Cleansing & Purification
Cleansing and Purification are terms used in the Spiritual community to describe a practice of ridding a person, place or object of unwanted Spiritual energy and chasing off low-level thought forms and transient spirits.
Energy is Neutral
You may have already been practicing cleansing and purification techniques or at least read about them. Often it’s done in the name of ‘Positive Vibes Only’ or to banish anything and everything that goes bump in the night. I have strong opinions about this, so let’s clear this up before we get any further…
No matter how many times you hear this term flung around, there’s no such thing as ‘negative energy’. The same is true for ‘positive energy’. Let’s all try to be mindful of these warped New Age views and abolish them from our Witchy vocabularies with extreme prejudice. These terms are too often equated with good and bad, and those using these terms are projecting a code of morality onto energy where there is none. Spiritual/ metaphysical/ magickal energy (however you think of it) is inherently neutral. For example, an overabundance of joyful energy in a home can be very uncomfortable and overwhelming for some folks. Energy that’s overwhelming to someone isn’t bad or good. It’s just energy being perceived through a particular lens that makes the energy desirable or undesirable according to the individual having the experience.
Some alternatives to ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ might include Helpful / Non-Helpful, Constructive / Destructive, Peaceful / Wrathful, Advantageous / Disadvantaged, Strong / Weak, Attract / Repel, Supporting / Opposing, Opportunity / Obstacle, Beneficial / Harmful, Effective / Ineffective.
However blatantly erroneous and wrong the terms ‘negative v positive energy’ are, that doesn’t mean energy doesn’t need tending to from time to time. Of course there will be times when the energy in your home feels ‘off’. Maybe there’s too much energy, or too little. Maybe the energy feels stuffy or stagnant, or you just feel restless and distracted. In terms of an object, it can feel heavier or make your skin feel crawly when you touch or hold it. Sometimes poorly directed, ungrounded or excessive energy can cause headaches, anxiety or an upset tummy. Maybe last night’s coven gathering was fabulous but all that energy raised didn’t get grounded properly and today you feel jittery and hyper.
Cleansing and purification methods are the perfect means to clear out the excess energy that has accumulated within yourself, your home or an object when time alone is not sufficient or it’s so uncomfortable or unpleasant you feel immediate action is required.
Reasons for Cleansing
How Does Energy Accumulate?
• A layout and arrangement of furniture that doesn’t encourage energy flow
• Heavy use of magick
• Illness or death within the home
• An improperly warded home
• Discord among housemates or family members residing in the home
• Constant anger, frustration and annoyance
• Old items- hand-me-downs, antiques, inheritances, thrifted items, borrowed objects, etc.
• Heavy emotions
• Numerous other reasons
What’s the Difference?
Cleansing tends to be seen as a more everyday tidying up while Purification is akin to Spring Cleaning or like how hard you clean when your in-laws or a fancy guest come to stay.
Here’s an example:
Your computer is actin’ up. It’s running slow and giving you fits. It’s bogged down with too many files and apps and malware for it to run smooth. It’s time to run a cleaner program on your device that will remove viruses and malware and repair broken elements. The cookies and cached and temporary files need to be cleared. You’ll probably benefit from rearranging needed files and backing them up to the cloud to make space on your hard drive. And some of those apps that have bugs, use too much processing power or memory or make everything else go wonky while installed need to go. You’ve just performed a cleansing.
In most cases, this fixes the problem.
Sometimes, though, a cleansing just isn’t enough.
Your computer is so far gone with junk weighing it down and corrupting its programs you have to take more extreme measures. After doing a thorough cleansing you find that it only marginally improved things and the bulk of the issues remain or they soon return. Your device has become all but useless and as a last resort you’ve got to do a Power Wash and take it back to factory settings. Everything will be lost that wasn’t pre-installed before purchase. The upside is you get a clean slate to start over from and a device that works like it was intended to. Bonus to that is you can finally stop living with constant stress and vexation every time you try to use your computer. Downside is you have to re-install programs, files and apps you regularly use or need and personalize all your settings again. This is purification.
Another way to think of it is wiping down the counters with soap and water versus bleach. Cleansing cleans surface residue you can see; purification deals with the deeper grunge you can’t see.
Cleansing gets the energy moving and breaks it up once it’s started to cluster and stagnate. It’s wiping up the gunked on three-day old messes in the kitchen when you fry chicken, bake bread or make red sauce. Similarly, use cleansings to remove unwanted spiritual energy and messes that have recently accumulated around a person, place or object. It won’t remove older, more baked in energy that’s settled in over the years, however. That job’s more suited to purification or banishing.
Cleansing comes in handy when you need to wash off or remove the recent excess or unwanted energetic grime. A bad day at work, an argument, an empty room before or after a meeting or gathering, a stagnant corner or closet.
Cleansing is suitable for when you take grandma’s antique to get appraised and want to remove the energy of the people who handled that object without removing grandma’s energy.
A cleansing will effectively remove the excess and unwanted energy without disrupting the presence of your familiar spirits, affecting your wards, or otherwise disrupting long-term spell work. Note, however, that cleansing yourself, an object or your home will not correct whatever may have caused the energy imbalance, simply that it removes the excess so that balance can be restored. If the imbalance was caused by a hostile home environment, clutter, a constant stream of visitors, for example, cleansing will just be a stopgap and temporary solution. The root cause will need to be addressed.
Purification takes the loosened up energy you’ve done from cleansing and goes at it a little harder to remove both it and the unseen grime that gets exposed from underneath. It’s stripping the built-up layers of polish off the floors and taking them back to their original condition. It’s the difference between wiping up debris inside the oven between uses (cleansing) and running the self-clean setting that incinerates everything inside and turns it to ash.
