In spiritual symbolism, air represents consciousness–the power of the mind. Nearly every culture on earth has burned dried plant material to invoke spiritual connection. Smoke rises on air, and indigenous people around the world have used pipe ceremonies (where they smoke sacred plant medicine) as a way of uniting heaven, earth, and man.
Burning sacred plant medicine, in a pipe, incense, or by fire, releases its aroma, which many believe holds the energy of the earth, sun, rain, moonlight, stars, and soil. Any use of plants with conscious intention (and good intent) can become a sacred ceremony. Favorite herbs for sacred smoke include sage, lavender, sweet grass, thyme, cinnamon, frankinscense or myrrh (both resins), and clove.
A good “smudge” of your home can clear out old energy, and connect your home to this energy of the universe. Here is how:
Buy your smudge sticks from those who honor the plants and bundle the herbs with sacred ceremony of appreciation. If you grow your own herbs, research making smudge sticks and honoring the plants.
To burn herbs, and create smoke, you have to be very careful not to start a fire. I use a big ashtray, with steep sides. Some light whole bundles of herbs, but I don’t because there is no need, usually, for that much smoke. Instead, I untie a smudge bundle and pull out just a few leaves, and light them. Once there is a flame, you blow out the flame (making sure you catch any sparks in the ashtray). The herbs will smolder, and the smoke will waft into the home. Walk around with the ashtray (smoking herbs included), and make sure the smoke reaches into all the areas of a room you want.
When you are done, let the herbs extinguish on their own (if they are safely in the ashtray and away from wind), or extinguish them fully with water.