Incense stick burning in foreground, dark background with two lit candles and two packets of incense.

Herbal Magic: Cleansing with Incense and Candles

The season of Spring Cleaning is upon us, and no time could be better for a deep cleanse of your metaphysical space. A freshened energy sphere helps us to fine tune the instruments of our senses by clearing out the unnecessary weight from stagnant thoughts, emotions, or patterns that may linger in our bodies and our homes. Tools for clearing these energies are plentiful, and today we want to zero in on the realm of herbal cleansing magic.

Cultures around the world have turned to plants for medicine and magic alike for as long as we can remember. Whether ingested, inhaled, extracted, or burned, we have a long fascination with the potent qualities of our flora friends. When it comes to energy clearing, a common application has been to burn the herbs and bathe our bodies and spaces in their smoke.


A Note on Cultural Appropriation

Two candles and incense sticks burning on a white background with an assortment of shells and stones

In the world of energy cleansing, it’s important to highlight that the practice of smudging, the use of white sage to cleanse a person or space, is a traditional Native ceremony and closed practice. A closed practice is created with the intention that it shall be only performed by members within its community.

Smoke cleansing, on the other hand, has been practiced around the world for millennia using myriad methods and plants. Unfortunately, with the spread of misinformation and stolen traditions repackaged as trendy spirituality, smudging has become widely popularized among non-Native folk as the go-to form of smoke cleansing, effectively exploiting closed traditions and perpetuating disconnection from aligned ancestral practices. This is especially harmful considering Native ceremonies and customs were deemed illegal until 1978 and Indigenous folk faced persecution for practicing these traditions until then.

Moreover, white sage as a species is already in danger from the environmental impacts of climate change. Now, with a growing market hungry for white sage products, its most forceful threat is overharvesting. As a result, access to this sacred plant is becoming increasingly difficult for Indigenous folks who need it to practice their heritage. Considering this, we urge non-Native folks to refrain from using white sage or the term ‘smudging’ for their cleansing rituals.


Recommended Cleansing Tools

Fortunately, our Earth has provided an abundance of plants we can use for smoke cleansing. While working with these plants can look like burning loose herbs or wand-shaped bundles, we favor the herbal magic medium of essential oil incense and candles.

Our Sea Witch cleansing tools are gateways into the magic of our beloved plant companions. Made with pure and potent plant essential oils and zero synthetic ingredients, these all-natural alternatives are just as effective as the herbs themselves. Whether incense or candle, our blends burn gently, releasing their magical infusions without overpowering your senses or lungs. Any of these brews will work depending on your intention, but we favor two in particular...

Herbal Renewal

Herbal Renewal gift set with incense, spray, solid perfume, and candle, pictured with fresh lavender and rosemary, incense and candle burning.

Combining the gentle, heart-forward magic of Lavender with refreshing, aromatic Rosemary, Herbal Renewal is a floral faery dance. Rosemary has long been used as a powerful cleansing agent, and paired with soothing Lavender brings a calming, uplifting spirit to settle over your space.

White Lodge

Sea Witch Botanicals White Lodge gift set with incense, spray, solid perfume, and candle, pictured with fresh boughs of cedar and fir, incense and candle burning.

A mouthwatering blend of Cedarwood Atlas and Fir Needle oils, White Lodge smells like walking into a rain-kissed forest at night. Many coniferous trees are known for their purifying properties, and brought together in this tranquil brew, their magic emanates grounding and clarity.

A few herbs you may consider when selecting your cleansing blends: Bay, Rosemary, Thyme, Juniper, Pine, Cedar, Peppermint, Mugwort, Frankincense, Myrrh, Lemongrass, Orange, Star Anise, Lavender, & Rose.


Ritual Preparation

Two candles burning on a dark background with three incense packets, a stick of incense burning, a journal, and crystals

Like most magic, cleansing is an exercise in accessing your own creativity. While these rituals can be focused and austere, they can also be an open space for you to play with different tools and techniques as you find the practices that feel good in your body. We recommend you remain sensitive, alert, and relaxed. Research your Ancestors’ practices. Allow your intuition to guide your actions.

An intention for your cleanse can anchor the practice. Find a few resonant words, sigils, or images to hold in your mind’s eye, and return to these tools throughout the process. You may like to speak your intentions over the flame or smoke while you go, as your voice gives life to the words you’ve chosen.

In example:

With this flame I invite clarity, strength, and harmony to wash through this space. Let any tensions be unraveled; let jagged edges be smoothed; let what is stagnant be swept out.

You might imagine dust and metaphysical junk lifting and leaving through the window as herbs, grasses, flowers, and trees that bear your intention grow in their place, allowing your ideas to firmly take root within the space.

Proper ventilation is always recommended when burning anything, especially when cleansing, as an open window provides an exit point for the energy you move in your ritual to make its way out. This also invites assistance from the winds – a wash of fresh air supplies a powerful cleanse as well!

You may wish to physically clean your body and space before performing your cleansing ritual, as this creates a foundation of physically purified energy for metaphysical cleansing to follow suit.

And, if you are a musical type, sound cleansing can be a wonderful companion to your herbal practice. We’ve compiled some songs for cleansing rituals on Spotify and YouTube for your enjoyment.


A Template for Your Ritual

Herbal Renewal and White Lodge candles burning on a black and blue background with incense burning on a blue burner lined with shells and stones

When you’re ready to begin, take a moment to center your presence in your body. If you'd like to call in any Ancestors or other spirit friends, you may do so now. Speak your intention over the flame as you light your incense or candles, and begin moving throughout your space. If cleansing multiple floors, you may like to go from the ground up. You may wish to repeat your intention throughout the practice to strengthen the focus of your energy.

Using incense, walk through your space in a consistent direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise). Bring the smoke through the features of each room; across surfaces, around objects, up and down corners and doorways. Some spots may instinctively require more care than others. Pay attention to these subtle feelings, and allow your natural inclinations and body wisdom to lead you.

If using candles, we recommend letting them burn for a while in each room you wish to cleanse so they can work their magic; candles have a diffusive power, so physically moving them through the space isn’t always necessary. They can also be a comfortable anchor to your incense cleanse as you move from room to room. Please exercise proper fire safety if you do choose to walk your candle through the space, and remember never to leave incense or candles burning unattended.

When you’ve completed your rounds throughout your home, you may wish to cleanse your own energy field by passing your herbal smoke over the features of your body. Once complete, give thanks to the elemental spirits who’ve assisted in your workings (the flame, the smoke, the plants, the oils, the winds) as well as any other beings you've called in for your ritual. Now, it's time to rest, meditate, dance – to find a groove of appreciation and to ride it for a while as your newly freshened space settles!

Ultimately, magic tends to be most effective with the personal flair of the practitioner. Using this template, we encourage you to experiment with your own imagination, and tailor your rituals to your own creative tastes. And, if you stumble into new ways of using our Sea Witch tools, do let us know – we love to share in the creativity of our community!

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