One of my all-time-favorite rituals (we can even use the term “magic spells”, here, for the more romantic and old school amongst you), and certainly one of the most useful: Clearing a Space of Negative Energy. To be used anytime you’ve moved into a new space and you feel like there may still be some stagnant or “dead” energy leftover from the previous occupants, or, alternately, anytime a particularly negative or traumatic event may have occurred in the space within which you’ve been living or working (and you can still feel the negative energy leftover from the event), either way, this one’s guaranteed to flush the demons out.
— Bowls or containers (as many as needed to properly cover the space, anywhere from one to several per room)
— Water (tap water is fine)
— Salt (coarse sea salt crystals)
— Candles (a bag of tea lights is perfect)
— Sage (enough to burn for at least several minutes)
THE PRELIMINARY WALKTHROUGH
First, do a walkthrough of the entire space—your apartment, house, work place, wherever you’re planning on carrying out the ritual—slowly, carefully, easily, without judgment or preconception, just feeling out the energy as you go. It should become fairly obvious to you, right away, all the spots within which the negative energy has “clustered”; be sure then to make a note of all of these locations (or indeed, any spot at all that seems to be even a little bit “off”, to you… In the nook by the living room window, in the far back corner of the bedroom closet, etc). For the less (subtle) energy sensitive amongst you: if, after doing your walkthrough, you’re still unable to pinpoint where the negative energy hotspots are (but, nonetheless, still feel like there’s something terribly “off” about your space, like, “I don’t know what it is, but this place just feels haunted, like something really awful happened here…”—this is in fact the most common, generalized complaint I hear when it comes to wanting to do a subtle energy housecleaning), no worries, it’s all good, we’ll just go ahead and make an intuitive call then, in just a moment here, when it comes to deciding where you’re going to be setting up your negative energy sinks.
PLACING THE BOWLS OF WATER
Now, collect together as many bowls, tupperware containers, etc as you can (anything that can hold water will do—preferably large bowls and containers, the bigger the better), fill them all to the top with water (tap water is fine), and begin placing said bowls of water within all the negative energy hotspots throughout your space (the ones you noted down in your walkthrough just before). If you weren’t able to specifically feel out all the negative energy hotspots, again, don’t worry about it—simply make an intuitive call based on how many bowls or containers you have, and how many it feels right for you to lay out. If you live in a one bedroom apartment, for instance (as many of us New Yorkers do)—perhaps you’ve just recently moved in and you’re not happy with the energy in the space, you just want to clear it all out, reboot the apartment and start anew—you might look around and say, “OK, we need one bowl of water near the front door, one on the kitchen counter, one on the far side of the living room, one bowl right by the bedroom door, one by the bedroom window…” etc. Some of you may feel like you’re getting the job done with just one large bowl of water for the entire apartment. Others may feel they require more, smaller bowls (or more larger bowls!) to properly cover the whole space. The number of bowls, their size, and their placement is all up to you—just trust that your intuition knows what it’s doing and place your bowls accordingly. Be instinctive. Don’t over think it. Worried you’re not getting enough coverage? There’s no downside to putting MORE bowels out rather than less—so go ahead and put a few more out if you feel the need, it certainly can’t hurt.
ADDING THE SEA SALT
After you’ve distributed your water-filled bowls throughout the space, I’d like you to beginning adding sea salt to each. Not just any old salt, mind you, but proper large, coarse, sea salt crystals (available at any health food store). How much sea salt to add? For any given bowl or container, for every 8 ounces of water you've put in, I want you to add one tablespoon of sea salt crystals. (So if you have a bowl filled with 24 ounces—or 3 cups—of water, then you’ll want to add 3 tablespoons of sea salt crystals to it.) In addition, feel free to sprinkle a bit more sea salt in whatever locations you feel might need it—again, this is entirely an intuitive call on your part.
LIGHTING THE CANDLES
Now, get all your candles and / or tea lights together (I find tea lights by far to be the most convenient, for spreading about a space), and place one candle or tea light next to each bowl or container you’ve put out (so now, in each negative energy hotspot, you’ve got a bowl filled with water and sea salt crystals, along with a burning candle or tea light right next to it). DO NOT PLACE ANY CANDLES OR TEA LIGHTS IN ANY SMALL, ENCLOSED SPACES of course, for obvious reasons (if you feel like there’s any negative or trapped energy under your bed, for instance, simply place a bowl filled with water and sea salt there but do NOT place a candle or tea light there as well.)
