Harvesting and Drying Sage for Smudge Sticks
When we started our garden mid April, we planted sage for its aromatic, medicinal and edible benefits. Sage is a versatile herb that grows well in most gardens. Sage belongs to the same family as mint, and has been used for CENTURIES in both the kitchen and medicine cabinet. So, the time has finally come for our FIRST harvest and we are going to DIY our own Sage Smudge Bundles!
Let me preface by saying I personally don’t usually use Smudge Sticks to purify etc. However, I am a HUGE history nerd, so I am very aware of their use throughout history as both a medicine and spiritual aid, so I am very excited to try this! (did you know Sage has been valued for its immunity-boosting properties all the way back to the Roman era, where it was used to treat health issues ranging from infertility to snake bites?)
Now, whether you are doing this for spiritual reasons, medical reasons or because you just like the smell – here are a few things we recommend!
- Know where your sage came from, if you are not growing it. Many people who burn smudge sticks as a religious practice INSIST on locally grown sage that was grown with ‘good intent’.
- If you ARE growing it, be sure to give it a light rinse and let it air dry BEFORE you make your bundles.
- Make sure the string you use is COTTON or all organic so that it will burn, and will burn CLEAN when you light your sage. Nobody wants to smell burnt plastic when you’re supposed to be cleansing a space… ijs
FIRST STEP was to harvest the sage. As you can see here, our variety differs slightly from the standard sage you see used to make these, but they will work just fine. You can harvest Sage at any time of the year, but it’s best to get to them BEFORE they flower in order for the leaves to be most potent. When picking your sage, consider HOW you will be using them. If you are using them fresh for cooking, you can just pick off the leaves as you need them. If you are harvesting to dry, cut of stems that are AT LEAST 6 inches long.
NEXT I rinsed and allowed the sage to air dry.
THEN We started making our bundles. Ours are a little skinnier than the norm, but we wanted everyone to get a chance to make one. I also harvested fresh Mint and Rosemary from the garden to add into our bundles.
Rosemary is considered a cognitive stimulant and can help improve memory performance and quality. It is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus. The aroma of rosemary has been linked to improving mood, clearing the mind, and relieving stress in those with chronic anxiety or stress hormone imbalances.
Mint is simply refreshing and soothing and is often used for purity, protection, release, and renewal. Mint is known as a powerful, potent and prolific healing herb that has been known to heal many ailments; an herb that provides protection, and an herb that can draw the energies of wealth and prosperity to those willing to harness it.
There are lots of different options you can add to your Sage bundles for religious AND health benefits, but we wanted to use what was fresh from our garden. Hopefully by the time we’re ready to do them again our Lavendar is ready to add!
Lay out your sage on a paper towel like below, overlapping until you get your desired length and thickness.
Once you have it the shape you like, slowly gather up the end of your bundle, and start wrapping your cord around the end. I found it worked best for me to wrap the end a few times, and then hold the ENTIRE bundle as I went along, making sure to tuck in any stray sage etc.
Once I got to the end, I came back the other way, trying to alternate to get a nice pattern.
In traditional native American culture, smudge sticks are tied with a RED cord. We just used a variety pack for our purposes.
Here are some pics of us working on ours.
And Here is our end results! They turned out so awesome, and smell SO good!!
FINALLY I hung them up to dry in a dark dry place. I will check on them periodically until they are 100% dry and ready to use!
For herbal bundles simply light the end on fire. Allow the bundle to burn for a moment and blow out the flame. The herb bundle will then smolder producing the smoke used to cleanse. Use a shell or heat proof plate to catch the falling ash.