Sage is one of the most powerful magical tools in your spiritual arsenal. From purifying the air and clearing negative energy to aiding meditation and empowering spiritual tools, there's nothing sage can't do. There are different types of sage that have different looks, scents, uses, and even safety profiles. White sage, Salvia apiana, is the type most often seen in dried bundles in stores. It has pale leaves and a very strong scent when burned. Blue sage, S. clevelandii, S. azurea, or S. pachyphylla, is less common. It is generally considered milder in fragrance than white sage. Black sage, sometimes called mugwort, can refer to S. mellifera, or either Artemisia nova or A. douglasiana. Black sage has green leaves that can darken during droughts, giving it a very different appearance from white or blue sage.
Using White Sage
White sage is regarded as a sacred plant by the Chumash people. Smudge sticks of this sage are burned as a way to cleanse and purify an area, though it is also possible to achieve this by anointing a white candle with sage oil and burning it, or sprinkling ground sage leaves in the corners or around the perimeter of a room. Many witches from European traditions save the ashes from burning sage (either white sage or common sage) to add to recipes for black salt, which is used for cleansing and protection.
If you need something to help you banish negative energy and cleanse your space, white sage is a powerful way to do it. The leaves smolder well on their own so you do not need to place them on top of charcoal. Cleanse your home or sacred space using by lighting a white sage leaf or the tip of a smudge stick, and placing it in a fireproof vessel. Carry this clockwise around the area you wish to cleanse, fanning the smoke with a feather so it touches every corner, paying close attention to closets and dark areas. Make sure you end the smudging session at an open front door - letting all that negative energy out of your house.
Using Blue Sage
Blue sage is often used similarly to white sage, to cleanse and protect. It is less pungent, and its soothing scent and "cool" nature make it very helpful in rituals for healing and abundance. Since it tends to be relaxing and less overpowering than white sage in small spaces, it is also a good choice for cleansing and preparing meditation spaces.
Blue sage can be used to help with illnesses. Dress a blue or white candle with angelica oil, and carve the ill person's name into the wax. Set it on your altar, or in a dedicated sacred space. Light the tip of a blue sage wand and waft the smoke over the area. Repeat your desire that the person be healed, or recite a simple chant, like:
Healing herbs, lend your power,
Chase away illness in this hour.
With your strength, relieve all pain,
And make [person's name] whole again.
Light the candle, and allow it to burn.
Using Black Sage
Different types of mugwort are often called "black sage." These are related to Artemisia vulgaris, the species most often sold as mugwort, though they do not contain as much of the hallucinogenic compound thujone. Still, black sage is extremely helpful for inner healing, dream magic, shamanic journeying, trance work, and protection during astral travel. Whenever you need to look inward, or access other realms of consciousness, black sage can help you.
Waft the smoke from a black sage smudge stick over yourself before getting into a comfortable position and clearing your mind. You may use chanting, rattling, drumming, or any other techniques you prefer to help your mind access the astral realms. Trust that the black sage smoke will keep you safe and protected as you travel, and see where it carries you.
Whether you need cleansing, purification, healing, or protection during meditative rituals, members of the sage family can help you. Choose the herb that calls out to you, and work with it regularly to access its deep natural wisdom.