The hexagonal packaging for Hem’s Sage Incense has the word “Salvia” on an opposing side to the word “Sage”. Do they mean to imply that this stick is based on Salvia apiana which is also known as “White Sage”, “Sacred Sage” and depending on who you ask, “Bee Sage” or is it just based on the Salvia genus in general?
The distinction is important because white sage plays a tremendous role in Native American rituals as well as various Wiccan and Pagan spells and rituals for cleansing everything from space to Athames, crystals and more. The cleansing properties of white sage are well documented in hundreds of works and I am not about to argue with the wisdom of the ages. So with that in mind, and a trip to the Native American festival in Fort Walton Florida where plenty of white sage was burned still fresh in my memory, lets see what Hem has to offer with this stick.
First, if you purchase this and expect it to smell just like a sage bundle or “smudge stick” burning, you will be disappointed. On the other hand, the scent is pleasant and clear without too much of that “Hem Scent” that I have written about in the past. I confess to not knowing a great deal about Hem’s manufacturing process, but I do know that their sticks are charcoal and by association I assume them to be dipped in oils rather than made from finely ground natural ingredients. As such, that “Hem Scent” I mentioned is a slightly oily, mildly bitter undertone that I find gets in the way of the top notes all too often.
So in this stick you have a clear, bright and very pleasant version of white sage competing with that oily, bitter note. I think it may be possible to learn to ignore or tune out that scent after a while, but I find it to be too distracting. I have a stick of it burning while I write this review and the scent is pleasant and very sage-like most of the time. Every now and then though it is almost as if a richer deposit of the fragrance oil burns and that distracting note springs to the forefront.
I would say that this is a good approximation of white sage, but if you want to truly enjoy the crisp, clean and high note scent of white sage you would be better served to buy an actual white sage bundle from any one of a dozen reputable vendors. Especially if you are going to use sage for any sort of ritual work. If you are a fan of Hem incense in general though, and many people are, then I think that you will be pleased with this stick overall.
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