Fall tree, photo by Mark KSpring cleaning is a common practice both physically and spiritually, but fall cleansing should be just as important. Before heading into the winter months, a time of meditation and rest, as well as creativity and contemplation,  it’s important to cleanse ourselves of negative, unwanted, or stagnant energy before we get down to the work of winter.

Cleansing rituals are common practices in many belief systems. In fact, for many people, they are some of the earliest rituals they perform! As a seasonal habit, they are generally done at the new year, which is over the winter, or in the spring. Fall is often overlooked as a time for this basic practice but, there are benefits for performing such rituals as the year is closing. Just like preparing a garden for the winter will yield a better crop in the summer, preparing our inner beings for the winter will help us find new life in the spring.

If we think about our bodies as the planting ground for our intentions and desires, then it is only natural that our practices of renewal follow the seasons. We all go into a more restful state in the winter and although our lives may not slow down, we usually have less energy and are more prone to keeping to ourselves, outside of major celebrations, of course. It’s a time to turn inward, but before we settle down, we must first clear out the cobwebs.

Performing a fall cleansing ritual helps to ensure that as our spirits come to rest, they have a secure space in our being to rejuvenate rather than be riddled with leftover energy of the busy time of the spring and summer.

The rituals in this article are simple to perform and can be done by many people. I’ve included different types of rituals to speak to a variety of practices, however, you will notice that there are no prayers included. This is intentional so that they can be more easily adapted to a number of beliefs. Instead, I have just included the information on what to focus on while performing them. Before each ritual, take some time to write out your own spells or meditation. Each of these have a lot of wiggle room to make them your own.

f you have never written your own incantation before, Jarred Triskelion’s piece, “Writing a good luck spell is a very easy primer that can be adapted to these rituals. It is important to remember that your incantation does not have to follow any of the steps set forth by other people. It can be one or two lines that just speak your intent if that is what feels more comfortable to you. Some key ideas to focus on are removing the negative, rejecting the toxic, affirming your own strength, worthiness, and sacredness of space.

The majority of these rituals are done indoors and can be completed at any part of the fall so weather is not a major concern. They all do try to incorporate some part of the natural world despite this fact.

Wooden buckets, photo by Rex Hammock

Self-cleansing

This ritual incorporates cleansing the body as we cleanse our spirit. In order to perform this ritual, a shower is best as it mimics the action of a waterfall, however lacking that, you may use two buckets. One from which you will bathe from, the other to rinse by pouring the water over your head. You do not want to stand or soak in any water during this ritual.

Set aside time for this ritual, you will need to spend a good amount of time in the shower. For people who have trouble standing for longer periods, sitting on the edge of the tub or using a bath chair under the shower can both done instead.

During the cleansing, you will be focusing on your own body and self, your mediation should affirm your body’s goodness and strength as well as mental and emotional traits that you wish to keep. It should call for a rejection of things that are toxic to your person. Remember to be kind and affirming to yourself, as this ritual not only cleanses, but blesses.

While you are in the shower, very intentionally wash from your head to toes. You may use whatever soaps you find comfortable, or magically appealing. While you are bathing, repeat your mediation as you wash each part of your body. Don’t forget to pay homage to those intangible parts of yourself (heart, spirit, mind, etc.) while you work through the first part of your ritual. Spend some time on your legs and feet as well. The key is to be very mindful as you work through this.

Once you have completed your whole body, go to a room where you can close the door and find privacy. Light an incense of your choice and sit, naked, letting the smoke surround you. Focus on letting the smoke “seal” and further cleanse you. Once you are dry, the ritual is complete.

Dead plants, photo by Susy Morris

Cleansing and readying the spirit for new energy

This ritual is good for people who have let their office or seasonal plants die. You will need a pot, soil, and a very small pile of fall leaves, no more than two good handfuls, for this earth-based ritual. If you don’t happen to have any potted plants sitting around that have seen better days then you may perform this ritual with only the fall leaves. Although this is a cleansing ritual, you’ll get your hands a bit dirty with this one.

