How To Cleanse: The Ultimate Guide For New Witches
Cleansing is one of those subjects that gets bandied around a lot but can be unfortunately vague for newer witches. There are dozens of methods, different purposes behind each method, and often the needed information is buried in a mountain of spiritual nonsense and vague soliloquies. It’s no wonder that cleansing is something I get asked about on a daily basis!
To be completely honest with you, I don’t cleanse enough.
As I’ve spoken about before, I’m a forgetful witch. I’ll let my home go months without cleansing, forget to cleanse new tools before I use them and I only really pull out my cleansing supplies when the need is dire. What can I say? I’m a witch on the go, sometimes things just slip through the cracks. I feel pretty safe assuming that plenty of other witches out there are also struggling with keeping on top of their magical maintenance tasks, so this week I've decided to kick off The Cleansing Challenge!
The Cleansing Challenge is an easy way to get back into the swing of things if you've been feeling a little disconnected from your craft or to familiarize yourself with the process of cleansing. The challenge itself is 4 weeks. Each week you'll cleanse yourself, your home, and an object of your choice at least once. You can use any method you like and change it up as often as you like, this is a great time to experiment and try something new!
I've also designed a handy tracking worksheet to help you keep up with your own challenge!
Join the Cleansing Challenge today!
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What is Cleansing and Why Learn it?
Again, cleansing is one of those things that everyone is supposed to know about but never gets taught thoroughly so we’re starting from the ground up. Often I find that people will have misconceptions about what cleansing even is, perhaps misunderstanding the purpose of it or thinking something like banishing or grounding is cleansing when in reality, cleansing is something completely different!
Cleansing is simply the act of removing unwanted energies from a person, placed or object. Cleansing is generally the gentlest form of removal, whereas banishing would be a more forceful tactic. Instead of forcefully ejecting an offending influence or spirit you’re simply removing the bonds that hold the energy in place and allowing that energy to be transmuted into something neutral.
This process is useful for ensuring that you, your living space, or the things near you are clear of energies that could harm or disturb you. It’s useful for creating a blank slate in your environment or preparing tools for spell work and keeping your energy stable and healthy. Many witches like to cleanse their homes regularly, as well as cleansing new objects being brought into the home. Really, cleansing has a myriad of uses and is one of the foundational skills every witch should possess.
Alright, so how does cleansing actually work?
1. Pick what needs to be cleansed
The first step in cleansing is deciding what it is that needs to be cleansed. Is the energy in your home feeling a little stagnant? Have you noticed a weird energy hanging around on your hand-me-down rolling pin? Did you get a new ritual tool or crystal? Are you feeling a little drained and sluggish? It might be time to turn to cleansing! Just figure out what it is that needs a little magical TLC and go from there.
2. Pick your cleansing method
This step is vital to successful cleansing. There are many, MANY ways to go about cleansing; however, not every method is suitable for every application. For example, using water to cleanse a delicate crystal could result in the crystal being damaged. Smoke cleansing a room where you parakeet lives would be incredibly dangerous to your pet. Each method has a time and place where it will be safest and most effective and it’s imperative that you choose your method wisely.
Smoke cleansing, also called recaning, is the process of cleansing a room, an object, or yourself with smoke. Often sage is the go-to but incense, cedar, palo santo, and many other herbs can also be used for this purpose.
The process of smoke cleansing is fairly simple. Light your herb bundle and blow out any flames so that it is smoldering. Waft smoke over the object, over your body, or around the room, allowing the smoke to break up stuck or unwanted energies and transform them back into neutral, free flowing energy.
It’s important to note that while many practitioners mistakenly use the term, witches to not use smudging. This term refers to a very specific practice of smoke cleansing that is exclusive to Native American cultures. Not only is it inappropriate to pilfer their vocabulary, it would be inaccurate to say that our smoke cleansing practices resemble anything like the practice of smudging. They are simply not the same.
Another important consideration when using this method is the health of your pets. Dogs and cats are likely to be ok as long as they're not too close to the smoke and the room is well ventilated (open a window!) but small pets should NEVER be exposed to smoke of any kind. Rodents, birds, and reptiles have very small lungs and can suffer health repercussions from even small amounts of smoke, if you have pets of this variety it's best to use another form of cleansing!
There are many ways to cleanse with water. Bathing, washing an object or letting something soak are all excellent ways to remove unwanted energies. Another option is to fill a spray bottle with charged water and mist a room with it. Always be careful that whatever you place in water will not harm the object or you if you come into contact with the water. Some herbs, stones, and crystals can be very toxic when placed in water.
