Updated: Oct 24
BY AMAZON MADDOX
I remember Florida Water.
I remember the cigars and billows of smoke.
I remember the “good” glasses coming out the chinero, ringing with a mysterious brown water. That water, when chugged down with such force, made the drinker wince.
I remember being told to clean ‘tf’ out of your floor, so the negative vibes are swept up and away. Cleanliness was the recurring theme whenever it was: a New Year, a high holiday, a death, or birth. Doñas ready to heed us with every single way you can limpia or clean… lemons, eggs, onions, garlic, salt. And no, we are not about to make a meal; we are about to clean all of it mijx. Get to playing that Saturday morning cleaning musica.
The physicality of ritualistic cleansing can look like housework to the ignorant eye–and perhaps in its most simplistic form–it is. More-so than that idea, it’s the removal of stagnant energies, no matter the manifestation. Bad house guest? Limpia. Bout of sickness? Limpia. Depressive episode? Limpia.
As a first generation EastCoaster and AfroLatinx, I grew up with this odd mix of a fear of God, but also going to the Bótanica if you needed a specific incense or oil… or good ol’ Florida Water. I know there is Santería in my bloodline (my Mother’s birth… Mother was possibly a Santera. Also, apparently, she was mentally unstable). Given the trauma my Mother went through, she was quick to forbid me to read Wiccan and Astrology books as a youngster, despite my immense interest and inclination to it. I settled for Mythology of all kinds, fantasy books about outer powers, and books that weren’t labeled “God”.
If you’re wondering about my Father: he knew what his child was. In retrospect, he supported it in his own way. A Pisces sun: he was more intuitive than I could grasp, and being the major link to my AfroLatinx lineage, our familial spirits worked through him.
Regardless of my Christian/Roman Catholic upbringing, I had an innate knowledge that Christian God wasn’t right for me. Saying that as a child incited certain fears(?). The idea was disregarded (Stop doing that to kids!). And so, I still went to church when my family did. I even sang in the choir. Music will always move me and I still use it as a tool in my craft, and I thank my African roots for that everyday.
The journey from a reluctant Christian to Bruja Spiritualist was not a clear path in the least. Today, even I can say transparently that I don’t always know what I’m doing. This ritual I am about to share is a combination of reading various texts, talking to family and elders, chatting with my coven, and of course, intuition.
This is a simple cleansing ritual that can be used in any situation. Ingredients can always be substituted to fit specific needs/rites/spells. I just advise you to do the proper research before delving into this work. White sage is a popular choice now, thanks to listicles and certain clothing stores.
However, due to over-cultivation, it is on the verge of becoming extinct. White sage is a very sacred medicine in many cultures and is only used in rituals led by community or tribal leaders. The same can be said for Palo Santo, but as of 2019, it is no longer on the endangered list. I still advise awareness if you do not have Latin lineage, as Palo Santo is native to South America.
Let’s get to cleansing:
STEP 1: WIPE CLEAN.
Water is always my first step in cleansing… my altar, my floors, my ass… water is the first step. I use a mixture of half Florida Water and half Moon water. To make Moon water: take filtered or distilled water and drop a piece of quartz in it, while you leave the water out in the moonlight. I find full moon energy better for making more potent water. New moon cycles can also be used; it’s all about intention!
STEP 2: SMOKE CLEAN.
This step is to spiritually cleanse your space. Smoke has a long history of being used to clean. From bonfires to healing rituals to ceremonial rites of passage, you will find something burning whether herbs, medicines, or incense. If you and smoke don’t get along, skip this step. Some alternatives to White Sage are:
Try to source high quality and Fair Trade smokeables as best you can, and when in doubt… RESEARCH!
STEP 3: SPARK A FLAME.
Light a candle. Doesn’t have to be a big huge pillar candle… even a tea light will do (Remember: intention!). I always use either white or black (or a combo of both) in cleansing rituals. Cleansing also leaves you open and susceptible, so it is important that you combine protections. Then, anoint the candle with banishing oil or use black crystals and talismen. When lighting, imagine the light from the flame growing and encasing you in a fiery ring of protection, then let it dissipate into white light. Fire is purifying and white light is healing.
STEP 4: CRYSTALS.
I am an elemental, so I like to incorporate the 4 earthly elements in my rituals. Crystals represent the Earth. She is the Mother of All. Crystals are one way to represent the Earth element, but so are plants, flowers, and food. Fire is literal fire but can also be represented by a knife or dagger on your altar. Air can be a feather or incense. Water, of course, can be literal water, but can also be represented by sea shells, sand, or likenesses of sea life. Yes: mermaids included! The crystals I use to clean are: clear quartz to amplify, black stones to protect, and selenite to clean.
STEP 5: PRAY OR MEDITATE.
If there is a Deity Spirit or God in your life, then pray to them. Pray for them; it literally keeps their legacy alive. Place an image, sacred object or statue in your workspace. An offering of clean water, liquor, money, or their favorite food(s) placed beside them. Thank them for their love and sacrifice, honor them, and ask them to aid you. I personally work/have worked with: Mami Wata (Santa Marta), Oya, and Yemaya.
It is important to point out that the most important tools in any witch’s arsenal is the mind and breath. If you’re asking–“That’s really all you need?”–then you’re just like me when I first heeded the call. My Capricorn stellium makes me a born skeptic and sometimes slower on the draw than I should have been. Just as a white candle could be used in any spell, and clear quartz can take the place of any other stone, your thoughts and breath can do the same. It can take the place of the tangible things on your altar. In these modern times, altars and practices are less private and more elaborate. Don’t let optics make you feel like you’re not a good witch. Capitalism is evil and although we are forced to participate in its structures, it doesn’t mean it has a place in your practice. You can use seasoning jars if they have the right herb in it! You don’t have to spend your whole paycheck at a metaphysical store (but if you’re gonna do it.. support your local Botánica ;)).
WORDS BY AMAZON MADDOX
PHOTOS BY LAURA CORINN