My Herbs Blog
In this post, I will describing how I make smudge sticks with fresh plants, especially Goldenrod. I love this plant, and it is so plentiful right now in Eastern Pennsylvania. The Latin name of Goldenrod is Solidago spp. I am going to assume you already know how to identify this plant, and will not go into that lengthy description. If you do not know how to identify, I am going to lead you to this book to give you a hand at identifying all plants in the Eastern U.S., Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition (Peterson Field Guides)
You may also want to inquire with a plant person. I am sure you know someone who knows plants, and is superb at identification. If you do not know such person, you can also head over to my YouTube page Sheep Hill Herbs and see my videos with Goldenrod.
All that being said, you may also use Peppermint, or Mugwort, or Sage to make a smudge stick, and I daresay, just about any plant you want to choose!
I really do not like how it is hard to share and talk about herbs, and their uses. I feel like there is not much out there that gives people new to plants a basic understanding, in easy to understand language about medicinal plants. There is definitely a "fear" surrounding plants and nature in general, that is perpetuated from many sources. I like to make herbs easy, and accessible, as the plants are themselves. They are right there, available, outside. I do not want to make them harder than need be. For me, I like to read how the Native American Indians, or Native people used herbs, because they really needed and used them and relied on them for everything. I feel like information sourced from Native people around the world, is reliable and can be more of a guide than scientific literature, that only a handful of people can understand.
Below are some uses I found for Goldenrod by different Indian tribes:
-The Meskwaki (a Minnesota Fox tribe) made a lotion from the blossoms for bee stings and other painful swellings.
-Cherokee prepared a tea from one species to reduce fever and from another to treat bladder and kidney ailments.
-Delaware tribes prepared a tea from early Goldenrod to combat diarrhea and chewed the fresh green leaves for fevers.
-Chippewa used root decoction externally and internally for cramps; decoction of dried leaves for fevers.
Let's get started on the actual instructions for making smudge sticks. First you want to cut your fresh herbs. I do not let them wilt very long, but tie them pretty quickly after picking.
What you need:
String, or twine
Bunches of fresh herb. (A good fistful of plants)
You really do not need much and this is rather easy. I have made large smudge sticks - see my video below, and also small, rather thin ones from a few stalks of peppermint. The larger the smudge stick, the more smoke you will create. I make the smaller ones, to use as incense. I will light the small ones in a ceramic dish, and let sit on the stove, or some safe place. The larger smudge sticks I will move around an area that I wish to cleanse.
Back to the instructions.
What I do here ......This part is rather easy. You take the herb stalks and layer them into a stick or bundle, squeezing together as you work. Make this as long and as thick as you desire, but just make sure it is even thickness. For the Goldenrod the flower parts make an area thick, so you have to spread the flowers throughout.
You can see this exactly in my video: YouTube
When the bundle is finished you tie a knot in the middle of the wand and leave a short tail on one end, and a long tail attached to the twine at the other end of the know. Then begin to wrap the herbs going around the bundle and pulling tightly to one end of the stick, and then wrap back to the middle. When you reach the middle wrap towards the other end, and wrap back to the middle. When I finally get back to the middle, I tie off the string and trim the string. That portion is finished. I then take a scissors and trim both ends of the smudge stick so that they are even.
To dry, I set my smudge sticks on a glass or ceramic plate place on a sunny counter. I will turn the sticks a few times a day, to get both sides dry. The outer portion will be dry in about 2 days. I then remove from the sun and keep on the plate and continue to turn daily. They dry fully in about 2 weeks. If you have the space, you can tie the sticks up and hang them to dry. This will remove the turning step and allow air to circulate all sides at once. The drying time is a little shorter. I think this works best if you make numerous smudge sticks.
For burning. This is where you get to enjoy what you made. Do I need to say, please be careful. Be smart. Keep lighters, and matches away from children. I use a big ceramic dish. You can see in the picture here there is a ceramic bowl to place the smudge stick in. I light one end over the dish and you may have to lightly blow to get the smoke going. I will walk to each room I want to smudge with the smudge stick dish and then keep it right there as I move the smoke with my hands and try to waft it around the area I want to cleanse.
With my smaller smudge sticks, I light and allow to burn slowly in a room. I only do this where I have a safe spot like my kitchen stove where I can set the bowl and the stick and know it won't be knocked over. This is not something I would leave burning and walk away. The whole process is the process. You want to be engaged with the activity of burning your smudge stick. Close your eyes, and allow the energy to change around you.
The best time to do this is when you need to shift the energy of a room, or a whole house. There may have been an accident, a loud argument, or even just a funky smell. I am amazed at how quickly the whole home changes when you burn a smudge stick. As a person very sensitive to smells and energy; a wrong smell or negative energy bothers me greatly. This tool allows a quick and effective shift of into a positive flow pretty quickly and effectively.