There are two types of sage, each with its own distinct qualities and uses. Smoke from white sage (Artemesia califoncia) is used for purification of mind, body and spirit and sacred articles in advance of prayers and ceremonies. White sage is burned for meditation, smudging and cleansing of spirit and dwelling. In some beliefs, white sage smoke is believed to provide a barrier that prevents negative spirits from entering the room in which the ceremony is being held.
Desert sage (Salvia apiana) has been revered by First Peoples for its medicinal attributes long before the study of microbiology entered the universe. The ancient belief in desert sage as a healing plant is “verified” by scientific analysis of its properties that show it contains certain polyphenals which are natural antioxidants that protect cells from toxins and organisms in the environment that cause infections; it is antifungal, antiseptic and an astringent. Interestingly, the Latin root of Salvia is salvare, which means to heal.
Reference: Aboriginal sacred plants: Sage. Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. (n.d.). https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/aboriginal-sacred-plants-sage
Soj in Michif
Bashkodejiibik in Ojibwe
No translation in Oneida
Native Americans have used white sage for centuries and continue to use it today. White sage has been used traditionally to purify the mind, body and spirit before praying. Native Americans also used white sage in ceremonies of birth and death. Sacred objects such as pipes and eagle feathers were passed through the smoking of burning white sage in order to purify them.
Purifying the Body
White sage can be made into a tea by crinkling up a few sage leaves into the bottom of a tea cup and adding boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes and do not strain out the leaves as they may be ingested safely. This is useful for helping to break a fever and induce a sweat. Adding about 1 oz. of dried sage leaves into the bathwater is another effective way to purify the body. Through releasing inner negativity and darkness, many Native Americans believe that following these rituals will help cleanse and protect the aura.
Following an ancient folk remedy, some people including Native Americans carry a small amount of white sage with them in their pocket or a medicine pouch to ensure physical safety and spiritual protection on their journeys.
Clearing Negativity Through Smudging
Smudging is the process of burning white sage for the purpose of purifying an area of the home or the physical body. Begin by lighting white sage on the tips of the bundle. Placing a few white sage leaves into a fireproof bowl and lighting them is another option. Gently blow out the flame after it develops so that the sage is smoldering. Be sure to keep the windows and doors closed of the room that is being smudged. Take proper safety precautions such as turning off ceiling fans or moving any flammable objects away from the burning sage.
Thin, light smoke indicates that the environment is already fairly clean. Thick, rolling white smoke means that the sage is neutralizing large amounts of negative energy. By watching the smoke and noticing where it is drifting, you can take note of the areas that need the most amount of clearing. According to author Eileen Nauman of “Sacred White Sage: A Way to Clear Negativity,” there are specific traditions that should be followed when performing a smudging ceremony. Rule number one is that once the sage has been lit; do not stop it from burning. She says that when all of the negativity has been cleared from the space, the sage will automatically stop burning on its own. It should never be doused with water unless in an emergency situation.
Reference: Wigington, P. (2020, June 30). How to cleanse and charge gems, stones and metals. Synonym. https://classroom.synonym.com/how-to-cleanse-and-charge-gems-stones-and-metals-12078166.html
Ingredients (Makes 2 cups)
Fresh: Add the finely chopped leaves and lemon juice to a cup, and pour on some just *boiled water and let steep (sit) for 5-10 minutes before drinking.
Dried: If you’re using dried, use just as you would loose leaf tea leaves, i.e add the dried herb to a teapot, pour on the boiled water, add the lemon juice and let steep (sit) for 5-10 minutes.
Reference: Sage tea recipe: A delightfully potent and very healthy sage infusion. BespokeSpices.com. (n.d.). https://www.bespokespices.com/sage-tea.html