By Amber C. Snider
Clear away negative energies, purify your space, and relax your mind using sage alternatives.
In her latest book, Sacred Smoke, Amy Blackthorn explores the various ways plants, resins, and flowers form a "connection to the earth under our feet" and how we can use that connection to strengthen our bond with the self, Spirit, and mystical energies around us. In her signature no-nonsense, conversational style, Blackthorn's book opens up new ways of looking at the plant world, while offering practical advice on how to harness their clarifying power.
Smudging has been used as a ritualistic tool for centuries in Indigenous cultures around the world (perhaps even shortly after the discovery of the fire element). But Blackthorn prefers to call the practices within her book "Smoke Cleansing" or "Smoke Bathing" – an important distinction few authors make when discussing this topic – rather than use the blanket term "smudging." She wisely points out that there is "room for respect and growth without appropriation" when using these healing tools.
Here are 10 ways to use plants, resins, and oils to clear out dull, stagnant energy in your home and welcome in abundance – with a few "sage" tips directly from Blackthorn's new book.
Burn Your Own Blends (BYOB)
Making your own incense blends is actually pretty easy. All you need is some colored wood-base (which you can get at Enchantments), a few drops of your favorite essential oils, and herbs. When mixing up your blend, you don't want the incense to be too "wet" or "dry" – so it may take some practice to get the exact measurements down. By using a wood-base incense, you don't need to use charcoal at all – simply touch fire to the incense and stamp out the flame with a spoon.
"When it comes to measuring the results of our intentions, the only yardstick that matters is your own," writes Amy Blackthorn in Sacred Smoke. The power of intention is real – and it makes all the difference in your magickal work.
It's not necessarily about what you use (witches have always used whatever was available to them), but how you use it. And that "how" is primarily rooted in your specific intention and will. As above, so below.
Blackthorn recommends grinding up a bit of clove (yes, you can use the kind you already have in the kitchen) using your mortar and pestle and burning it as a hex breaker. Remember to be specific with your intention.
Pure As Myrrh
Oh, wonderful myrrh. Another fan favorite going way back to ancient times, myrrh is "restorative, attuned to success, happiness, good luck, and increases confidence," according to Blackthorn. It's an uplifting scent that can help restore compassion for yourself and others, too.
"Myrrh is also the guardian of gratitude, so feel free to burn myrrh while journaling a regular gratitude practice to cement those feelings for the long term," Blackthorn says.
One way to enhance your psychic and cleansing/clearing work is to actively utilize your breath. Amy Blackthorn recommends using the sacred "square breathing technique" to help focus your intention and meditation. This basic breath technique involves inhaling in on a four-count – holding for four – and exhaling to the count of four.
"...What we're doing is allowing the brain to relax and find its own rhythm, called a trance state," she writes. By using intentional breathwork while you burn your resins and herbs, you can then use the smoke curls as visual stimuli to invoke a deeper meditative state.
The Power of Scent
There are countless combinations of herbs and plants you can burn to cleanse and clear your space, but of course it helps when the aroma produced is especially delicious. Many people love the scent of lavender and it's often used to calm, soothe, and balance your spirit and body. According to Blackthorn, lavender can also be burned to enhance "divination, clairvoyance, psychic development, and strength." It's associated with "secrets (and their retention), balance, harmony," and more.
Simply add a teaspoon or less of lavender directly onto burning charcoal (in a fire-safe dish or small cauldron) and fill each corner, closet, and cupboard around your home with a touch of smoke. If you're clearing out negative energy (rather than invoking abundance or attracting positivity), keep the windows open and "shoo out" the smoke afterwards.
Ready-Made Magickal Blends
If making your own incense is too much work, you can also pick up ready-made, hand-blended incenses in half or full ounces. Enchantments recipes include everything from House Blessing, Sun, and Happiness to Van Van (a New Orleans blend), Kyphi (and ancient Egyptian formula), Uncrossing, and more.
Burn amber resin for happiness and love, as well as to transform negative energies into positive one. Grind up a bit of resin in your mortar and pestle, and slowly add pieces to your burning charcoal (again, in a fire-safe dish). Amber is particularly good for meditating and enhancing psychic awareness, too.
If resins aren't really your thing, you can also buy amber as an essential or fragrance oil and add a few drops to your soap stone oil burner (remember to purchase separate tea light candles for that) or an essential oil diffuser.
For a chiller mood and little anti-anxiety remedy, burn essential and fragrance oils like bergamot, lavender, and neroli.
Burn some basil to encourage love in the home or as an "offering to Aphrodite and other love goddesses," writes Blackthorn. Mmm, yes, we'll take it – and just in time for Valentine's Day, too.
To purchase Amy Blackthorn's book Sacred Smoke, visit the Enchantments' shop or click here to buy directly from the publisher. Click here for 9 spells to cure the winter blues, and more.