The Wisdom of Sage The Wisdom of Sage

The Wisdom of Sage

Crush dried sage leaves in your hands then open them. Earthy grey-green – that’s the colour – technically a quaternary hue mixed from citron and slate. But given its heart of green, the perception of this colour varies widely between cultures.

In the US, green signifies the almighty dollar while in the Islamic tradition, green is sacred and signals respect. The Japanese see it as the hue of life eternal, and in North Africa, green corresponds to corruption.

Sage is also a delectable kitchen staple that takes its name from the Latin ‘salvia’, meaning to feel healthy. With a long history as a medicinal plant, it’s been used to treat everything from infertility (ancient Egypt) and to digestive issues and memory problems (ancient Rome). These days you’re perhaps more likely to ‘smudge’ it than anything else (thanks to Instagram), though most people on the 'gram don't understand the ritual significance of the act. More on that later.

Beyond the kitchen, the word sage means someone who knows their shit; a sharp soul you keep on speed dial for their worldliness. Safe to say that sage truly is a mixed bag of connotations, but above all, it’s an easy to wear and gorgeous shade of green – a comforting and reviving neutral for your wardrobe.


Dead gorgeous

The Wisdom of Sage | Scheele's Green | Citizen Wolf

It’s widely believed that Napoleon's death in 1821 could be attributed to the green wallpaper which adorned his bedroom.

Green is serene and peaceful, but behind its woo woo exterior, there’s a dark side.

In 1775, a Swedish chemist called Carl Wilhelm Scheele engineered a lethal green colour using the noxious chemical, arsenite. He called it Scheele’s Green (original), and it went gangbusters at the end of the 19th century, superseding the less vibrant ancient greens made from minerals or vegetables.

This charming colour soon made its way into paper, wall hangings and household decor. With nods to nature, it was considered inspiring on the walls of children’s rooms and kid’s toys and women started wearing dresses containing Scheele’s Green in the fabric.

It didn’t end well, many people got sick and some even died. Like Napoleon. It’s widely believed his death in 1821 could be attributed to the colour in the wallpaper which adorned his bedroom: yep, Scheele’s Green.

Next came Paris Green, a durable pigment made from copper and arsenic; equally beautiful, equally harmful. Joining Scheele’s Green as the most poisonous pigment in the history of art, this tint became the darling of landscape paintings.

As artists across both the Art Nouveau period as well as the Impressionists worked with the natural world, green grew in popularity. This colour may have even had a hand in causing Paul Cezanne’s diabetes and Claude Monet’s blindness.

Brings new meaning to dying for your art.


Washed Green

The Wisdom of Sage | Greenwashing | Citizen Wolf

‘The term ‘greenwashing’ was coined in the 1980s to describe outrageous corporate environmental claims. Three decades later, the practice has grown vastly more sophisticated’ - The Guardian

You know how it goes – green is the spokesperson for everything eco-friendly and sustainable. ‘Look, we really are green’ brands shout from the rooftops. But why green?

Green is nature, so naturally, it’s the symbol of a certain lifestyle and the colour of commerce tuned-in to planet preservation. Turns out humans process environmentally-related info more effortlessly when it’s clad with the colour green because green is married to the meaning of the information.

We’re more responsive to green coloured eco messages because we’re more likely to believe in the sustainable voraciousness of the product or action. But this can be used to cover all kinds of mediocrity; misleading consumers by boosting their impression of a product when its environmental efficacy is pretty crap.

And nowhere is this more obvious than in fashion, which is why we've written a handy guide on how to spot greenwashing.

The global fashion industry accounts for 10% of CO2 emissions today, but according to the World Bank that's projected to rise 50% this decade. That's right, when COP26 says the world needs to rapidly accelerate decarbonisation, the fashion industry is doubling down on its wasteful ways.

Which is why every time we're invited to an industry panel, or interviewed on a podcast, our cofounder Zoltan Csaki says the same thing: "if your clothes are not made to order, they're simply not sustainable".

