Before we go on about what to smudge and how to incorporate it into your rituals of self care, let's quickly get into what smudging actually is, when, why, and how to use it.
Smudging is cleansing or purification through smoke.
We utilize smudging either in specific ritual and sacred ceremony or for specific intentions. Plants are chosen based on specific need, for example, cleansing a space, presenting an offering. or attracting a favor.
Many indigenous cultures all over the world use a form of smudging or smoke cleansing in spiritual ceremonies like baptisms, funerals, and housewarmings. Different native peoples have their own sacred herbs/plants according to their region and cultures.
White sage. the plant almost appropriated into extinction, is one of four sacred herbs of the first nation tribes. The others are tobacco, sweet grass, and cedar. Each of these represent one of the four sacred directions and smoke from any of them can be considered an offering to the great spirit (the ether) that surrounds us in all directions.
[NOTE: If your are not part of a first nation tribe, you should not be using their sacred herbs unless they are present and leading the ritual you are practicing. If you are a practitioner, herbalist or otherwise, and your ancestors are not native/indigenous to the lands you inhabit nor were they forced here during the Atlantic Slave Trade, decolonize your practice and avoid appropriating cultures or taking resources (like sacred herbs) from the people whose land you currently inhabit]
Smudging is a communication between us and the ether and the energy therein. The herbs are the message and different plants and combinations of plants can communicate a variety of messages. Plants are grown, harvested, dried, and worked into sticks and used for a many a magical and medicinal purpose.
The ashes, believed to be the remnants of energy (good, bad, or otherwise) burned out of the ether, are collected and disposed according to ritual, cultural traditions and practice.
There are a wealth of plants, still sacred as all living things are, that belong to all of us. If we are willing to do our homework as practitioners, there are plenty of plants, woods and resins perfectly matched to our intention. Before beginning to smudge, ask yourself what you are trying to manifest. Then seek out an ideal smudging match.
Choose herbs that are local, accessible, and affordable or grow your own. Start with plants that are easy to find and native to your region...
If you'd like to try some of the herbs mentioned here, find some non appropriative sticks and flower bundles in the notions + potions section of the shop.