Smudging (or smoke clearing) with palo santo and white sage has become increasingly popular due to social media exposure from the wellness and spirituality industry. Over time the commodification of spiritual practices for capital gain has become increasingly apparent, as spiritual kits decked with gorgeous crystals and aesthetically appealing smudge sticks have become all the rave.
When I first learned about energy cleansing I went out and bought my first few sticks of white sage and palo santo without a thought. I didn't even feel any connection to these spiritual tools, being a spiritual newbie I used them because I thought it was something I was supposed to do.
As time went on, I began to hear more and more talks about the lack of sustainability and the cultural appropriation of smoke clearing. As a result, I began to call into question my own personal intention for engaging in this practice. Besides, I desired to connect to spiritual practices that are tied to my ancestral lineages.
Why Is It Important To Consider Sustainable Methods of Energy Clearing?
The Overuse and Improper harvesting of White Sage and Palo Santo.
According to many reports, the increasing demand of white sage, has lead to over harvesting of this sacred plant driving it into possible extinction. What's more, to be said, is that many producers of white sage are growing the plant illegall for profit.
Revered as a holy plant it is prohibited to cut from the living parts of a palo santo tree. For this reason, palo santo sticks were traditionally, gathered from the naturally fallen parts of the tree. Now that this holy wood is in popular demand it is illegally cultivated and extracted for commercial use.
This demonstrates a lack of respect for the sacred use of these plants.
Smudging with harvested white sage or sticks of palo santo is the sacred practice of clearing away negativity from a person's thought or place. It is practiced by many native North Americans, and the use of smudging by a non-native is considered culturally appropriative. For many years in the united states, it was considered illegal for native Americans to exercise their right to engage in their traditional religious rites and ceremonies.
It is also important to note that the use of spiritual use of herbs or smoke cleansing is common in many indigenous cultures around the world. However, what I am calling into attention here is our intent behind using sacred plants and ensuring the sustainability of our earth. More often then not, we fail to hold the same level of reverence for these plants as our indigenous ancestors did when using these plants.
The short and simple answer to this issue of ethics and sustainability is to refrain from using white sage or palo santo. Another option is to protect the sacredness and sustainability of these holy plants by ensuring that you are purchasing them from a reliable and ethical source. In the meantime, I encourage you to consider trying other energy clearing practices. I've gathered a few here for you.
7 Sustainable Methods Of Energetic Cleansing
Creating sound has the ability to shift the vibrational frequency of any atmosphere thus making it a useful tool for recalibrating the energy of any physical space. There are many different instruments and spiritual tools you can use.
Some examples are: Recorded Music, Pre-recorded Sounds of nature, Singing, Tibetan bells or bowls, Drums, Rattles, Tuning Forks, Sound bowls.
Salt connects us to the ocean. It has the power to preserve, cleanse and heal. Salt is made up of positive and negatively charged particles making it a neutral substance. Thus, it has the abilities to absorb negative energies. A few common ways to use salt as an energetic cleansing tool is to take a salt bath, sprinkle it in four corners of every room, or soak your feet in saltwater.
Learn About Using Salt Water Cleansing Therapy Via Spiritual Science Research Foundation: Here
Water is an element of this Earth which symbolizes purification, our subconscious mind, intuition, renewal, and transformation. Water is cleansing. Simply taking a shower, bath, washing your hand's and face is a cleansing act. You can embed the use of water into your energy clearing ritual by setting an intention for what you want to release or cleanse from your space before taking a bath or shower or taking an herb-infused salt bath.
Learn How To Take A Spiritual Bath and Why You Need One From PrettyBossTV: Here
Through prayer, we commune with the Divine. The great thing about prayer is you do not need to use any tools to partake in this practice. The only thing you need is your voice. As you pray, you can ask for support with clearing away unwanted energies or whatever it is that makes you feel stuck. A word of prayer can be simply a few words, and you can rely on which deity that supports your belief system.
Like prayer, Meditation is an easily accessible tool for energy cleansing. The only tool you need to mediate is your mind. Through, setting an intention and visualization you can use the mind to tap into the loving spirit of this universe in order to clear away any unwanted energy within yourself.
A Self-cleansing Meditation Resource: A Chakra Clearing Meditation by MAry Freeth on Insight Timer
6| Herbal plants
If you feel a strong connection to smoke cleansing with plants, you can use other more sustainably sourced herbs or purchase from ethical businesses. But the great thing about plants is you can easily grow your own plants at home. Some suggestions of herbs you can use as an alternative are cinnamon sticks, eucalyptus leaves, bay leaves, rosemary, mugwort, juniper, vervain, and lavender.
Breathwork is a powerful breathing technique that brings your awareness to the movement of your breath to improve your emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. It also serves to circulate stagnant energy within the body. Breathwork clears out unwanted or dormant energy.
A Breathwork Resource: A Guided Breathwork Meditation With Erin Telford
The one thing we can learn here is to always question the intent behind why we are engaging in a particular practice. It is important that whatever spiritual practice we choose to engage in is done with love, reverence, and care with consideration for the sustainability of our Earth.
A few questions to ask yourself when deciphering whether or not to engage in a spiritual practice:
What is my intent for engaging in this practice?
What is the historical origin of this practice? What is the meaning and purpose behind it?
Am I honoring my ancestors or the ancestors of those who by engaging in this practice?
Do I have the ability to maintain reverence for the sacred as I engage in this practice?