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Author Topic: Proper cleansing of ritual tools  (Read 11504 times)
Derg Corra
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« Topic Start: October 09, 2007, 05:47:01 pm »

Hello all, I am trying to start doing my own rituals which is a bit different from just being a part of an open circle, so I am going to put some of the tools I've gathered over the last year or so to use...

I know the idea is generally that the tools should be "cleansed" of negative energy or influences before being introduced into ritual.  Of course this is followed by the consecration of the tools, but I am not quite there yet, so I am focused right now on the removal of astral gunk primarily.

Now, I have looked on several websites and reading a couple of books and there are several methods suggested.  One of the best seems to be burial in the ground (or in a bowl of dirt/sand if that's not possible)  Another one is soaking in a bowl of salt water if the tool wouldn't be ruined in the process.  Some people talk about smudging and I guess I could use that where other things are not sensible, i.e. for just my altar table since I can't exactly bury it.

One thing that seems to not be universally agreed upon is exactly how long this takes, and if it needs to be done at a certain time.  For instance, in Wicca for the Solitary Practicioner, Cunningham says a "few days" buried or a few hours in water should do it.  One site I read suggested a month (!) or a year and a day (?!!?)...  Others suggest doing it in particular moon phases and using that as the guide.

I get nervous about leaving anything underground for much longer than a few days, between the weather cooling down and the dirt/moisture caking/forcing things to rust, etc... but I also want to be sure the tools are cleansed and able to be properly consecrated for ritual use.

So what do you suggest?  I really want to hold my own ritual for Samhain and do it right (at least the best that I can), so I feel like I'm working with time constraints.  Plus I don't want the whole process to take months and months, but if I have no choice, then I have no choice.

One last question...  For MUNDANE items that are going to make their way into the ritual circle just for certain occassions but are not magickal in nature (like inexpensive altar decorations for Sabbats, reference paperbacks, etc) do these things need to be cleansed too or are they OK to use as is?  I can't imagine most folks ritually cleansing every item they have nearby for special times, it just seems impractical)  What about candles?

Your advice is appreciated -- thanks!
« Last Edit: October 09, 2007, 05:49:08 pm by Derg Corra » Logged

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« Reply #1: October 09, 2007, 07:24:48 pm »

So what do you suggest?  I really want to hold my own ritual for Samhain and do it right (at least the best that I can), so I feel like I'm working with time constraints.  Plus I don't want the whole process to take months and months, but if I have no choice, then I have no choice.

One last question...  For MUNDANE items that are going to make their way into the ritual circle just for certain occassions but are not magickal in nature (like inexpensive altar decorations for Sabbats, reference paperbacks, etc) do these things need to be cleansed too or are they OK to use as is?  I can't imagine most folks ritually cleansing every item they have nearby for special times, it just seems impractical)  What about candles?
AARGH!!!  That wasn't at you, Derg Corra, it was at the "cleansing freaks".  This has been an area of annoyance for me for many years.

It seems to me that a lot of this comes from people carrying "baggage" about strong distinctions between sacred and profane.  This distinction isn't innate to the Wiccish POV, where "sacred" does not mean "hands off", and many things that other beliefs see as profane/mundane are sacred for us Wiccish types (the body, sex, dirt/soil, earthly life, etc).

Many of the cleansing procedures I've run across appear to be dedicated to removing everything from the object being cleansed, to leave it a "blank slate".  Animist that I am, what I see happening there is that they're trying to drive out the spirit of the object itself.  That won't happen, but it can be deeply traumatized, and effectively go catatonic.  I can't very well expect folks who don't perceive spirits-of-objects, and whose paths don't imply that objects have spirits, to pay any attention to my animistic "flights of fancy", but I sure do get irritated when folks whose paths do imply a degree of animism think nothing of "breaking the spirit" of a tool.

Me, I prefer my tools to be voluntary and consensual working partners.

My favorite cleansing method is to lovingly and mindfully physically clean the object.  This is extremely effective at removing any "negative energy" that may be present (honestly, mostly it's not - a lot of neoPagans have what amounts to a fetish about "negativity", by which they mean anything that makes them uncomfortable; I think it came from our New Age influences), and instead of working against the object's innate spirit, it nurtures it.

