“The practice of smudging, or purifying a room with the smoke of sacred herbs, can help clear negative energy from a space. And the apparent benefits are steeped in science—when burned, sage and other herbs release negative ions, which research has linked to a more positive mood.” – Remnants of Magic
As we transition into chilly autumn, some of you may be clearing out the garden while others of you may be smack in the middle of prime picking season. Wherever you are at with your garden, be it big or small, it can lend itself to this nature-inspired craft: the herbal smoke cleansing stick! Do you have any these lying around the house? Have you ever smelled one after it has just been lit? I was gifted one by a sweet friend four years ago and finally used it up this spring. They seriously last forever, and they make the most lovely little gifts.
Traditionally, smoke cleansers are been made with white sage, an earthy herb that smells wonderful when dried into bundles and burnt. When Andrew and I were in last in LA, we stopped at a little coffee shop in the hills and passed big barrels of white silvery sage bundles for sale. I bought some and asked the man at the counter how to make them, and he said rather matter of factly, to gather the herbs and tie them up. Well, yeah. I felt a bit silly for asking after having received such a straight forward answer, but appreciative nevertheless.
While we don’t have heaps of white sage growing in our garden, we do have enough to dry for autumn soups and stews. What we do have on hand this year is lot of rosemary and lemon balm, so that’s where I started. I also have quite a bit of dried lavender on hand from other projects I’ve done, so those got added too. The point is: you can dry pretty much any woody-stemmed herb to make a dried herbal bundle for your home. Follow the step by step below and have fun!
Step 1: Grow and gather woody-stemmed herbs. Sage, rosemary, thyme, lavender, tarragon, and marjoram are wonderful for this, as are they for everything else in the kitchen and smell divine.
Step 2: Snip your herbs to size, and while they are at their freshest, bundle them together, leaving the largest leaves or branches on the outside. I put the lemon thyme and lavender in the middle, along with the lavender stems which smell good as well, and put the rosemary around all of those herbs to secure the bundle.
Step 3: Wrap well with natural baker’s twine or another kind of natural string, like jute. You’ll want a clean burn, so no synthetic fibers for this craft. There is no rhyme or rhythm for the wrapping, and you can even get fancy with it if you want to.
Step 4: Once wrapped, leave your bundle somewhere to dry for at least two weeks before lighting.
Step 5: When two weeks are up, your smoke cleansing bundle should be good to go and very dry. Light the end of the stick and allow it to burn for a few seconds before blowing out the match. Every time you blow softly on the herbs it should give off more aromatic smoke. Once happy with the smell and are done with your ritual, stamp out the burnt ends of the smudge and store somewhere safe.
Pretty simple, right? If you know someone who is growing lots of herbs this summer, invite them over and have a craft day! This is also a great nature-based craft to do with kids because little hands are wonderful for gathering and bundling. And on another note, I am completely ready for autumn to arrive. I know I say it every year around this time, and I also know how annoying those people can be who tout autumn before it officially start, but I don’t care. I am one of those people, those are my people, and I am ready for all things cozy to roll in!