Why smudging is not a space clearing technique

Smudge stick for smudging

What is smudging?

Smudging is a purification practice that comes from indigenous American Indian traditions. It involves lighting a smudge stick made of dried herbs (usually sage or cedar) and wafting the smoke around. The aroma and the upward motion of smoke is believed to energetically cleanse a person or space. It’s inexpensive and anyone can do it. No special skill is required.

However, it is not a space clearing technique, and how it ever came to regarded as one is a complete mystery to me.

Why smudging doesn’t clear energies

When I first started developing space clearing back in the 1970s and 80s, I meticulously researched the effectiveness of hundreds of different types of joss sticks, resin incenses and smudge sticks. I discovered that some aromas can temporarily lift the energy of a space, and the best I found was a very pure resin incense called Basilica, made by the monks of Prinknash Abbey in England. It is helpful for lifting dense stagnant energies in a cluttered home to make it easier to do space clearing.

However, aromas of any kind do not bring about permanent change. As soon as the incense smoke disappears from the air, any uplifting effect is lost. The professional space clearing practitioners I train have never used smudge sticks and no longer use incense of any kind.

Why smudging and space clearing don’t mix

If you add smudging to the space clearing ceremony I wrote about in my first book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, or the updated version of the ceremony in the new space clearing book I am writing at the moment, it will have the opposite effect to the one intended. It is not compatible with the ceremony and will actually drag the energies of a space down rather than lifting them up. I never burn smudge sticks in my own home or any other enclosed space.

Do smudge sticks have any use at all?

Well, not to me, they don’t, and certainly not for space clearing. But if you happen to like the smell and find it helpful to use them in other types of rituals, that’s entirely up to you.

Related article
Some facts about incense that you may not know

Other space clearing myths
Why singing bowls are not designed to do space clearing
Space clearing and salt

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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2009, updated 2018

Posted in Space clearing myths | Read 8 comments...»

Digital detox in Bali

Nyepi in Bali

Imagine a country where there is an entire day each year when everyone turns off their tech and spends 24 hours in silence. Time to go inside, take stock of life, and contemplate the year ahead.

Well, there is a place where this happens. It’s not an entire country, but it is an entire island of four million people. The day is called Nyepi and it takes place on the Hindu island of Bali in Indonesia. It’s the first day of the Balinese New Year according to their Saka lunar calendar, and during the 20 years I lived there, it was absolutely my most favourite day of the year.

Nyepi preparations

The Balinese celebrate New Year’s Eve on December 31 in a similar way to the rest of the world (drinking, merriment, partying, and so on). But for hundreds of years, they have also observed a spiritual New Year during the new moon in March.

In the days before Nyepi, massive purification ceremonies are conducted in all parts of the island and in some villages, giant papier mâché demons called ogoh-ogoh are created. On the eve of Nyepi, there are fabulous parades of these demons through the streets carried on bamboo frames by young men, accompanied by crashing cymbals and mobile xylophone-like gamelan orchestras playing at full volume. The idea is to make as much noise as possible, and it’s an unforgettable audio-visual experience.

At midnight, the ogoh-ogoh effigies are set down at crossroads, together with copious offerings to the bhuta kala (low or angry spirits) they represent. After a grand ceremony, the ogoh-ogoh are set on fire. The Balinese understand that crossroads are intersections for energy as well as traffic, and they believe that the reason accidents so commonly happen at crossroads is because of the angry spirits which congregate there. By making these offerings and setting fire to the effigies, their intention is to placate the spirits and purify these places. Many people stay up throughout the night making as much noise as possible until dawn, when stillness reigns throughout the land.


For a 24-hour period starting at 6.00am, everything comes to a complete standstill. No fires can be lit, no work can be done, there is no travelling, no noise, no indulging in worldly pleasures and no exvolution (the turning outwards of consciousness towards grosser levels of existence). Everything is turned inwards. No equipment can be used, no lights can be turned on, no cooking can be done, no-one is allowed to go out of their homes and tourists are not allowed to leave their hotels (except in a medical emergency), planes are not allowed to take off or land, and no TV or radio stations are allowed to broadcast.

