I love everything about smudging, from choosing what plant I’ll use to lighting the bundle, to experiencing the smoke medicine. Will I use the soft vanilla of Sweetgrass, or the earthiness of Palo Santo? Each wood, plant or resin burns differently, cleanses differently–even the way the smoke behaves as it hangs in the air or swirls in the space is enchanting and specific to its particular owner.
As much as I’d love to spark up my stick of cedar whenever my heart desires, sometimes cleansing with smoke just isn’t practical, isn’t allowed, or something different is preferred. Even various rituals have different flavors that call for something other than smoke’s specific ceremonial flavor.
Enter: The Elements!
There are countless ways to clear funky energy and set a space for yourself, your clients, or your rituals. The Elements can be wise guides in alternatives to smudging that are still just as powerful, grounding, and cleansing.
Plants are the names of the game when cleansing with the Earth element. Teacher plants that are dried and burned for smudge smoke, and they are just as potent in their fresh form.
I like to gather a plant with long branches or fronds–sage, holy basil, cedar, lavender, and eucalyptus all work well–and sweep them across my space, in corners, across my altar, over someone’s body with the same intentions and prayers that I do when I’m smudging someone with smoke.
Energetically, cleansing with fresh plants feels lush and nourishing. I love playing with fragrant plants or flowers–chamomile is feminine and sweet, and sunflowers are a beautiful way to bring levity and brightness into a space.
Cleansing with water has been ubiquitous throughout time. Water infused with blessings is sprinkled over an infant in the sacrament of baptism, and water infused with herbs and prayers is the basis for the practice of spiritual bathing. It makes sense: Water absorbs and is a conduit for whatever intention you put into it. Dr. Masaru Emoto did his famous water experiments and proved just this!
In a little bowl, I like to place sprigs of my favorite herbs, crystals, or plain ole sea salt into enough water to cover them–you don’t need a lot. I whisper prayers and blessings and intentions into the water, then perform an ablution, which is dipping your fingertips into the water, then flicking a few drops around where you’re cleansing. You can also use a few stems and leaves of your favorite plant as an aspergillum to flick the water instead of your fingertips.
Play with your water sources here: distilled tap water has quite a different vibe than water from your favorite steam. Place a jar of water on a windowsill the night of a full or new moon to create lunar-ized water, or play with dew drops from plants and flowers to make essences. There are so many ways to get creative with this!
I also like to keep a little spritz bottle of blessed water in my purse to take with me if I’m feeling especially empathetic, or I know I’m going to be in a place with lots of energy for a low-key water cleanse on the go.
Abuelo Fuego is a powerful force to call in, the transmutation capabilities of fire. As beings of manifesting, we quite literally play with fire. Call in its fortitude and ask that it help us in our healing. Fire is associated with the Light of Divine Consciousness, where the ritual fire illuminates what is unseen, makes known what is unknown, and purifies what no longer serves.
For a light bath, I light a small candle or tea light, hold my hands over it and thank the fire, asking the light to purify and cleanse, illuminate and dissipate. I infuse the candle and its light with the intention of healing and nourishing for the Highest Good and Greatest Alignment. Then, like drawing water from a pool, I cup my hands, scoop up the light and offer some to the Cosmos, another handful to the Earth, and another handful to my heart space to honor the Divinity within.
From here, if you’re clearing a space, simply moving the candle through the space as you would a sage bundle. If you are clearing yourself, continue to cup your hands and transfer the healing light to your head’s crown, two palms full for your eyes, to your throat, heart, solar plexus and belly. Then wherever else you need it, pressing your hands into your body, squeezing your limbs, scrubbing, washing yourself with this light. When you feel complete, thank the light and fire once more, and extinguish the candle.
Play with the colors of the candle, perhaps anointing it with oils if you’re a candle magic person. I also like to perform this with a tall pillar of la Virgen for some extra sweetness.
When I think of cleansing with air, my mind automatically jumps to the smoke of a smudge bundle. Air also governs sound, and many of us have drums, rattles, chimes, and singing bowls that want to be used much more than they are!
Call in the air element, the powerful force that governs movement and transition.
Choose your instrument: chimes cleanse differently than rattles. I love using my Tibetan chimes for clearing a space–the high, clear sound is very pure and transcendental. I think of diamonds or crystal wine glasses. I love using my rattle on people for limpias–it “shakes loose” all the debris they’re holding onto, and I can use the rhythm to help them get to a meditative state. Drums are even more grounding, and I find they’re great for groups.
You can even use your voice here–the instrument that we always have with us–with whispered prayers and blessings, or a song or chant, or even a prayer you write especially for the occasion.
These ways to cleanse and clear are innumerable. Get creative and experiment: What tools are most useful for various phases of the moon? How do you feel called to set the space for an abundance ritual as opposed to clearing stagnant energy in a friend’s apartment? What do you personally feel called to use when clearing your own energetic space?
Everyone’s answer will be different, and exploring our proclivities and tuning in to your intuition is part of the process for creating your most potent ritual.
Written by Raquel Scianna
Dr. Masaru Dr. Emoto, M. (2017). Frozen Water Crystals. Sourced from http://www.masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html.
Energy-Shifter.com. (2017). Space Clearing with Sound. Sourced from http://www.energy-shifter.com/sound-healing.html.