As far as most of the stuff inside the circle is concerned, whatever you're doing to etherically/astrally/psychically tidy up the ritual area - I'm guessing sweeping - is sufficient.  The idea is to sweep unwanted influences out of the entire space to be used, which pretty much includes any furniture and objects in it (much the same way that it'll include both the carpet and the floor underneath).  The aspersing and censing will have additional and related effects, also on everything within the space.

There may be some things that, as a personal preference, you want to do some kind of specific cleansing/blessing to - some folks do prefer this for things like candles.  That's your call.

Keep in mind that in a Wiccish paradigm, things "of this world" (like your reference books) are not profane or impure, they're just "of this world".

Sunflower
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« Reply #2: October 09, 2007, 07:56:43 pm »

Hello all, I am trying to start doing my own rituals which is a bit different from just being a part of an open circle, so I am going to put some of the tools I've gathered over the last year or so to use...

I know the idea is generally that the tools should be "cleansed" of negative energy or influences before being introduced into ritual.  Of course this is followed by the consecration of the tools, but I am not quite there yet, so I am focused right now on the removal of astral gunk primarily.

Now, I have looked on several websites and reading a couple of books and there are several methods suggested.  One of the best seems to be burial in the ground (or in a bowl of dirt/sand if that's not possible)  Another one is soaking in a bowl of salt water if the tool wouldn't be ruined in the process.  Some people talk about smudging and I guess I could use that where other things are not sensible, i.e. for just my altar table since I can't exactly bury it.

One thing that seems to not be universally agreed upon is exactly how long this takes, and if it needs to be done at a certain time.  For instance, in Wicca for the Solitary Practicioner, Cunningham says a "few days" buried or a few hours in water should do it.  One site I read suggested a month (!) or a year and a day (?!!?)...  Others suggest doing it in particular moon phases and using that as the guide.

I get nervous about leaving anything underground for much longer than a few days, between the weather cooling down and the dirt/moisture caking/forcing things to rust, etc... but I also want to be sure the tools are cleansed and able to be properly consecrated for ritual use.

So what do you suggest?  I really want to hold my own ritual for Samhain and do it right (at least the best that I can), so I feel like I'm working with time constraints.  Plus I don't want the whole process to take months and months, but if I have no choice, then I have no choice.

One last question...  For MUNDANE items that are going to make their way into the ritual circle just for certain occassions but are not magickal in nature (like inexpensive altar decorations for Sabbats, reference paperbacks, etc) do these things need to be cleansed too or are they OK to use as is?  I can't imagine most folks ritually cleansing every item they have nearby for special times, it just seems impractical)  What about candles?

Your advice is appreciated -- thanks!


Cleansing, you mean there are people who do that?  Well, okay, seriously, I do occasionally cleanse when it is something that just feels BAD.  I do try to keep my altar/workspace clean, but that is physically.  I am of the philosophy that anything that I use will eventually adapt to my vibrations. 

I am an animist, so if it doesnt want me to work with it, I fully expect it to tell me so Wink

Also, if I use a crystal for say, healing purposes, and feel it should be cleansed afterward, I just put it in a windowsill mainly and let it get sunlight.  Or perhaps I take a bath with it  Cheesy

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« Reply #3: October 09, 2007, 10:04:52 pm »

seriously, I do occasionally cleanse when it is something that just feels BAD.

I'm about like that. I've had people around me absolutely freak out when they've witnessed me washing my altar tools right in with the dinner dishes after ritual...:giggle:
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« Reply #4: October 09, 2007, 10:19:27 pm »


I usually just smudge my tools to clean them.  Although I do hang my dream catchers outside during the full moon to clean them.  I have never even considered cleaning other non-magical type items, such as books, as I don't think that is at all necessary. 
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« Reply #5: October 09, 2007, 10:52:23 pm »

So what do you suggest?

In terms of cleansing - depends what the item is, where it came from, who made it, what it's made from, and what I want to use it for ritually.

