© 1999, Revised November 2000 ~ Stephanie M. Schwartz

Not only is the cleansing of "self" routinely necessary for everyone but so is the routine cleansing and purification of the objects and environment immediately surrounding them.  A spiritual person might have purified themselves but if they surround themselves in a contaminated home or use contaminated tools or a contaminated workspace, its effects would be limited to one extent or another.  Therefore, most traditions advocate this and normally follow a pattern of purification of self and moving outward to the home, the property lines, and then finally the spiritual workspace and tools.

It is absolutely critical that all tools and articles used for ceremonial or spiritual work as well as candles, stones, and crystals be cleansed prior to each use.  Objects absorb energy, including any negative energy that may be randomly floating by them.  Furthermore, they would absorb the energies of anyone who had handled them in the store, during the manufacturing process, or simply by laying around the house.  If the tools are not cleansed, the spiritual work could very well be contaminated or ineffective.

A good rule of thumb for performing purifications and instituting protection is to cleanse tools, stones, and crystals prior to each use, the home once a month, and property lines every couple of months.  Obviously, more often may be necessary in some circumstances.  A person cannot do this too often but they can readily forget to do it often enough.

Methods for cleansing and purifying objects are the same as for cleansing one's self (see writing on the Cleansing and Purification of Self).  A centering and grounding of the person followed by the appropriate prayers or affirmations.  Then, bathe the object in traditional salt water followed by a good rinsing.  Or, alternately, one might pass the object through the smoke of burning sage leaves or copal or flat cedar or sandalwood in what is known as the smudging process.  Your tradition might have another process you might choose to use.  All the processes are good.  The point is to do it.

I would also like to note that some people prefer to bury objects in the ground from twenty-four hours up to a month (usually a lunar month, moon to moon) as a form of purification.  Others lay the object out to be bathed by the light of a full moon or a new moon.  Others use sunlight.  Still others prefer to sprinkle loose sacred tobacco, sage leaves, flat cedar, corn meal, pollen or sea salt on the object as it sits.  It is truly a matter of personal or traditional preference.

Clearly, there are some instances where the salt water method cannot be used.  It is extremely important to be aware that not all objects respond well to salt water or burying in damp soil.  For instance, a Selenite (Desert Rose) stone would very likely dissolve into a pile of sand if you placed it in water.  A transparent sheaf of Mica, candles, leather or deerskin articles, ceremonial robes about to be worn, or parchment would not fare well either.  Therefore, a person is required to use good judgement as to how best to cleanse objects.  If there is any doubt as to what is safe, use the smudging or some other method and do not take the chance of damaging or destroying the article.

One other point of information for those who have purified an object (such as a stone, bag, amulet, etc.) and wish to send it to someone else through public mail or shipping.  If possible, pack the article in salt (again, the natural sea salt is preferred) or sage inside a plastic bag.  This will help to protect it from outside contamination of unwanted energies and allow it to arrive with its own energies and intent intact.

Stones and Crystals... Stones and crystals are as alive and sacred as plants and other life forms and have their own electromagnetic energy auras which can be photographed.  That’s how we know they are alive because these auras are only found surrounding life forms.  However, they vibrate at a much slower frequency than other life forms and therefore their energies are often, at first, felt less strongly.  Yet, work with them much, and a person soon finds the incredible and elusive power within them. 

Unfortunately, what many fail to realize is that stones and crystals are extremely absorbent of the energies around them and of the people who have handled them.  Some stones and crystals are more absorbent than others but all, to one degree or another, require routine cleansings.  Stones with protective properties (Turquoise for example) tend to have exceptionally high absorbent qualities and need to be cleansed more often.  Furthermore, crystals often become cloudy which is a sure sign they need to be cleansed and purified.  Additionally, when purchasing stones and crystals, a person would always want to immediately purify them so as to remove the energies of anyone who might have handled them in the store.  In short, it is imperative to cleanse stones and crystals on a regular basis and always before use in a healing or spiritual work.

