Introduction to Smoke Cleansing

Posted by Amber Newton on

Let’s talk a bit about cleansing with smoke. First, let me start by saying, in my opinion, there’s really no wrong way to do it.  It really comes down to what feels right to you. I do my own personal thing, and it changes depending on what I’m attempting to accomplish or the mood I’m in. Do not feel like in order to cleanse your space (or yourself) you have to put on a special robe, do 30 minutes of meditation before and after, and say some sort of chant. Although, if that’s what feels right, go for it!

Smoke cleansing has been around for a very long time! Burning wood, herbs, plants or resin to use the smoke to charge, energize and cleanse the person, place or item.  In early European times, peasants would burn herbs to cover the smell of farm animals and to rid the area of bugs. In France, rosemary and thyme were used in hospitals to clean the air. In Scottish culture, they would do what was called “Saining” to purify a person, place or animal. Buddhism, Taoism and Shinto temples were very well known for their use of incense. Native Americans have used what is called “smudging” today by burning sage as a “pre-ceremony/ritual”. Let me note that there is a lot of talk about Smudging vs Cleansing. I am not going to get into the difference here, but make sure you do your research before embarking on your journey into the world of smoke cleansing.

So let’s get on with it, shall we? When cleansing with smoke you can use herbs (bundled or loose), or resin. It’s wise to use some sort of fireproof bowl or shell to catch the embers that may fall. I have not always been known to use this precaution, (oops). I have more than one burned spot on my mat where I sit.

So, you have your herbs and your bowl, now you light it on fire! (my favorite part!) You need to have quite a bit of smoke going so that it lasts until you are done. You will need something to direct the smoke up and into the areas you are cleansing (or yourself or some other item).  Sometimes I use a feather I keep on my alter. Sometimes I just use my hand. Like I said before, it always depends on what kind of mood I am in. Oh, and make sure you have windows or doors open. You have to give the negative energy a place to go!

Now, clockwise or counterclockwise, that is the question. Going clockwise encourages energy to come into that space, whether for cleansing, a spell or empowering before a ritual. Counter-clockwise will remove negative energies and spirits from the area. Start at your door and move in whichever direction you feel necessary, going from room to room directing the smoke out of the windows or doors. Again, you do not have to chant away the negativity, but you totally can! Sometimes I just go around the room and say things like, “this is my house, get out of here!” Or if I am cleansing a crystal or tarot deck or myself, I just think about the negative energy getting swept up in the smoke and leaving.  

After you are done and the embers are cool, you are going to want to dispose of the leftovers. You can place it outside and let the wind take it away, you can bury it out in your yard, you can keep it and add it to a spell later, or, if you so choose, you can just toss it out.  I sometimes like to save it for later, or bury it outside; but, to be honest I like to do things to make me feel magical and a little “witchy!”


So, there you have it! There is my opinion of smoke cleansing. That is how I do it, but as with everything else in life, research and trial and error. You never know your right way of doing things until you try different ways.

Man may have discovered fire, but women discovered how to play with it.” -Unknown

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