Some examples:

1) Jewelry from a friend who is a witch in her own right, and also a serious jewelry maker: I don't cleanse or recharge any of her pieces when I get them (I've got 10 now, not including earrings and pendants). I work with the energy that's there, and I've never needed to remove unwanted energies from them.

2) My new athame: made by a local company I got to see in action at our local Renaissance festival, and which gave me a good idea of their general working mode. They're not (so far as I know) Pagan themselves, but they do take their craft seriously: there was very little in that blade that needed cleansing. This, I did a little energy work with, and waved through a little incense and candle flame briefly.

3) Ceramic bowl a friend found me at a yard sale that I want to use for morning devotional work. This one, I ritually washed, did some energetic cleansing work with.

4) Tarot cards: I got these back when I was more formal about this than I am now: these got sprinkled with salt water, passed through incense, (which hits all four elements, really), and then sat on my altar in a bowl of salt for a bit. (Salt is a nice handy all-purpose psychic cleanser in many people's experience.)

5) Stones from the local gem and mineral show (my HPS adores going): She puts new stones she wants to use on a lump of selenite (commonly considered to be a very cleansing stone.) She leaves them there for a period of time (depends on the stone. Might be overnight. Might be a week. Might be a month.

I haven't been in situations until this summer where burying something was a very realistic option (apartment, shared housing, etc. Renting now, but my landlady is also a witchy type.) And for many materials it's just not a particularly bright idea.

If I want to do really strong cleansing, I'll do a bowl of salt. (Cheap, effective, portable, can fit anywhere I've got space for the bowl.) and then do some energetic cleansing and the sprinkle of salt water and pass through incense after I think it's sat for long enough. And, as you can see, I tend to get more and more focused on the cleansing part the less and less I know about who made it, where it's been, and whose hands it's been through.

Quote
One last question...  For MUNDANE items that are going to make their way into the ritual circle just for certain occassions but are not magickal in nature (like inexpensive altar decorations for Sabbats, reference paperbacks, etc) do these things need to be cleansed too or are they OK to use as is?  I can't imagine most folks ritually cleansing every item they have nearby for special times, it just seems impractical)  What about candles?

Part of our circle set-up is banishing unwanted energies from the space: this also covers most of the disposable items one might care about.

That said, I do feel that some items (food, drink, candles, and incense, as well as any tokens distributed to be kept during the ritual) do tend to hold more energy than things like decorations. I don't go out of my way to cleanse them - but I do go a bit out of my way whenever possible to be really clear about where the items come from. I don't think this is necessary (and it can be a lot to take on at first), but I think it helps quite a bit. And it makes the ritual work richer for me.

(I use beeswax candles, preferably by local makers - though I want to make my own this winter - by preference. I pick my incense thoughtfully, though most commercial incense from an esoteric store's likely to fit my desire for 'made by someone with intent', food and drink I try to pick the best quality and most local I can manage - I usually make my bread. And so on.)
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« Reply #6: October 09, 2007, 11:30:57 pm »

There may be some things that, as a personal preference, you want to do some kind of specific cleansing/blessing to - some folks do prefer this for things like candles.  That's your call.

Keep in mind that in a Wiccish paradigm, things "of this world" (like your reference books) are not profane or impure, they're just "of this world".

Thank you very much for your detailed reply.  I think the last point is significant and something I lost sight of...  In light of casting circles for "protection," setting up sacred space with incense, etc., it became easy for me to forget that you are BETWEEN the worlds in Wiccan philosophy, not necessarily in a BETTER one that is completely separate.

Quote from: gayars
I am an animist, so if it doesnt want me to work with it, I fully expect it to tell me so Wink

RE: animism, this is an idea I struggle with when it comes to inorganic objects.  I've come across this idea, particularly pertaining to stones and other natural substances like metal, but I am not completely decided if I feel that these are just inanimate or something more.

