What is cleansing in magick?

Incense waterfall for Air cleansing by Magenta

Photos by Magenta

What is cleansing in magick?

Think of cleansing in magick as a sort of Anti-Bac for all your magickal stuff or magickal spaces. So in the same way, thanks to Covid, we’ve smothered our hands in that gross tasting clear slime…(come on…we’ve all tasted it at least once in the last two years, even if was by accident)…cleansing your magick stuff gets rid of anyone else’s magickal cooties from being all over it.  

The same can be true of cleansing yourself. So cleansing in magick doesn’t stop at cleansing objects. People can be in need of cleansing, magickally speaking, as well.

How to cleanse and the method for cleansing is actually not as important as why you’re cleansing and what you’d like to see, feel or do differently afterwards.

So we will explore why magickal cleansing matters, and what can be cleansed, before we get into the how. We will also get into a little bit of what cleansing should not be a little later in this article.

What can be cleansed?

Literally anything from people, to objects, to spaces can be magickally cleansed. Though have a think about the practicality of what it is you’d like to cleanse when choosing a method from the options below. 

Why should we bother with cleansing anything?

Cleansing an item, a person or a space gets rid of any magickal or energetic nasties from lurking. Cleansing tarot cards is useful if you do readings for other people, this is important in case the cards get all muddled with other people’s issues and stop resonating with the reading you’re doing. Cleansing a space, such as a house when you first move in, is important to get rid of the previous owner’s issues. 

We mentioned earlier that we believe the method for cleansing, though important, is not as important as why you’re doing it in the first place and then what you’d like to see, feel or do differently afterwards. We say this because we see a lot of people struggling with cleansing, and why it doesn’t work. Or rather they struggle to feel it has worked.

For example, “I did a cleanse and I’m not sure what it means or if it worked” is something we get asked a lot. In our opinion, those people are doing things the wrong way round. Cleansing stuff first then thinking about what needs to be different afterwards is doing it backwards.

Basically cleansing stuff and things is what resets them ready for you to use for the next thing, as it removes any of the lingering energies the item may have absorbed from previous magickal workings.

Cleansing ourselves as people (in a magickal way not in a sponge bath way) is also important and worthy of a fair amount of consideration. Afterall, as humans we’re all carrying around our energetic load. Sometimes this starts to turn bad so we end up carrying our garbage around all day. Occasionally we carry our garbage and then other people’s garbage. This makes cleansing yourself magickally especially important for empathic people. 

Think about what you want before you cleanse yourself

We’ve talked before about humanistic magick and this is where a framework like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can help work out what a cleansing should be done for. This framework designed by Maslow explains that humans are always moving through life reaching to have our needs met.

So once we have one set of needs met, we’re on to the next thing and the next and so on…if there is a blocker to having a need met, cleansing can work well to clear away these blocks. So, the hard part is working out what is needed. This is where to focus a magickal cleanse on a person. So spend time focusing your thoughts on what you want and then think about what is getting in the way, tarot can help with that

Cleansing objects

Start by thinking about what you want to change about the object, clear out or what the end result might be. For example. If you’re tidying a house, thinking about what the house needs to look like or be like after it’s all done helps focus the trouble spots. It should be no different for magickal cleansing.

If you’re cleansing your tarot cards, think about having the cards fresh and clean, then start clearing out other people’s energy from the deck.

Once all of that’s done, deciding on a method to cleanse comes next. Some methods of magickal cleansing suit objects more so than people, so bear in mind not everything described below can be used interchangeably between cleansing people and objects.

Water for cleansing

Cleansing some items in natural flowing water is a great way to cleanse stuff, as long as water isn’t going to ruin it. It’s no good water cleansing a new Book of Mirrors for example! Natural flowing water might include a stream, a river, or the ocean. Which is also great for cleansing people. Don’t we just feel so much better after bathing in some natural flowing water? 

Even rain water is good for cleansing if it’s free moving, so watering cans filled with rain water are perfect for pouring over items and can even be used to cleanse a room with a light sprinkling around the space. 

