Smoking, smudging or incense - that sounds like expensive ingredients from far away lands. Smoking, smudging and incense were used by traditional cultures all over the world. All sorts of herbs, weeds, barks and resins were used.
Smoke was used for practical purposes like ridding domestic animals from bugs and parasites purifying rooms or for medical purposes. Rosemary and thyme were burned in French hospitals to prevent contagion. Smoke or even herbal cigarettes were used for the treatment of asthma and respiratory diseases. But it was always tied as well to the more shamanic uses like to clearing negative energy from a space, in healing rituals, to ignite vision in magic and prayer.
The most known smudging ingredients are maybe white sage, cedar, copal, frankincense and myrrh; however, but you can do like the ancient people did: just use what is available, herbs which grow in your kitchen garden or in the wild.
You can use a specialized burner or simply a fireproof dish (but beware the dish might get really hot!). The very dry herbs are either burned directly or using charcoal tablets, in this case sand is used to prevent the container from overheating.
3 Common Kitchen Herbs Great for smudging:
Mint, Rosemary and sage: they are probably growing in your garden already (no garden should be without them!)
Mint (Mentha spp.)
I grow a variety of mint and given the weedy character of most mints, there is almost always enough to harvest! Burning mint emits an herbal scent purifying the air. Best used in the morning helps you to get unstuck, clears the mind, relaxes the nerves and vitalizes the body.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
A prime kitchen herb, an excellent medical herb and an ancient European smudging herb used for purification ceremonies. Burning rosemary is said to remove negative energies, helps meditation, divination, and increases psychic abilities. It is associated with attracting love, stimulating sexual appetites, bringing clarity and improves the memory.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Common garden sage though distinct from the white sage can be used for smudging. In fact many sages are very pleasant to smudge with! It is said to clear negative energy when burned.
4 Easy to grow herbs:
You might or might not have aal of these herbs in your garden, but I promise, they are all easy to grow: lemon balm, orris root and lavender.
Lemon balm: (Melissa officinalis)
Used for spiritual cleansing and calming. “It is a fragrance of the summer sun when it is bright and warm. The herb contains essential oil (citral, citronellal, linalool and geraniol, succinic acid, coumarin compounds), can be smoked against restlessness and promotes confidence in the future. It can thus be used as a hopeful outlook. Smoked lemon balm conveys a very fine message. It is experienced when the noise is turned off and the antennas are aligned to the Yin. - Inspired by light powers in the heart-“(Thomas Kinkele, Heimische Rauecherplanzen)
Orris root: (Iris germanica)
Although the root is the part used, orris root or German iris is really easy to grow and I dug out more roots than I was able to process. After harvesting, simply replant parts of the root. It is the herb associated with finding and holding love. Its magical uses are: Divination, protection, psychic awareness, love and sexual appeal. It is too, an herb of transitions for the support for the dying and mourning.
Lavender: (Lavandula spp.)
I grow several lavenders in my garden, each one smells of lavender but with a different note. When burnt lavender is calming, is has a light, aromatic and refreshing scent. It is said to attract peace, happiness, reduces depression and aids a restful sleep. Good for meditation and, brings inner calm and increased awareness.
Yomogi: (Artemisia princeps)
All artemisias are useful as smudges. I love using yomogi which grows abundantly in my garden. Yomogi is an ancient Japanese herb with its use dated back to the Ainu people. It is an excellent smudging plant often used substitute to white sage, producing a smooth and cooling smoke that purifies the air and dispels negativity.