The controversy behind sage and how to smudge properly and ethically

From appropriation to extinction, there are many controversies behind sage. Here’s a guide on how to be ethical when smudging, alternatives to sage and a step-by step!

Today, I took my friend to a spiritual shop for the first time and we saw sage sitting on the counter, so I started to explain how to use it. The lady behind the till started laughing and she told me that the moment the shop re-opened after lockdown, people were running in for sage. I love sage because it’s something that is prominent in my Palestinian culture, but I’ve been reading a lot of content written by Native Americans on cultural appropriation and the inflation of sage.

Sage is a very healing herb. In Arabic, we call it meramiya (مرامية) has a root in Virgin Mary’s Arabic name – Mariyam.

According to Palestinian folklore. In my culture, we drink it with the belief that it will cure anything. Funnily enough, a whole campaign had to be orchestrated at the start of coronavirus because many believed that all you need to cure the deadly disease was a few glasses of sage or camomile tea (or both, as my grandma used to make whenever I got sick). We don’t drink white sage, the sage we drink is called common sage in English.

In my culture, we also smudge. But instead of smudging sage, we use scented wood chips (bukhoor and oud). In the Gulf, my dad grew up on using incense sticks and would often find them in Mosques. I didn’t know this until I saw him buy some recently and he told me this! These traditions have been with us for thousands of years, but I’ve heard a lot of Islamic controversy on it with people thinking bukhoor (smudging) is bida’h (an innovation that deviates Islam) or shirk (to associate anything with God and the only sin to take you out of the fold of Islam).

I personally don’t understand why this is shirk because in order to associate anything with God or to declare polytheism, you need to intentionally do so. Also, bukhoor is something the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) used to use bukhoor for healing purposes and because it smells amazing. In fact, here’s a hadith by the Prophet himself:

Hadhrat Umm Qais Bint Mihsan narrates that “I heard the Prophet (sallallahu aleihi wa sallam) saying, “Treat with the Indian incense, for it has healing for seven diseases; it is to be sniffed by one having throat trouble, and to be put into one side of the mouth of one suffering from pleurisy.” (Saheeh al-Bukhari, Hadith # 5368, Kitab al-Tibb)

I did not know all of this when I looked into sage. I didn’t even make the connection between Native American spiritual healing and Palestinian physical healing of the herb! To me, I just read about it “clearing your space” and was initially taken aback. And then I found out that sage actually clears out up to 94% of bacteria in the air, improves your mood and helps to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety through aromatherapy, kills off lingering scents from cooking without chemical air fresheners, releases negative ions in the air which neutralise the positive ions and so forth.

So on a somewhat scientific basis, I tried it out and loved it. From an Islamic perspective, it didn’t seem any difference to using bukhoor. Until I started to read about it the cultural appropriation and environmental element of it. My conclusion on this is that we should be mindful where this spiritual practice originates, but also understand that sage is famous for its healing processes in different parts of the world.

Sustainable sage and alternatives

Contrary to popular belief, sage as a whole is not endangered. White sage is the type of sage that is most commonly used for smudging and it is not yet on the Endangered Species List but conservationists are still concerned about the future survival because of overproduction. So yes, we do need to be careful. If we are going to use sage, we need to be mindful of how we use it, not erase its identity and make sure we do not ruin the environment, the local economy and lives!

This means, don’t buy sage from Urban Outfitters and try to buy from sustainable sources that actually help the economies that plant the sage. It’s also best to come up with alternatives to burning sage.

Some could be:

Oud

Rosemary

Yerba santa

Palo Santo

Sandalwood

Lavender

Pine

If you don’t want to burn anything, you could make sprays out of water essential oils of healing herbs, or use a himalayan salt lamp. Sound healing is one of my favourite ways to uplift the energy in my room as well!

How to smudge

Now, this is where we can differ because really, it’s an intuitive process. But we need to ensure safety so make sure your windows are open and you’re being careful around anything flammable. The sage is not supposed to be on fire, but you’re supposed to light it so that there is smoke coming out of it. Make sure you have something to fan the sage to keep the smoke going so you don’t have to keep lighting the sage. Traditionally, a feather is used (if you use one, make sure it’s responsibly sourced!!!!) but I just use any piece of paper around me.

