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 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 help to 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 particularly good for lifting the 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. There have been so many developments in my space clearing techniques over the last twenty years that incense is no longer needed.

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


About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is the world's leading authority on space clearing and a leading expert in clutter clearing. Her first book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, has sold over one million copies in 16 languages, and her second book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, has sold over two million copies in 26 languages.

2 Responses to Why smudging is not a space clearing technique

  1. Rebecca C says:

    Hello,
    You write that using a smudge stick will have the opposite effect on space clearing, that it will bring down the energy instead of lifting it up. Why would that be?
    Thank you.

    • It depends on the ingredients of the smudge stick that is used but the aroma of the common type (the ones that smell a lot like marijuana when burned) will pull an atmosphere down rather than uplift it. They create a lingering heaviness in the space, which is the exact opposite of the lightness and clarity that is the hallmark of a successful space clearing.

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