White sage, Salvia apiana, is native to California U.S.A. There it grows wild on the desert plains; I would love to continue on to say “where they thrive and grow undisturbed” but sadly they are getting seriously disturbed.
With the advent of the new age trend of “smudge sticks” the plants are being un-sustainably harvested, or stolen, for profit. To the point where the people whom have used white sage traditionally (the Native Americans) and still use it for their smudging ceremonies, are not able to wild harvest it due to protection orders put in place to stop this indiscriminate harvesting. This article here will tell you all about it in more depth…https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7jkma/the-white-sage-black-market-v27n3
Fortunately, people are becoming aware and businesses like Mountain Rose Herbs are now sourcing their white sage from a sustainable source, read the article here. https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/procuring-organic-cultivated-white-sage There’s some pretty amazing photos of some pretty amazing bushes in there too!
Fortunately there are also people like you, whom grow your own white sage. Selling white sage for me, feels like I’m helping in some way, helping white sage’s ancestors stand strong again, unharmed, empowering people to grow and dry their own.
Which brings me to something else close to my heart… This is the cultural appropriation of the term “smudging”.
Smudging is a sacred ceremony practised by Indigenous Peoples of North America. It involves a group of people, a shaman, singing, chanting, praying – yes it involves burning white sage (or other herbs), to clear and cleanse an area and/or person- but it is not just that, it is so much more.
When you use white sage to clear negativity from your house, your aura or your crystals, it is totally fine and valid, but you are possibly not “smudging”, you are smoke cleansing. So it’s just a matter of changing your vocab. Instead of “smudge sticks” say “smoke cleansing wands” (I think it sounds so much prettier too!). Instead of “smudging”, “smoke cleanse”.
This article here explains it in depth, including the history of this practise and how it was used to repress the Indigenous people (by making it illegal). https://fashionista.com/2019/11/burning-sage-cultural-appropriation.
Burning herbs for spiritual purposes is not unique to Native Americans, in Scotland they call it “Saining“, Aboriginies in Australia have “Smoking Ceremonies”, Catholics have “censers”. And white sage is certainly not the only herb you can burn, do take mind that there are some herbs that are toxic to burn and others that frankly just don’t smell nice and you may as well burn some cardboard!
If you are not growing your own herbs do check where your herbs come from as sadly it is not just white sage that is in danger in its natural habitat, many medicinal herbs also fall victim to unscrupulous profiteers.
Other very interesting articles to read if you so desire… https://unitedplantsavers.org/what-is-going-on-with-white-sage/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smudging