The way I learned is to sage is to first sage myself before saging the room, objects or other people. This way, you’re energetically clean. It all starts from within, right? I do this through hovering the sage over my head so my crown chakra is cleansed and work down my chakra line, which is from the top of your head down to your pubic bone. I do this at the front and back and then do my arms and legs and I make sure I sage my hands and feet, because those are where you’re absorbing a lot of energy from outside.

If you choose to smudge another person, you repeat the process with the strong intention to heal the other. If you intend to smudge a room, you start by smudging outside the room and the door, then the door from the inside of the room. You do all corners of the room and places you sit/lay on because they absorb energy. It’s very important to sage your bed and inside drawers and cupboards.

You could also just leave the sage to burn in a well ventilated room and let it do its thing! Give thanks and trust it will clean the air, literally.

When you’re done, you can extinguish it with water, or what I do is I just leave it in a jar and close it so it doesn’t react to oxygen anymore and it will naturally extinguish.

I tend to sage once a month, but I’d recommend that you use your intuition. When you feel like you need an energetic pick-me-up, when you absorbed some negative energy from outside, or maybe you just want to sage for the sake of it. As long as you’re being safe, there’s no harm. What I also do is I mix up my energy cleaning. I use my salt lamp before I sleep so I can relax better. I also play my singing bowl when I feel like it, put on some Qur’an, or listen to healing sounds. If it makes you feel good, it’s valid!

I remember when we were younger and my dad used to smudge us with bukhoor, he used to smudge over his head and recite Qur’an and allow the bukhoor to travel. Then he used to smudge us the same way, reciting protective verses and chapters of the Qur’an.

PS: I am not an Islamic scholar so don’t take anything I say as an authoritative opinion

Love you all!

Instagram: @flowerknafeh
Twitter: @superknafeh

Learn more about my distance reiki healing sessions via Zoom

Six ways to charge your water to change your life

Here are six ways to use water to change your life and manifest your greatest desires.

Hello my darlings!

Water is the most important thing we consume. Up to 75 percent of our bodies are made up of water and we’re supposed to consume at least 2 litres of it a day and it keep our bloodstream clean, organs running and our mind, body and spirit popping. What we’re not told, however, is water is highly receptive to energy and its structure can be changed with intention (hence reciting Qur’an on water being perceived a legitimate form of ruqiya/exorcism, my fellow Muslims).

According to Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto, water is a blueprint of our reality and we automatically charge water around us using our vibrational frequency at the time. This means, if you’re feeling negative and you speak negativity into water, the structure of the water changes in response; with the same for positivity.

Have you ever seen images of rice in the exact same environment, with one jar having negative words being spoken into it, whereas another having positive words spoken into it? That was initially Emoto’s experiment. He used rice because rice is cooked by absorbing water, thus having a high water content. There are countless experiments online — here’s one.

For those still sceptical, Emoto also carried out very interesting experiments with water at a critical point for freezing, where he found that words with positive emotional contents produced beautiful looking crystals and those with negative emotional content produced crystals that had less of a coherent geometric pattern.

Charged water can be used for anything and it’s really up to your intuition to direct you to what’s best. You can drink it, bathe in it, put it in a spray bottle to spray your space or aura to ward of disturbing energies, add essential oils to cleanse the environment with aromatherapy, really, it’s your call!

Now that the explanation is over, here are six ways you can charge your own water!

1. Prayer

This list is not really in any particular order, but I want to discuss this first and foremost because praying into water is what got me fascinated about the way water can be charged. Growing up, I was told reciting Qur’an into water would give it healing properties; something my agnostic teenage self found difficult to believe.

In my Islamic tradition, we’re taught to recite prayers over water but to focus on connecting with God as opposed to the water. We are a strictly monotheistic faith so we attribute anything and everything to the Divine. Do your prayer as normal, either holding the container or sitting/standing over it and after you’re done praying, blow into the water three times. You can take baths in it or drink it. When I want a holy water pick-me-up, I recite Surat al Fatiha (the first chapter of the Qur’an) and blow and drink away. It takes 30 seconds, but the spiritual benefits are profound.

With prayer, connect with your heart. How do you connect with the Divine? If your religion has a holy water ritual, go for it. If you’re not religious, or your religion doesn’t have that, prayer is a heart-centred practice. Pray from your heart and let that energy bless your water.

2. Moonlight

The moon is known to affect all water, so leaving water in the moonlight naturally charges it with positive energy. The different phases of the moon influence the way in which plants, animals, and human life grow and behave. It’s no wonder the moon is seen as such a powerful mechanism in many ancient cultures.

