Before one begins healing work, ceremony or ritual, or shamanic practices it is recommended that the space and the energy field be cleansed. Cleansing with herbs helps to create sacred space, and shift the energy. It clears and opens the doorway so that our guides and spirit helpers can enter more easily and assist us in the process.
“Smudging” is one common cleansing ceremony in which herbs are burned. One Native American teacher I worked with, Rainbow Weaver, called smudging “Cosmic Right Guard”. Burning your specific herbs in a clay bowl, abalone shell, or other fire safe vessel, use your hand or a feather to brush the smoke over yourself and through your aura. Cleanse throughout the space, around the sacred circle you’re casting, visualizing the negative energies rising out on the smoke.
Sometimes if you’re working indoors and the negativity is great, you may want to open a window. In Western North America the most frequently used herbs are sage, cedar and sweetgrass. Mugwort, also of the sage family, is used. In Mexico and Central America, copal, a resin derived from the copal tree, is used widely in ritual.
It has become common in today’s practice for people to clear and cleanse their surroundings and personal tools on a more regular basis, and not solely when creating space for deeper work. The frequency and nature of this sort of clearing depends upon the individual and their preferences.