How to Smudge
Smudging is a simple ritual for whenever or wherever you feel the need to cleanse, balance or purify yourself, others, a room, your crystals or other special tools.
Smudging with your sage (or other herb) is easy. Use a candle or lighter to ignite the tip of the sage bundle, and then blow on it to extinguish the flame. The sage will continue to smolder, so be very careful not to lay it down on anything flammable.
Being by smudging yourself. Waft smoke over and around your body, either by waving the sage toward yourself, or as I prefer, sweep it back and forth in front of you, and then step through the smoke. Hold your intention firmly in your mind as you do this. Take a few deep, relaxing breaths. Feel any negative energy you are carrying dissipate slowly with the rising tendrils of smoke.
Repeat the smudging, but this time, instead of focussing on dispelling any negative energy, your attention should be on drawing in positive energy. In your mind's eye, see yourself surrounded by a white light of healing, revitalizing energy.
If needed, you can repeat these steps, alternately driving out the negative energies, and drawing in the positive ones. Take as long as you need to with this. Do not rush on to the next steps until you are ready. You should feel balanced, grounded, and humming with potential.
Once you, personally, are prepared, you can move on to smudging your belongings, or your home. Again, remaining focussed on your intention is most important. For small items, simply pass them through the smoke from the sage bundle, while envisioning the negative impulses being driven off and replaced with the positive. If you are smudging your whole house, focus particularly on the doors and windows. You want to not only cleanse it in the present moment, but also fortify and protect your home against future intrusions. A polished stone or two placed on the windows is a good way to reinforce your work. Corners and other nooks and crannies can also be danger zones. Sweep away the negative energies that collect there with a wave of your burning sage wand.
In some cases, it may feel almost like a clogged pipe, so to speak. Your immediate environment may feel like it is congested, and trying to obstruct your work. As you continue to clarify your intentions, imagine this blockage getting thinner and weaker, until it is swept away by the incoming rush of positive energies.
Treat the exterior of your home with the same care you take on the inside, while envisioning a protective barrier that will ward off all dangers. (This step may not be possible if you live in an apartment, and that's ok. Just do what you can).
At the end of your ritual, it never hurts to smudge yourself again one last time before extinguishing the sage. Make sure the sage is no longer burning by misting it lightly with water, or by burying the smoldering tip in sand. It's always a good idea to place the sage in something fireproof, like a metal bowl, or even the kitchen sink, for a while after smudging with it, just to make sure it is completely extinguished.
As you begin your ritual to a close, focus on your connection to the earth. You are likely to be buzzing with the energies you have channeled. I like to sit on the ground or floor, and place my hands flat down on it, blending my energy with the earth's until I feel like my equilibrium has been restored. Other people recommend imagining that you are a tree, with roots digging deep into the earth, and branches touching the sky. Whatever method you feel most comfortable with is the one you should use.
Now, here's the most important part, and the part that tends to get ignored or forgotten by most folks: You see, the smudging ritual is a great first step, like weeding a garden bed, but in order to gain the maximum benefit from it, you still have a lot of work to do, just as, in our garden example, you would still need to plant seeds and cultivate your flower bed.
Your intention, which fueled your energy throughout the smudging ritual, is now more finely honed than ever. It has given you a new lens through which to view your world, and you are likely to start noticing specific actions you can take to avoid negative energies building up in the future. Bad relationships? Smudging isn't going to drive the person off for you, but it will make you stronger and more capable of standing up for yourself. Messy home that makes you miserable? Again, the smudging won't do the dishes for you, or take out the trash, but it will shift your focus and strengthen your will so that you can take action as needed.
As always, feel free to adjust the details of the ritual to make it truly your own. You know better than anyone how to bring out the best in yourself. Trust your intuition.
Good luck, and blessed be!