Modern magic typically takes the form of spells and rituals which are obviously distinct from so called “mundane” activities; inheriting from a few hundred years obsession with transcendent achievement, ascended masters, and so on, as we attempted to separate ourselves from the dirty, physical realm. In this questionable deviation from the norm, historically speaking, we left behind many useful embodied practices which did not seem separate –holy- enough to be considered magical.
Instead, what may seem like purely mundane physical rituals, such as cleaning, hygiene, and care for nature and the environment (to our disenchanted Western minds) are actually rites of rebalancing and renewal intended to maintain and regenerate our energies (and the energies of our spaces) so that we can continue to grow and develop.
Even simple practices like cleaning your home draw from ancient rites that we would consider to be magical acts today. When ritualized and performed with intention, the thin patina of the mundane is scrubbed away to reveal important magical practices underneath even the most normal everyday activities.
What we lost can be easily regained though. To re-enchant our experience of the world we simply need to re-enchant our everyday activities and experiences. In this case, there are precedents for ritualizing a home cleaning practice that we can draw upon for inspiration.
As I discussed at length on my podcast recently, in Ep. 24, Cleansing The Spirit, both Curanderismo and Hoodoo maintain traditions for cleansing the self and the home (and other important spaces) to keep the energies you are surrounded by in a state that promotes health and wellbeing.
We can model a simple home cleaning practice after a few of my favorite takeaways from that episode and update them for modern life and the concerns of modern times:
When we create order from chaos in our mental, physical, and spiritual selves, it is unquestionably a good and healthy thing. So when we refer to some energies as “evil” we’re really saying “destructive to us humans”, or maybe even just, “destructive to me, personally” but, practically speaking, this is effectively “evil”. Anything that causes harm to our physical, mental, or spiritual selves is indeed evil (for us) and to be avoided (banished). So bringing order to the chaos in our lives, even through simple cleaning habits or rituals, has the effect of helping us find coherence, and therefore balance, and therefore also health and wellbeing, in general.
Metaphors are powerful things in a reality that is essentially powered by story, meaning, and intention. By practicing simple rituals designed to bring our bodies and our homes into balance, we actually bring more of the world which we occupy into coherence as well.
When To Perform Cleansing & Protection Rituals
Ideally, the most appropriate time to perform a regularly scheduled full-house cleansing ritual is during the waning phase of the Moon, and particularly, in the days leading up to a New Moon. This is because the ebb and flow of energy in the world, and therefore the energies available to us for magic, follow the temperament and condition of the Moon. Her role as the “lesser” luminary is to reflect the “light” of all the other planets and the Sun, and thus how she appears to us in the sky determines the kind of access we have to the planetary powers which rule all of human activity (and beyond).
New Moons occur when Moon is conjunct the Sun, between the Sun and the Earth, and we cannot see the Moon’s light. This was perceived in ancient times as the Moon staying in the Underworld for about 3 days. The trip to the Underworld bestows the role of psychopomp (guide and intermediary for the dead and other spirits) upon the Moon in various myths and gives the waning phase it’s “negative” connotations. Again, while nothing about the Underworld is expressly “evil”, it is invariably described as a dangerous place for the living and a desolate place devoid of warmth and potential.
When the Moon is waning the dominant theme is diminishment; which can take the form of loss, death, and tragedy in extreme cases, or in more typical expressions, weakening, lessening, or being drained. The opposite, of course, is true for the waxing phase, and so the best metaphor for understanding this dynamic and its effect upon magical workings is the tides of the ocean. The waxing phase is the tide coming in, bringing energy to bear, drawing objects to land (into manifest reality) in its powerful wake. The waning phase, conversely, is the tide going out, draining away, and taking various other things with it.
Thus for cleansing and protection work, when you want negative energies removed and various evils prevented from reaching you, the outcomes you want are most aligned with the waning phase of the Moon. And the closer to the New Moon the better but don’t let perfection be the enemy of good enough.
The Basic Technique
Across spiritual traditions ancient and modern, the practice of magical cleansing is not terribly different than a typical house cleaning, with a few exceptions. Obviously you should sweep before mopping, and if the floor is dirty, give it a typical mundane mop before the magical floor wash.
Before the wash, a thorough smudging (suffumigation with incense) should be given to each room, following the same method of moving through the house for the wash described below. Be sure to suffumigate / smudge all the nooks and crannies, corners, and both high and low in all spaces in every room.
When working in the waning phase (for the removal of negative energies) it is traditional to sweep / mop from the center outwards and towards open doors; to drive the negative energies out. Secondly, the wash should be brewed from a selection of cleansing, purifying, and protective herbs, plus salt, which is always an ingredient of cleansing washes. You could choose many herbs for this purpose as long as they’re associated with healing and cleansing properties or protective ones.
If your home (or any other space you wish to cleanse) has more than a single story, then start on the top floor and work your way down, cleansing each room from the center out and towards the door, then the stairs, and, once on the first floor, towards any open doors.
And all the while you should be repeating a prayer / banishing statement to keep your mind focused on the task at hand through the smudging, sweeping, and mopping.
