Making Smudge Sticks from Homegrown Plants and Wildharvested Materials: Step by Step Instructions with Cedar, Rosemary, Sage, Mugwort, and More!

Smoke clearing sticks to assist in your grief

Smoke clearing sticks (smudge sticks) are bundles of herbs that are dried and burned for purification and ceremonial uses. They are broadly used by many for their purification purposes in a variety of different cultures, where the terms may be different but the idea is smoke cleansing.  The term “smudging” has been recently tied to native American practices, and thus, most people now use “smoke cleansing” or “saining” instead.  I smoke clearing sticks as a druid in my ceremonies, to bless and cleanse my house, to cleanse outdoor spaces that are in some kind of energetic funk.  But I also use them practically–as a blessing for my garden at the start of the growing season, as a way to remove hostile energies from my chickens who aren’t getting along, or to pass among friends before sharing a meal.  They are a great way to bring a bit of ceremony and the sacred into the everyday.

Why make your own smoke clearing sticks? Sustainability, Plant Ally Relationship Building, Intentions

Freshly Wrapped Smudges
Freshly Wrapped Smudges

Like many ritual objects,  smudges are often created, shipped, and encased in plastic without a clear sense of their origins or whether or not the plants were harvested in a sustainable way. This means, at minimum, that fossil fuels are expended to get them into your hands and waste is created in the packaging and processing.  As I’ve discussed on this blog before, with ritual objects and food and everything else, the objects we choose to use reflect the energies of their creation.  This means that if the sage was grown and harvested conventionally using chemicals that polluted the land, the sage carries those energies.  Do you want to use that for a sacred ceremony honoring the land? I really don’t think this point can be understated, even though its often overlooked.

There’s also the matter of developing close relationships with plants that grow in your bioregion and working with their energies. I have found that if I’m burning traditional smudge plants such as desert sage and incense cedar (plants don’t grow near me in Michigan), I think another kind of disconnection occurs–a disconnection with the local plants that might be grown or used for this purpose.  Anyone anywhere can burn desert sage that they purchased at a store–but what makes my region unique is that I can burn mullein or sweet clover in my smudges along with a more traditional sage. I want to honor the plants that grow here; I want to grow plants ceremonially for this purpose, and be involved in every aspect of the creation of an object used for sacred activity.  So given the reasons above, I’ve taken to making my own smudge sticks!

If you are crafting your own smudge sticks, you can develop them for specific purposes.  A mullein-sage-rosemary smudge for personal clearing would be different than a sage-sweet clover-cedar smudge for typical house cleansing or a juniper-lavender-mugwort smudge for good dreaming.  You can craft smudges that can be used for different purposes and craft them with intent.

Determining Energetic Qualities of Plants

Kittens are seriously into making smudges and lend a joyful energy to the process!
Kittens are seriously into making smudges and lend a joyful–if challenging–energy to the process!

I use a combination of readings on magical herbalism from the western tradition, traditional western herbalism, the doctrine of signatures, my own understandings/intuition, and my work with plant allies to decide what plants should go in what smudges.  Sometimes I craft smudges by intuition alone, and then have them ready to give a friend or use when I feel led.  Other times, I research the plants or put plants together that I know serve a specific purpose (like mugwort for travels or dreams).  The process here should be of your own design, and for that reason, I’m not giving you general “use this plant for this” because A) there’s a lot of that out there already; B) the plants don’t like to be put into such boxes; and C) many plants have multiple, varied uses.  Sage works for so much more than just purification, for example, but if you look it up, you’ll find it listed time and time again for purification and cleansing.  Yes, sage is great at that, but sage has other uses!  And furthermore, if you are using wildcrafted and local ingredients, there might *not* be a magical tradition surrounding that plant–but you still may feel led to use it.  That’s perfectly fine–you can let the plant spirit and your intuition guide your path.

Finding Local Plants for Your Smudges

In the next section, I’ll be talking about some of the plants that I use to make smudges.  These plants are local to my bioregion (zone 6A, South-eastern Michigan) so you may have to adapt this list.  If you aren’t sure if the plant in your bioregion would make a nice smudge, simply dry some out and burn it; with one caveat–I never burn noxious or poisonous plants, but plants I know are used for herbalism or food (e.g. do NOT EVER burn poison ivy or poison hemlock).  Use some common sense.  But if the plant already has uses as a medicinal herb, edible herb, or smoking herb, then its perfectly fine to see if you can use it for a smudge.  See how it smells, see how energetically it makes you feel. See if it smolders (smoldering plants, like mullein or sage, are particularly useful for smudges).  Pay attention to the conifer trees that grow nearby–chances are many of them burn nicely and smell good.

