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Sage -The Magickal Cleansing Herb

Hi, my loves and welcome to WiccaNow. Recently I’ve been talking about an eclectic range of things. I’ve written up my favourite kitchen witch recipe, I’ve posted about herbs for anxiety, I’ve made a guide to the 20 most common types of witches and I’ve also shared an abundance spell for the full moon. Today I want to continue my meandering path by sharing the magickal uses, properties and benefits of one of our powerhouse herbs, namely sage.

Sage is one of the most commonly recognized magickal herbs. It’s used for smoke cleansing, protection and purification. It’s associated with the air and earth elements and is ruled by Gemini while being associated with the Gods Jupiter and Zeus. 

Today I want to share a brief history of sage with you, along with a detailed explanation of its medicinal benefits, magickal properties and a few ways to effectively use it, grow it and store it. Let’s get into it!

Disclaimer: Please note that we are not medical professionals and everything written here is a product of our own research. Don’t take any advice given here over that of a trained doctor. If you ingest any herbs, always make sure that you’re 100% sure that they’re safe. If you’re pregnant, always consult a doctor before ingesting herbs and plant you aren’t familiar with.

botanical illustration of Salvia Officinalis
This is an old botanical illustration of Salvia Officinalis. Such a pretty plant right?

The History of Sage

Sage, officially named Salvia Officinalis, is a member of the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean region. It’s a healing herb which has been used since ancient times to increase fertility, dispel negative influences, ward off evil and much more. The Romans even called it a “holy herb” and they included it in many of there religious practices. They also cooked with it as the believed it would help them digest fatty foods better.

During the Middle Ages, many old herbalists (Pliny, Dioscorides, Galan etc) all wrote about the healing properties of sage and its use as a diuretic, an aid for ulcers, a herb which helped to stop wounds bleeding and a remedy for sore throats. Discorides even went so far as to claim that sage was one of most appreciated and important herbs of all time. 

In France, sage grew prolifically and was often drunk as a tea. The Chinese realised the healing prowess of sage began trading the French sage tea for their own tea. They believed that the sage tea was so valuable that they were willing to trade 4 pounds of Chinese tea for 1 pound of Fench sage tea. They appreciated the medicinal properties of the sage tea and believed that it would relieve stomach and digestive issues as well as aiding the nervous system while treating cold and joint pain. They also used it to treat typhoid as well as kidney and liver issues. 

In  812AD, Charles the Great ordered sage to be planted in all medical gardens and made it mandatory that it be grown in any monastery garden, something which apparently still stands today. 

charles the great painting
Charles the Great, also known as the Charlemagne, loved sage considered it one of the most important healing herbs.

Where Does the Name “Sage” Originate From?

Sages’ botanical name (Salvia Officinalis) derives from the Latin word “salvere” which means “to be saved”. The “Officinalis” part of the name refers to the plants’ prolific medicinal uses, as the word “Officina” refers to the traditional storeroom in monasteries where herbal remedies were stored. Officinalis is a name given only to plants which have an extremely well established medicinal or culinary value. 

Other Common Names for Sage

  • Garden sage
  • Kitchen sage
  • True sage
  • Common sage

The Medicinal Benefits of Sage

  • High in vitamin K and Iron
  • Full of antioxidants 
  • Great for oral health
  • May help to ease symptoms of menopause
  • Positively impacts cognitive function and may be a treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.
  • May lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • It can help with inflammation
  • Helps to promote healthy skin and can aid in healing wounds
  • May help to control anxiety
  • May help to ease pain and swelling associated with tonsilitis

The Magickal Properties of Sage

Sage is a powerful magickal herb which has been used for hundreds of years a cleansing and purifying herb. Its magickal energies make it a great choice for protection spells and it’s also powerful when used in money and abundance spells. 

The Uses of Sage in Magick

  • Wisdom
  • Healing
  • Protection
  • Purification
  • Clarity
  • Abundance (particularly money)
  • Dreams 
  • Psychic protection
  • Intuition
Good Vibes GIF by essie
Dispel negativity and provide calm energy with sage.

Correspondances of Sage

Planets: Jupiter and the Moon

Zodiac Sign: Gemini

Deities: Jupiter and Zeus and the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess

Elements: Air and Earth

The Difference Between Common Sage, White Sage and Clary Sage

There is a lot of conflicting information about what form of sage to use for smoke cleansing and this stems from the idea that common sage is extremely different from white or clary sage. I’ve read multiple books that suggest burning common sage is something you absolutely shouldn’t do and also multiple other books that say the exact opposite. 

I use common sage in my smoke cleansing bundles all the time and don’t see a problem with it. It should be noted, however, that clary sage, white sage and common sage are all different varieties of the sage plant.

White sage is commonly found in smudge sticks as this is an old Native American custom that has been adopted by western cultures. This is actually quite problematic and “smudging” is considered cultural appropriation by many. There are many Native American people who oppose the westernisation of “smudging”.

