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  • Writer's pictureBryan Stafford

The deal with white sage

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

Submitted question covered in this blog:

"You mentioned burning sage to cleanse, isn't that a closed practice?"

Thank you for this question. I believe this question is referring to where i mentioned using sage to smoke cleanse in the previous blog/video:

There are many misconceptions about the use of white sage and even more missunderstandings.

Firstly, the use of white sage, is NOT a close practice.

If you are mimicking an indigenous ritual with the use of white sage, then YES - that would be cultural appropriation. It's the ritual itself that is closed to outsiders of the practice. Not the general use of the white sage plant itself.

I also write about closed practices in a previous blog entry:

The way i understand it is that there is a concerning issue with this particular type of herb is that it only naturally grows in nature within certain areas of the world where it is depended on by local indigenous cultures. Currently, for resale around the world this plant is being over harvested (in those natural areas) which is effecting the supply for the local peoples of that area, specifically a community in California, United States.

It can be a good idea to consider growing your own white sage to reduce the demand and strain on the local communities where it grows naturally.

It is similar to Paulo Santo, which is a type of wood that is over harvested and seems to be gradually going extinct. There are local peoples where this supply of wood originated that struggle to maintain their cultures traditions due to this scarcity being created.

Again, it is not a closed practices to use the ingredients within your traditions. However, when over harvesting is due to manufacturing a product in order to sell to consumers around the world, it can be prevented.

In my climate zone where I live on the planet a white sage plant can survive a few years of properly taken care of and covered in the winter weather.

Due to the harsh conditions of the Canadian winters the plant eventually turns 'woody' and strangely, and eventually dies, since the plant only survives in the wild in a certain California mountain range climate.

Personally, I'm not a big advocate to the movement being discussed here. But, if I can help another community of spiritual folk, no matter their background or traditions, to express themselves more freely by avoiding purchasing white sage products in stores, than so shall it be. And so, i don't buy it. I do grow it in my garden.

Now, some would also say that even purchasing the seeds for the plant should also be avoided. Afterall, the manufacturers probably harvested the plants to get the seeds - no doubt, right?!

There isn't an easy way to tell, as a consumer, if the sage plants or seeds of the plant come ethically, like from a green house environment, or if it was harvested in the wild from their natural environment without consideration for the reprocautions on the community of local tribes.

Do your research if feeling you require white sage in your practice. Who is the supplier? What information do they provide up front? Where do they source the herbs? How is/if the profits from sales benifits local California tribes and indigenous communities? ...etc.

It is in hopes that this is helpful. If you have questions please feel free to submit them at

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