Why I Never Burn Sage, and What It Means About My Spirituality

If you’ve ever looked for advice or techniques to energetically cleanse yourself, someone else, or even a physical space, you’ve probably found suggestions to burn sage.

Sage has been used for smudging and cleansing of energy for a looong time. It’s the go-to answer in spiritual-energy-shaman-hippie circles (and make no mistake – I love those circles!).

But I never burn sage.

Why I Never Burn Sage, and What It Means About My Spirituality

It’s not that I think it’s wrong, or ineffective, or even bad to burn sage. I just happen to really dislike the scent of it.

It took me a while to admit this. Sage is popular. It’s used by many healers and present in many healing circles and ceremonies. I felt like there was something wrong with me that I don’t like sage. That I should have my ‘awesome healer’ card revoked. 

But that’s not how it works.  

Although it may not always be obvious, there is room within spirituality for your own preferences. You don’t have to do it any one way. You are allowed to choose differently than those around you. You can do what you want.

Which means that sage doesn’t get burned in my home. If we’re outside, I can handle it, but indoors – ugh. Just the thought of burned sage aroma starts to give me a headache.

Instead of sage, I burn palo santo wood (which smells ahhhhmazing!), use a spritz or two of cedar-sweetgrass-sage essential oil spray (because burned sage smells much different than sage essential oil), indulge in sound vibrations, or channel Reiki intentions to clear energy. 

These methods work just as well as sage, and they feel much better to me. I enjoy them. They are the right choice….for me. 

Is there a reason that sage is revered for its’ cleansing and healing properties? Yes. Does it make me less of a healer if I don’t use it? No.

Each of us is free to choose how we want to do this whole Divine-spirituality-healer arrangement. No single choice determines how good we are at what we do, or how worthy we are of doing it. There is no scale that’s measuring us. Except our own egos and judgments. Which really just take away from spirituality anyway. 

Hate the smell of sage? Don’t use it. Can’t be bothered to do the thing that (supposedly) makes you a ‘good’ spiritual healer light-worker energy-magician perfect-person? Don’t do it. 

Some folks will tell you that you need to overcome these dislikes, and use them as a compass for growth, to indicate what you should work on next. As if ongoing self-improvement is mandatory. If that feels right to you – awesome. Go for it. It feels heavy and constricting and yucky to me, so I don’t live that way.

Just like taking off a pair of pants that are too tight and instead slipping into something stretchy, you get to decide for yourself what you’re comfortable with. How restrictive you want your pants (or your spirituality) to feel.

Stop judging yourself for what you don’t want or don’t do or can’t get into, and start praising yourself for what you enjoy and can do and love doing. 

Let yourself enjoy life instead of figuring out if you deserve to participate in your own unique way. Of course you do! You have preferences for a reason. They are what makes you….YOU!

Choose the things that make you feel good. Be guided by your own happiness, and delight in that which makes you feel free. Even if it means going against the grain.  

Because sage might be really popular but I think it smells terrible. And that’s totally a-ok. I’ll just do it another way. 

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Why I Never Burn Sage, and What It Means About My Spirituality — 6 Comments

  1. I agree about using what you like to use or do and not what someone says you should use or do.

    If you don’t like something and are doing it because you think you “should”, wouldn’t that negative energy end up defeating the purpose of doing the should? I think so.

    A lot of teachers say you should do mindfulness meditation with your eyes open, but unfocused. That doesn’t work for me. I get distracted too easy. I do better with my eyes closed so that’s what I do.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. What a great post! Although burning sage doesn’t bother me personally, I’m just as grateful for your words here. I especially liked the stretchy spirituality pants analogy! LOL I can’t wait to check out Palo Santo wood – sounds amazing!

  3. Your thoughts are so timely and really applied to just about anything. I spent many years with the “what I should dos” about everything from career, to weight loss, to travel to spirituality. Its when we buy into others thoughts about what works for us and doesn’t that we stop being the one true person God made us to be. See, I feel the same way about my faith. Its between me and God. And no one can determine how that should look for me. A few years ago I let go of all the shouldas and started listening to what my body, mind and spirit was telling me. And I started acting on those things. I am so much lighter, joyfilled and ready for what the future holds.

    Great article!

  4. Hi I have just heard about burning sage but it doesn’t look like an option for me I don’t want to risk having a bad smell in my house. It would upset me and especially my husband. Also I share an office with 4 other people and so burning wouldn’t work there.
    Is there an alternative? I am in the UK

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