We see a lot of white sage being promoted as one of the best ways to purify your home, tools, yourself and other things. However, it should be noted that anyone outside of Indigenous or First Nation cultures are not encouraged to use this sacred plant.
Native spiritual practices are what is known as a “closed religion” meaning that only Native people and direct descendants are able to participate in these practices. There are of course some exceptions which I won’t get into here. If you would like more information on this subject please see my post regarding Truth and Reconciliation Day.
If you are choosing not to use white sage in rituals here are the things I use in its place that are just as effective.
- Good ol’ salt and water. Pagans have been using salt and water in purification rituals since well, since Pagans have been alive. It is great to purify oneself such as in a bath, it cleanses ritual space and many tools and stones.
- Rosemary herb bundles. Similar to sage smudge sticks, a rosemary bundle is lit on one end and the smoke is wafted around the space, or a tool is passed through the smoke. Rosemary is a very common herb with strong purification qualities. I’ve also had great luck with lavender bundles and woods like poplar and pine.
- Sage essential oil. There are different types of sage, which you can discern based on the botanical name. For example white sage used by Native Americans has the botanical name Salvia apiana whereas common garden sage has the botanical name Salvia officinalis. Common sage is more sustainable to use, and it is the one you will find most sage essential oil is made from. It works the same way and smells the same as white sage. You can diffuse a few drops in an essential oil diffuser, add some to water to cleanse space or tools, or wear a drop in a carrier oil to wear in circle.
- Incense. Stick incense is pretty much fool proof. You choose your type; for cleansing you could choose sandalwood, frankincense, lavender, dragon’s blood, cinnamon etc. You light the tip, blow it out and that’s it! It burns itself out. All you need is a holder which can be simple as standing the stick up in a fireproof bowl with sand or soil, or simple wooden holder, or a more elaborate holder. There are many options available!
- Another type of incense is loose incense that you burn on charcoal. These are great because you can design your own for exactly your needs. These are usually resin based with herbs ground into the resin. These are a little harder to work with at first, but completely customizable. You can also purchase loose incense if you don’t want to make it.
- Using stones. There are some stones, (selenite comes to mind) that will absorb unwanted energy from tools and spaces and altars. You simply place the selenite anywhere you want cleansed or place your tools and stones along a stick of selenite. Large pieces of selenite are one of the more affordable stones. A stick of selenite is a few dollars, and the last tower I got was under $15.
There are many more options out there but these should get you started.