Some people only make moon water on the full moon (when the moon’s energy is most prominent to us earthlings), but really, you can make moon water any time you want. All you need to do is get a glass bottle of water and let it sit outside, or indoors near a window.

If you want to take it to the next level, look up the different phases of the moon and see how nature responds and what the moon’s energy can offer the planet in each phase. Then make the moon water by leaving it out for one full night.

The moon is amazing in that it is very feminine and it has a similar cycle to a woman’s typical hormonal cycle. This is why periods are often referred to as “moon cycles” in the yogi world.

PS: Jennifer Racioppi has a cool post on how to use the moon for manifestation rituals.

3. Sunlight

Just as the moon has a certain energy, so does the sun. The star of our solar system and the ball of light that gives us life. Working with the sun’s energy can be very complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’re told that we shouldn’t stare directly at the sun, but there are people who sungaze to balance their hormones and connect them to their intuition (please don’t sungaze unless you actually KNOW what you’re doing!!)

Unlike the moon’s energy, the sun’s energy is known to be masculine and operates on a 24-hour level the way the typical male body is known to do.

Sun water comes from the idea that sunlight can alter the chemical, physical, and biological properties of the water, leaving the sun-charged water to be more hydrating and purified. According to practices like Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, solar charged water is good for your emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

There are different ways to make sunwater based on different traditions. The most common way is to like moon water, leave the water out in a clear airtight glass to allow the energy of the sun to penetrate. According to ancient Hawaiian tradition, it’s best to put the sunlight out in a blue glass bottle to relax you and connect you to your intuition.

According to Ayurveda, the effect of sunwater differs slightly based on colour of the glass bottle you use. What’s interesting is they use the colours of each chakra, which coincides with the colours of the rainbow. Sanskrit magazine has more information if you want to incorporate chromotherapy into your sun water making.

4. Crystals

So the pattern here, is, nature really does change the energy of water. Crystals give off a certain energy and infusing water in *clean* crystals gives the water healing properties of the crystal itself!

Crystals are formed through heat and pressure, with each type having different physical and metaphysical properties. Because there are so many different types of crystals, the best thing to do is to work backwards. Think of a certain healing property and research the crystal that is suitable. For example, rose quartz heals your heart and helps you to manifest love.

Then what you do (I am a hygiene freak so I have to) is clean the crystal using a mild soap and water. Get a toothbrush and scrub the crystal to make sure there is no dust or yucky stuff. After you know the crystal is clean, leave it in water for around 24 hours, or more. The longer you leave it the better.

Be aware that there are crystals that dissolve in water, so stay away from infusing them. Very unsafe. Do not forget to clean your crystal energetically. Cleaning crystals physically does the job if you intend to cleanse energetically too, but it doesn’t help to incorporate extra forms of energetic cleansing by using sunlight, moonlight, water, sound healing or reiki.

5. Affirmation

Going back to the Masaru Emoto experiment I spoke about at the beginning of this post, words matter. Speak good things into your water. Speak kindness, gratitude and words of affirmation. According to law of attraction principles, speak what you already want into the water as if it is already yours, such as: “I am a money magnet”, or “love follows me everywhere I go, because love is me” into your water and drink.

You can also label a bottle of water with an affirmation and drink from it.

However, to speak into water isn’t always enough. In our culture, words are very disposable and we don’t often speak energy into our words unless we are emotionally charged. This can’t work with infusing water with affirmation; you need to feel the affirmation as well as say it!

Backing up your words by infusing your energy into the water as you speak is the absolute key and is where people go wrong. So if you’re speaking abundance into the water, you must feel abundance.

6. Reiki

Just like prayer, I needed to infuse reiki into water to prove to myself I am truly attuned to this beautiful energy. If you’ve ever been attuned to reiki, you understand that the experience itself is deeply healing and spiritual. Then when you come back from your attunement, you’re between meditative bliss and egoic cognizance.

My reiki master (shoutout to the amazing Chetna) asked me to bring two bottles of water to my attunement, without telling me why. Once I became attuned, she asked me to send reiki energy into the bottle of water, again without telling me why. When I felt I was “ready”, she told me to drink the water. I drank it and it tasted relatively normal, but I was definitely gulping it.

Then she asked me to drink from the other water bottle I brought with me (they were the exact same brand of water) and that water tasted more metallic and less, fresh, I guess. This is when I knew my attunement was successful and how reiki works. It’s gentle enough to not overwhelm you with its effects, but still deeply healing.

