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Is Burning Sage Appropriation?

Is Burning Sage Appropriation?

The burning of sage, often referred to as smudging, is a practice with deep roots in various cultures throughout history. From ancient Egypt to Native American tribes, the use of sage in ceremonies and rituals has been prevalent for millennia. However, in recent times, the act of burning sage has come under scrutiny, raising questions about cultural appropriation, especially in the context of its use by non-Native individuals.

Historical Context of Sage Burning

The earliest recorded use of sage burning dates back to around 1300 BC in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians used sage in their ceremonies and rituals, recognizing its potent cleansing properties. Similarly, in ancient Greece and Rome, sage was used for medicinal and spiritual purposes, valued for its ability to purify and protect.

In North America, the practice of smudging is deeply intertwined with the traditions of various Native American tribes. For many indigenous cultures, burning sage is a sacred act, performed to cleanse spaces, people, and objects of negative energy, and to invite healing and wisdom. It is a spiritual practice that holds profound significance and is often accompanied by specific prayers and rituals.

Cultural Appropriation and Respect

In modern times, the widespread use of sage, particularly white sage, by non-Native individuals has sparked a debate about cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation occurs when elements of one culture are taken and used by another culture, often without permission or understanding, and in a way that can trivialize or disrespect the original culture's traditions and significance.

For many Native Americans, the commercial exploitation of sage and the casual use of smudging by those outside their communities can feel like a continuation of historical injustices and disrespect for their sacred traditions. This is especially poignant given the history of oppression and marginalization that Native American communities have faced.

However, it's important to recognize that the act of burning sage is not exclusive to Native American cultures. As mentioned, it has ancient roots in various civilizations across the world. This raises the question: if sage burning is part of many ancient traditions, is it truly cultural appropriation to practice it today?

A Path Forward: Respect and Education

The key to navigating this complex issue lies in respect and education. If you choose to burn sage, it is crucial to do so with a deep respect for the cultures from which this practice originates. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about the history and significance of sage burning in different cultures. Understand its spiritual importance and the proper ways to use it.
  2. Source Responsibly: Ensure that the sage you purchase is ethically sourced. Over-harvesting of white sage, in particular, has led to environmental concerns and scarcity. At Alchemy7, our sage sticks are ethically sourced from California, ensuring sustainability and respect for the environment.
  3. Practice with Intention: Use sage with mindfulness and intention. Recognize its power and treat it with the reverence it deserves.
  4. Support Native Communities: Whenever possible, buy sage and other sacred herbs from Native American-owned businesses. This supports their communities and helps preserve their traditions.

Alchemy7's Spiritual Practices

At Alchemy7, we honor and practice the traditions of Conjure, Hoodoo, Pagan, and Rootwork. These traditions, deeply rooted in Yoruba practices from Africa and passed down through generations, form the foundation of our spiritual work. The art of using sage is strongly implemented in African Traditional Religions (ATR) and diaspora traditions, making it a significant part of our heritage and spiritual practices.

Discover the World of Sage with Alchemy7

At Alchemy7, we believe in the power of sage to cleanse, protect, and heal. We offer a diverse collection of sage sticks beyond just white sage, each designed to serve different intentions and purposes. Our Sage Stick Collection includes blends for protection, love, abundance, and more, catering to both beginners and advanced practitioners alike.

For those looking to explore the world of sage in a structured and meaningful way, we offer the Sage Stick of the Month Club. This subscription service allows you to receive a curated selection of sage sticks each month, aligning with celestial events and moon cycles, helping you to incorporate this ancient practice into your daily life.


Burning sage is a practice steeped in history and tradition, with roots in various cultures around the world. While it is essential to be mindful of cultural appropriation, it is equally important to recognize the shared heritage of sage burning. By educating ourselves, sourcing responsibly, and practicing with respect, we can honor these ancient traditions and integrate them into our modern lives.

Explore the transformative power of sage with Alchemy7. Take control of your destiny, redefine your spirituality, and create a lifestyle that embraces the sacred.