Plants that Can Go Into Smudges

Plants dried in the fall or fresh harvested in early December for Smudges
Plants dried in the fall or fresh harvested in early December for Smudges: yarrow, mugwort, sage, thyme, lavender, rosemary, white pine, juniper, eastern white cedar

1) Aromatic Cultivated herbs.  Aromatic herbs are one of my biggest categories of plants for crafting smudges–aromatic herbs are herbs that smell strongly when you rub them.  Many aromatic herbs make great additions to smudge sticks because they smell great and have good energetic qualities of clearing.  Be careful, however–not all aromatic herbs burn the way they smell–make sure you burn a bit before adding them into your smudges or you may be in for a surprise.  Mint and lemon balm are a good example of this–mint and lemon balm smell and taste amazing, unfortunately, neither burn with a pleasant smell.  Other aromatic herbs, like valerian, are extremely potent when burned (and are extremely potent in general) so you’ll want to use caution.  These are the aromatic herbs that I’ve found through incense making and trial and error work well:

  • Sage – White sage has the most distinct smell, but many sages smell wonderful.  Even garden sage burns with a pleasant aroma, pleasant but different than white sage.  I grow many different kinds of sages for my smudges.
  • Rosemary – Rosemary is another staple for smudges.  Interestingly enough, you can use both the root and the plant of rosemary–and they have different qualities.  The rosemary stalks burn wonderfully in a smudge.
  • Lavender – I like to include a quite bit of lavender in my smudges for both the pleasant aroma and the energetic qualities–it smells just wonderful when burned and is a powerful plant ally.
  • Sweet Grass – This does not grow around me, and thus far, my attempts to get any started from seed have been thwarted.  However, if you can grow or obtain some ethically, it is a wonderful addition for a lot of reasons (good smelling, honors the spirits).
  • Hyssop – An herb with ancient connections to purification work.  Hyssop smells wonderful.
  • Eucalyptus – Another herb for clearing work; its smolders nicely.  You have to plant this in my region–it doesn’t grow wild, but will grow to a nice size over the summer.
  • Valerian – I have used dried valerian flower stalks in my smudges primarily, although I suppose the roots would work as well (the roots would be even more potent).  Valerian is extremely potent as both a cleansing herb but also in smell–I would only use a little in a smudge, and that smudge would be typically reserved for clearing really nasty energies or hostile energies out (and I’d burn it with the windows open).
  • Bay leaf: I have also had luck with bay leaf as a smoldering herb.
Basket of freshly made smudges!
Basket of freshly made smudges (with small paper labels so I know what went into it)!

2) Wildharvested Aromatic and Medicinal Herbs:  In addition to those you can grow in your garden, I have found that a number of wild harvested herbs are wonderful for smudges.  I got most of the ideas for these when I was taking my four season herbalism course and we were talking about smoking blends.  If they work in a smoking blend and are safe for that, they can work great in a smudge as well!

  • Mugwort – Mugwort has a nice smell when burned (and its used in a lot of herbal smoking blends).  Mugwort is specifically tied to dreams and can produce very vivid dreaming.  While this is a good thing short term, do keep in mind that vivid dreams over a long period of time can exhaust you–so use mugwort with care, but definitely use it!  Mugwort also grows beautifully straight and tall, and really does do well in smudges.  A lot of people cultivate mugwort, but I find it wild growing everywhere around here.  I really love this plant.
  • Sweet Clover – This is my solution to the lack of sweet grass–sweet clover does not burn as sweetly, but energetically, it has similar qualities and a similar smell.  And it grows wild around here (and my bees adore it).
  • Mullein – Mullein leaves have a nice “smoldering” quality–they smolder in the same way that sage smolders.  They don’t smell nearly as nice, but the smoke itself does have a beneficial impact on the lungs and can, medicinally, be used for “clearing” out the lungs of toxins.  Follow me here–in Buddhist practice, the lungs are said to house grief.  I think, for a personal smudge stick where I was working to clear out some deep emotions and emotional recovery, I would most definitely put mullein in it
  • Yarrow: Yarrow is another herb I like to use a lot in my smudges for its energetic qualities; it smells a lot like itself when it burns due to the high volatile oil content.