Not everyone adheres strictly to all these rules but many priests (and there are tens of thousands of them in Bali) spend the day fasting and meditating, and security guards patrol the streets to make sure people stay at home, remain quiet, and do not turn on lights.

This year, the Balinese government took Nyepi one step further and ordered all telecommunications companies to shut down mobile internet access to social media for the entire 24 hours too. I’m sure this decision was greeted with dismay by some (many Balinese are as addicted to their phones as westerners), but part of the reason why Bali’s spiritual culture has endured so long is because it keeps pace with modern developments in this kind of way. I was very glad to hear they have taken this step.

I can’t begin to imagine the headache the flight ban causes for airlines, and I absolutely love the fact that the Balinese put their spiritual priorities first and don’t give a fig. This year Nyepi was on March 17, and a total of 244 domestic and 238 international flights were cancelled. Not postponed. Cancelled. This means many of the international planes would not be where they were supposed to be for onward flights and the world had to deal with it and sort it out. It must cause havoc with their schedules each year.

What Nyepi is like

If you stay in a hotel over Nyepi, you’ll get a feel for it, and this Huffington Post article gives a taste of what it’s like: Bali’s Nyepi: A Day of Silence Worth Experiencing

But the real Nyepi takes place in the villages of rural Bali. Without the busyness of everyday life, the dogs stop barking and the cocks stop crowing. If talking is necessary, it’s done in hushed tones. Children play quietly. The lush tropical silence envelops you.

For one whole day, there is nowhere you have to be and nothing you have to do. What happens is that all your internal organs come to rest and c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y  r-e-l-a-x. It is the most amazing experience. It is a time for meditating and dwelling on your life, and focusing on what you want to happen in the following year.

After nightfall, the effect is even more profound as you sit surrounded by complete darkness and complete silence in the mellow companionship of those you love, mulling over the previous year and contemplating the new. It feels like it could go on forever, and you wish it would.

Then the next day, everything is back to normal. With the first rays of dawn, the roads fill with people, bikes, cars, trucks and buses, and Nyepi feels like it was a dream.

Visiting Bali

If you ever decide to visit Bali to experience Nyepi, it falls on a different day in March each year, so you’ll need to check. In 2019, it’s on March 6 and in 2020, it’s on March 25. And if you visit Bali at any time, to fully immerse yourself in the spiritual culture turn off your digital media for the entire time you’re there. That’s what I always do, and the rest of the world gets on perfectly well without me.

Related articles
Balinese rituals

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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2018

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Space clearing after a burglary

Space clearing after a burglary

A traumatic event such as a burglary leaves an imprint in a home, in a very similar way to how your skin becomes scarred as a result of a wound. Just as the skin is open and painful for a while and there is the risk of infection, so a distressing event can make you feel vulnerable and hurt for a while, and there is the possibility of deep-seated emotions being triggered.

How space clearing can help

Our home is an extension of ourselves. Its physical boundary marks the perimeter of our space and the area we permeate with our energy. When an intruder breaks in, it causes an energetic violation of the space, and this feeling can linger long after the event. In some cases, especially if there’s been a physical confrontation with the burglar, a person can feel so traumatized by the event that they never feel safe in their own home again.

This is the type of situation where space clearing can be very effective. It doesn’t magically bring back any valuables that were stolen, but it can restore something equally precious — a settling of the emotions of the occupants of the home and restoring their sense of safety..

How to space clear after a burglary

The technique for space clearing after a burglary is the same as the 21-step ceremony described in my book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, with special emphasis on the belling and harmony ball circuits. The belling circuit is when the most vigorous clearing of energies is done, and the harmony ball circuit is when new, higher frequencies are instilled in the space.

Whether you do the ceremony yourself or have someone else do it for you will depend on how experienced you are at space clearing and how traumatized you feel by the burglary. If you’ve never done the ceremony before, this is probably not the best time to start. But if you are familiar with it, already own a space clearing kit and feel confident about doing each of the steps, it can be very empowering to do the ceremony yourself to re-own your space.

