I live in sagebrush country, on the Modoc Plateau to be more precise. A unique bioregion in northwestern California where most of the flourishing vegetation is described as the “Sagebrush Steppe”.… If you choose a careful path through this massive volcanic plain you could walk through millions of acres with sagebrush as your constant companion. Where I live, there are 10 different species of sagebrush which range in size from several feet high to only a few inches. Most are woody shrubs, but my favorite is “white sagebrush” or “western mugwort”, Artemisia ludovuciana.
This plant is VERY aromatic plant and can be found in almost every state in the United States, several western provinces of Canada and in Mexico. It is only found near water where I live….open creek beds mainly. I keep an eye out for it in early summer. It is easy to spot due to its silvery colored leaves. It belongs to a genus of famously medicinal plants by many Hispanic and Native American cultures. It has been used extensively to treat sore throat, colds and diarrhea, as poultices and rinses for skin problems, for ceremonial cleansing–a very important role–, as incense, to make mats and rugs, and in various charms. Recent research found the leaves to indeed be antimicrobial and antioxidant.
The Spirit of this plant has been called upon for thousands of years for its cleansing and protective attributes. You can literally smell and feel these qualities when handling the herb. I personally use the plant for deodorant and cleansing purposes. The benefits of burning sage as a smudge are many. It is used to purify, dispel negativity, as a curative for some conditions, improve ones mood, to cleanse objects, reduce stress, boost cognition and energy levels. I collect a small number of stems for my personal needs in late spring or early summer. I either bind them tightly together to make a smudge stick or weave them together to make a sage “wand” for aromatic purposes. To make a white sage wand is very similar to making a lavender flower ribbon wand. Directions can be found on the internet….