2) Trees.  Traditionally, cedars (like incense cedar or red cedar) were used for smudges out west.  In my bioregion, I look primarily to the conifer for smudging possibilities (you can cut these and use them fresh):

  • Eastern Red Cedar/Juniper (Juniperus virginiana): This is a wonderfully aromatic plant with berries that also are used medicinally.  I love using juniper in my smudges–but it has little prickly bits, so use it carefully so that you don’t get stabbed.
  • Eastern White Cedar (Thuja Occidantalis):  Eastern White Cedar crackles and pops when it is freshly dry due to its high amount of volatile oils.  If you use the cedar branches when they are first dried, they smell wonderful but literally crackle and pop when you burn them due to all of the volatile oils—which is a bit of a fire hazard, but also can kind of be fun. However, if you hang the cedar in your house for a few months and let it dry out, the oils slowly dry out of the cedar and then you can make your smudge sticks. The sticks at this point will smoke beautifully.
  • White Pine (Pinus Strobus): I’m still experimenting with this as a smudge tree, but so far, I’m happy with the results and it burns with an almost vanilla-like smell.  Wonderful!
  • Staghorn sumac: You can make smudges with small clusters of berries and or collect and use the leaves after they have gone red in the fall.  Staghorn sumac has a very calming effect (I use it as an herbal smoke for my bees) and smolders nicely–plus, it is a beautiful red color that provides visual beauty in your smudge.  It has a fairly pleasant smoke (not very aromatic).

3) Flowers.  There is also a visual component to making a nice smudge stick, and I think this is where various wild flowers can lend a hand.  Most of the flowers don’t have a particularly strong smell when burned, but a bit of purple or yellow or white in your smudge can look absolutely beautiful (and add energetically to your smudge).  A visit to any flower field in the height of the summer will certainly give you much to work with.  You can also cultivate flowers like statice or baby’s breath which hold their beautify for long periods of time for your smudges (I would not buy these commercially as they are almost always sprayed with something you don’t want to make airborne).  I like using goldenrod, yarrow, and lavender in the later part of the season for this.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making your Smudge

Now that we have some sense of what ingredients can be used in a smudge, the next step is gathering them and actually making the smudge!

Step 1: Gather Materials.  Go out and gather your materials–bring in your fresh conifer branches, your dried yarrow stalks, etc.  I have found that plants can be gathered and used fresh or dried, but the fresh ones take longer to dry out (and you want to make sure its not humid so that the inner ones don’t mold).  I typically make smudges in late fall after the frost has wilted the plants a bit and semi-dried them out (its a way to use up the last herbs of the season).

In addition to the herbs/plants, you’ll also need some cotton string (don’t use anything synthetic since you will be burning it) and some scissors.  If there is a kitten in the home you might want to keep her out of the room, as otherwise she will attack the herbs and strings as you try to make your smudges :).

Step 2: Set intentions. I like to create a sacred space for magical crafting prior to starting any such endeavor.  Different traditions would do this in different ways, of course, and you might just do something simple to setup your space. For my tradition, I open up a grove and then work in that grove.

Step 3: Start with some conifers.  I like to wrap conifers around the outside of the smudge (this is personal preference) and so I’ll lay out a bed of conifers first.  In the photo below, I’ve started this smudge with juniper (freshly cut that morning) and lavender (also cut that morning from outside in early December).

Lay out ingredients
Lay out ingredients

Step 4: Add additional ingredients, layering them.  To this smudge I’ve added some semi-dried out thyme from outside and some semi-dried out garden sage.

More ingredients!
More ingredients!

Step 5: Gather your ingredients up in one hand and loosely bunch them.  Cut a long piece of the string and begin wrapping your ingredients.

Gather and begin to wrap ingredients
Gather and begin to wrap ingredients

 

Step 6: Continue to wrap the ingredients.  If you wrap them too tight, the smudge may not burn (depending on what’s in it) so experiment with your herbs/plants and tightness.  I like to take my cotton string up and down the smudge twice, which helps hold it together a bit better than only one trip up and down. The photos below show different parts of the wrapping process.