Another option is to ask a close friend or relative to do the space clearing for you, but it will need to be someone who knows you very well, is a frequent visitor to your home, has already space cleared their own home and was able to get a tangible result. However well-meaning they may be, do not invite someone who is none of the above but is willing to have a go. That can cause more problems than it solves.

Professional space clearing

The best remedy of all is to have a professional space clearing done to deeply remove the imprinting caused by the burglary and quickly restore integrity to the space. All the certified space clearers in my International Directory of Practitioners have done extensive training to be able to work with clients at this deep level. The sooner it’s done, the better, but the ceremony can also be conducted months or even years later, if necessary.

Can you be present during the ceremony?

If you feel very affected by the burglary, it will be best for you to step outside the building during the clapping and belling circuits but it’s fine to be present during the rest of the ceremony. In fact, it can be very healing to witness the part where offerings are activated in each room of the home, and to participate in the harmony ball circuit towards the end of the ceremony.

Other types of support

In addition to the help that space clearing can provide, there are victim support organizations in most countries that offer free counselling and practical help to people who’ve been traumatized in some way, so I suggest you do some research to see what’s available in your area. Life certainly brings its challenges at times but there’s help available these days if you just know where to look.

How to find a space clearing practitioner
How to do space clearing
Space clearing products store

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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2018

Posted in Uses of space clearing | Read 4 comments...»

The difference between space clearing and clutter clearing

Space clearing and clutter clearing

Some people use the terms “space clearing” and “clutter clearing” interchangeably but there is actually a huge difference between the two, as this article will explain.

Space clearing

Space clearing is the art of clearing and revitalizing energies in buildings. The term “space clearing” has passed into the English language as a generic term for all kinds of energy clearing techniques, but originally it was the name I coined to describe the specific ceremony I have pioneered and developed since 1978. It involves the use of various techniques such as clapping and belling, done in a particular way and a precise order.

Clutter clearing

Clutter clearing is one of the recommended steps to prepare for a space clearing ceremony. It can also be done by itself, with no intention of doing a space clearing ceremony or even the knowledge that such a ceremony exists. It primarily involves clearing physical objects from a space, although there are also deeper levels that address mental, emotional and spiritual types of clutter. People generally begin with physical level clutter clearing and then progress to the other less tangible but equally important types.

Why there can be confusion between the two

The concept of clutter clearing has been around for a long time but the term “space clearing” was only coined in 1989, so it’s relatively new to the English language. Anyone who has read my first two books will understand the difference between the two, but there are still many articles in print and online where space clearing is used incorrectly to mean clearing out physical things to create more physical space.

The confusion is understandable because clutter clearing undeniably creates more space. But it clears physical space. What space clearing does is to clear space energetically, which is much more advanced and requires very different techniques.

Where the two overlap is that clearing physical objects from a place does remove the energies that are imprinted in them. However, it usually does not completely clear the residues of stagnant energy that accumulates around clutter. Only space clearing can do that.

The difference between the two

No specialized knowledge at all is required for clutter clearing. Anyone can do it, anytime, any place. Everyone has clutter of some kind, and clearing it is never a one-time event. It needs to be repeated regularly to keep the things you surround yourself with up-to-date with who you are and where you’re headed in life.

Space clearing, on the other hand, requires special equipment and techniques, and is generally only for people who are ready for major change in their life. Clutter clearing can be done gradually as you feel able to let go of things you no longer need, but space clearing happens in a matter of hours and changes the entire energy of a space. There’s no going back.

The degree of change will depend on the skill of the person doing the ceremony, and can range from a do-it-yourself lightening-and-brightening of a space to the profound levels of change that the professional space clearers I have trained are able to bring about.

This is why I often recommend clutter clearing to people but never suggest professional space clearing unless a person brings up the topic themselves. They have to be ready for change.

It’s also why the training to become a professional space clearing practitioner has to be of such a high standard. In my book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, there are carefully built-in safeguards to enable anyone to do space clearing safely in their own home, but doing it at practitioner level in someone else’s home requires a much greater degree of knowledge and skill.

Is it best to do clutter clearing or space clearing first?