Updating This Ritual For Modern Use
Our homes are shaped somewhat differently in modern times and we also have appliances and other furniture that creates a lot of inaccessible areas, so don’t obsess about covering all those hard to reach places with the wash. Do try very hard to cover EVERYTHING with incense smoke if possible though.
Practically speaking, instead of the hub-and-spoke style “center-out” method, it is easier to imagine spiraling outwards from the center and (with intention) collecting all the energy you’re removing and driving it towards the door.
It takes some time to suffumigate a family home with incense, then ritually sweep it, and then ritually mop it (much less if it actually needs a regular cleaning first), so it’s probably best to do the full routine only once a month as the New Moon approaches. A quick smudging is usually sufficient to maintain an energetically “clean” home in the weeks in between.
The actual words you use for your banishing statement or spell are not nearly as important as the state of mind that you’re maintaining by repeating this mantra. The purpose of the statement is to focus your intention on the desired outcome (that your space is free of negative influences) for the duration of a lengthy and very physical ritual.
Having said that, we do live in interesting times when we can’t really afford to take anything for granted, or to be too convinced about one side or the other of really any issue. Which means that it is possible to prioritize order and organization to such an extreme that it creates actually creates harm -and increasingly technocratic society is clear evidence of this. And yet, too little order allows space for chaos to exist, which can also lead to unfortunate extremes.
Since the cleansing and protection ritual is essentially an act of banishing chaos, but the times that we live in are perhaps too totalitarian -too obsessed with creating order- it would be unfortunate to align ourselves too much with those obsessive energies. To counter this I have amended my mantra recently to focus on achieving balance rather than control; and I suggest that you consider the same considering the times we occupy.
I have provided ritual statements for both parts of the ritual I’m recommending below, for convenience, but you can, of course, substitute your own if you like.
Cleansing & Protection Floor Wash
There are many herbs that can be used for cleansing and protective washes but to give you a place to start, I’m providing a “recipe” and instructions for the floor wash I use personally, with herbs my garden whenever possible. Again, feel free to make substitutions according to what’s available to you as long as they fit the cleansing and protection theme.
- Bring water to a boil and lower the heat to the lowest setting
- Create a magic circle (with candles or incense, drawing it in the air, etc)
- Open to the four directions, earth, and sky (Sun, Moon, and stars)
- Invoke your patron deity or protective spirit
- Call upon (pray to) the spirit of the herbs and add them to the hot water one by one
- Call upon the salt and add three small handfuls to the water
- Stir in the salt until it dissolves and turn off the heat
- Steep for 10 minutes and strain, it’s now ready for the wash
- Perform the smudging, sweeping, and washing ritual
- Close your circle and end the ritual
A Simple Monthly Cleansing & Protection Ritual
When I perform this ritual, after opening I move through my house as I described above (top to bottom, center out and towards the doors) while reciting a mantra more or less non-stop. I use two different mantras, one during the smudging phase, and another one during the sweeping / washing phase.
While smudging I am effectively banishing any energy that is currently in the house to make it leave; and the words I recite reflect that purpose. And when I’m sweeping and mopping I tend to think of that as putting the house to order -making order from chaos by removing the debris dirtying my environment. And the words I recite during this process reflect this energy and help keep me focused. Perhaps they’ll be of use to you as well…
In the name of Hecate and of Gaia, I cleanse and purify this space,
I banish all evil spirits and negative energies residing in this place
You must leave and never return.
During Sweeping & Washing (Mopping):
In the name of Hecate and of Gaia, I cleanse and purify this space,Prayer For Cleansing Space
And ask that you bring order where there is too much chaos,
And chaos where there is too much order,
That we may learn to thrive in both.
For we know that it is only through mastery of ourselves and our spaces
That we can ever hope to gain master of our situations
And of others…
Why It Matters
When we don’t maintain our spaces, they inevitably pick up energies that don’t serve us well. In today’s modern, anxiety-inducing world, this often means that you have no place to go where you can actually feel at ease. Stewing in that kind of negative energy all the time causes emotional, mental, and physical imbalances that you will feel sooner or later. And coming back from developing a serious problem takes a lot more effort than simply avoiding it through proper energetic maintenance in the first place.
We can’t keep ourselves energetically healthy if our spaces are filled with unhealthy energy because we will gradually start to resonate with whatever energy we’re surrounded with naturally. This is very difficult to avoid…impossible without removing yourself from the environment and resetting regularly, in various big and small ways.
While a house cleanse isn’t going to trigger an emotional breakthrough or energetic release (for that you should consider our ayahuasca retreat in March!) it will help you avoid the toxic buildup of emotions that creates the problems that later require more extreme healing measures. The purpose of energetic hygiene is to prevent, or at least reduce, your exposure to negative energies and trauma, in the first place.
Bad things happen to us in the course of normal life and frustrations will continue to exist regardless of how much magic you do. However, since I started maintaining a regular cleansing and protection habit, the majority of accidents, injuries, and misfortunes have disappeared from my life.
So the best way to work protective magic for your health and wellbeing is early and often and without wondering too much about what would have happened if you didn’t. The most effective protection magic is the kind that you can’t tell is working or not (because then it must be) so set a monthly habit like I’ve described here and you won’t need to worry about it again.