Mystics say the Native American practice of smudging, or purifying a room with the smoke of sacred herbs, can help clear negative energy from a space. And the apparent benefits are steeped in science—when burned, sage and other herbs release negative ions, which research has linked to a more positive mood.
To practice smudging at home, it’s important to be respectful and learn how to handle the herbs according to traditional protocols, says Cat Criger, aboriginal elder-in-residence at the University of Toronto. When done properly, smudging can be a way to connect with Native American culture, he notes.
“To understand the protocol means you have to learn something about aboriginal people. So in a sense the medicines are working in a kind way, saying ‘learn about me and we can respect each other and we can walk together,’ ” he says. Native American medicines must be treated with reverence, so once you’ve acquired the herbs, clear out a bookshelf or an honored place in your home that is above waist height to store them. You may want to find birch baskets to keep them in.