommends reciting a general prayer. “You could simply say: ‘Sacred and holy ones, please clear this place of stagnant and negative energy,'” he says. “And after you are finished working, you can thank them and the sage for their help.” According to him, it’s a solid stand-in that’ll do the job just fine.
5. Don’t overthink it, either. Even though Reddy and Hanekamp do advise saying a prayer when saging your house, don’t worry about trying to come up with a perfect one. “If you can master setting an intention, you don’t need to worry about specific prayers or incantations,” says Reddy. “It can be a stumbling block for a lot of people. The best advice I can share is to not get caught up in your head—just try what has been suggested and pay attention to how the space feels afterward.” The good news? If there’s a palpable, positive difference, you’re all set. And the more you sage, the better you’ll be at the practice.