Native American Incense – The Use and Significance of Different Herbs

Native American Incense The Use and Significance of Different Herbs

Burning herbs and plants is an ancient practice known as smudging. Native Americans believe that the sacred smoke cleanses negative energy and brings peace, health, and happiness.

Sage is a common herb used in smudging, which involves the ritualistic burning of herbs tightly tied into bundles called smudge sticks. Other herbs that are burned and used for protection include:

Sweet grass is believed to carry prayers up to spirits, while thyme offers natural purifying qualities.


Sage is one of the most well-known herbs used in traditional smudging ceremonies. It is believed that wafting the smoke over yourself or an object purifies a person, places and things from negative energies.

Sage, or Salvia officinalis, is antimicrobial, meaning it kills germs and bacteria. It is also thought to promote mental clarity, improve intuition and help us connect to a spiritual plane.

However, the popularity of white sage as a health tonic among non-Native people has caused the herb to become overharvested and depleted, causing many tribes to decline using it in their traditional ceremonies. Walker says this commodification of the sacred plant has hurt Native practitioners and harmed the environment.


Lavender is a highly aromatic plant known for its soothing properties. Often used to calm the mind and reduce stress, it is also one of the most powerful herbs for protection and spiritual connection.

Smudging is a cleansing ritual dating back to the Native Indian people where bundled herbs are burned to create fragrant smoke that purifies a person or space from bad spirits and negative energy. This aromatic practice is still performed today with respect for Mother Earth.

These smudge sticks combine the powers of White Sage and Lavender to create a powerful fragrant experience for the mind, body, and soul. Beautifully presented in a sliding box with native American prints and finished with a delicate feather. This is a great gift for any occasion.


Known as the hair of Mother Earth, sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) is used for healing and purification in many Native cultures. It is burned in a smudging ceremony to cleanse a person or space from negative energies and to attract good spirits.

Sweetgrass is typically braided and dried before burning and emits a sweet, vanilla-like aroma with its smoke. It also symbolizes peace and spirituality.

A smudging ritual involves lighting herb sticks and inhaling the fragrant smoke that rises from them, cleansing a person or space from negative energies. Each pack includes 11 – 12 incense sticks hand-dipped by Native-owned family business, Monague Native Crafts.

Yerba Santa

Yerba Santa (Spanish for Holy Herb) is an uplifting and cleansing herb with a pleasantly spicy aroma that dispels gloomy feelings. It is also believed to protect and purify both you and your environment with its ability to open the crown chakra.

It is known by Chumash people as a spiritual healer for all lung and chest ailments including colds, respiratory infections, bronchitis, chronic asthma and tuberculosis. It is also used to heal emotional dread and heartbreak by increasing feelings of love, clarity and empowerment.

The burning of herbs is a practice known as ‘smudging’ which was performed for centuries by many tribes, particularly for cleansing rituals, healing rites and space clearing. The combination of Sweet Grass & Yerba Santa in these sticks from Native Soul helps to cleanse and protect your energy field and creates an uplifting fragrance for you to enjoy!

Flat Cedar

Known as Hante Blaska to the Lakota, Flat Cedar is a very popular herb for purification and spiritual cleansing. The tree is favored by Thunder Beings and can be used to remove evil spirits, bring balance, promote positivity and help connect us with the spirit world.

These dried herbs are bundled into smudge sticks and burnt during ritual or healing sessions. Smudging is a practice believed to cleanse a person, object or space of negative energy.

A central element of smudging is the use of four elements; the container (traditionally a shell) represents water, the sacred plants represent gifts from mother earth, the flame used to light them represents fire and the feather or hand used to fan the smoke represents air. The smoke from the smudged plants is said to carry prayers up to the Creator.