Wrapping the smudge
Wrapping the smudge
Keep wrapping
Keep wrapping till you get to the top

 

Step 7: Tie your smudge off so that its secure.

Tie off
Tie off

 

Step 8: Once you’ve wrapped your smudge, you can trim it up a bit.  I trim both the ends and the little bits that stick out (they will have trouble burning).

Trimming smudge
Trimming smudge
My completed smudge!
My completed smudge!

 

Step 9: Allow your smudge to dry out 4-8 weeks (depending on what’s inside and how wet it was when you put it in there).  I like to use a wooden drying rack (I use this for a lot of of my herb drying); the rack was $3 at a yard sale!

Drying smudges on the top of my rack
Drying smudges on the top of my rack

 

I hope that you found the above information useful–if there are other plants I should add to my lists above, or plants that work well in your bioregion, please leave a comment!  Thank you, as always, for reading!

Dana O'Driscoll

Dana O’Driscoll has been an animist druid for over 15 years, and currently serves as Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America. She is a druid-grade member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and is the OBOD’s 2018 Mount Haemus Scholar. She is the author of Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year through Earth-Centered Spiritual Practice, and is a writing professor with extensive journaling experience. Dana is a certified permaculture designer and permaculture teacher who teaches sustainable living courses and wild food foraging. Dana lives at a 5-acre homestead in rural western Pennsylvania with her partner and a host of feathered and furred friends. She writes at the Druids Garden blog and is on Instagram as @druidsgardenart.

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122 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on My Wiccan Walk and commented:
    What a wonderful idea. I have made my own and truly enjoyed the experience.

    1. Thanks for the reblog! 🙂

  2. That sounds like so much fun to do, and way better than buying pre-made smudges shipped halfway around the world. I’ll definitely be trying this in spring when I plant some herbs again.

    1. Ryan, you might want to see if there are any herbs still out there–I was surprised to see usable mugwort, mullein, lavender, sage, and thyme outside in my herb garden (even though we had a bout of cold that had sub-zero windchills). Glad you found the blog inspiring!

  3. What a great idea! I love to use smudge sticks, and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I wished they weren’t made of plants that came from a completely different environment thousands of miles away. For white pine, would you use just the needles or would you use twigs with needles on?

    1. Karen, I’m still testing with white pine. I used primarily the needles and the little stub branches that attached to the needles. The needles were in a smudge with other stuff, like sage, so I’m not sure how well they burn o their own. I wouldn’t include too much thick woody material (unless its stem) cause its hard to get that to light and burn for long periods of time. But tiny branches are fine, I’ve found.

  4. Reblogged this on Laura Bruno's Blog and commented:
    I shared last year about making my own sage smudge sticks, which I gave friends as gifts. Here’s comprehensive information on making your own smudge sticks with a variety of herbs, trees and flowers.

    1. Thank you for the reblog!

  5. I truly love your blog. I put it on my bookmark, and I will be re-visiting often. I love this idea, and I have an important question for you. what is the difference between poison hemlock, and our beautiful eastern hemlock (read that blog as well 🙂 I am fairly certain I have eastern, but….. I am always cautious with herbs, plants etc…

    1. Thank you so much, Renee! There is a substantial (and easy-to-tell) difference between poison hemlock and eastern hemlock. Eastern Hemlock is a conifer tree, and will always appear as a tree (even the smallest ones will have bark, roots, needles). Poison hemlock is a plant most often found in watery areas, but I’ve seen it all along fields, highways, etc. It looks a lot like queen anne’s lace, growing up to 3-4′ tall, but sometimes shorter. It has white flowers. I would study it extensively and make sure you can identify it in any season–it will kill people who ingest it.

      1. thank you 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:
    jinxx ♠ xoxo

  7. A beautiful article!

    I have made a few good smudge-bundles myself. They are very easy to make, and smell wonderful when they are drying, especially indoors.

    – Rev. Dragon’s Eye

  8. Reblogged this on Through The Eyes of A Dragon and commented:
    Always good to have some home-crafted smudge-bundles.

