The ritual of smudging is basically spiritual cleansing. The smoke attaches itself to negative energy and as the smoke clears it takes the negative energy with it, releasing it into another space where it will be regenerated into positive energy.
When smudging, it is important to be clear about your intention on removing the negative energies and drawing in positive energies. You can say a prayer as you do your smudging, asking the spirit of the sage to remove all negativity and unwanted energies. Don’t forget to thank the sage for helping you to release all the negative entities from your space.
Sage comes either loose or in a bundle. To burn sage, use an abalone shell or any small heat-proof container. Some people light the end of the smudge stick, but another way would be to use scissors to cut pieces off the end of the stick and put them in the container or shell. Roll up the loose sage in a small ball in the palm of your hand before lighting it. Be aware that when burning a sage stick, it takes a long time for the sage to stop smoldering. Even if you press the end against the container it can continue to smolder for a while, therefore do not leave it unattended.
Light the sage and let it flame for a few seconds. Blow out the flame so that the sage is smoldering and smoking. Be careful when holding the abalone shell so as to not burn your fingers as sage burns quite hot. When smudging yourself, waft the smoke towards you from head to toe, starting with your feet, asking that all negative energies be cleansed away. You can waft the smoke towards yourself using a feather or just your hand.
You can also smudge the whole room and even the whole house. Start at the most northerly room and working clockwise, let the smoke from the sage waft throughout the room using your hand or feather to guide it. After you are done, open windows to let the smoke carry the negative energies outside.
When you are done smudging, place the container on a heat proof surface or on an oven mitt as the bottom of the container can scorch some surfaces.
This is the most basic way to smudge. There are more involved rituals and ceremonies that you can do.
You can smudge with Sweetgrass after smudging with sage, to welcome in good influences after the bad has been driven out.