If you’ve been following the saga of the gas leaks, you can probably guess why I put off doing a full-on apartment cleanse. It’s a good idea to do this as soon as — if not right before — you move in. It is a less-good idea to do this if you plan on burning things, and your kitchen smells like mercaptan.
Anyway! Now that the fire hazards are dealt with, I wanted to talk about apartment cleansing.
You should cleanse anything that’s been used by another person, and any time that thing has seen arguments, illness, death, or other struggles. You also want to cleanse your space whenever things just start to feel gross, heavy, or tense. I don’t support “good vibes only” culture, but it’s definitely important to wipe the energetic slate clean once you’ve experienced something bad and allowed yourself to process the trauma. This is especially true if you perform other spells or rituals in your home — there are some energies you don’t really want to keep around if you don’t have to.
Most house cleansing rituals involve things like candles and incense. These rituals are great, and extremely effective, but not always the best choice — what if your lease prohibits burning things? What if you have artwork, or other special objects that would be damaged by repeated exposure to incense smoke or soot? What if you’re asthmatic and shouldn’t be breathing in burning particulates? What if you might explode your entire block, because your building is very very old and literally everything is leaky?
You get my drift.
So, what does house or apartment cleansing do?
Ideally, cleansing a space gets rid of negative or stagnant energy, and brings in fresh energy. Psychologically, it can help give you closure after you’ve had a rough time, and create a sense of optimism and enthusiasm for the time ahead. It can also mentally prepare you to be the new steward of the place you’re cleansing.
What does it entail?
From my experience, house cleansing and house blessing are usually part of the same ritual. You cleanse the space, then you bless it. Some people roll them into one action by asking their guardian spirits, ancestors, and/or deities to both cleanse and bless.
Generally, cleansing a space involves walking around the area either clockwise or counterclockwise (depending on tradition), performing a cleansing act, and asking that the space be cleared of any bad vibes. A cleansing act can be wafting the smoke of burning herbs or incense over the walls, asperging them with water, sprinkling a perimeter of salt, carrying a white candle dressed with cleansing oil, or even just touching the walls and floor and declaring the intention that they be cleansed.
Incense and candles figure prominently in many popular energy clearing rituals, but they aren’t a necessity. There are plenty of other things you can do if burning things isn’t possible or desirable for you.
1. Lemons. Everywhere.
Lemons have a well-deserved reputation for busting up stagnant or negative energy. Even the scent of lemons is uplifting, and lemon juice is very helpful when it comes to actually physically cleaning your place.
You can use lemons in a variety of ways, from adding sliced lemons or lemon juice to your mop water, to leaving whole lemons in places where people tend to gather. I prefer to use them like this:
- Take a whole, fresh lemon, and slice it into rounds.
- Take a generous quantity of sea salt, and sprinkle it over the rounds. (Make sure to cover both sides!)
- Place them in a dish, and set it wherever you feel needs some cleansing.
- Keep an eye on the lemon slices — if they begin to get moldy, discolored, or mushy, discard them and try again with fresh ones. It might take a couple of lemons before everything’s thoroughly cleared up.
2. Asperge with water.
Asperging with blessed or holy water is probably my favorite way to cleanse a space. Depending on your tradition, “blessed” or “holy” might vary. In mine, water gathered from three natural sources is used in ritual. Alternatives include:
- Water left to charge in sun- or moonlight.
- Water to which has been added a pinch each of frankincense ash and sea salt.
- A hydrosol made of a cleansing herb, like rosemary or sage.
- Water you have asked your deities to bless.
Asperging involves dipping a bundle of herbs (or your fingers) into the water, and sprinkling it on the object to be cleansed. Sprinkle it on your walls, floor, and ceiling (if you can reach it) as you declare your intention to cleanse the space. Make sure to get the corners!
3. Use your own energy.
You don’t really need anything other than yourself, if you don’t have other tools at your disposal. You can stand in the middle of each room in your home, raise power however you customarily do, and release it into the walls, floors, ceilings, and corners of your space. Visualize it as a bright light that touches every surface of your home, absorbing and disappearing into them, leaving no trace of negativity behind.
4. Make some noise.
I feel like a lot of practitioners underestimate the power of noise (but, I admit, I might just be inordinately fond of raising a ruckus). Coupled with light and fresh air, there are few things as helpful for clearing the energy of a place. Open the windows, get a nice breeze going, let the sunlight in, and turn up the volume — at least, as long as your neighbors won’t complain.
There are a few different ways that you can use sound to help the energy of a place:
- Play a set of chimes. Ascending scales are said to purify, and descending scales banish.
- Play uplifting music.
- Play Solfeggio tones. Each one is said to have a different effect, so it’s best to experiment and find the one that works for you.
- Play nature sounds. Running water, insect chirps, and birdsong have their own, special effects. There’s a reason they’re part of so many meditation tracks!
Sea salt is a quick and easy way to cleanse pretty much anything that won’t be damaged by salt. Personally, I don’t use it that often because I try to do most of my cleansing-of-things outside, and I don’t want it to leach into the soil — but I can vouch that it works.
To use it, sprinkle sea salt in the corners of your rooms while declaring your intention to clear the space. You don’t need very much — just a pinch will do just fine.
Every tradition has their own ways of preparing a home, from cleansing, to blessing, to protecting it and inviting in prosperity for its occupants. If you’re in a place where you can’t turn to candle or incense magic, you still have plenty of tools at your disposal.