----

Thanks everyone else for your suggestions also, since I already mentally set up the idea that I need to cleanse this stuff I guess I have to follow through in some way or fashion as to avoid any mental blocks that I set up myself, but I am happier to hear that most don't take such a militant approach in purging energy like some websites suggest.  The impression I get from your replies is that basically even if there is something there, it's not going to be a huge deal, just a slight nuisance...  Not like it nullifies your ritual work or something.  Unfortunately I am not too good at "feeling" energy at this point so I guess for now it's my personality just trying to do things right initially and erring on the side of caution.
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« Reply #7: October 10, 2007, 12:25:11 am »

Now, I have looked on several websites and reading a couple of books and there are several methods suggested.  One of the best seems to be burial in the ground (or in a bowl of dirt/sand if that's not possible)  Another one is soaking in a bowl of salt water if the tool wouldn't be ruined in the process.  Some people talk about smudging and I guess I could use that where other things are not sensible, i.e. for just my altar table since I can't exactly bury it.

One thing that seems to not be universally agreed upon is exactly how long this takes, and if it needs to be done at a certain time.  For instance, in Wicca for the Solitary Practicioner, Cunningham says a "few days" buried or a few hours in water should do it.  One site I read suggested a month (!) or a year and a day (?!!?)...  Others suggest doing it in particular moon phases and using that as the guide.

Well, like cleaning things in the mundane world, it all depends on how dirty they are and how clean they need to be. You don't need to soak your dishes in surgical-grade broad spectrum antimicrobals, but if you are doing surgery, you need that sort of thing.

For ritual space it is a little different than straight-up magical working though. My partner said something about this, talking specifically about ritual purification by burning sacred herbs (usually mugwort)...

Quote from: Raven Kaldera
We tend to think of purification, in these days of advanced medical antisepsis, as being sterile. To us, "pure" has come to mean "without life". When we use something whose basic power is purification, we expect, on some level, for it to clean everything and leave it a blank slate. However, that's not what magical purification actually does. Perhaps a better term for it would be "sanctification". Purifying magics create that aura of sacred space, which is so clear when you're in it but so elusive to describe. In order to create that energy, they do push out other sorts of energy, including the busy, well-worn, "messy" energy of the everyday. After the purification energy fades, the other stuff may drift back, or it might not, so it can have a cleaning effect in some cases.

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« Reply #8: October 10, 2007, 11:53:41 am »

Hello all, I am trying to start doing my own rituals which is a bit different from just being a part of an open circle, so I am going to put some of the tools I've gathered over the last year or so to use...

I know the idea is generally that the tools should be "cleansed" of negative energy or influences before being introduced into ritual.  Of course this is followed by the consecration of the tools, but I am not quite there yet, so I am focused right now on the removal of astral gunk primarily.

-snip-

I find it rather weird that I was just reading a piece in my book that was on sacred/profane objects (Pharmako/Poeia by Dale Pendell).

He's actually quoting bits of the Bible (if I'm reading "Rom 14:" correctly; if not, oops!). "I am absolutely convinced, as a Christian that nothing is impure in itself; only, if a man considers a particular thing impure, then to him it is impure ... "

Food for thought? I hope. Smiley
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« Reply #9: October 10, 2007, 12:38:59 pm »

He's actually quoting bits of the Bible (if I'm reading "Rom 14:" correctly; if not, oops!). "I am absolutely convinced, as a Christian that nothing is impure in itself; only, if a man considers a particular thing impure, then to him it is impure ... "

Food for thought? I hope. Smiley

I am so fond of that passage (Romans 14:14) that I have it integrated into the design of my livejournal main page.

In the original Greek, because I'm a big nerd.
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« Reply #10: October 10, 2007, 01:11:52 pm »

I am so fond of that passage (Romans 14:14) that I have it integrated into the design of my livejournal main page.

In the original Greek, because I'm a big nerd.

So *thats* what that line is.  Neat!
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« Reply #11: October 10, 2007, 03:08:49 pm »

Hello all, I am trying to start doing my own rituals which is a bit different from just being a part of an open circle, so I am going to put some of the tools I've gathered over the last year or so to use...

I just dedicated a new athame last weekend, made by a Astrau friend (he sure knows his weapons!). I did not feel it needed cleansing as it had been made especially for me. I probably would have sprinkled a bit of blessed salt water over it if I did not know the maker so well. I would have sent some "begone all baddies" energy through the object as I did this. Takes about 5 minutes, this burying of things for days seems to me very extreme. You will not ever see my beautiful damascus, oak and brass dagger buried outside for days!