    1. Thanks for the reblog!

      1. I loved the article and also make many of my own smudges. Working on some made from Juniper currently.

    1. Thanks for the reblog!

  9. Hi! I live in quite a humid climate – would it be ok to dry all the herbs a bit first & then bundle them? Thanks!

    1. Yes, some of the herbs I used were dried. Some however, get brittle when dry, so you want to figure out how much to dry them. The other option is to use a dehydrator or even oven on a low setting to let your smudges dry out a bit more. I usually make these in the fall when things are much less humid 🙂

      1. I have found that placing them inside brown paper bags, and hen leaving these in the back of the car, is a great method.

        1. Yes, totally agreed. The car acts like a natural dehydrator! It only takes a few days using this method! 🙂

  10. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature

    Thank you so much for this. I too love your blog! It is such a wealth of great information and love of Nature. I have always wanted to make smudge sticks, but they never came out well. I can’t wait to experiment with what grows on our land to see how they burn and smell. We used to have poison hemlock, but we kept cutting them down(with gloves and long sleeves on because you can absorb it through skin). The stems have purple dots on them. Thanks again.
    Mary

    1. I am excited to hear how things come out for you! Yay!

  11. I’ve been researching different techniques and yours resonates with me most. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to making my own smudges with clarity, confidence and good intent.

    1. Glad you found the instructions helpful, Katie! I am looking forward to hearing what you make 🙂

  12. We have a lot of Tansy growing on our property, it is highly aromatic. Have you ever used it? We are in zone 5b and sage does not grow well here. I love this article, thank you so much.

    1. I haven’t tried tansy, but you could try drying a bit of it, burning it, and seeing how it smells! I would love to know… 🙂

  13. This is such a great post! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge! definitely sharing with my @opalowl followers!

    1. Thank you, Leslie!

  14. Thank you for this. I have contemplated using smudge sticks before but never really realised how, when or why to bring them into my festivals ceremonies etc.
    Also like yourself I have the shop bought one’s where not suited for my owns style. I will most definately be trying this this autumn. Thank you again.

    1. Kirstin, I can’t wait to hear more from you about how it works! 🙂

  15. I have recently started making my own smudge sticks, almost by accident. I have an abundance of wild sage growing in the wilderness around my home and I started harvesting bits here and there to give to friends. My good friend raises sheep and I wrap my bundles with home spun yarn. Your ideas about what to add are wonderful. I have a friend who is an herbalist and can get organically grown plants that we don’t have or won’t grow around here. I can’t wait to get started.

    1. Abbey – awesome! I’m excited to hear more about your smudge making adventures. I’ve been moving, and just today, I found my box of smudges. As soon as I opened it, they called out to be used for blessing my new home!

    1. Thank you for the reblog 🙂

      1. Of course! You have some wonderful information.

  16. Reblogged this on Willow Andreasson's Journey Into The Mysteries of Life and commented:
    I regularly smudge my house for purification/cleansing reasons but sometimes, I just enjoy burning the beautiful sage bundles for their strong, calming aroma. Given my location in the South East of England, making my own Smudge Sticks is a little bit of a challenge (currently purchasing them from a great store who takes great care in choosing their stock). Thoughts of making my own Smudge Sticks have crossed my mind quite frequently. Willowcrow’s article is immensely helpful and is serving as a beautiful springboard into a journey of discovery of the treasures my own garden blesses us with each day. Thank you Willowcrow 🙂 <3

    1. You are most welcome. I look forward to hearing more about what you do with your own smudges! 🙂

  17. Reblogged this on plant and share and commented:
    the winter bugs are here and Smudge Sticks are another wonderful use for trees and herbs from your garden to help clear the air. This Blog post throughly lists the types of herbs you can use and a step by step guide to making your own. Enjoy

    1. Thank you for the reblog 🙂

      1. 🙂 such a well written blog. We are in the middle of winter here in New Zealand so perfect timing finding your blog!

  18. I live in northern California and I have not seen a fresh Mugwort. Do you have any suggestion on finding it?

    1. That’s WAY out of my bioregion. You can order dried mugwort from various places, like Mountain Rose Herbs. You might consider growing some. You do have access to a lot of other wonderful plants like sweetgrass and various kinds of sages in that region! You also might ask around to others.

