I’m sure many of us have heard that we shouldn’t use white sage because it’s on the endangered-species list. In actuality, the reason for finding alternatives to white sage lies deeper.
Fun fact, white sage is not currently on the endangered species list, a list of plants and animals that need to be watched in order to prevent extinction. But, that doesn’t mean you should head over to Cosmic Corner and buy all the white sage you can.
Traditionally, the herb was used by Native Americans in very specific rituals, such as a cleansing ritual known as smudging. A few years back, it was common for spiritual practitioners to use the term smudging interchangeably with cleansing. Since then, many indigenous people have spoken out about the term – smudging is a ritual specific to Native Americans, and requires certain materials and steps – and, out of respect for the natives, their culture, and their practices, it is less common to use white sage in cleansing rituals.
Because of white sage’s popularity within the spiritual community these days, the demand for it has also gone up. You can find white sage in mainstream department stores now, such as Urban Outfitters. Because of this, activists, environmentalists, and people in general are starting to worry about the overcultivation of the plant, growing it unethically, or stealing it from native lands.
White sage could very possibly end up on the endangered list, if we’re not careful.
There are powerful alternatives to using white sage in your rituals. Some of them are as easy as switching to common sage. This cultivar is easier to grow, carries the same properties as white sage, and doesn’t come with stepping on someone’s culture and religion.
But also, there are entirely different herbs that are powerful cleansers and purifiers. Sandalwood has a lighter scent to it. Frankincense has been used in many churches for centuries, and also carries a lighter scent. We have a whole post on pine, and it’s cleansing properties. Cedar is very similar to pine.
So, while white sage isn’t technically endangered, there’s a strong possibility it could become endangered due to the rise of spirituality in mainstream culture. At the same time, many indigenous groups have come out asking others to use alternatives, as the herb is sacred to their culture. When there are so many alternatives, it just make sense to slow down our use of white sage and switch to something different.
What’s your favorite incense to use? Let us know over on Instagram @CosmicCornerSavannah