When we think of cleansing ourselves, we might think of washing our hands, taking a shower, and putting on fresh clothes. And when we think about cleansing our home, we might tidy up strewn objects, anti-bac the surfaces, and get rid of anything that no longer serves a purpose. But we often don’t think about spiritual cleansing, as in cleansing our energy, aura, or spirit (whatever you prefer to call it). Mess and dirt accumulate on an invisible level, too. We can’t physically see the stuck or stagnant energy, but it’s there, and this energy affects us. A cleansing ritual is a perfect way to cleanse yourself (or any space), free yourself from negative vibrations, and make space for positive energy and new opportunities to come into your life.
When should you do a cleansing ritual?
- Before you do any kind of magick or spellwork (like a new moon or full moon ritual)
- Anytime you’re feeling stuck or stagnant in your life
- After a breakup
- When you move house
- When you start a new job or business
- Before and after having people over at your house
- Before you meditate
- After an argument or conflict
- Before and after any kind of healing session
- After healing from an illness
How to do a spiritual cleansing ritual
Declutter, organize, and clean your space
Before you start your ritual, tidy up your space. Put things back where they belong, get rid of anything you don’t need, and open the windows to let fresh air circulate. Dust and hoover your surfaces. Get your space to a place that looks and feels good to you. If you want to go a step further, follow the practice of feng shui.
Gather your tools
It’s best to gather your tools so that everything is within reach for when you need it during your cleanse. If you have a sacred altar, set everything up on or around this. Otherwise, just place everything on a tray or in a neat pile on a clean surface.
Get into the right headspace
You might want to sit peacefully for a few minutes or meditate. Take a few deep inhales and exhales. Put on some calming background music if you wish to, like thunder or ocean sounds. Spotify has some amazing ready-made playlists no matter what you’re seeking.
Set an intention
Before you begin a spiritual cleansing ritual (or any kind of ritual), I think it’s beautiful to set an intention. What do you want to come from this cleanse? There is no right or wrong answer.
But when you state your intention or write it down, do so as if it has already come true, just like an affirmation or mantra. For example, “I am filled with positivity, joy, and light.”
You can repeat this to yourself throughout your cleansing ritual.
Tips for using sacred plants in your ritual
I was unaware for a long time of the ethical and sustainable issues with purchasing white sage and other sacred, native herbs that grow in protected indigenous areas.
Currently, it seems there is no legal way to harvest wildcrafted white sage, so I would refrain from buying and using this—unless it’s coming directly from a true native who lives on the land. The great news is that you can grow sage in your garden or use a variety of other herbs, which I mention below.
There has also been some concern over palo santo. As I understand it, there are two different species of palo santo, and the one used in rituals like this is not endangered, while the other one is.
When purchasing any kind of herbs, stones, or oils to use in your rituals, it’s essential to know where they’re actually coming from and how they have been sourced and produced. The intention and heart of the producer seep into the ingredients that end up in your hands. If someone illegally ripped white sage from Native lands with force and is merely concerned with making money, then the white sage that ends up in your hands will be contaminated with that energy.
The same principles apply to anything that we buy. This is one of the main reasons I feel compelled to make more conscious choices when purchasing food, clothes, beauty products, etc. Of course, it is easier said than done to completely change your buying habits overnight. So my invitation to you is to start small. Start by growing your own herbs to use in your rituals, or seek out truly sustainable and ethical sellers.
6 Spiritual cleansing rituals to try today
1. A smudging ritual
A lot of studies have shown that various medicinal smokes are great for us on a physical level. They have antimicrobial and antibacterial qualities, can improve your mood, repel pesky insects, and even aid with sleep. And the energetic benefits are abundant, which is why Native Americans have burned herbs for centuries to cleanse negative energy, boost creativity and focus, and promote healing.
Let’s talk about herbs
You only need a small bundle tied with twine or a braid of dried herbs. Here are some that you can use guilt-free (but do make sure they’re being grown and harvested responsibly!):
- White sage (if given to you directly from a Native on the land)
- Garden sage
- Palo santo
- Pine cones
How to do a smudging cleansing ritual
Ensure your windows are open before you begin, and set an intention as outlined above.
Light one end of your dried herb bundle (for about 30 seconds) until you see smoke releasing from it. Gently waft the smoke around your room, body, and anywhere else you want to cleanse. Make sure you get into all the corners and crevices. While doing this, repeat your intention silently to yourself or say it out loud.
When you’re done, place your herbs on a heatproof surface like an abalone shell. It will probably continue to release smoke for about five minutes.
I like to do a smudging ritual before a moon ritual or any kind of spellwork.
2. A bath cleansing ritual
Water has been used to cleanse, purity, and heal since the beginning of time. Even if you’ve never done an intentional water ritual, you’ve probably done it many times without realizing it.