    2. Hmm…I’m not familiar with California’s ecosystem at all. I wonder if you could grow it there? If not, I know you can order mugwort online, but its usually in smaller bits (which you could add to the middle of a smudge if you’d like!)

  19. Wow! This is the best article I’ve read on smudges! You articulated my thoughts exactly when it comes to the ethics of plant usage! 🙂

  20. […]  https://druidgarden.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/making-smudge-sticks-from-homegrown-plants-and-wildharv… http://ecocosas.com/salud-natural/9-hierbas-que-puedes-usar-como-incienso/ […]

  21. I’m so very glad I found this information you have provided. I’m just learning about herbs and their many uses. Please let me know if you have a video on YouTube that shows exactly how to bundle and tie smudge sticks.
    Thank you!
    ~Patrick~

    1. Hi Patrick, I don’t have a video at this time. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  22. Just found your instructions for making smudge sticks, and loved it. I live in Ontario and have been growing some white sage from seed – it’s challenging (poor germination) and doesn’t survive the winter, but worth the effort. This is a great way to have and use my own year round. Thank you!!

    1. Thanks for your comment–glad you found the post useful!

    2. Glad you enjoyed the instructions. White sage IS tricky to grow–if you use a heat mat or warm area, I can greatly improve germination for the seeds 🙂

  23. Great informariin. Easy and understandable and importantly, to the point with no rambling.
    Just a few questions though, can i use Basil? Once my basil dries and dies i am left with stalks. Can i use them too? And where do i leave them to dry? In the sun or a sunny room, so inside or outside?
    Thank you for all your help. Very much apreciated.
    Lee

    1. Hi Lee,
      Yes, basil burns fairly well. I would suggest burning a little bit of one and seeing if you like the smell. Don’t sit them in the sun–you’ll burn away the volitile oils. Instead, put them in a dry area and they will dry naturally over a period of days. Thanks!

  24. This is interesting stuff. Thank you. I grow herbs from love but don’t know how to use them except as teas and spices.

  25. Thank you I needed a little clarification as I take the journey into making my own smudge sticks. thank you so much for your information!

  26. Hey! I hope you end up seeing this comment… I’m trying to make some smudge for the first time and I’ve harvested some Eastern Hemlock and hung it up to dry. However, some of the needles are falling off! Is this normal? Or are you not supposed to dry conifers? Any advice appreciated!

    1. Hi Minnow,

      Eastern hemlock always drops its needles when it dries. If you want to include it in a smudge, it is best to wrap it firmly in the center with other things :). You can dry the confiers or not–doesn’t really matter. Hemlock is the only one to drop needles like that that I know of 🙂

  27. I wonder if lemon verbena and lemon grass would burn well. Do you know? Thank you, Gina Gunn

    1. Hi Gina, Lemon Verbena doesn’t smell good, and if I recall, lemongrass doesn’t either (don’t quote me on the 2nd one). Unfortunately, I’ve also found that many scents in the mint family smell great and make great tea, but certainly do not make great incense!

  28. Wonderful & informative. I create my own smudge sticks as well and would like to see what other flowers here will work well.

    1. Thank you for the comment! Where are you located?

  29. […] Making Smudge Sticks from Homegrown Plants and Wildharvested Materials: Step by Step Instructions wi… […]

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  33. Hello, thank you for the smudging direction! We are going to use it in our Yule celebrations this year! on that note, I wonder if you might have some guidance around another ceremony I am seeking some druid celtic inspiration for…we are bringing a new family table into our home this Yule, made with wood we sourced and salvaged, by a local carpenter craftsman. it will be a family hearth of sorts, where we eat and learn and make and meet together and individually, and central home fire gathering place. and we would like to bless it. do you know of any hearth and home type blessing ceremonies for places like this table where the family will gather together to nourish and nurture and create and celebrate? I would LOVE your thoughts and inspirations. many thanks…Mary and gang at InishOge Farm in Sooke, BC. peace, happy solstice and warm winter blessings to you and yours!