Use Purification to remove older energy that’s not inherent in an object or space. A newly purchased item for example would be a good candidate for a purification. Whether it’s brand new or a thrifted find, the same would hold true. A cleansing would just remove the recent energy from people at the store who handled the object or thought about it and anchored their hopes, ideas or intentions onto the item. A purification would lift the energy that’s more deeply embedded. If the object is new, this might be removing the energy all the way back to the manufacturing process and the factory workers who were part of assembly, packaging and transporting. If the object is pre-owned, you might include removing the energy and spiritual connection from previous owners as well.
Purification is often done when consecrating a ritual tool before its first use.
The skill to send energy without the use of any tools is foundational to Witchcraft. Take time to learn effective energy work before attempting spells and other forms of magick. Start at the beginning. Witchcraft requires time and persistence.
Energy can be raised- that is, you can cause energy to accumulate and concentrate. Energy can be sent or directed away, or pulled and drawn in. Energy can be dissipated, moved or broken up. The intentional act of working with energy in these ways requires that you know how to pull and draw energy to you from a Source, direct it where you want it to go (control its movement and flow), and keep it where you want it until you’re ready to release it or direct it away from you to an intended location.
When we charge objects, for example, we are drawing, building/raising, sending, directing and pushing energy into a specific item. Witches often charge magickal tools and sacred power objects to be infused with a specific energy, such as for protection, power, healing, etc.
When we make talismans and amulets we charge them with energy suited to our purpose and when we wear them or hold them we feel the pulsing vibration of energy we filled it with. We can also feel when or if it becomes depleted or wanes. We learn when items need to be charged again or charged more.
It has become popular to ‘charge’ items such as crystals and water under the Full Moon. Many people charge themselves under the Sun when they turn their face up towards the sky on a sunny day. Kitchen Witches charge food they make as they stir, knead and blend.
When we charge something for magickal purposes, we are sending and pushing energy into something, usually through our dominate hand but it can also be through our psychic center, Will or other method. We pack in as much energy as the object or space will hold until there’s no room. If we’ve already cleansed the object, it will have a bit more room for us to charge and fill it. Like a bucket that’s all the way empty versus partially full with water. If we haven’t cleansed an item or space that we want to charge, we can charge the available room remaining in the bucket. I recommend cleansing an item before charging it if the goal is to cleanse it.
Some people will suggest that you can charge a thing or space so hard you simply cleanse the space in the process. This is not the most efficient or effective way to either cleanse or charge in my opinion.
Think about a dirty mop bucket. The water has turned gray and is filled with hair that got snatched by the mop and debris missed by the broom. When you’re done, you would probably just dump the dirty mop water either outside, in the toilet, or down the drain. Then you’d rinse the now empty bucket and make sure it was clean and ready for the next time you wanted to mop. You probably wouldn’t sit the bucket full of dirty mop water in the sink and run clean water in it until the mixture of dirty water and clean water overflowed and became clear.
Yes, eventually the clean water would exchange with the dirty water until you had mostly all clean water. It would waste a lot of time and water without any real reduction of work. It would not be an efficient or effective way to clean out your mop bucket.
I recommend cleansing an item before charging it if the goal is to cleanse it. Not everything needs to be cleansed before being charged, but we’ll discuss that in just a bit.
Let’s reflect on What We’ve Covered Do Far…
As a self-led course, these questions are really for your own understanding and growth.
Explore them as far as you feel called to. You might just quietly ponder them and consider the answers in your head, and that's OK if that feels like your best effort. However, if you want to get the most out of this, and I hope you do, I encourage you to take this exercise deeper.
Write the questions down in a notebook and answer them thoughtfully on paper or in a digital document. When we write things out we see opportunities to challenge our ideas and amend them, make our arguments and beliefs stronger and fact-check ourselves. It is a valuable process that will make your Witchcraft stronger.
What is your definition or understanding of Cleansing?
How do you think Cleansing & Purification are different?
Give a few examples of times when you felt like you needed to cleanse or purify.
What's your primary concern or insecurity when it comes to cleansing & purification?
Techniques & Tools
The methods for cleansing and purification are largely the same. Cleansing and purification can be achieved solely using energy work. The differences come down to how much energy you push or pull from the person, place or object you are cleansing and purifying.
There are additional tools and aids you can use for cleansing and purification. Sometimes the goal is to move energy and help it flow, other times it’s to remove it entirely. Not all methods are foolproof. Some have the potential to add energy to a space while breaking up old stale energy. Sometimes this is desired, other times it is not. Some methods below will raise the vibration of a space or object while others will ground or lower the vibration. A lot comes down to personal preference and intention. Experiment and learn the nuances of how the energy is affected so you can fine tune your cleansing & purification techniques.
1. Anointing with Oil
Salt absorbs energy
Salt can get ‘full’
Replace and renew regularly
5. Singing Bowl
6. Besom / Ritual Broom
7. Smoke Incense
9. Physically Cleaning
Sunlight is an excellent cleanser & purifier!
Set an object outside on a dry day under a bright Sun for a few hours.
13. Wind & Air
Open a window
Run a fan
Set out an object or stand outside on a windy day
14. Grounding and Centering
Energy work that draws energy away from yourself and directs it back into the Earth
Earthing is a more passive way to ground by walking or standing directly on soil or grass barefoot
15. Ritual Hand Washing
16. Spiritual Bath
17. Scattering of Herbs and Ritual Powders
18. Sigils and Symbols
Descending notes lower and ground energy
Ascending notes raise energy
20. Stomping and Shouting
Banging on pots or drums work, too
21. Floor Washes
Can be used on
-Anywhere around the home
Limitations of Cleansing & Purification
Cleansing and Purification Is Not a Cure-All