Many of us have developed a heightened appreciation of the great outdoors this past year. This reconnection with nature comes during a time when the environment faces an unparalleled climate crisis with the rapid escalation of fossil fuels, pollution growth, plastic waste and CO2 emissions. Activities that allow us to cultivate mindfulness with Mother Earth and encourage us to contemplate how we are inextricably connected to nature are essential.
There is an age-old practice called “smudging” used for thousands of years as a ceremonial experience to help clear energy. Many cultures create a smudging ritual to burn natural elements such as sage and Palo Santo wood as an invitation toward harmony and balance. This endeavor of nurturing mind, body and spirit compels me to participate in this ritual, which has become a captivating creative process, one that may support health and allow a greater connection with nature.
I thought I’d share the steps and benefits of making a smudging stick so you can try this ancient practice yourself:
What you’ll need:
- Twine made from hemp
- Sustainably harvested Palo Santo wood (available online). Palo Santo wood comes from the dry forests of Ecuador and Peru. It belongs to the same family that gives us the essential oils of frankincense and myrrh. When burned, it emits sweet notes of pine and lemon and helps relieve stress, headaches and anxiety when inhaled.
- Selenite sticks (available online) are a pristinely-white mineral known as gypsum. Its silky white appearance cleanses the body of any negative energy. The mineral selenite is named after the ancient Greek Goddess of the Moon Selene. Holding this healing stone in an evening while smudging invites moon energy allowing us to connect with a deeper aspect of ourselves.
- Organic sage. In springtime, hiking trails in the desert abound with sage. One hike with a slightly higher elevation where you can find plentiful of sage is Horsethief Creek up Hwy 74. Cut small amounts from each bush so as not to over-harvest; refrigerate the sage until ready to create a stick.
How to craft your stick:
- Tie a bundle of sage with twine at the base with a secure knot. Continue wrapping the sage with twine from base to top and back down to the base. Use the remnants from the first knot to tie another knot.
- Take the Palo Santo wood, selenite and the sage bundle and tie all three together. You can make other accentuations and may even want to burn words of affirmation into the wood for an intention of positivity.
How to smudge with your stick:
- Hang the stick upside down in a cool, dry place for a week. Remove the selenite and feel its smoothness and radiant light. Light one end of the sage and the wood stick over a fire-proof bowl and let it burn for a few seconds before putting out the flame. Blow on the embers and set an intention as the stick cleanses your space. Mindfully banish negativity while welcoming peace and clarity!
Jennifer Di Francesco is a wellness explorer and desert adventurist and can be reached at [email protected].