    1. Hi Mary! Thanks for writing. If I were in your position, I’d use a simple elemental blessing (kind of similar to what I did with the tree ceremony here: https://druidgarden.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/tree-planting-ritual-druid-obod-style/

      In other words, I’d suggest welcoming in each of the elements, with a specific emphasis on the earth (the element of the home and hearth). In the ceremony, I would also suggest honor the tree(s) from which the wood came, making an offering (of a small plate of the meal) to their spirits. Then, as a family, break bread over the table and share a meal. I hope this is helpful! Ceremonies don’t have to be big elaborate affairs; a simple blessing with those you love around your new table might just do the trick :).

  34. This was so helpful and I will try it tomorrow! Even an old hand can learn new tricks! Thanks for posting!

    1. You are most welcome! I’m glad the information is useful to you 🙂

  35. I have a lavender butterfly bush, would that work in a smudge stick? It is so fragrant!

    1. I’m not sure–you’d have to dry some and try it. I will say that not all fragrant flowers make good smudges–some fragrant plants don’t have the right kind of resins and oils to burn well. Plants in the mint family generally fall into this category–they have awesome flavor, but do not burn well. Its also possible that if Butterfly Bush is not edible (and as far as I am aware, it is not) the smoke may not be healthful to burn. Just something to think about!

  36. I see Yarrow on your pile of herbs and plants–is it last years heads? Are they dried from last year? I’d like to make these using yarrow but all I have available is last years heads and I would LOVE to put them to good use! Cheers!

    1. Yes, you could us last year’s herbs. They might not be quite as aromatic, but they will still work great 🙂

      1. Thanks! I have it just coming up in my yard but lots from last year so I’ll use a combo : )

  37. I have been searching for almost an hour trying to find pictures with white sage and other types of sage in one picture so that I may know the difference when buying. I have found this article to be the most interesting, however, you don’t have pictures of the types of sage. Could you please point me in the direction of an article with that, if you have one or could you kindly make one since you grow several kinds. It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Carol,
      You can tell them by the smell as well as the look. In some ways, it’s harder to tell when they are dried. Garden sage is a lot darker than white sage when they are dried. I would suggest going to a local garden that grows them so you can see them and smell them. If not, learning their botanical names would also be helpful. They also burn differently (but all burn nice and have similar energetics). I hope this helps!

  38. This is excellent! Thank you so much! I absolutely adore your blog!

    1. You are most welcome. Thank you for reading!

  39. I am catching this blog on the tail end of fall… And that is a U. P. Michigan fall… We still have Yarrow…in which I distill in the summer for hydrosol… Make an amazing blue essential oil and hydrosol… When is it a good time to harvest for smudging? We also have sweet fern here as well… Another amazing plant ally for hydrosol.. I wonder if right for smudging.

    1. Kim, thanks for writing! You can harvest anytime for smudges. If it is a warm, sunny day, the essential oil content is the highest. Usually though, I make most of my smudges in the fall after frost has started to kill back the plants–its a way of using them to their fullest! 🙂

  40. supportingdifferenceCliona Sami Machin

    A beautiful read! Thank you for your beautiful insight. I have been buying smudge sticks for a while but have always wanted to make my own! I cannot wait to try this now. I will also be sharing your article with friends, I’m sure they will find it interesting too. I love that when making your own your intent and energy goes into it.
    Thank you and I look forward to reading some other articles by yourself.
    Blessed be.

    1. I’m so glad you found the site :). Blessings!

  41. Erin Chisholm-Miller

    Such a lovely post! This is a great way to create a healing space. I love to use herbs out of my garden for smudging and loose incense. One herb I haven’t seen much info on is lemongrass. Would you think it would be okay to burn?

    1. Yes, you can burn it. It smells pretty good. You’ll need to get some that is chemical free (or grow it yourself). Best of luck!

  42. Lovely post, I will link to it on my blog http://witchcraft-wicca.com

      1. Here is your link http://witchcraft-wicca.com/yule-traditions-yule-blessings/ . I’m happy to send my visitors to your step by step guide. Blessed Be

        1. Thank you so much for posting your link!

  43. Very good topic and ideas, for which I thank you.

    I gather and make smudge sticks for sale in farmers markets and to herb shops, and appreciate the confirmation of my attitude that it does matter where the plant originates, how it’s harvested, how it’s treated between harvest and sale, and so on. For that reason I wild harvest with attention to the health of the plants and the stand, and keep the entire process as “clean and green” as possible.

