Two different plants are called white sage--Salvia apiana and Artemisia ludoviciana. Salvia apiana is native to southwestern California and northern Baja California. Artemisia ludoviciana occurs throughout the central portion of the United States and into Canada. American Indians used both types of white sage for smudging, a practice in which the plant is tied into bundles and burned for cleansing and purification. The Artemisia played an important part in Cheyenne ceremonies and was believed to "drive away bad spirits, evil influences, bad dreams, bad thoughts and sickness," according to a United State Department of Agriculture publication about this plant.
Using White Sage
Tie six to eight 6-inch tops of dried white sage into bundles with your string. Then light the bundle at the leaf tips--if they burst into flames, blow the fire out. It will continue to smolder while you use the smudge stick to purify a room, an entire house, yourself of another person.
Insert the burning smudge stick into your heat-proof bowl. If you are smudging a room, keep the doors and windows closed. If you are smudging an entire house, close all doors and windows of each room before you begin to smudge it. Carry your bowl with the smudge stick with you as you walk clockwise around the borders of the room. The website medicinegarden.com instructs users to "gently waft the smoke after it clears the bowl, from the floor, up, toward the ceiling." After you have traversed the four walls, step to the center of the room and then lift the bowl with your smudge stick to your chest and with your free hand waft the smoke upward. Leave the room closed for about one hour after you are finished.
Smudge yourself to help to drive away evil influences, bad thoughts or illness. Light your smudge stick and place it into a heat-proof bowl. Then bend over the bowl and waft the smoke toward your face with your hand or a fan. When the smoke rises above your head, practitioners say that you will be cleansed.
Make tea from white sage to help break the fever of a cold or flu and to cleanse yourself of negativity and darkness, according to medicinegarden.com. Crumble three white sage leaves in your hand and put them into a cup. Boil water separately and then pour it over the sage leaves. Wait 10 minutes and then drink it--you can also eat the leaves.
Take a bath in white sage. Crumble one ounce of dried white sage into your bathtub and then fill the tub with hot water. Allow the water to cool to a temperature that is comfortable and then soak in the mixture of sage and water for up to 15 minutes. Some believe bathing in white sage helps to clean both the body and the aura and that it will help to relive stress.