Many people are just now being made aware of sage and what it is, are asking these simple questions. I am here to try and answer these and supply an abundance of information that many probably never knew. Where does sage come from? Why is there such a huge demand for this amazing herb? How many kinds are there? What do they all look like? How can they be used? What are they used in? This herb is used for cleansing, foods, history, medicinal, incense, smudging, redemption, cleansing, memory, wisdom, home blessings, prosperity, longevity, and healing, along with many other questions. In this article, I will be answering many questions. Right now, it seems like this ancient white sage herb is everywhere.
Different kinds of shops, baked goods, you can find it on youtube videos, Instagram posts, coffee shops, and I have even personally seen a small sage bundle in a shadow box mounted to the wall in the hospital in South Bend, Indiana, at the Beacons Memorial Herman children’s hospital, 5th floor. So as you can see, even now, it is everywhere practically. It is becoming useful in the world for people taking a more health-conscious route to their well-being. Being conscious consumers means doing our homework when making purchases, especially true for anything we buy for spiritual reasons. The witchy aesthetic may be all the rage right now, but remember, just because a company markets something spiritual does not mean that they are doing things ethically behind the scenes.
White sage, technically named “salvia apiana,” is also known as “bee sage” or “sacred sage.”
It grows in northwestern Mexico, and it is usually found in southern California and Baja California. This amazing evergreen is found and grown in the United States, Albania, Bosnia, and a few other countries. Its natural habitat is known as the coastal sage scrub habitat. If you do choose to use white sage, make sure to consider the origins. After all, if you’re going to purchase an herb to cleanse your space, you want to make sure that your money is going towards people who respect your environment. You also want to ask the shop owner or talk to the people that are a part of the sales of the sage online; some countries have forced labor of people and dont pay the migrant workers as they are supposed to. So definitely do your research on where the sage came from before purchasing it.
The current popularity of sage started many years ago, but it’s becoming more noticeable now as larger companies attempt to capitalize on this herb. Over the past few years, more and more people have gotten involved in honoring goddess-centered beliefs focused on nature and worship. Many people are also involved in witchcraft and doing ceremonies and rituals that involve a wide variety of herbs. However, there has been some opposition to the sale of spiritual herbs originally used by indigenous people, and people can easily get the details of these traditional ceremonies wrong. Sage was in such high demand that it was planted on German farms for its expanding trade business. Since white sage has traditionally been used by Native Americans for spiritual ceremonies, people interested in these paths began using it in their practices.
Sage is from the mint family and comes from evergreen shrubs. The long, slim, and narrow greyish-green leaves have a cotton-like feel to them. Some smudging sticks sold by large companies may not even contain the herbs they advertise, and some can contain materials that are toxic when burned! Also, many companies selling cheap bundles of sage are not harvesting the herb sustainably, and because of this, its natural habitat is being threatened. You can grow your own, carefully prune wild sage, or find a local, organic farmer who provides information about their sustainable harvesting methods. To grow, black sage leaves must be pruned correctly, and the base of the plant has to be left intact, which means, when harvesting the sage plant, you need to cut it a foot above the ground to leave enough of the stalk to reproduce the plant and the leaves. For example, if you have to plice an electric cord, you want to cut about 6 inches from the end, so there is enough wire to connect the other end of wiring; if you cut the very end, there’s no way to reconnect the cable and continue the use of it. However, many companies are simply clearcutting fields of sage—which means they’re cutting off the plant at the base, making it impossible for it to grow back. It kills the plants, and over time, it can alter the natural ecosystem of the area. Then there are even those who are taking white sage from public lands without a permit. In June 2018, 4 people were arrested after illegally harvesting over 400 lbs of white sage from the North Etiwanda Preserve in California. Thankfully, white sage is not endangered; but if companies continue to sell it in mass quantities, and as climate change and record-breaking droughts further stress the ecosystems in California, it could easily land on the list of threatened species. So, should you personally be using sage in your spiritual practice? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer to that question—but it’s best to err on the side of caution. Whenever we’re engaging in a practice that comes from a culture we’re not a part of, we should always do our research and make sure we’re respecting its roots—and sometimes, that could mean simply not participating. Other herbs like lavender, sweetgrass, and cedar are also said to have cleansing properties, so you have plenty of alternatives to choose from if you not comfortable with engaging in the smudging from the sage herbs. Native Scents is a sustainably-minded network of Native-American wildcrafters that sources its white sage using a water-conserving drip irrigation method. Native Scents also donate sacred objects and herbs to Native-American prisoners to support and nurture this marginalized group.
