Our Ancient Legacy
Humans have long used earth (clay and minerals), fire, smoke, and water to cleanse space, objects, and bodies. This cleaning ritual is deeply encoded in our DNA: we intuitively know why we do it and can tangibly feel the effects. When we enter sacred spaces, those with active ceremony, like kivas, churches, mosques, and temples, or those secular sacred spaces, such as museums, libraries, and botanical gardens, our mind is gently hushed and our senses awaken to the quality of light, the fragrance, and openness of the room. There is stability and peace in a place that has been cared for in this manner. Why shouldn’t our homes, studios, and schools ripple outward with the same energy? You need not be ordained or sainted to create your own sacred space — your life energy is all that is required to employ the elements, focus, and vibrancy into a designated place.
Fire and Smoke
Our ancestors, in Cleansing and Consecrating space, often used a variety of materials to activate, harness, or call upon the various elements. By employing fire, represented through smoke, we cast out shadows and darkness, we burn out that which is stagnant, and we change the vibration of what has gone cold through elemental heat. Fire is the ultimate alchemical transfer of energy. We use fire to transform wood into food, fuel into energy, past into future. Fire is the chemistry of transformation.
Botanically, when we burn certain plants and herbs, their volatile oils are released into the air, and with that strong fragrance comes a myriad of anti-microbial and anti-fungal powers. Tree barks and plants such as: Cedar, Juniper, Desert Sage, Artemisia, Thyme, Palo Santo, Tulsi, Eucalyptus, Sandalwood, Piñon, Rosemary, and Mugwort carry potent fire energy. Resins such as amber, frankincense, copal, and myrrh hold heat alchemy from natural earth processes and have been used in human space since time immemorial.
The ‘smudging’ process, using smoke to cleanse, is a universal human practice — indigenous peoples of all continents begin with fire. The ethereal smoke transmits botanical constituents into the fibers of clothing, behind the crevices of cupboards, between the strands of hair. Use fire and smoke to cast out that which no longer serves, that which does not belong to you, that which has become heavy or cold. Remember, smoke floats and flies away — what do you want to fly away from your body or space? Is it illness, trauma, sadness, anger? Or perhaps it’s just the ‘old’, the stagnant, the echoes of worry and stress?
The use of water for physical healing and spiritual renewal pre-dates the written word. Using the element of water to wash the space we inhabit is as natural as washing our physical bodies, and yet, in our modern practice of ‘cleaning’ we have forgotten to continually infuse and activate our waters with the power of plants.
Highly hydrophilic are our tissues, organs, and physiological systems. Luckily, many of our plant allies, those botanicals with sympathy to our human systems, love water just as much and can be coaxed into releasing their powers of healing into the waters we drink, bathe in, and breathe.
Our ancestors used plant-infused water in dishes, kept in the corners of rooms, to evaporate medicine into the air they breathed, and likewise, to pull heavy molecules of illness and poisons, apparitions and demons, from the room into their liquid traps. For example, the Sumerians placed incantation bowls in every room, or the entrances of homes, painted with spells written in spirals, so the negative energies would get caught and drown.
Using plant and flower waters to clean surfaces is as intuitive as it is ancient. Unfortunately, ‘cleaning products’ that dominate our market shelves are saturated with harsh chemicals that do not belong near the paws of our pets, babies, or the delicate tissues of our eyes and nasal cavities. Likewise, potent essential oils, derived from albeit, healing plant allies, can also be far too concentrated for safe and long-term use.
So, then, what waters heal? The alchemical plant and flower waters produced by steam distillation in an alembic copper still is one of my passions. This medicine is known as a ‘hydrosol’, ‘spirit water’, or ‘floral water’, and they carry the maximum plant constituents available to our hydrophilic human system! Far more harmonious than the very potent essential oil pulled from the plant in the same way, hydrosols carry the same medicine but in water form — diluted perfectly into a concentrated and sterile distillate.
Using hydrosol to consecrate and cleanse a space harnesses the elemental power of water: the power of renewal, rebirth, regeneration, and emergence. Hydrosols from trees, plants and flowers such as: lavender, neroli, geranium, sage, plumeria, rose, eucalyptus, rosemary, laurel bay, laua`e fern, lemongrass, lemon balm, lily, cinnamon, and gardenia are powerful blessing and cleansing allies.
After the Fire, The Rain
Performing your ritual
The process is two-fold: first you cleanse and cast-out, then you consecrate and bless.
Smudging a space with smoke is like sweeping the cobwebs from a room — you need to go methodically and bravely into each corner, each hidden crevice. You need to reach high and crawl low. You carry your smoke into these places and sweep in one direction — from the entrance to the entrance — a full circle.
Once the body, object or space is free, you can imbue it with positive ions and blooming energy. In the same order you used smoke and fire, move through your space with a perfumed incense, essential oil diffuser, or best, a plant hydrosol. You can hold a crystal, a bouquet of wild flowers, a tree branch, to carry extra medicine with you.
Blessing a space with flowers or water is like planting a garden — you go slowly and use your words of intention, like little seeds of hope, placed in every nook, with every step. You find those places that begin to bloom as you approach them — your writing desk, your dining room table, your children’s play corner — and you infuse them with the power of the flower water and your words.
Unlike the cleansing, you should take your time, leaving petals of flowers to adorn your rooms. Leave your words of intention and blessings like little gifts for each corner, high and low.
With your SPOKEN WORDS invite positive values, energy, hopes, healing, and supportive ancestors to enter. I cannot overstate the value of speaking aloud. In most modern cultures, it feels somewhat awkward to do this — but without articulating the words into space, they are trapped inside your mind, and have very little potential of affecting anything else.
Words to borrow
You might say something like…
I invite joy, beauty, and healing into this space. I ask for the company of my ancestors who offer support, light, and love. I invite this plant medicine to bring growth and protection to all that surrounds me. I invite what is pure, authentic and powerful.
Mahalo nui loa for reading this entry and for any comments or questions you offer in response. I invite you to activate your personal space with this ritual, as often as you wish or need! This is an auspicious moment to attend to our nests — as the time spent in them, the energies and the emotions, the physical germs and microbes, are all very present.
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