Sage incense is the epitome of ancient wisdom. Used for thousands of years for cleansing and sanctification, this herb has deep roots in the past. But in this article, our experts reveal how sage incense benefits can be as useful today as they were centuries ago.
Burning white sage bundles, or ‘smudge sticks’ is synonymous with Native American culture. This early variety of sage incense formed the basis of many sacred ceremonies and rituals in pre-European America, primarily because of its cleansing and protective properties.
However, despite its roots in Native American culture, it has also found prominence in the modern West. Today, many people use it to purify their homes and sanctify their space. But is there more to this ancient herb?
Read on to find out why sage incense is (justifiably) so popular, as well as some of its hidden abilities that many don’t know about.
What is Sage Incense?
There are several varieties of sage incense, the most common being white sage (salvia apiana). White sage has a distinctly dense, leafy structure that allows it to burn slowly and evenly, making it perfect for use as incense. This unique structure produces a lot of smoke which makes it ideal for purifying rooms and spaces, often called ‘smudging’.
White sage grows primarily in arid regions, such as deserts and mountains. This made it readily available to some – but not all – Native American tribes, such as the Lakota.
These ancient indigenous tribes burned sage incense as a means of cleansing negative energy, connecting with the spiritual realms, sanctifying sacred spaces, and much more.
There are also other types of sage incense, which include: common sage, black sage, lavender sage, and blue sage, each with its own benefits.
What Does Sage Incense Smell Like?
Sage has a powerfully herbal aroma with a cooling element. This owes to sage being a member of the mint family. So, similarly to its mint cousins, it has sharp, cleansing notes.
The scent of burnt sage creates a warm, welcoming environment. However, if the sage is old it could create a bitter smell when burned so always ensure your sage is fresh.
How to Use a Smudge Stick (Sage Incense)
Smudging is the act of burning a bundle of sage incense and directing the smoke to a space that requires cleansing. The smoke purifies the space by attaching itself to negative energy and encouraging it to dissipate, leaving the area with a positive atmosphere.
The smudge stick will leave the area feeling calm and pure, with a distinctly herbal aroma.
This is the only type of incense that we choose to burn with the windows closed. This is because we get the full benefit of the sacred smoke. However, to avoid the scent and smoke becoming too thick, it is best to seek ventilation once you have completed the ritual.
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to light a smudge stick.
- Set your intentions
It is important to have a clear intention in your mind before beginning the ritual. Try meditating on this intention or saying an affirmation. A great affirmation for smudging is “I release the negativity from my life, and embrace positivity.”
- Light your smudge stick
Using a match or lighter ignite the tip. Once it has burned for a couple of seconds, blow out any flames to leave the bundle smoking,
- Move around
Take your smudge stick around the area you want to purify. Be sure to get into the corners of the room for the best results.
Using a heatproof burner or bowl, push the burning sage into the bottom to smother the flames. DO NOT put it in water if you want to use your smudge stick again as it will be ruined.
Never leave burning incense unattended.
Our Favorite Benefits of Sage Incense
Forges Deep Spiritual Connections
The amount of Thujone found in sage is not enough to induce powerful visions, although it does lead to improved intuition and connection. The increased levels of spiritual and emotional perception provided by sage incense are a testament to why healers have long used it during spiritual ceremonies and moments of reflection.
Cleanses Negative Energy
Through smudging practices, sage has long been the go-to for cleansing spaces of negative or dark energies, which stems from the rituals of some Native American tribes.
However, it can also be used to cleanse yourself of negativity and replace it with vibrant positivity. Simply follow the steps we described above, however instead of channeling the smoke through the room, keep the stick at arm’s length and allow the smoke to wash over you. Start at your feet and slowly work up to your head, always maintaining a safe distance from the lit incense.
Make sure you set your intention beforehand and repeat your affirmations (either aloud or in your mind) throughout the process.
Improves Brain Function
Some of these studies showed the potential for sage to help reduce the likelihood of developing neurological issues in later life. This is a huge breakthrough and yet another example of ancient wisdom backed up by modern science.
The name Salvia (the genus of Sage) comes from the Latin word salvēre, meaning ‘to heal’. Multiple studies have found that, as well as improved cognitive abilities, sage has anti-inflammatory properties and can protect our bodies from oxidative stress. A reduction in oxidative stress can help prevent many degenerative diseases later in life.
Sage was a widely-used tool in ancient civilizations. Used for cleansing and healing, it was also burned to uplift spirits. In Mexican traditional medicine, Sage is commonly used for reducing stress and anxiety, as well as depression.
If you are feeling a little pent-up or anxious, try meditating or practicing yoga whilst burning sage incense.
Promotes a Restful Sleep
Sage has been shown to improve the duration and quality of sleep. This is perfect for people who struggle to get some shut-eye at night.
Burning sage incense before bedtime is a great way to ensure you drift off peacefully and stay asleep until morning. However, it is important to ensure you do not fall asleep until the incense has been safely extinguished.
The Bottom Line
Sage is well-known for its cleansing properties. And it’s not difficult to see why. However, there is so much more to this aromatic herb than just dispelling bad energy. It has been proven time and again by science that sage incense has many powerful benefits. So next time you need a great all-around incense, reach for the sage and enjoy.