Cleansing Sacred Objects

Items used in ritual are tactile representations of their communion with the spiritual realm. These can include simple tools such as prayer beads, rocks, shells, and feathers to more elaborate items such statuary, altars and large cauldrons. Just what makes these objects sacred varies from each person. A rock on the beach may seem mundane to some but feel like the perfect devotional tool in the hands of someone else.

One belief among Pagans is that these objects can be charged with the energy they are to be used for such as healing, divination or devotion. Before this can happen, it is necessary to cleanse the items of previously imbued energy whether it is negative or otherwise. Below are some simple cleansing rituals that can be utilized for this purpose.

Incense for smudging.


Smudging is the use of incense or herbal smoke to purify the item. This became very popular due to the use of sage in Native American inspired spirituality. A favorite incense can be used and tailored to the item's purpose such as using lavender for a healing tool or patchouli for a divination object.


If there is a great deal of negativity to the item, burying it in the earth for a short time is another way to cleanse it. Some Pagans believe this energy is transformed by the earth into nutrients for plant growth such as happens in composting waste into nutrient rich soil.


Putting the item under running water is another way to cleanse. Especially powerful is running water from a fresh stream if at all possible. This is a popular method used with divining tools since water has a correspondence with psychic ability.

Sea Salt

Known for its healing properties, sea salt is one of the most widely used cleansing tools. It is especially effective in cleansing stones and crystals used for healing or psychic work. Place the item in a jar or bowl and cover with sea salt. Leave it overnight. Remove the item then dispose of the salt. Large quartz crystals cleansed with sea salt are used to place sacred objects on for cleansing. The crystal will need to be periodically cleansed after using this method with several objects.

Energy Work

One doesn’t have to be a Reiki practitioner or other healer to perform energy work. Place your hands over the item and imagine healing energy from a divine source moving into the object. This source could be a patron deity, the earth, a fresh water stream or the universe. Visualize the energy as a white or gold light, a religious symbol or whatever is appropriate for the cleansing.

Personalizing Cleansing Techniques

All of these techniques can be personalized to a specific tradition. For example, a devotee of a goddess associated with water such as Aphrodite might cleanse a shell under running water for use at a devotional shrine.

Other Techniques

These are some of the established ways of cleansing sacred objects but not the only ones. Prayer, aromatherapy, color therapy, moonlight or sunlight are some other methods used. The intention of clearing the object of negativity and focused intent on that goal is what is important.


© Trish Deneen


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