    I’m now in Virginia, used to do this a lot in the West, and now drive out there once a year to harvest smudge herbs among other things (piñón, Arizona walnuts, bay nuts, etc.). However this article has inspired me to broaden the list of locally grown and harvested herbs I utilize. I should therefore before long have some interesting new types of smudge!

    Muchas gracias

    1. Barros Serrano, I’m glad the article was helpful for expanding your making of smudge sticks! Blessings!

  44. My understanding is that Russian sage is not actually sage and is not edible, that being said would it me okay to use in a smudge stick?

    1. What is the botanical name for it? I use eastern white cedar and it is not edible either…

      1. It is perovskia atriplicifolia.

        1. This plant is way outside of my bioregion. We can use other “poisonous” plants or those that cannot be ingested as smoke. I would suggest burning some outside, seeing what the smoke is like, and going from there based on your experiences. You might also look into the history of the plant and how it was used–is there any history of using it as an incense plant?

  45. Thank you – this was really helpful, especially with your photographs to add clarity to the steps . Ive had a bumper harvest this year so I’m going to make all my own smudge sticks for this winter and spring .

    1. Glad you found the article helfpul! Homemade smudge sticks are just wonderful!

  46. […] DRUID GARDEN has a couple blog posts that I recommend reading on the topic of smudge sticks: the 1st one explains the basics, the 2nd one goes more in-depth regarding which plants can be used. Of course, […]

  47. Very interesting and helpful as I wish to develop a practice and a relationship with the plants available in my area.

  48. Thank you for all the wonderful & magical tips!!

    1. You are most welcome! 🙂

  49. […] Step by Step Instructions for Making Smudge Sticks with Cedar, Rosemary, Sage, Mugwort, can be foun… […]

  50. Oh thank you so much for this. It’s truly magical. I now realize I have plenty of materials to work with.
    Blessings
    Jane/|\

    1. You are most welcome, Jane! Happy crafting!

  51. Reblogged this on Palms of Our Hands and commented:
    DIY smoke purification bundles. A way to introduce yourself to the land around you if you haven’t already (or need to reintroduce/renew those ties with the Land, like I need to). Useful information!

    1. Thank you for the reblog! 🙂

  52. Thank You for the information on how to make smudges. We have been using smudges to discourage the black flies and mosquitoes, but will be using them to bless our gardens and home as well.

    1. You are most welcome! Please let me know what kind you will make! 🙂

  53. thank you for this piece. good information and sweet intentions passed along.
    another good woodland find to use is
    prunella bulgaria….self heal.
    i like to use it has an intention for healing
    relationships with all beings and the land.
    💚

    1. Hi Jani, yes, an excellent choice! I love Prunella–it is such a lovely plant. 🙂 Blessings to you!

  54. Hello 🙏🏻 I grow herbs to make space clearing/blessing herb bundles!
    I have plenty of black raspberry leaves and canes …. I am wondering if these are useful/recommended to include in smudge or incense making? Anyone have experience with this? Thank you… Maria

    1. Maria, I have burned raspberry leaf. It is slightly astringent, so produces a reasonable smoke. You could probably use it in combination with some other things. I don’t think I’dd use it as an ingredient on its own; and you might need gloves to make it into a smudge.

  55. Oh this is so inspirational!!! I’m growing white sage for the first time in my garden. I hadn’t looked up how to make a smudge yet, & I “stumbled” upon your article! (Gotta love those fairies). I now realize I have so much in my garden and woods to add to them. Thank you, thank you, thank you🙏🏼

    1. Hi Jamie,
      Great! Glad the article can be of help to you. Also check out my updated article here: https://druidgarden.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/home-grown-and-wildcrafted-smudge-sticks-plant-list-and-recipes/

  56. What plant or tree material would provovide the catalysis needed to ignite and sustain my homemade fat sticks for campfires?

    1. Hi Sue,
      If they were outdoor campfire, I would recommend some kind of conifer: where I live, Eastern White Cedar, White or Blue Spruce, or White Pine would be very good choices (Hemlock loses needles too fast). You could combine this with natural beeswax (a good tip is to wax all of your wooden ware, like wooden spoons, and do it with cotton rags or paper towels, then use those as a basis for homemae fire starters).

      If it were indoors, I would not use cedar but any dry wood that burns quick, like birch.

      Blessings!

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