Dried herbs have been burned for ages to rid people of negative energies, to cleanse the sacred space of our homes, and perfume a divine temple as offering to Gods and nature deities. We burn sage on Samhain as a gift to our beloved ancestors. Our ancestors burned dried sprigs of sage and other herbs in their temples and during rituals. My European ancestors burned many different herbs in their practices, and though I prefer the smell of white sage, I do not think this was on hand in those locations. Those ancestors most likely burned common garden sage and a variety of other herbs.
I prefer to grow everything I use. Would this deter me from smudging? Not at all. Common garden sage grows like wildfire here in Kentucky. There’s no struggle. Salvia officinalis makes itself at home here because it is at home. If you are working with more of a European type of magick then I’d even recommend using common sage.
This woody herbaceous plant is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae. It is a perennial salvia with soft, almost fuzzy, grey-green leaves, and an amazing smell soothing to even walk by. I just love eating it.
Cut sprigs of sage in the garden
I read somewhere in an article awhile back that smudging with common sage was unsafe. Nowhere in the article did they bother to give any scientific proof of this. I totally disagree. Smudging with any herb can be unsafe if you aren’t taking the proper safety precautions as far as ventilation and fire safety. Common sage isn’t any more harmful that white sage. If you have scientific evidence and results proving otherwise I’d be delighted to read it.
In my opinion the smell is quite nice. My sister on the other hand detests it. She prefers white sage. I do agree that white sage smells better, or maybe I’ve grown accustomed to it because I didn’t know I could use common sage, I’m not sure. But in my magick I’m not so much concerned about the smell as I am the power.
There are so many ways so use common sage (Salvia officinalis ) in both natural medicine and in witchcraft, but focusing on smudging with it common sage is perfect for clearing negative energy out of your home and ritual space. If you are experiencing overwhelming emotions, perhaps you are dealing with grief or loss, and having difficulty in grounding yourself then this is the sage to burn. When asking for answers to a specific question or path to take I feel this sage is great to burn during your magick.
Common garden sage
Garden sage flowering
Common sage growing in one of my raised garden beds.
In the United States, sage is also the name commonly used for a group of native plants called Sagebrush. It is most often found in the western region of the US. Sagebrush is in the genus Artemisia, in the daisy family Asteraceae, and it is not a member of the common culinary sage family, and not a salvia. Some of the species included are protective and dreamy mugwort, demon dispelling and spirit-working wormwood, and cleansing big sagebrush. When burned they smell shockingly similar to marijuana. They are spiritual, powerful, and medicinal. I love all of these. When doing ritual and magick more closely associated with my Native American heritage I gravitate towards these.
Desert sage (Artemisia tridentate), is excellent for the purification of spirit entities, removing negativity, psychic work, and house blessing rituals. I use this sage to purify ritual tools and to clear a space after rituals. You never know what spirits are going to leave behind. It is also very helpful during divination.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium )
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Desert sage bundle, Artemisia tridentata
White sage (Salvia apiana) is an evergreen shrub in the Lamiaceae family and another in the genus salvia. The white sage bundles we so often see in occult shops have probably come from California where it comfortably grows. In the area I am located at in Central Kentucky white sage is not going to be growing in the wild (to my knowledge), as it prefers a dry environment and well drained soil more like sand. We experience sub-tropical weather here and it is often humid, and what some would say is a bit on the smothering miserable side of humid in the summer. Generally our soil is rich.
This is excellent to burn when preparing for any type of ritual. Most people prefer it’s fragrance over all others. I think it leaves a note of eucalyptus and hint of rosemary in the air, but some would disagree. White sage makes a perfect base to built incense upon as so many herbs work well with it. Use sprigs of loose white sage to protect rituals tools wrapped in cloth.
Salvia apiana plant
The three sages mentioned here are only a small list of the countless powerful choices. There are numerous plants to choose from when smudging and exciting creative combinations when blending herbs. It’s important to research each one before your ritual and magick. I wouldn’t just grab any smudge bundle and light it. Personally, I feel it’s greatly beneficial to choose the perfect one and properly thank the plant it comes from for the power it will provide you.
Some great combinations are:
- white sage and sweetgrass
- white sage and cedar
- common sage and rosemary
- common sage, rose, and juniper
- desert sage and lavender
- desert sage and mugwort
- desert sage and white birch
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Your magick depends on you making the best choices.
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