Typically, I buy my sage bundles because I have never lived in a place that it was feasible to have a herb garden. But when I moved in with some friends that own a house with a spacious backyard I was pleased to discover one of my house mates enjoys gardening and plants herbs every year. This season she planted several kinds of sage for the first time. Not knowing how well it would grow, she ended up with significantly more sage than she would use for culinary purposes. Instead of throwing perfectly good sage to the rubbish bin, I had her save it for me to make a couple of small sage bundles. Here’s how.
1. Obtain some fresh sage. Sage is easily grown either indoors or outdoors, weather and season providing. If you choose to grow your own there are many varieties to choose from. I recommend buying seedlings so that the selection can be made based on smell. Or maybe a friend has an herb garden with some sage to spare. In a pinch, many grocery stores sell fresh sage in the produce department. This can be a pricey option and depending on season can be hard to find in store in the grocery store.
2. Fresh sage needs to be dried. I prefer to hang my sage to dry by tying it with an extra long string, which can be used later to wrap the bundle, and then hanging it in a window to get sun. Air drying takes several days depending on room temperature and humidity. If time is a factor and you have access to one, herbs dry quickly and well in a food dehydrator. (Figure 1)
3. Bundle using a natural fiber cord or string such as hemp or cotton. If you want to add some color to the bundle, cotton embroidery floss can be used. After selecting the wrapping material, tie the string securely at the end of the bundle. If the sage was air dried and enough length was left on the cord, just use that to bind the bundle. Next wrap the cord around the bundle moving toward the opposite end. Once you reach the end, continue wrapping back towards the base. This should create a nice criss-cross pattern. Then tie the string off at the end.
4. Finish the bundle. Use scissors to trim any protruding parts of herb. The clippings can be reserved for culinary use, to be burned on a charcoal disc, or added to herb mixtures.
Common uses for sage bundles include house blessings and circle purifications. Use sage bundles in place of incense for casting and circle purification. Be aware and sensitive that it may cause some people headaches.
Sage bundles tend to smolder and frequently go out. To prevent having to relight the bundle while smudging, a fan or cluster of feather can be used to keep it burning and direct the smoke. Smudging is the act of using a sage bundle to purify a space, object or person.
Exercise care when burning your sage bundle. If you use a fan or feather cluster while smudging be careful not to graze the bundle. Embers from the bundle could burn the object, person, or carpet in the space that is being purified. Place it in a fire safe dish when not in use for smudging. I use a abalone shell (Figure 3) but ceramic, metal, and glass bowls work well also. Do not place it in or near a candle. The wax from a candle can cause the bundle to catch fire rather than smolder like it should, causing disruption in ritual practice and physical discomfort to participants.
If you would like to know more about Sage and its uses check this article out on our sister blog http://mypersonalvisions.org/2010/12/sage-salvia-officinalis/.