I usually recommend doing clutter clearing before space clearing. It makes the space clearing ceremony much easier to do and makes it more effective too. For most people, it would be too much to do both on the same day, so schedule space clearing for a separate day.

However, if you find it difficult to get going with clutter clearing or find yourself unable to complete it, then it is possible to do space clearing first. Space clearing is the most effective way I know of loosening the stuck energy that accumulates around clutter, so doing the ceremony first will enable you to re-engage clutter clearing afterwards with renewed enthusiasm and gusto.

The ceremony works best if it’s done with a specific focus in mind, so in this situation, make clutter clearing your main focus. You’ll probably find, as most people do, that after ousting your junk and reclaiming your space you will want to repeat the space clearing ceremony, with the focus second time around on yourself rather than your junk.

This is yet another example of how clutter makes everything harder work. You’ll be space clearing twice instead of once. But hey, at least your life will be moving forward, and that’s what counts.

Online clutter clearing courses

Related posts
What is space clearing?
Space clearing to help clutter clearing

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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2011, updated 2018

Posted in Space clearing knowledge | Read 2 comments...»

How to clear energy imprints in hotel beds

Energy imprints in a hotel bed

Next time you stay in a hotel, take a look around the restaurant when you go for breakfast in the morning. How many of the people would you actually want to share a bed with?

In most cases the answer will be “none”, but in fact you just did. Not with the exact same people sitting around you, but with people very similar to them who slept in your bed before you and left their imprints in it.

Energy imprints in beds

Over the last 35+ years, I’ve developed special techniques for reading the energy imprints in objects in people’s homes. I can go around a house and read the entire history of what’s happened there with my hands. Beds are especially interesting because most people spend a third or more of their lives sleeping, so their mattress becomes very imprinted with their energies.

One of the vital skills I teach the professional space clearers I train is a sliding scale of perception relating to the imprintability of various materials. The least imprintable materials in their solid state are metal and glass, which incidentally is one of the main reasons why a front door made from either of these materials is a feng shui no-no – it is not able to anchor the energies that a front door is supposed to (wood is a much better choice). At the other end of the scale, porous materials such as soft furnishings are the most imprintable – mattresses, sofas, and so on.

Hotel beds

When it comes to beds in hotels, it’s grim news. It’s common to find layer upon layer of unsavoury energies embedded in hotel mattresses, sometimes dating back a decade or more, depending on how long the bed has been in use. It’s no wonder many people say they don’t sleep well in hotels, or wake up feeling out of sorts or not quite themselves.

During sleep our energy opens and we absorb whatever is around us, including the frequencies that have been deposited in the mattress by people who slept there before us. It’s almost the same as sleeping with them in the same bed.

How to clear energy imprints in hotel beds

If you’re starting to feel nauseous, help is at hand. As well as being able to read these energies, I’ve developed efficient methods of clearing them that anyone can learn. It’s called “bed thwacking” and it’s a modified space clearing technique, specially adapted for the modern traveller.

First, strip the bedding down to the bottom sheet and open a window. Then look around the hotel room for something you can use to do the thwacking. A wooden coat-hanger is a good choice, or a telescopic umbrella if you happen to have one with you. If you can’t find anything, then pummelling with your fists is good emergency measure, but not as effective as using a sturdy thwacker of some kind.

Methodically thwack the whole mattress for a few minutes to dislodge the energy imprints from it (as well as quite a bit of dust, usually).

Don’t do bed thwacking the first night you check in

When you do bed thwacking, all the energies go up in the air and take a few hours to come back down again. If you do this and then jump into bed, they will all land on you.

So just put up with it all for the first night, do bed thwacking the next the morning, go out for the day, and by the time you get back housekeeping will have changed the bedding and vacuumed up all the energetic debris from the floor, leaving you with a sleeping space that is energetically much cleaner.

How to do bed thwacking in your own home

The technique described here is only recommended for when your hotel stay is two nights or longer, but it can be used in your own home too, and is much easier to implement there because you have more control of the timing.

Sweet dreams!

Related post
Bed thwacking

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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2008, revised 2018

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