Burning sage is a popular form of witchcraft to banish evil spirits or purge “negative energies.” During the recent riots in Portland, Oregon, a group of witches marched in the protests, bundles of smoldering sage in hand, to ward off the supposed evil of federal forces sent to quell the anarchy. Many people who’ve consulted me for exorcisms, tell of burning sage to drive out their demons. Most of them got more demons. When pressed as to where they got the idea, they usually cite the advice of a psychic or some folk belief. But they didn’t realize that the very demons they sought to thwart were, in fact, drawn by the practice of what’s called “smudging.”
Sage is a plant, a shrub, sometimes used as an herb. Sage burners compare it to the burning of incense in the Bible (Exodus 30:1). Not so. In fact, Scripture warns against burning “strange incense,” (Exodus 30:9-KJV) as opposed to biblically mandated “fragrant” incense (Exodus 30:7). Burning sage is mentioned nowhere in the Bible, but it has been used historically by shamans, occult healers, and witchdoctors all over the world for driving out evil spirits. When used thusly, the smoldering bundle of sage may be held while doing incantations or accompanied with certain rituals of turning or sage-walking. It is often recommended by New Agers as a method of cleansing haunted houses. Such evil intent obviously disqualifies sage burning as a form of clearing dwellings and exorcising demons.
The Bible is clear that spiritual decontamination is by purifying our hearts and humbling ourselves before God (James 4:8-10). Sweet smelling smoke won’t clear a person’s soul or cast out their demons. Burning any plant isn’t evil in itself, but if the objective is even mildly spiritual, beware. Smudging to clear one’s auras or to open chakras is off limits. Burning sage can’t drive out evil spirits, but it will invite them in if the burning is part of a witchcraft belief system based on superstition.