Stick to smoke cleansing using common garden sage. This is something that has been happening in Europe for thousands of years and isn’t infringing on anyone else’s culture.

The use of white sage has actually become a bit of a problem with over-harvesting negatively affecting the amount of wild white sage that it’s available. It’s being illegally harvested at huge rates and conservationists are concerned about its survival. 

Stick to common sage for your smoke cleansing I say!

Clary SageWhite SageCommon Sage
Binomial NameSalvia SclareaSalvia ApianaSalvia Officinalis 
Plant FamilyLamiaceaeLamiaceaeLamiaceae
OriginMediterranean Basin as well as some areas in North Africa and Central AsiaMexico and the Southwestern United StatesMediterranean Region
UsesThe distilled oil is often used in perfumes and aromatherapy. The seeds are used to remove foreign objects from the eye.Used in traditional foods and medicines by Native Americans. The seeds are used to remove foreign objects in the eye. Common culinary herb. Distilled to make essential oils. Used in various herbal health remedies.  
AppearanceReaches around 0.9-1.2m in height. Larger, broad leaves. Flowers range from pale mauve to lilac to white and pink. A shrub which reaches 1.3-1.5m in height. Whitish evergreen leaves covered in thick hairs. Flowers are white to pale lavender. Flower stems are much longer than the other two and the leaves sit in small clumps close to the ground. Various different types are available. Commonly around 0.5-0.6m high with lavender flowers. Grey-green leaves with short soft hairs.
difference between clary sage, white sage and common sage in 3 pictures

What are the Benefits of Burning Sage

Burning sage is a very old practice which is thought to cleanse and purify the air and space where the sage is being burned. This may be rooted in the fact that most sage has antimicrobial properties and even the smoke may be beneficial in keeping infectious bacteria away. Burning sage is a natural insect repellent and it may help to prevent things like dust and mites from causing allergic reactions. 

Spiritually speaking, smoke cleansing with sage is a way of clearing out any spiritual impurities and negative energies. It can help to connect you to the spirit realm and is said to strongly enhance intuition. In some traditional cultures, such as Native American culture, burning sage is used to achieve a healing or trance state. Certain varieties of sage contain a mildly psychoactive substance which may be why it aids people in reaching a trance state and connecting with the spirit realm. Again, be careful how you approach the use of sage here, cultural appropriation is never ok.

Burning sage is also a way of cleansing specific tools and objects. If you’re interested in crystal witchcraft, for example, you may use sage to cleanse your crystals before beginning any magickal work with them. The same goes for any tools you might use in your spell work, such as an anthame or special candle. 

A bonus of burning sage is that it can help to ease the effects of anxiety and may soothe stress while improving your mood and the quality of your sleep. 

sage smudge sticks
Don’t buy commercial “smudge sticks” as they are often made with white sage which is harvested illegally. Make your own smoke cleansing bundles with sage from the garden instead.

How to Make Sage Tea

Sage tea is really easy to make, all you need is some fresh or dried sage leaves and away you go!

  • Boil water
  • Add 4-5 sage leaves to a mug
  • Fill the mug with boiling water
  • Steep the sage leaves for 3-5 minutes 
  • Add a small amount of honey to taste (sage can be quite bitter) 
  • Add a slice of lemon
  • Enjoy! 
fresh sage leaves in a ladle

How to Grow Sage

While sage will grow almost anywhere, it performs best when planted in direct sunlight with good drainage. 

To grow sage you’ll need:
  • Full sun
  • Well-drained soil
  • Allow soil to dry out before watering, sage is used to having dry soil and doesn’t mind waiting a little between waterings. If it wilts, a little water will perk it right back up again (it’s a Mediterranean plant after all and it’s often very hot and dry there).
  • Depending on what variety of sage you plant, the bushes can grow relatively large. Plant them about 50cm apart to make sure that they have enough room to grow.
  • Sage likes to be planted with strawberries, tomatoes and carrots. 
  • If you want to help your pollinator bee friends out, let a sage bush or two go to seed. The purple flowers are heaven for pollinators and will attract them in droves. 

An Easy Prosperity Ritual with Sage

  • Take 3 sage leaves (fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand) and cup them with both hands.
  • Close your eyes and set your intentions. Imagine that the prosperity you desire has already reached you. What would it feel like if the abundance you want was already available to you? What would it mean for your life? Sink into the feeling of already having received this prosperity and infuse the sage leaves with this intention.
  • Say:

“Sage imbue me with your power, draw prosperity and abundance to me at all hours. So Mote It Be”

  • Place the sage leaves into your wallet and leave them there for as long as possible.
  • Repeat this ritual as often as you want.

So my loves, I hope this has answered all of your questions about sage! Let it cleanse and protect you whenever you need it.

Until next time,

Blessed Be,