sage burning

One of the most frequently used tools to clear negative energy is smoke and incense. White sage is my favorite for the aroma it imparts. I light it, and it should extinguish itself. The smoke is what we are after. If it stops to smolder, that’s all right. Just re-light it and start again.

A fire proof dish to hold the burning material is needed for the sage. I like a large shell because it is a natural material, rather than human crafted. But I don’t recall ever hearing any rules. So much of what we know and learn in our shamanic studies comes from “intuition”.

Incense is also used. I like to put incense sticks in a container of rice. They are held easily and the fear of a fire starting is eliminated.

Buddhists use incense in much the same way that shamans use it. It is one of the many intersections that I see in the two practices.

In Christian churches a thurible is used to distribute the incense. (I love this new word to my vocabulary) “The word “thurible” comes from the Old French thurible, which in turn is derived from the Latin term thuribulum. The Latin thuribulum is further formed from the root thus, meaning incense. Thus is an alteration of the Greek word θύος (thuos), which is derived from θύειν (thuein) “to sacrifice”.[1] Wikipedia

It is difficult to find an ancient culture that has not used smoke ritually. Since shamanic rituals began around the fire, it feels like a natural extension.

What are your attitudes about smoke?


  1. Hmm…interesting word history here today. When I was a kid, I hated the incense used in the Catholic Church. It was a cloying, intense smell that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. I would hold my breath while the priest walked down the aisle with the censer. But it was cool to watch him – the censer was an ornate metal container at at the end of a chain, so the priest could swing it out to one side, then the other, trailing plumes of incense as he went. In fact, this week – Holy Week – would be prime incense-burning time.

    1. Are there different scents for different orthodoxies? There are some smells I associate with Buddhist rituals and others with native american and shamanic rites. I’m not experienced enough to identify those in the Catholic church. Can you?

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