Clearing the Air: Over-Harvesting of White Sage
White sage (Salvia apiana) is a sacred herb that has been used by Indigenous peoples for centuries for spiritual cleansing and purification.
But in recent years, the popularity of white sage has skyrocketed, leading to over-harvesting and depletion of wild populations.
That’s a bummer, because white sage is magic.
Benefits of White Sage
If you have never experienced white sage, the benefits are numerous:
- Spiritual cleansing: White sage is often used in smudging ceremonies to cleanse a space of negative energy. This can be helpful for creating a more peaceful and inviting atmosphere.
- Relaxation: The smoke from burning white sage can be calming and relaxing. This can be helpful for reducing stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
- Spiritual awareness: Some people believe that the smoke from burning white sage can help to enhance spiritual awareness. This can be helpful for connecting with your inner self and the divine.
- Antimicrobial and insecticidal properties: White sage has antimicrobial and insecticidal properties. This means that it can help to kill bacteria, viruses, and insects. This can be helpful for preventing the spread of disease and keeping pests away.
Sage & Smudge Bundles
Currently, white sage is one of the most popular herbs used in commercially sold smudge bundles. A smudge bundle is a bundle of dried herbs that is burned to cleanse a space or person of negative energy.
Smudging is a traditional practice that has been used by many cultures for centuries.
The herbs used in smudge bundles vary depending on the culture and tradition, but some common herbs, other than sage, include: cedar, lavender, and sweetgrass. The herbs are typically bundled together and tied with a string.
To “smudge”, the bundle is lit and allowed to burn slowly. The smoke is then wafted around the space or person that is being cleansed. The smoke is believed to absorb negative energy and replace it with positive energy.
Smudging can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Cleansing a space of negative energy
- Preparing for a spiritual ritual or ceremony
- Promoting relaxation and peace of mind
- Healing and protection
But before you run out and buy a bundle of white sage, there are a few things you should know.
Why Use White Sage Herbal Alternatives for Your Smudge
First, white sage is a sacred herb to many Indigenous cultures. Using it without understanding its cultural significance is cultural appropriation. Second, the over-harvesting of white sage is putting the plant at risk of extinction.
So what can we do? We can start by learning about the cultural significance of white sage. We can also use ethically sourced white sage, or consider using other sacred herbs for spiritual cleansing. And if you’re really feeling inspired, you can learn how to make your own smudge bundles.
At Firefly Hollow Holistic Wellness Center, we offer an annual workshop in the Summer months on smudge bundling and the use of sacred herbs for spiritual cleansing.
Our Smudge Bundling Workshop will share:
- How to make your own smudge bundles using locally & ethically sourced herbs
- Learn about the properties and benefits of herbs used in smudge bundling
- How to safely dry and wrap the herbs to avoid mold & mildew
- We will also discuss the cultural significance of smudge bundling and how to avoid cultural appropriation.
So come join us and let’s clear the air! Together, we can connect with community and help to protect white sage and other sacred herbs for future generations.