If you’re attuned to reiki, all you need to do is hold the container of water and send reiki energy to it. If you’re attuned level 2 and up. you can send distance reiki to the water that you want to drink but don’t have it on you (eg: if it’s in the fridge). If you aren’t attuned to reiki, you can always get a reiki healer, like myself to send reiki to your water. Click here to check out my price list here if you’re interested.

There are many more ways to use water to change your life, but these are the ones that stand out to me at this stage of my life. Some are instant, others need time, but you always have a way. Water is crucial to your life, so drink it with intention.

Love you all!

Instagram: @flowerknafeh
Twitter: @superknafeh

Learn more about my distance reiki healing sessions via Zoom

Here’s why you’re burning yourself out and what to do

Burnout is real. We want to push as hard as we can at the expense of our health, but is it because we aren’t identifying with our soul?

This age has been categorised by identifying ourselves with our careers. Our whole childhood education has trained us to do and contribute as opposed to just be.

Take, the innocent question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and the way we were trained to by well-intentioned adults to use childhood as a building ground to serve capitalist ideals. We went to class for a “future”, did homework so we could pass and go to university and then went to university, or training for a job. We were told to have realistic expectations and to not pursue dreams that could land us in financial trouble in the future.

We may have had creative outlets, but our identity was first and foremost, how we could contribute to capitalism and how we identified through its lens. Unless our passions were profitable, we were told to choose between what we love and what would let us lead the lives we love.

For me, writing was always my passion. I loved expressing myself through writing, but judged myself based on my grades, which naturally were fluctuant. I then went on to study politics and war at university and I identified myself as a student. Then I identified as a journalist and my highs and lows became dependant on how my career was going.

Little did I know, those perceived ebbs and flows were one single meander that is life and I was just navigating whilst plastering my identity to one tiny aspect of it.

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After realising this, I stumbled upon an article that said adults should identify with their health goals as opposed to their careers. It seemed legitimate, so I started to do it. I became Diana, the health conscious person and my fitness definitely improved… until I had days it didn’t.

Then came the same feeling losing your sense of self, but based on a different hurdle. I soon realised that the problem wasn’t what I was attaching my identity to, but the fact that I was identifying with temporary aspects of life, full stop.

Really, there’s no step-by-step to stop burning yourself out. We all do it in different ways and for different reasons, which change throughout our lives. Sometimes, it’s a necessity, other times it’s a survival instinct and then there are times we become addicted to the feeling of success. What we can do, though, is identify with something else.

Identify with your higher self, your soul. It could be too much to comprehend for some, especially for my readers who are new to spirituality, so think of it as identifying with your breathing.

“I am my breath. I am how I breathe.”

Take yourself there. How fast are you breathing? How deep are you breathing? Does your breathing come from your chest, or are you taking deep, belly breaths? Without judgement, focus on your breath, slow it down, put your hand on your heart centre and just say “I am”.

The rest of those identities will change. Success is relative, material is temporary. Even the body we have doesn’t stay with us forever, but our soul self, the self that was created in a completely dimension, will forever be ours and us.

Just coming to this realisation is enough. When you find yourself drifting with stress, overworking and identifying with success, just know it isn’t you.

Yes, life gets stressful, things get in the way of us doing what we want, but those are things that happen to you — they are not you. They do not need to become a part of you.

Don’t judge yourself for how well you’re connecting with your breath or identifying with your soul. Just do it. Allow negative thoughts to pass. They are not you and they do not stay forever. That extra sale may boost your confidence and dissolve those disturbing thoughts, realising your home is within lets you take a step back, allow you to feel how you want to feel, reminds you your thoughts aren’t you. Your thoughts are thoughts that affect you, but that doesn’t mean they become latched to your identity.

Get comfortable with stripping yourself of all of those labels and not identifying with the temporaries around you. Meditate on yourself, let go of the world and view yourself as the raw ethereal being you are. This is the purpose of spirituality and spiritual practice. You honour where you are, but you identify with yourself on a spiritual level to clear the material clutter in your mind.

Yes, you may need to do it more than once and yes it may take a while to retrain your brain to change the way you identify yourself, but by just having the simple awareness, you’re doing more than enough.

Baby steps, small wins and lots of gratitude and love.

I love you all.

Diana xoxo

Instagram: @flowerknafeh
Twitter: @superknafeh

Learn more about my distance reiki healing sessions via Zoom