White sage has a strong, noticeable scent when burned. Native American tribes along the Pacific coast used white sage for various purposes. For example, the Cahuilla tribe mixed it with flour and sugar to make dough for biscuits and bread, and they also steeped it to make sage tea. The Chumash tribe ate the leaves and seeds of the plant. Meats, salads, cheese, and pasta sauces get a big boost of flavor from sage. To name a few more, sausage, lamb, and pork all absorb and take well to the sage aroma. Salad leaves blend well with sage, adding a pleasant fresh earthy taste and smell. Powder up the sage and put it in with melted cream cheese and eat on nachos or throw some in with cream cheese and spread on a sundried and olive oil cracker with an olive slice. It is a nice surprise to the taste buds. Check the sage before ingesting. Some are not edible. The Chinese liked the French sage tea better than Chinese tea. The Chinese would trade pounds of Asian tea for a single pound of French sage tea that was already steeped.
Sage has become the most popular herb around the world. Romans used it for snake bites, colds, fevers, and liver problems. And medical uses. Sage had many healing benefits. One was used in the digestion of fatty meats to get rid of ulcers and to aid in releasing joint pain from arthritis. Just a few of the many listed medicinal uses are for depression, anxiety, mood swings, lighten stress in the air, and stressful moments and feelings. Not all tribes practice smudging, though. Shaman use sage to help the ill reach a state of healing. Some sage has what is called thujone. This chemical is put off when heated up by either burning, baking, or boiling. It assists the person in reaching the spiritual realm. It happens because thujone is a psychoactive chemical. Most sages have antimicrobial. It means that it keeps any bacteria, viruses, and fungi down to a controllable level. Both white sage and prairie sage have antimicrobial. White prairie sage has antibacterial. I have learned these both help to get rid of insects. SO…that funny little post on Facebook about not enough sage in the world for this; if there is not, we need to try to make enough. It kills viruses and bacteria to a controlled point. For anyone who has upper respiratory problems, sage can help. You should not be inside or in the same room when smudging if you have upper respiratory problems. Although it does more than just warding off negative issues, sage smoke can neutralize mold, dust, pet dander, and pollution. Your breathing will become a lot easier, and you will have a more clear bronchial. It also gives extra needed energy by getting rid of fatigue to help get you through the day. It eliminates insomnia and promotes a restful night’s sleep. Sage tea is also used to treat several medical issues such as stomach discomfort and sore throats.
White sage has been used for witches’ purposes for centuries; many tribes in this general area burnt white sage leaves in practice known as “smudging.” This ceremony was said to cleanse negative energy from a dwelling, and smudging sticks could also be used in ceremonies to cleanse people or objects. Some tribes even had rules around when sage could be picked and used in a ceremony—for instance, a ritual might require a sage picked in the evening under a full moon at a certain time of the year. This herbal evergreen can be used for clearing the negativity in the air for a better connection in meditation and clearer sights. The burning of sage is called smudging. It is used to ward off evil spirits, negativity and to connect to the spiritual world. It is an old Native Indian ritual. Sage is used in many spells in kitchen witch workings. Some of them are granting wishes and helping get past a grieving stage in death or loss. It is used to ward off evil spirits, and it cleans the home or work area. It even helps clean and detach an evil spirit from an individual before moving your belongings into a new home. Be careful not to bring whatever has attached to you into the new home. I recommend this be done to your belongings as well. Evil entities can also attach to an object, usually to a sentimental item. These things are kept for centuries if people take care of them. The only way the negative spirit or energy will detach is by either smudging around the object or if the object is destroyed and removed from the home. At this point, if it is destroyed, the energy can move to another object. Inevitably, sage is a tool for more than one purpose.
When getting ready to smudge your home, think about your intentions. While doing this, open a window in each room and at least one door leading outside. The traditional way of doing your cleansing is to start in the middle of the room and work out like walking in a spiral motion, fanning with a feather (inside/center outward counter-clockwise). It pushes out entities in the home. When you have completed this, dab or tap the burning end of your sage in a small bowl of sand or ashes to stop the burning; if those are not readily available to you, use some flour, cornmeal, or baking powder, or soda.
White or black candle. A way to light the candle and white sage. A decent-sized shell for the ashes and a feather, some flour, corn mill, or baking soda to snuff out the sage bundle if you are not using the ground or powdered sage.
With this sage, fire, smoke, and ash, I burn away the ill things, negative ways, and all the things creating an ailment you may not stay. I cleanse my soul, body, home, and family. I detach any pain and negativity attached to us and our belongings. That includes the home. It is time for you to be free and move forth. As I say it, I will it into existence and call it into power and removal. I use this fire to light the sage, the smoke to show you the way out, the ash to represent the death of the old, and the renewal of life after leaving here. This is my will. So mote it be.
Fire, Jupiter, Earth, Air, Water, Abalone shell used to collect the ashes and represent water.
When purchasing your sage, look into where you are getting it from and where the store owner is getting their product. Show respect and appreciation for the Indian tribe’s culture, rituals, the native collectors, and for sharing their traditions and beliefs. To support them, try to purchase from the Native Indians by purchasing any herbs from the Native Indians; this ensures that the plants are being well taken care of and do not come with ill intentions attached. It also helps to continue the growth and production of the herbs, and the chances of them becoming extinct are at a much lower percentage.