New York Times Goes “Smudging,” Which Is Less Sexy Than It Sounds


“Smudgers,” also known less ridiculously as “space-clearers,” work to remove “worries about the future or negative vibes from the past” from local apartments, according to the New York Times today. Why yes, it does get crazier from there! Apparently people are paying these experts north of $1,000 to rid a room intangible leftovers. (Prices can range not based on the amount of space, but on “what’s in the space energetically.”) Again, this can cost actual money.

Judith Wendall is one such smudger, as well as a “feng shui expert,” whose business has been booming, quite counter-intuitively:

The self-described “child of the ’70s” grew up in a Jewish family in Bayside and discovered spirituality, she said, while living in San Francisco. She calls her influences as varied as the Maharishi’s visit to the United States and a 1995 trip to Bali and Borneo. She also has professional training in feng shui and design. Ms. Wendell said that while she expected her business to drop in the recession, it actually rose because people wanted to improve the feelings in their current homes, or the homes they were moving into that perhaps people had given up.

Though the article stops short of calling smudging a trend — and trend-slayer Jack Shafer has yet to strike it down — the Times does provide a few anecdotes, while acknowledging that “science has yet to get around to evaluating the effectiveness of smudging.” And yet:

One woman hired her to sell her apartment because she was disappointed she had not found love there. Ms. Zweben smudged the apartment and found a buyer. The buyer moved in, quickly fell in love with her neighbor and eventually got married.

And with evidence like that, maybe this very article will provide Ms. Wendall and her peers a little boost in business as well.

That said, it’s hard to say if this nonsense is really happening with any frequency. A quick, unscientific survey of Twitter today indicates only a mild interest in the practice, with one user asking, “Has anyone ever smudged/saged? Planning to attempt this today. Want to clear out the negative energy of 2010.” In response, one company provided encouragement: “it’s a great idea to set a positive tone! Perform your smudging with intention and mindfulness.” The rest of the search results are about nail polish.

Before Move-In Day, Evicting the Old Auras [NYT]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 3, 2011


Archive Highlights