The fashion industry's eco-creds are built on the house of cards that is mass production, poor forecasting and the inevitable (and appalling) landfill problem that follows. Even the so-called ‘sustainable’ brands that are held up as world leaders, like Patagonia or Nudie, are still wedded to mass production and oversupply.

Here at Citizen Wolf we've developed technology that re-engineers the way clothes are made at scale, speeding up made to order timelines from weeks to only days, enough to compete with traditional warehouse pick and pack. 

We make only what we sell, and in doing so, we’re calling time on a way of working that hasn't really changed in 250 years since the Industrial Revolution. Made to order is the only way to ensure nothing goes to waste and no resources are drained making endless piles of shit that people don’t want or need.




Supherb superpowers

The Wisdom of Sage | Supherb Superpowers | Citizen Wolf

‘For most of its long history, sage has been a healing herb, supposedly curing everything from snake bites, eye problems, infection, epilepsy, intoxication, memory loss, and intestinal problems, or prescribed as an aphrodisiac.’

An aromatic member of the mint family, sage has tasty hints of pepper, eucalyptus and lemon. And it’s been hot property since the 17th century when the Chinese swapped tea for sage leaves with the Dutch.

But beyond its flavour prowess, this downy perennial is best known for the ancient spiritual rite of smudging, attributed to the Indigenous people of the Americas. Though similar traditions exist across many cultures including our own Indigenous Australians who use smoking ceremonies alongside Welcome to County.

Today, sage or ‘smudge sticks’ have gone mainstream.

They’re everywhere, from Amazon to spa chains and your Insta feed. But contrary to the trend, Indigenous people don’t use sage to cleanse rooms – instead it’s linked to prayer, medicine and ceremony, and sometimes burnt with other medicines like sweetgrass and cedar.

In the past, many people fought to fortify this knowledge, and not that long ago, people were jailed or even had their children removed for smudging. And today, with the growing buzz around smudging in the wellness world, white sage is now being overharvested on Native territory without honouring the herb as a living relative.

So – is smudging outside indigenous contexts, appropriation or admiration?

For the answer, ask yourself – are you using sage just for your benefit? Do you recognise where smudging originates, and the meaning it holds, while being responsible to the land?

Indigenous people believe whoever touches medicine (sage), transfers their energy into it. The picker, the packer, and the in-store plucker – can you vouch for their energy? That’s the energy-blend you’ll burn.

TL;DR if you bought it in a beautiful branded box and posted it on Insta, it’s probably appropriation.


What’s the right rite?

‘That smudge stick represents the deep pain, sacrifice, resistance, and refusal of Native peoples. It represents a continuing legacy of marginalizing and punishing Native spirituality.’ – Adrienne J. Keene’

However if you’ve been gifted sage, or grown it yourself, what’s the most sensitive way to do the ceremony?

First, remove obstacles like specs or jewellery, and cleanse them in the smoke before putting them back on.

Led by an elder, or knowledge holder, you move the smoke over your face, like you’re washing it, to shift the irritants that get stuck on us. Cleanse yourself with it to clear negative energy and become present.

Clean your mind to welcome good thoughts. Clean your eyes to see your way, clear your ears to hear good things coming, and clean your mouth so your words come from compassion and kindness. Clean your heart so you can feel positively, then move the smoke over all of you – this frees you to move ahead on your path.

Go sagely.


You herb it here first

Clad yourself sage, the colour of fresh starts, growth, peace and stability. As nature’s go-to hue, and vital symbol of life – green means ‘go.’ So get on your (green) horse with a Magic Fit® Tee in limited edition Sage today.



 Women's Magic Fit® T-shirts in Limited Edition Sage | Citizen WolfLimited Edition Sage in Hemp / Organic Cotton | Citizen WolfMen's Magic Fit® T-shirts in Limited Edition Sage | Citizen Wolf





Written by Zoltan Csaki