Sage is one of many herbs that are regularly used in Native American ceremonies. Although sage can be ingested directly or made into a tea, its most common usage is by burning sage to expel negative energies. Sage may be purchased online in a bundle for the purpose of burning or at local Native American or New Age stores. It is not recommended that sage from a garden or bought from a local grocery store be burned as it is not the variety used for ceremonial purposes.
According to Native American beliefs, sage has various healing properties — the most important of which is to rid a person or place of negative energy. The herb's Latin name Salvia means savior, or to be saved. The use of sage can be noted as far back as the ancient Romans and Greeks who believed that sage imparted wisdom and knowledge, hence the phrase "wise old sage."
The practice of burning sage may be employed to rid a person, place, or thing of negative or harmful energies. Sage burns very hot, so most people use a ceramic container or abalone shell to contain it. In fact, most practitioners have a sacred container that is used specifically and solely for burning sage. A bundle may last through several burnings and is commonly stored in the container. A large feather is usually used in the ceremony as well.
If the reason for burning sage is to rid a person of negative energy, it is usually accomplished by the afflicted person standing still while another person lights the sage and walks around him or her. Various incantations may be used during the ceremony. The person with the sage usually uses the feather to sweep the sage smoke around the other person from head to toe in an effort to rid the person of his or her negative energy or thoughts.
When a place is thought to be full of negativity, such as a person's home or business, burning sage is believed to chase away the negative energy. Typically, the front door will be opened, as well as all windows in the structure. The person holding the sage will then begin at the back of the house and sweep each room thoroughly with the sage smoke making sure to get all closets and corners where negative energy may hide. All the negative energy is then pushed, or swept, toward the front door where any negativity that did not escape out the windows will be expelled.