Why Is White Sage Used by the Native Americans?

by Pamela Gentry

Considered a sacred herb by Native American people, white sage is used for purification and protection purposes. Many people follow the ancient Native American tradition of smudging, which is believed to clear away negative energies.

Traditional Uses

Native Americans have used white sage for centuries and continue to use it today. White sage has been used traditionally to purify the mind, body and spirit before praying. Native Americans also used white sage in ceremonies of birth and death. Sacred objects such as pipes and eagle feathers were passed through the smoking of burning white sage in order to purify them.

Purifying the Body

White sage can be made into a tea by crinkling up a few sage leaves into the bottom of a tea cup and adding boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes and do not strain out the leaves as they may be ingested safely. This is useful for helping to break a fever and induce a sweat. Adding about 1 oz. of dried sage leaves into the bathwater is another effective way to purify the body. Through releasing inner negativity and darkness, many Native Americans believe that following these rituals will help cleanse and protect the aura.

Ensuring Protection

Following an ancient folk remedy, some people including Native Americans carry a small amount of white sage with them in their pocket or a medicine pouch to ensure physical safety and spiritual protection on their journeys.

Clearing Negativity through Smudging

Smudging is the process of burning white sage for the purpose of purifying an area of the home or the physical body. Begin by lighting white sage on the tips of the bundle. Placing a few white sage leaves into a fireproof bowl and lighting them is another option. Gently blow out the flame after it develops so that the sage is smoldering. Be sure to keep the windows and doors closed of the room that is being smudged. Take proper safety precautions such as turning off ceiling fans or moving any flammable objects away from the burning sage.

Smudging Protocol

Thin, light smoke indicates that the environment is already fairly clean. Thick, rolling white smoke means that the sage is neutralizing large amounts of negative energy. By watching the smoke and noticing where it is drifting, you can take note of the areas that need the most amount of clearing. According to author Eileen Nauman of "Sacred White Sage: A Way to Clear Negativity," there are specific traditions that should be followed when performing a smudging ceremony. Rule number one is that once the sage has been lit; do not stop it from burning. She says that when all of the negativity has been cleared from the space, the sage will automatically stop burning on its own. It should never be doused with water unless in an emergency situation.

About the Author

Pamela Gentry is an experienced writer specializing in original articles, blogs, product reviews and website copy. Her specialties include interior design, health and wellness and advertising. Gentry currently writes various types of content for Scripted, Writer Access, CopyPress, Get a Copywriter and Gated Publications.

Photo Credits

  • Roman Rozenblyum/Demand Media