Cleansing – The Basics

Cleansing is a very important part of most witchy people’s practices. We cleanse our spaces, our tools, and even ourselves.

This is a practice that can be found in many cultures around the world and across time.

There are many tools and methods to use for cleansing. Rather than trying to break all of that down right away, this will be more of an introduction to cleansing, why you should do it, when you should do it, and more of a general method.

cleansing basics

What is cleansing?

There are two main types of cleansing, physical and energetic. This is mainly about the energetic version although some methods are also physically cleansing.

Energetically cleansing removes unwanted energies from objects, spaces, and even yourself. It can also be seen as sort of re-balancing or re-tuning energies. This is often negative energies but that is not the only thing you might want to cleanse something of.

Different cleansing methods will focus on different energies. Some also work to invite certain things in at the same time!

What can you cleanse?

Pretty much everything.

You can cleanse spaces like your altar space, rooms, houses, and properties.

You can also cleanse objects, especially tools you use for your practice. This might include candles, chalices, wands, athames, grimoires, divination tools, crystals, and so much more. You may also want to cleanse more mundane things like your bed, jewelry, or makeup.

Also, people. Often cleansing a person’s energy is a little more in depth. We’re a little more complicated than a cool stick we want to keep on our altar (depending on the stick, of course). But it can be done!

Why should you cleanse and when should you do it?

Most witchy and pagan people like to cleanse their altar space before setting it up, as well as any items before they are placed on the altar. For me, it doesn’t feel right to place something on my altar if it isn’t cleansed and dedicated to my practice.

This cleansing is generally to get rid of any residual energy from where the item came from and is especially important for second hand items with an unknown original owner.

Even if you purchase an item new specifically for your practice, it has taken on energy from not only the store you got it at, but also from wherever it originally came from and anyone who came into contact with it from the time of its creation to the time you brought it home.

While this won’t always be negative energy, you’ll usually want a fresh start so the object can be more attuned to your energy.

So, cleansing new things is generally a good idea. So is cleansing new spaces! Cleansing is a great way to greet a new home or business space.

You may also find the need to periodically cleanse items that you’ve had for a while. The reasons for this can vary. Maybe you used a divination tool while you’re emotions weren’t in check, you might want to cleanse it so that those energies don’t influence future readings.

Someone may have touched an item or entered a space who you don’t trust or whose energy doesn’t suit your life or practice. A good cleansing after that contact will help to release their energy from the area or object.

Maybe something just feels stagnant, off, or otherwise imbalanced. Cleansing can help to restore the ideal energies.

Basic cleansing methods

So now we know a little about what cleansing is and why we might want to do it.

But how do we cleanse?

Believe it or not, sage smoke is not the only way to cleanse. Like I said earlier, there are SO many methods you can use and I’m not going to go through all of them in depth here. But here’s a list of some types of cleansing that you can expect future posts about:

  • Smoke
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Sound
  • Visualization
  • Moonlight
  • Nature
  • Sweeping
  • Vocalizing

And those are just categories, each one has multiple options!

Here are some basic methods for cleansing that are suitable for multiple mediums. As with anything else, the important thing is to do what feels best to you.

For spaces

Choose an area to start in and consider your pathway. Do you want to go clockwise or counterclockwise? Do one room at a time or the whole house in one motion? Is there a specific spot that would be best to start in?

Many people like to go clockwise, I prefer counterclockwise because it helps me focus on the intent to release unwanted energies.

The layout of my apartment makes it easy to start in one corner of my bedroom and work counterclockwise through the entire space. Larger homes don’t always lend to this strategy.

Some people like to base their start/end point on cardinal directions, others like to use their front door to give the energy an ideal place to leave.

After deciding on your path, select your medium and activate it while focusing on your intent. Walk through your space allowing your cleansing medium to contact the entire perimeter.

Give extra attention to areas that feel particularly grimy, stuck, or stagnant. Don’t forget about corners! Especially those on the ceiling. I may or may not tend to climb up on furniture just to get into corners when I cleanse…

Also focus on areas that are passageways, both physical and energetic. These are things like doorways, windows, and especially mirrors. I even like to go around cabinet doors.

You may also want to consider repeating some sort of mantra or listening to music to keep you focused. I like to listen to Wardruna and firmly ask all negative and unwanted energies to leave.

For objects

The basic name of the game with cleansing objects is to surround the item with your cleansing medium. It’s as simple as that.

Different strategies may require different lengths of time, or different ways to surround the object. Do what feels best to you

That’s the gist of it! Stay tuned for future posts about specific cleansing methods and let me know if there are any in particular you want to know about!

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