My mother is most emphatically not woo-woo.

She’s not even woo-curious. (At least that’s what she wants me to believe. I remember her sitting on the edge of my bed when I was twelve and half-asleep, asking me to guess which color she was thinking of. I must have failed abysmally, because she shook her head sadly and moved forever to the woo-free end of the spectrum!)

Yet despite Mom’s more mainstream thinking, when her house was on the market (sitting, unmoving on the market), she asked me if there was some ceremony she could do to move things along.

When I showed up with a bundle of white sage and a braid of sweet grass (two herbs which have been used by the native peoples of America for moving energies), an abalone shell, and a lighter, she welcomed the woo (“I just want to sell it, I do!”).

We lit the sage and joyfully paraded around the house, letting the smoke drift into the corners.

We carefully cleared doorways and windows, all the while thanking the house for many years of happiness and releasing it to its next owner. We then smudged my mom so she could consciously release her anxiety around selling her home.

When our souls felt quiet and still, we lit the sweet grass. I had my mom open the front door and call in the energy of the people she wanted to buy the house. I instructed her to get granular, so she pictured a couple in their 40s who had three kids. They drove small cars that would fit in the house’s 1950s style garage. She imagined their children playing in the back yard and family cookouts on the deck….

…. then we closed the front door and headed to the kitchen for tea.

A few moments later, the door bell rang. We both froze, staring at each other.

“Go on,” I encouraged.

Mom opened the door to find a huge bouquet of flowers sitting on the stoop. The note was from my sister, thanking my mom for some event I’ve long since forgotten. At the time my sister was forty-something with three kids.

Mom and I laughed til we had snot running down our faces then headed back to our tea.

After months of anxiety, Mom finally relaxed. Even if our ritual did nothing for the real estate process, she said, it was good for her soul.

A few hours later, I was at the vacuum repair shop (yes, those places still exist) when my phone rang. Mom was calling to say that her realtor phoned. Someone who had seen the house already was requesting a return visit. This was not the person who ultimately bought my parents’ home. But from the day of smudging on, the energy shifted and things started to move.

More importantly, my mom’s energy shifted. She was ready to move on and release her home of 25 years with love.

Your home holds stories and energies. Love and anger, joy and regret seep into the woodwork and wallow in dark corners. Click To Tweet


Just like your body, your home needs a chance to breathe and release its toxins, both physical and spiritual. An energetic cleansing is just that, so it’s an important piece of my spring cleaning every year. I open the doors and windows, bang a pot or shake a rattle, stir up the energy and give it a good smudge.

Ready to clear the air and create space in your home so your thoughts and dreams (and sleep!) can flourish? Download my best smudge tips here.


Since this article was initially published, the landscape has changed a bit:

White Sage, which I used here, has become over-harvested in the wild. Luckily, there are other options. Peoples from around the globe have used the smoke of plants to clear the air and shift the energy which gives us a wide array of options. In the Middle East, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cloves, and Cinnamon were often used. In Central and South America, Palo Santo was the wood of choice (this tree has also become endangered, so be mindful that the Palo Santo has been eco-harvested).

I’ve always liked using plants that are native or naturalized to the continent I’m living on because it feels like those plants would know the energetic patterns of this place better than a plant which never grew in this soil. So now I use rosemary, thyme, or culinary sage from my garden or mullein, cedar, or pine leaves from my yard. Dry sprigs by hanging them upside down until the leaves are crisp. Additionally, we have found a farmer who organically cultivates white sage. You can buy that from Herbiary here. Even with organically grown white sage, I pull apart the bundle and use one leaf at a time. Most times you don’t need more than that.

There is also an increased concern that smudging might be confused with ceremonies, or parts of ceremonies, that the Native Tribes of this land have performed for millennia. While these native ceremonies were not called “smudging” before Europeans came to this continent (“smudge” is a middle-English word), this is the translation which has been adapted. Make this ritual your own by following your intuition, listening to the voices of the plants and following their directives, and tuning into your own DNA to feel how your people used herbs and did ceremony. That bit about opening the door to call in the new people who would buy my mom’s house? For my mom and me, that was reminiscent of years of Passover Seders where we symbolically opened the door to welcome in the Jewish prophet Elijah. While my religious views never really aligned with my heritage, this piece of our shared past anchored our ritual and made it feel resonant for us.