This week’s Magick Monday is going to focus on a question that someone asked me recently, which honestly was one of the best questions I’ve found in my email in a long time. Let me share her email down below and then I’m share my perspective.
I hope you could help with a question that I don’t even really know how to ask, so forgive me if this is all over the place. For the last year I’ve been regularly using sage to smudge my apartment at least once a week. I started this as part of my attempt to be a witch all the time in everyday life. I felt like only doing magic and ritual during the seasonal holidays or the full moon was no longer enough for me. Smudging made sense to me and it also came up in a lot of articles online about everyday magic. A few months after I started doing this I noticed a problem starting that only got worse that I can’t describe as anything other than my sage may be broken.
I started to lose things in my apartment. I had received an unexpected bonus at work and I lost the check after getting it home. I found it under my couch almost two weeks later. My keys would go missing, my rings I take off at night wouldn’t be on my nightstand the next morning. Lots of weird things like this happened. I started to notice that when my friends would come to my apartment feeling really emotional or physically sick I would still feel it after they left. I almost always would feel it the next day like it was something happening to me and not just me feeling empathy for them. When all these things would happen I would smudge some more because I was always taught that this is the time you’re supposed to smudge.
Am I doing something wrong? Am I using the wrong sage? I use the white sage bundles they sell at a local health food store. I light it and carry it around each room in my house and spread the smoke around passing each wall and window. When I’m done I let it go out on its own in a dish on a small altar like space I have in my living room. I don’t have a formal altar because I don’t do a lot of magic so I like to just set things up as I need them. Is that part of the problem? Is this because I’m doing something wrote ritually?
Any kind of suggestions you can give would be helpful since I can’t make sense of this.
Julie’s question is great because there actually is something she’s doing wrong.
Energetically and spiritual sage removes stuff. It’s like the spiritual equivalent to bleach. It washes away everything and leaves a completely clean and blank slate. So if you smudge with sage and leave it at that, you’re leaving the space wide open for anything to take root there.
The basic rule to keep in mind with any kind of cleansing or banishing work, whether it’s smudging or a full on spell or ritual, you need to replace what is removed with something else.
We could really get into the weeds with science, pseudoscience, and everything in-between. So I’m going to keep this short and basic, just remember I’m not a scientist and this is extremely simplistic.
All around us are positively charged particles called protons and negatively charged ions called electrons. Together with neutral particles called neutrons they create atoms. If an atom loses electrons then it became a positive ion. If it gains electrons it becomes a negative ion. Some negative ions become oxygen atoms, abbreviated as O2; it gets that 2 because it has 2 more electrons than protons (Oxygen is 8 protons and 10 electrons).
Atmospheric ions are generated by cosmic rays traveling though the upper layers of the atmosphere and then falling to earth (think sun rays) and from different places in nature like, waterfalls, the ocean, and high elevations. Some atmospheric ions are called free floating ions, meaning they are just electrons with no protons at all. They have a pure negative charge and are only found in nature in high elevations or around fast moving water.
I’ve talked about this before, and given the specific topic we have to talk about it again. I’m sorry but your Himalayan salt lamp doesn’t produce any negative ions and isn’t changing the atmosphere in your home. In theory salt can emit negative ions as moisture is removed from it, but the amount of heat needed to actually do that isn’t possible with a household lightbulb, let alone the tiny little night light bulbs usually found within them. They are beautiful…I have two on my altar and I never turn them off, I love them…but they are helping you either through placebo or just because they are emit a calming light and ambience, not because they are changing the energy charge in your space.
Negative ion machines or ionizers do emit negative ions but they also emit ozone. They are fine to use in your home for short periods of time, but left on for hours at a time they are actually more harmful than sitting outside on a high smog day in downtown LA. Ok that might be extreme, but they give off enough levels of ozone to register in lab tests at the same level that causes a smog alert to be issued. You’re better off just opening the windows than using one of those.
So it stands to reason that in our homes, where there are basically NO free floating ions that we would be in a space filled with positive ions. Many of the things in our homes, especially electronics, like your computer, TV, tablets, phone, etc, give off a lot of positive ions. Think about how long you sit at your computer all day (at home and at work), sleeping with your phone next to you or falling asleep with the TV on, and just having our faces in one device or another all the time. Don’t you feel exhausted after a lot of time in front of these things? Probably.
Scientific studies, which admittedly have been challenged over the years, say that in tests people exposed at length to positive ions become irritated, lethargic, and depressed. On the other side more negative ions produced the opposite effect. People felt more peaceful, more clear headed, and more energized. I’m going to toss in my theory that this is due to more oxygen getting into the brain and blood. Think about how much better you feel after a walk outside when you’ve been stuck inside for days. If you haven’t had any fresh air for some time getting to breathe some, even if it’s just because you opened the windows after a long boxed in winter.
So what does this have to do with smudging? And what does it have to with Julie losing a check under her couch?
Burning white sage gives off negative ions. When negative and positive ions meet up they neutralize, canceling each other out. This theory about sage giving off negative ions has been scientifically tested (but not conclusively proven). The other thing that has been scientifically found about sage is that white sage smoke removes 94% of the aerial bacteria in a space which also makes us feel better.
If by smudging your space you neutralized everything and the energy is totally cleared, now what? If you just did that and called it a day you have created a bit of an energy vacuum. With any form of cleansing, clearing, or banishing work you need to also do something to replace that energy otherwise you have a proverbial black hole that can suck in anything that comes along, and lower vibration is sort of like the “path of least resistance” for energy.
What You May Be Doing Wrong…
Things like Julie suddenly losing or misplacing stuff, having lingering emotional or physical effects from the people that have been in her home, and otherwise feeling like something is off after a lot of smudging with nothing else makes a lot of sense. You’ve energetically and spiritually opened your front door allowing anything to come without restriction.
What can Julie do to fix this? Fill the space with energy and intention.
This is different than smudging with intention, this is specifically asking for something to fill the space that has been cleared. A lot of people do this by buying Palo Santo after smudging or burning incense with a specific purpose. I prefer to use Palo Santo as it invites in positive spiritual energy, good fortune, and is very grounding. It’s the perfect finishing touch on a space clearing with sage.
Can you smudge too much? Yes.
The last thing is that, in my opinion, Julie is smudging her home too much. There is no true rule of how often you should do it, but when you’re doing it every week or even on a daily basis you could be doing so much clearing that nothing ever has a chance to stick around and manifest. This is why becoming a good judge and reader of energy and the vibes in your home is really important. You’ll know when it’s truly time to smudge, either by feel or a knowing that it’s just time. If that knowing seems to be daily, you may want to do some further digging into why because there may be other work you need to do and specific things you need to address.
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