Earth for cleansing

Cleansing with salt or sand involves covering or submerging items for a short time and allowing the salt or sand to soak up residual energy. The salt or sand is then removed, dissolved or itself buried. Items can also be buried in the earth for a time, as long as you don’t forget where you left it! 

Fire for cleansing

Possibly one of the cleansing methods you might not want to consider for spaces or flammable items. Cleaning with fire requires a firepit or similar open fire and something safe to hold items with such as tongs. Items are passed quickly through the flames, quickly enough so that the items are not damaged or charred.

Hopefully it goes without saying, but we’re saying it anyway….don’t fire cleanse each other. Just stuff. Not people.

Air for cleansing

Cleansing magickal items using the element of air, such as smoke or incense is useful. Cleansing items in this way would work for handheld items that can be passed through the smoke, but equally can work for indoor spaces as the smoke can be wafted around, as long as the windows are opened so the smoke can leave. 

Using smoke to cleanse people might need a bit of consideration as to the individual, for example it might cause some breathing issues for some.

What herbs should be burned for cleansing?

We would only ever advocate using herbs that can be ethically, locally and sustainable sourced. We are practitioners of astral magick, so this means we source plants and herbs for their planetary properties, which in turn works in correspondence with the energy we would like to see or feel after the cleanse was complete.

For example, if we felt a little lonely and wanted to cleanse so we felt more comfortable in our own company, we might choose to burn some plants associated with the moon. This is because the moon is great for introspection and wanting to be alone. Moon herbs include easy to source things such as lettuce or watercress. 

Our approach might not be for everyone, but we recommend thinking about the herbs or incense you might choose and at least deciding on an approach that does work for you rather than just picking a herb at random. Or because Google said so.

Combining elements for cleansing

Of course, combinations of all of the above can be used to cleanse items. Fire can produce smoke, so by burning some herbs to produce a flame, cleansing can use flame as well as smoke for some items. Salt can be added to water to cleanse using both earth and water. It might be worth considering a salt water bath to cleanse a person who doesn’t have access to natural flowing water. 

Other ideas to consider for cleansing 

There are other methods to consider as well for cleansing, if using the elements doesn’t appeal. Especially important if you live somewhere with no good outside space, you’re allergic to salt, you can’t set fire to stuff and the only water you have is tap water. 

You can use a full moon to cleanse. just leave your stuff on a window sill where you can see the moon. Anyone wanting a full moon bathe, can just spend some time in the moon’s light, just breathing and enjoying the atmosphere of the moon. You don’t need to be naked either. 

Or finally, you can use sound to cleanse. If you have a bell (either a real one or a sound effect on a phone) sound the bell over the items, the people or in the centre of the space and allow the sound waves to do the cleansing for you. 

Do not join the bandwagon

It’s important to research the history of any and all trends before becoming a bandwagoner. This includes cleansing trends. Do the research yourself, if you’re a white person it is absolutely your job to self educate on closed practices, don’t burden others with having to do it for you.

We say this because cleansing with air should not be called smudging. This is a closed practice using sacred herbs such as white sage, and is a ceremony practised by some Indigenous people living in the American continents. While smudging may sound like it bears some resemblance to air cleansing, there are protocols around those ceremonies that are only kept by the spiritual leaders of those communities. So unless you’re a member of those communities, you don’t get to do it. 

And sadly the bandwagon doesn’t stop there. We’re in 2022 and it seems to be rolling through Mesoamerica at the moment, with a trend towards egg cleansing. There is a difference between oomancy (divination using eggs) and limpia, but what we’re seeing is a trend towards limpia which makes us more than a little uncomfortable. Limpias are healing ceremonies conducted by shamans in those indigenous communities. They understand the ritual (and the reading) and how to use this to aid wellness. It is not something we can or should advise on here, being white and not remotely connected to the culture. So using eggs to cleanse won’t be on our list.

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Published by Magenta School of Magick

We are a magick school for spiritually minded people who want advice and resources about, plus training on, using our ‘philosophy and art of affecting intended change through unseen causes’ (known as humanistic magick) in order to make changes that improve their work and lifestyle.

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