Have you ever had a tough day and taken an extra long shower or ran yourself a bath and felt some of your stress and anxiety melt away? This is a water ritual!
Water is incredible. It cleans us on a physical level but also offers us spiritual cleansing. There are many ways to cleanse and purify with water, but a bath ritual is one of the most nourishing ways to do this, and it feels amazing!
What you’ll need
Mix and match from the ingredients on this list:
- One handful of salt (Himalayan, Epsom, or Dead-Sea salt)
- A few drops of essential oils (any you like)
- Flowers (use real or dried flower petals)
- Fruits (sliced oranges, lemons, limes, or even berries)
- Coconut milk powder
- Ground oats
- Crystals (choose one that represents the new energy you want to call in)
How to do it
Pop all of your chosen ingredients into your bath as it’s filling up. If you don’t have a tub, you can pop everything into a small bowl and pour it over you in the shower.
Create a relaxing atmosphere by lighting some candles and setting your intention. Before you get into the bath, take a shower, then slip into the warm water. Let any negative, stagnant energy seep out of you.
If you want to know more about creating your own bath ritual, check out this article:
3. A crystal cleansing ritual
Calling all crystal witches or collectors for this cleansing ritual—you’ll love this one!
Stones from our earth have magical properties and can absorb and deflect energy. You can meditate with your crystals, pop them in the bath with you (see above), place them on your body for healing, carry them with you in your bag, and place them in certain areas of your home.
Every crystal has different properties and benefits, but many of them overlap. If you’re new to working with crystals, I recommend purchasing the ones you instinctively feel drawn to. Trust your intuition on this.
Remember to cleanse and recharge your crystals regularly as they carry energy! My favorite way to do this is to place them in a small bowl of rainwater (or saltwater) and leave them on a window ledge when the moon is full. Moonlight is magical.
4. An auric cleansing spray ritual
This is a fancy way of saying room spray!
You can either use a diffuser (if you have one) or use a small glass spray bottle to make your own spray.
What you’ll need
- A glass or plastic spray bottle
- Distilled water or moon water (leave your water in the moonlight overnight; voila, you just made moon water!)
- Unscented witch hazel or pure alcohol
- Essential oils of your choice
How to make your spray
You’ll want to mix the water and alcohol in a 3:2 ratio—60% water and 40% alcohol. And you’ll need approximately 20 drops of essential oils per 50ml of water. Opt for one oil or mix a few; it’s up to you.
A spray or diffuser is a much cleaner way to have a spiritual cleansing ritual than burning smoke. Plus, some people are sensitive to smoke.
Once you’ve made your spray or set up your diffuser, simply spray it over yourself or throughout the room you’re cleansing. Keep your intention in mind while you do this.
5. A visualization cleansing ritual
If you’ve ever done a guided meditation or visualized yourself achieving your wildest dreams, this is very similar.
What you’ll need
- A phone on silent mode to play some music
- A candle or some incense
- A comfy cushion and/or a blanket (optional)
- A journal/some loose paper
How to do it
Find a quiet, comfy spot, either sitting in a chair, cross legged-on the floor, or even lying down. Make sure it’s somewhere you won’t be disturbed.
Put on some calming meditation music. Light a candle or burn some herbs (see above for that).
Close your eyes and take a few breaths.
Next, visualize a big, bright ball of white light. White is a purifying color and symbolizes fresh starts.
Then, working from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet, imagine this white light filling up your entire body. As it does, think of all the negative energy leaving your body. Do this for at least ten minutes, and really visualize the white light filling you up.
When you’re done, take a few more breaths. Gently bring some small movements back into your body, starting with your fingers and toes. Sit here in stillness for as long as you like before plugging back into the world.
You might even want to journal about any sensations or feelings that arose for you during your ritual. How do you feel now compared to how you felt before you did it?
6. A paper cleansing ritual
This is a slightly different take on a smudging ritual that goes a little deeper and is focused on you rather than your home.
What you’ll need
- Herb bundle or incense stick (see above for a list of recommended herbs)
- A candle (white is always a good option)
- A small piece of paper
- A pen
How to do it
Light your candle, settle into your space and take a few breaths.
Begin by writing whatever you want to release on your piece of paper. It might be a person, a feeling, or a grudge.
Following the same steps in the smudging ritual, light your herbs and start to gently wave them all over your body. When you’re finished, let it smolder on a heatproof surface.
Next, bring your intention to mind, pick up your piece of paper, and burn it using the candle flame. If you’re worried about creating a fire hazard, you can do this over a sink or bowl of water. Imagine the negative energy dissipating from your body and disintegrating into the air and the clouds, where it becomes nothingness.
Close your cleansing ritual with some final words, a short meditation, or a sound bath.
Spiritual cleansing is caring
Which one of these spiritual cleansing rituals will you try first?
Let me know in the comments below!
And if you have a question about anything you’ve read in this article, drop it below too.