While smoke-wands or incense will always be my favorite way to clear and recharge the energy around me, sometimes smoke isn't an appropriate method of purification. It's usually frowned upon in the workplace, for example, and many people and animals are sensitive to smoke (like my wife, who has severe asthma). Fortunately there are many other ways to purify your home, yourself, or the ritual circle. Today I'll describe four of these methods, all of which use purifying herbs which are easy to find or grow.
These are my favorite herbs for purification:
Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata, and its relative, Artemisia ludoviciana)
Vervain (Verbena officinalis and its relative, Verbena hastata or blue vervain)
Western red cedar (Thuja plicata and its relatives, eastern yellow cedar, Thuja occidentalis or incense cedar, Calocedrus decurrens).
All of these herbs can be used in any of the following ways.
1. Sweep. Not just with a broom, although you'd be surprised how effective a good sweeping can be when you do it mindfully. But for metaphysical purposes, sweeping works even better when you bring in a little plant energy. Simply cut a longish frond of a purifying herb or tree. Ask permission before you remove the branch; cut it with clean, sharp shears; and leave a gift like clean water, compost, or some other ecologically appropriate offering. Give the branch a good shake to dislodge debris and insect residents. Then use it to sweep the ritual circle, sweep it over floors and walls in your home, or gently sweep around your body to clear away unwanted energies. After you have finished, dispose of the branch respectfully: since you've used it to clear undesirable vibes, you don't want to keep it. I feel burning it is the best option. You could, however, take it far from your home and leave it in a wild area where the wind, sun and rain can gradually dissolve the energy. Worst case scenario would be to place it in a plastic yard waste bin: I find plastic contains energy very effectively, but it feels like throwing the plant away after it has helped me, so I use this option as a last resort.
2. Steam. This option is best for gentle household purification. You can use fresh or dried herbs for this application, even a tea bag or those little bundles of fresh herbs you sometimes see in the produce section at the grocery store. Put water and a few handfuls of purifying herbs into a saucepan or a crock pot. If using the saucepan, place it on the stove on the lowest heat possible. If using a crock pot, set it to the "keep warm" setting if it has one, or on low. Allow the water to steam gently, filling the air with the fragrance and purifying energy of the herbs. Keep an eye on the water level and refill as necessary. I like to use this method in the winter, when forced-air heat makes the house dry, and it's nice to have something on the stove for several hours. This method is gentler than the others, making it suitable for healing magic and subtly shifting the energies in the home.
3. Sprinkle. Fill a mason jar to the top with fresh herbs, or 1/3 full with dry herbs. Pour boiled water over herbs and let steep for a few hours, or until cool. Strain out herbs, and if you wish, add salt for extra cleansing. Dispose of the herbs respectfully. In this case, since the herbs themselves haven't absorbed any energy, you can compost them or bury them in your yard. Next, using a sprig of herb or tree, sprinkle the infusion around your home, visualize the magical water cleansing away undesirable energies. Make sure to pay extra attention to corners, where energy can get trapped, and to entrances and exits (including windows). When you're finished, pour out the water in the sink or bathtub, or pour it out somewhere far from home.
You could also use this purfying infusion in other ways, including:
Adding it to your bathwater or pouring it over your head in the shower. (Just be sure to use non-toxic herbs if you do so.)
Spraying it with a spray bottle
Dilute it in a large container of water and use it to wipe down walls, floors, counters, etc.
4. Shake. Finely grind dried purifying herbs in a food processor or herb grinder. Combine one part ground herbs to two parts baking soda. Add a tablespoon or two of salt if you wish. Sprinkle the mixture over the carpet and allow to sit for at least ten minutes. Then vacuum it up, and dispose of the herbs and dust immediately by taking them out to the garbage bin.
All of these methods are enhanced by the addition of your energy and intention. Charging the herbs prior to use, chanting or praying as you use them, playing music or lighting candles can increase the power of the magic. Use your favorite magical techniques along with these herbal preparations for maximum effect.
If you have any favorite smoke-free purification techniques, please share them in the comments!