Most cultures with spiritual traditions will have some form of cleansing ritual and many involve the burning of resins, herbs and more in order to rid the “bather” of unwanted energies and attachments. Rich and colorful aromas can ignite memories of religion for people hailing from all parts of our diverse world. One need not look further than their own backyard for a source of ritual burnables as many common herbs and easily grown plants can cultivated for the purpose of magic.
While social media has popularized White Sage (Salvia apiana), I generally encourage the use of other options given the current overharvesting, drought and wildfire problems in California’s native Sage habitats. Finding an alternative to purchasing White Sage is as easy as growing it yourself or requesting that your local spiritual supply shop look into stocking a wider variety of herbs and bundles. I am a personal fan of pine and mugwort when recommending choices for those without the option of growing their own. Yarrow, Garden Sage, Lavender, Mullein and many others are great options for easy growing options in most situations but research on your exact parameters is always the best course of action.
Resins and Incense are just as popular for the purposes of purification and sanctification. Many religions both modern and ancient believe that the smoke aided in the process of transmitting prayers and petitions to various deities. Tree saps like Frankincense and Myrrh are recognizable from Catholic ceremonies while powdered woods such as Sandalwood and Agarwood are popular in the East.
Thick tendrils of smoke waft through beams of light as a holy person walks the boundaries of a house of worship. Softly smoldering sticks send steady strands up to the heavens with whispered wishes. A bundle of herbs crackles as the elements join together in a sacred song.