Salt or Earth
Burying an object in salt or soil for 12-24 hours can remove unwanted energies. If you bury something in soil I would suggest doing so in a container (a pot or bowl) so that the item doesn’t become lost accidentally.
Moonlight & Sunlight
Moonlight and sunlight can be used to both cleanse and charge objects depending on your intent. Often in these cases taking the moon phase or season into account is necessary as these things can affect the resulting energy that the item takes on.
Bells, drums, tambourines, and rainmakers are all capable of removing unwanted energetic residue. This method is particularly good for large spaces and can be combined with dancing for added effectiveness. I hang bells on my front door so that my home stays cleansed and my own energies are given a boost every time I leave or return home.
Some crystals can be used for cleansing. Smokey quartz and citrine are both quite effective and they do not hold onto energies so they never need cleansing themselves!
3. Time to cleanse!
Once you’ve chosen what you’ll be cleansing and the appropriate method for it, it’s time to actually get down to cleansing!
The important thing to remember is that regardless of what you’re cleansing or what method you’re using to cleanse it, intention is what drives the magic. In order for most of the methods described above to work, you have to hold the intention that the object will be returned to a neutral energy state. This can be done in many ways, either by visualizing the energy changing, imaging how the changing energy will feel, or simply holding the thought or idea in your head. As long as you’re holding the intention to cleanse the object or space, the magic will handle the rest.
4. Finishing touches
Often after cleansing many people get a “what now?” feeling. Cleansing really is quite simple and it can leave many witches feeling like they’ve only half finished the job. If you find yourself feeling like this there are many ways to follow up a cleansing and give it a tidy finish.
Warding after cleansing a place, an object, or even yourself can help prevent the unwanted energy from returning. Often if you can identify the origin of the unwanted energy you can nip the problem in the bud and prevent resurgence in one go. Check out my blog post about warding here.
Occasionally cleansing isn’t quite strong enough to finish the job. If you find yourself finishing a cleansing and still feeling like something is off you might need to turn to more firm-handed means. Banishing can often get rid of energies that cleansing can’t whether from old or very stubborn energies or troublesome spirits. Banishing is also an important skill for every witch to learn, get beginner banishing spells here!
Filling Space With New Energy
After cleansing there’s often a sort of energetic void left over, this neutral energy is susceptible to picking up errant energies that you may not want around. The best way to prevent this is to recharge whatever it is you just cleansed with a new energy of your choosing. You can read all about this process here.
When should I cleanse?
Cleansing is a tool you can whip out pretty much any time you like. It’s a fairly gentle method of clearing energies so it’s difficult to overdo it. My suggestion is to cleanse your home once every week or two as well as after any big emotional upsets or stressful periods. If you’re someone who is empathic, sensitive to other people, or prone to mood swings and emotional turbulence you can cleanse multiple times a week, or even every day if you find that it helps you.
Cleansing new objects being brought into your home can be useful for keeping old energetic buildup from being dragged into your house, this is especially useful with secondhand and antique items! Often these items have a long history and there’s no telling what kind of energetic residue they might be carrying around. Cleansing rituals tools before consecrating or using them is a good idea but if you’ve already programmed an item or worked spells on it you may want to hold off on cleansing until you’re ready to have a fresh slate to work new magic on.
That said, if you’re looking to deactivate a spell or deprogram a tool cleansing is an excellent first step. Depending on the intensity or complexity of the spell; however, it may require more than a simple cleansing to remove properly.
It's also a good idea to cleanse your home and belongings thoroughly after a breakup. Pay particular attention to mattresses, shared belongings, and anything you mentally associate with them. It may be necessary to cleanse these things multiple times since it's likely you'll add more negative emotion into the mix as you go through the post-breakup stages.
Cleansing your personal energy is a fairly individual subject. Some people enjoy cleansing their energy very regularly while others may find that they rarely need to do so. Experiment a bit and find your personal preference. There are many easy ways to cleanse your energy, daily or otherwise. Simply incorporating water cleansing into your shower or bath will certainly do the trick but even an action as simple as washing your hands can serve as an adequate cleansing routine. Standing with your feet in the grass or a natural body of water can be effective, as can carrying cleansing stones on your person such as citrine or smoky quartz. You can even let a breeze carry away any unnecessary energy as you go about your day.
Cleansing really is a witches first line of defense and one of the most well loved and oft used techniques available to us. Give it a try and if you're up for it, join me in The Cleansing Challenge!