If you’ve been wandering down the Pagan path for very long, you’ve likely heard the terms “grounding,” “cleansing,” and “shielding” on more than one occasion. These practices are recognized as important across many traditions, but frequently the explanation as to exactly why they are important gets lost. Grounding, cleansing, and shielding are found in many beginning books on Paganism and magick, but it wasn’t until I really started doing ritual and magick regularly that I understood their importance. Opening up as an empath only served to highlight these practices as essential and helped me to understand their necessary differences. Today, let’s talk about Cleansing.
This post is part of a series – Read about Grounding here!
I didn’t really understand the importance of energetic cleansing until my empathic abilities started to kick in back in 2019. As someone with OCD, I understood all too well about physical cleansing of all sorts of different things, but energetic hygiene was alien to me. Sure, I had read about it, but since I didn’t feel it, it never mattered too much to me. Now, I know better.
Energy affects you whether you think you can feel it or not! You don’t have to be an empath or a psychic to benefit from energy cleansing. You can cleanse yourself, your space, your tools, and other objects. See my Elemental Cleansing Ritual for some different ideas on how to accomplish this.
Just like we want to breathe clean, fresh air, we also want to surround ourselves with clean, fresh, positive, and uplifting energy because that is what we will take in. Our energy fields are naturally permeable. We can sense what is around us, positive or negative. And, just like we change our air filters and clean our homes, we also want to do the same with our energy.
Personal energetic cleansing is particularly important. Think of it as a shower for the spirit! You’ll want to clear out your energetic field every so often. I recommend at least daily, but if you are around particularly stressful people or situations, it may need to be more frequent. At my previous job (where I was interacting with a lot of people, a substantial fraction of which were troubled or angry), I needed to cleanse at least twice during the work day, and then again when I got home. Now, my job is significantly less stressful, and once a day usually does it for me.
I personally like to do my cleansing right before bed, as it helps me with more restful sleep. I will also do it on an “as-needed” basis. If I have been stressed out or have encountered people feeling big emotions, I can mentally cleanse right there, or once I am done dealing with the situation.
I do like the framework of using the four Elements for tangible cleansing, though you certainly don’t have to use all four every time! That would be exhausting after a while, and making it too complicated means that you won’t do it as often. Selenite and black tourmaline are favorites for Earth, incense or a singing bowl for Air, a candle or visualized flames for Fire, and rosewater or saltwater for, well, Water.
Of course, sometimes tools aren’t available when you need cleansing (or it’s just too much trouble to go rifling through your ritual bag to find where you stuck the palo santo). In this case, I find that visualized and sensate cleansings work just as well.
My favorite cleansing visualization is a cylinder of fire, burning away all the ick. Sometimes it is pink for Aphrodite, sometimes orange for the Firebird, and sometimes purple for transformation. After you burn away all the negative energy, you’ll want to visualize positive energy filling that space, in whatever form feels natural for you. I personally like sparkles, but that may not be your thing!
A sensate cleansing involves feeling the cleansing taking place. This works well if you have trouble visualizing, or if you want to add another layer to your visualization. For the cleansing fire above, feel the heat of the flames as they burn away the shit. Feel a strong wind whisking away your stress. Feel the caress of water on your skin as you stand underneath a waterfall. I rarely ever just “visualize” something – It is almost always accompanied by a corresponding sensation. This comes very naturally to me, but I know this can be a challenge depending on how you experience the world. I straddle the line between the tactile realm of feelings and the intellectual realm of visualization, between Fire and Air. This works for me. Find what works best for you.