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All plants are gifted with a sacred spirit that resonates deeper that its physical constituents, and this has led to their traditional use in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. The relationship that humankind has had with these plants is not a new idea, nor is it New Age mumbo-jumbo: rather, it’s a collection of ancient knowledge that humanity has used for millennia to heal the mind and body and maintain connection to our life-giving Earth. Many cultures and religions believe the smoke of burning plants carries prayers to the heavens. This is why smudging has a positive connection with healing, cleansing, guidance, celebration, protection, clearing negative energy, feeling more centred, purification, and ushering us into the world of sweet dreams.

Smudge sticks are extremely easy to make from a variety of plants, the most common being a sage smudge stick burnt to clear negative energy. However, it’s not the only plant that can be used: pine needles can be used for cleansing and purification; sweetgrass to bring positive energy; holy basil (tulsi) for purification and calming; rosemary for protection; lavender for calming; lemon balm for spiritual cleansing; and mugwort to induce lucid dreams.

How to make a smudge stick

* Gather a basketful of herbs and/or flowers from your garden. They don’t all need to be the same length; in fact a couple with extra-long stems is great.
* Group the long-stemmed herbs together and begin folding them, end over end, so they end up being about 10cm long. With each fold, arrange the other shorter stemmed herbs, flowers or leaves inside the bundle. Be aware that the bundle will shrink, so make sure it's fatter than you’d like it to be once it has dried.
* Cut a piece of twine (100% cotton) that is about four times the length of your bundle. Holding the completed bundle, wrap the twine around the bundle in a wide stripe. Once you get to the end of the bundle, turn and criss-cross back to the other end to where you began, tucking in any stray sprigs as you go. Tie and knot the end securely.
* Hang the bundle to dry for at least 3 weeks. Once dry, you may need to re-bind if the original binding is now loose as the result of plant shrinkage.
* When ready, light the end and enjoy the calming, cleansing and purifying herbal fragrance.

Toni Green is a Launceston-based naturopath, herbalist and health writer. It is her passion to pass on this knowledge of natural therapies to others so that they might live a stress-free life with health and vitality. Toni can be contacted at www.naturalhealthsolutions.net.au; toni.green57@iinet.net.au or 0431 716 601.