BURNING THE SAGE (AND CHASING THE DEMONS AWAY)
After you’ve placed all your candles and / or tea lights, take a thick bit of sage (available from any New Age-y shop etc, though I’m thinking Whole Foods, or any health food store really, would likely stock that sort of thing these days), light the sage, and, as it begins burning and smoking away, slowly walk through the space, paying particular attention, when walking about, to all of your negative energy hotspots (where all the bowls of water are), getting as much sage smoke as you can into these areas all the while (the sage smoke is terrifically cleansing). Optional, but highly recommended: as you walk about the space with your burning sage, waving the smoke into and through the negative energy hotspots, clap your hands together loudly (you can also have a friend do this, obviously, if your hands are full), and / or ring a bell as you go. Any loud, sudden, jarring noises, like the loud “SMACK!!” of a hand clap, or the loud “CLANG!!” of a ringing bell, will do wonders for stirring up the negative energy, which is exactly what you want. Of course if you don’t feel like doing the hand clapping or the ringing of the bell, the process should work regardless, but here, I’ll go ahead and advocate the “more is more” approach—it can only help, and can’t possibly hurt. And if you REALLY want to go all the way here, if you’ve got some really tough, nasty, scary energy that you just want out of your space and out of your life, like RIGHT NOW, then, as long as you’re walking through the space with sage in hand, clapping and / or ringing your bell all the while, you can also begin shouting (you’ll feel quite foolish at first, doing this, but trust me on this one, it really works): “OUT! GET OUT!! OUT! OUT! OUT!!”, all while continuing to (loudly, forcefully) clap your hands at the same time (though again, if your hands are full of sage, it might help to have a friend do this with you). I know, I know, you’ll feel just a little bit stupid at first, like, “Really? I'm going to actually walk around my apartment and shout into empty space, here?” (Looking, sounding, and feeling like a complete lunatic all the while?) But the thing is, you’re NOT shouting into empty space, you’re shouting at the negative energy: you want it to leave, you want it GONE, and so you have to treat it exactly like you’d treat someone else’s annoying, badly behaved pet—like a misbehaving dog that you just want out of the house. “OUT!! SHOO!! GET OUT!!” Smack your hands together, ring that bell, and get that energy OUT of there. When you’re standing in a negative energy hotspot clapping and shouting away, believe me, you’ll feel it—the negative vibes will swell up around you for a brief moment, you’ll feel it like a living, breathing thing, like a cloud of dark mental noise, surrounding you... Don’t worry, this a good thing: it means the energy is breaking up, now, and will be swept out soon enough. (Tip: feel free to get a few friends over and get some wine or what not into them first—certainly with a little liquid courage in everyone’s veins the shouting, clapping, bell ringing etc just might feel a little bit less foolish—and hey, as long as you’re going through all of this anyway, you might just as well get a few friends over and make a party out of it, no? So send out those invites, get some friends over, and get to clearing out that space!)
WAITING 3 DAYS
After you’re burnt all your sage (during your walkthrough, which can take anywhere from just a few minutes to quite a bit longer), go ahead and let the candles continue to burn down on their own (if you’re using only tea lights, which I’d recommend, if only to keep everything easy and consistent, the average burn time for a tea light is usually about 4 hours), after which I want you to leave the bowls of water (still filled with sea salt crystals) to sit out, all without being touched or moved or disturbed in any way, for a full 3 days (72 hours). You may, if you like, replace the burnt out candles and tea lights with new ones and burn those down as well (burning down a fresh new round of tea lights for 4 hours each night, for instance), however the clock starts ticking when you light your first tea light—72 hours after that, the last of the negative energy should be gone.
At the end of 3 days / 72 hours, pick up all of the bowls strewn throughout the space, empty them out, and that’s it, you’re done. Your space has been cleared of negative energy. Of course if you like the feel of it all (many do), feel free to leave the bowls of water out as long as you like—simply dump the old sea salt out and pour new salt into the bowls every 3 days, replacing the water as well. And at the end of your ritual, when you’re enjoying your new, freshly-cleared space, I highly recommend you celebrate by placing new flowers in every room. Uplifting, beautiful to look at, and as with any spell or ritual, it helps to have a final “grounding” step which symbolizes “Ok, this seals it, the deed is done.”—and here, the flowers will do just that. Congratulations: your space has now been cleared of negative energy.
(Note: the image above is from Japanese artist Heisuke Kitazawa, and first caught my attention as the cover art for the album Having, by Trespassers William. I confess it actually has nothing at all to do with clearing a space of negative energy, but the painting is just so beautiful I absolutely fell in love with it the first time I saw it, and have been looking for an excuse to post it ever since, so here it is. Wherever that room may be, it looks like a pretty peaceful place—clear of all negative energy, to be sure…)