Then I did a simple but powerful blessing rite, asking each Element to recognize and bless the dagger with it's special brand of energy (Air, Earth, Water, Fire) and asked a general blessing of the Life Source, Universal Energy or whatever you like to call it and finally, as I have a patron Goddess, I asked her blessing on it as well. I chanted up some energy, using the dagger as a focus, absolutely filled it with the energy while seeing it as an extension of myself, channeling intensity beautifully in all kinds of work. I now consider it a consecrated object.

This is a classic witchcraft format, in my experience. I use the same general outline for all sorts of blessings, for new babies, handfastings etc.

Quote
One last question...  For MUNDANE items that are going to make their way into the ritual circle just for certain occassions but are not magickal in nature (like inexpensive altar decorations for Sabbats, reference paperbacks, etc) do these things need to be cleansed too or are they OK to use as is?  I can't imagine most folks ritually cleansing every item they have nearby for special times, it just seems impractical)

Your advice is appreciated -- thanks!

The sacred space I create to ritual in takes care of any thing in the circle. That's what creating the circle (for me) is about, making a safe space to work in. I always banish all unfavorable energy after everything is set up.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2007, 03:17:43 pm by juniperrr, Reason: to add the last thought » Logged
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« Reply #12: October 10, 2007, 03:45:15 pm »

I find it rather weird that I was just reading a piece in my book that was on sacred/profane objects (Pharmako/Poeia by Dale Pendell).
Totally OT, but:  I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!

Back OT:  I've found that a good physicial cleaning is all that's necessary in most cases.  If done mindfully it takes care of any non-physical "dirt" as well. 

I have, on very rare occassions, used the burial and salt water techniques.  I've found burial useful when I've used a stone in a working and want to "reset" it for future use.  Overnight has always been sufficient.  (Since most of my other magical tools are things like herbs and candles, I haven't had to worry about reuse, and so I haven't tried the technique with anything else.)

Salt water on one occassion when I was given a beatiful crystal cluster by my brother that just had a weird, unpleasant, feeling to it.  (Turns out he was given it by a friend.  When I met her later, I didn't like her vibes either.)  That one I did for 2 weeks - full moon to new to banish whatever weirdness was there.  Doesn't seem to have affected the stone negatively, it felt quite refreshed when it was done.  However, this was a long time ago, when my practice was a lot more... formal?  I'd probably do something less extreme these days.

As for ritual tools, I usually use salt water and incense, but this isn't so much for cleansing as for dedication.  Like others here, I don't see any real distinction between sacred and mundane.
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« Reply #13: October 10, 2007, 07:26:32 pm »

So what do you suggest?
I leave things on a windowsill in the sun/moon for a few days, and then maybe do a bubble of friendly, clean, white energy around it with my hands. If something has a feeling *that* bad, I probably wouldn't really want to work with it anyway!

Quote
One last question...  For MUNDANE items that are going to make their way into the ritual circle just for certain occassions but are not magickal in nature (like inexpensive altar decorations for Sabbats, reference paperbacks, etc) do these things need to be cleansed too or are they OK to use as is?  I can't imagine most folks ritually cleansing every item they have nearby for special times, it just seems impractical)  What about candles?
Things like that I would generally include in the general cleansing done at the beginning of a ritual.
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« Reply #14: October 11, 2007, 12:04:13 am »

So what do you suggest?  I really want to hold my own ritual for Samhain and do it right (at least the best that I can), so I feel like I'm working with time constraints.  Plus I don't want the whole process to take months and months, but if I have no choice, then I have no choice.

Personally, I agree with Sunflower. I am also animist and I do not want to disrupt the natural energy and spirit of the object I work with... In my case it is usually stones and cystals I need to cleanse, but I get them from all over the world...Anyway. 

I cleanse my things usually in one of three ways. One is to smudge them , two is to either cleanse them using sun or moon light, and three is to use Reiki. It is really up to you whether or not you need to cleanse your things or not.

A way to judge is to hold your object in your left hand, quiet yourself, and focus on the object. See if you get any feelings from it and then make your choice.

I hope this helps,
Sarah
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