If you've ever moved into a new house, you know that old residents have a tendency to leave things behind. Sometimes it's forgotten old knickknacks tucked away on the shelf, other times it's a trail of careless trash abandoned on the floor. But one remnant people tend to overlook is energy.
You see it all the time in horror movies—Poltergeist, The Conjuring, even The Shining. Evil spirits linger behind in the homes they know, and they're not too keen on their new inhabitants. While demonic and ghostly hauntings might not be as common in real-life as they are in the movies, that doesn't mean the negative mojo left behind by old residents doesn't effect you. And while the cause of the negativity can be ... impeached, one might say, that doesn't mean some of the bad energy won't still linger.
So if you're moving into a new space—whether it's a cozy apartment, a Victorian mansion, or even a sprawling federal government office—here are some useful tips for banishing the bad energy from your home.
The method most people are familiar with when it comes to cleansing the home of bad energy is smudging. This is a process which comes from an array of Indigenous cultures. In this practice, four elements are typically called upon. A container (perhaps a shell) to signify water, one or more of the sacred plants (cedar, sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco) to signify earth, igniting the plant to signify fire, and the rising smoke to signify air.
To cleanse a space using this method of smudging, one should first cover all mirrors, turn off all electronics, close all windows, and open all doors—including cabinets. Starting on the left side of the door and moving around the space, the cleanser should walk the perimeter of the space, fanning the smoke either with their palm or an eagle feather. It's imperative that you pray as you go, welcoming good spirits and asking the negative spirits to take their leave.
It's also possible to smudge yourself, as portrayed in the video below.
Apart from its Indigenous roots, smudging also has a variety of cultural and New Age adaptations, implemented often by shamans, Wiccans, pagans, and anyone with internet access who might be curious. One variation on smudging is the use of palo santo instead of sage. This is a sacred wood from South America, which some people prefer due to its smell. The smoke produces scents of pine and lemon, as opposed to sage's potently earthy (marijuana-like) smell.
Sallie Ann Glassman, an ordained practitioner of Haitian Vodou, recommends similar methods, as well as the use of cedar oil, salt baths, and the periodic use of blessing candles. Cookist.com recommends the simple method of eating and burning 7 basic herbs—sage, cinnamon, lavender, rosemary, cedar, juniper, and bay leaves. An old folktale suggests shaking the house out with pots and pans. The clanging around the house—once a New Year's tradition—supposedly scares ghosts out of the space. If you prefer a method that comes from the heart of Jewish or Christian religions, many believe the singing of Psalms is a cleansing act.
More New Age, "witchy" methods include the use of crystals. Every type of crystal has a different purpose and energy, but those recommended to cleanse negative energy from your home are black tourmaline, kyanite, selenite, obsidian, hematite, and desert rose. To give the crystals power, it's best to clear them by soaking them overnight in a bowl of saltwater and letting them charge under the light of a full moon.
Keeping an altar in your home can not only bring in positive energy, but help to keep it there. There aren't any set rules for what a positivity altar should look like, except that it should make you happy. It can include pictures of family and friends, religious memorabilia, tokens of love, jewels, candles, shells—anything! Placing this joy-bringing objects on a small table or shelf will manifest good energy for you and your home. Lighting the candles on your altar during the New Moon will help to invoke new beginnings.
If you're looking for something a bit more subtle than an altar, turn to the corners of your home. Some experts suggest that placing a candle in every corner of the space inspires tranquility. Scents can be personalized to foster your own bliss, while also encouraging spirits to mellow out. Other experts swear by salt—an ingredient utilized across Buddhism, Paganism, Catholicism, and Indigenous rites. Sprinkle a bit in each corner and across every threshold, and it's said to ward off evil.
For a witchy cleansing ritual utilizing salt, crystals, and candles, check out the instructional video below:
No matter which method you choose to cleanse your home, your mindset going into it is everything. Try to approach your cleansing task with good thoughts and intentions—the goal isn't to replace old bad energy with new bad energy, after all. If you're having trouble grasping positivity, try picturing a bright white light filling you and the space, or repeat a personal mantra that grounds you.
And if you're considering any of the smudging or purifying rituals listed which utilize the use of sacred plants, consider purchasing supplies from either Indigenous online shops like WhisperingWindsShop, or your local Indigenous source.
Featured photo: Brittany Colette / Unsplash