Jewelry… An issue that many people tend to forget is to pay attention to jewelry.  Again, the stones and metals thereof need to be purified.  Furthermore, while many persons, healers, and medicine people do not wear jewelry when doing their spiritual work, some do wear a specific piece or two which are sacred, symbolic, or significant to their path.  If you wear any jewelry during your spiritual work, it would need to always be purified prior to the working.  But all jewelry, if it contains stones or crystals or not (yes, diamonds are a form of crystal) needs to be routinely purified.

Candles... Obviously, candles cannot be bathed in salt water or placed in sunlight.  However they respond well to smudging or a moonlight bath prior to dressing and/or use.  Dressing a candle is an ancient tradition found in many cultures which involves taking a plain candle and rubbing herbal powders or scented herbal oils onto the outside of it.  Normally the herb used corresponds to the intent. 

One other very, very ancient tradition is to then proceed by lighting the candle with a white starter candle (white birthday-type candle is perfectly fine).  It is the traditional basis behind the formal Candlelighters as found in many Christian and Jewish ceremonies (and other ancient paths) and works to maintain the purity of the candle and its purposes. 

Finally, beeswax candles are the most naturally pure candles.  Unfortunately, they are also rather expensive and sometimes difficult to obtain.  With proper preparation, any candle can be suitable for spiritual work up to, and including, birthday cake candles.

Sacred Tools… Normally nearly everyone covers the work surface of the table or chest with some sort of cloth which is completely reserved for spiritual work.  Usually of cotton or some other natural material, the cloth may be white in color and may even have some particularly significant seal, emblem, or symbol on it.  Some people prefer to rotate cloths of different colors, using whichever color corresponds to the particular intent or need of the moment.  Indigenous cultures may or may not define their sacred area with prayer ties and some cultures may use a special cloth or robe upon which to stand, kneel, or sit. 

Whatever your preference might be, the sacred space and work surface, cloth, and tools all should be purified prior to each spiritual use. 

The tools would vary by tradition and belief system but some examples might include a drum, athame’, knife, goblet, tingsha, conch shell, didgeridoo, tarot deck, pendulum, crystals, water, incense holder, or candle.  Some might argue that since they are doing spiritual or sacred work, everything to do with it is automatically pure. 

Certainly sacred is sacred and the Divine is pure, but that is not saying the energies randomly floating around at any given time are sacred.  Furthermore, it doesn’t say that there might not be some residual negative energy left over from someone else.  I simply do not like taking chances.  I, personally, like my work to be focused, accurate, and untainted.

In closing this section, I would also like to add that there are many natural herbs, oils, and substances in our world which many people might prefer over what I have recommended here.  This is fine.  Use what works best for you or which is favored by your tradition or culture.  Furthermore, don't forget the medicine woman or crone in the forest.  If you don't have the supplies or tools, use what you have ...whether it is plain water, table salt, grains of sand or dirt, burning cigarette smoke, or burning dried lawn grasses.  In the end, tools are simply tools.  Even when they have properties specific to themselves, most tools and herbs are used primarily to aid your connection to the Divine and to assist your concentration, energy, and focus.  Whatever your tools or lack thereof, the sole aim is to get the prayers, the focused intent, and the energies into place and functioning.

In truth, I cannot stress, enough, the importance of purification and protection.  At the very least, a broken spot in either one can weaken and drain a spiritual or sensitive person and everything they attempt to do.  At the worst, it can be a recipe for disaster for the person, their spiritual work, their family/loved ones, and their lives.  There will be times you feel you do not need it or you feel you are too tired but work on it anyway.  Often, those are precisely the times we need it the most.  The more often you work on your purification and protection, the more proficient you will become which, in turn, will lessen the amount of time and effort required.

I truly believe Purifying and Protecting are the two most valuable skills you will ever learn.  Used effectively and attentively, they will keep you safe and centered for your entire lifetime and beyond.