You can use an outdoor garden plot for this but unless you are actually a gardener of some sort, that is unnecessary. If you are a gardener, then you are perhaps already performing a few of the actions for this ritual without realizing it.

The first step is removing the old plant from the pot. You cannot grow and blossom if all the available space is being taken up by something that will never flourish. As you are pulling up the old plant, name the parts of the past months, or year, that you want to move past or be done with. These can be things like jobs or relationships or they can be things in yourself. Do the same with the leaves. Call for the negative energy to flow out of you and into the plant. If you do not have a plant, use just the fall leaves.

Once your plant has been reduced to mulch, work it into the soil with a mix of leaves, channeling that negative energy into it. Call for the negative entities around you to come into the soil as well. Do this firmly, do not ask them, command them to pass into the soil as you work it with your fingers. Bury them.

When this is done, say an affirming prayer and place the pot out of the way. Throughout the fall and winter, as negative energy comes into your life, focus it on your pot (either in the mind’s eye or by working with the pot itself). The earth and its healing powers will cleanse the negativity. The pot itself will be full of soil and mulch. Throughout the winter it will act as a focus for any negativity that should come your way. In the spring, the soil can be used for a new plant as it will be, physically, full of nutrients or it can be scattered outside, as is your choice. By this time, it will stand in for and affirm the transformation you’ve undergone.

Palm leaf brooms, photo by Gavin White

Cleanse your home or living space

This ritual is for cleaning your entire home of negative energy. Sweeping is a common practice for ridding our spaces of negative energy. You can use a sacred broom, reserved only for this practice, but if you do not have one then any broom will do. However, a broom with a wooden handle and natural fibres for the brush is a better choice. You can find such brooms at hardware stores, usually at a low prices.

Before you begin sweeping, walk through your home and open all of the windows (make sure any pets are secured so they don’t get away). If you are in a shared living space and your roommates are not open to your beliefs, then this can be done in just in your personal space. If you do not have windows, burning some sage or the like in the room or rooms you will be cleansing works just as well.

Hint: Opt for a cleansing spray if your roommates or smoke alarms are the extra-sensitive type.

Starting from the point furthest away from your main entrance way, “sweep” from corner to corner of each room, forcing the negative and stagnant energy out straight out the door as you move across and throughout your home. You do not need to actually clean your floors during the ritual, just perform the motion of sweeping. The outside air or sage (or both) will help cleanse the space as you work through your home.

As you sweep, you should repeat your cleansing incantation as you work. Repeat it until you reach the main entrance of your home and finish with three sweeps out of the door. Once your door is shut, work back through the home closing each window and thanking the air (or whatever you think controls it) for lending you its strength. Once you have completed a full circle, the ritual is complete.

Yarn skeins, photo by Sheila Sund

Cleanse the energy of unfinished things

This ritual is designed especially for crafters and artistic types. Although the instructions are for people who work with yarn specifically, other crafty types can certainly adapt this ritual to their own medium’s needs. This ritual calls for the scrap yarn from a stash. If you are adapting it for another craft type, the key is using leftovers from other projects. Paint colours that you mixed and didn’t need, assorted beads that didn’t quite make it onto another jewelry project, bits of clay, etc. Yes, like the spring, now’s a good time to clean out your stash.

Take your yarn four or five strands at a time with a large hook or set of needles and begin to make a square. While you are working, repeat your prayer calling for the negative energy that is blocking you or keeping things unfinished in your life in and around you to be removed. Envision negative entities being worked into your square, bind them to the fibers. Work until you have run out of scrap yarn. Finish your work as you would normally, yes, even weaving in the ends. If you’re working with collage — take all those tiny excess bits and put them to use in a similar “square,” or, if a jewellery add work all of your odds and ends together in an eclectic charm-style piece.

Once that is complete you can do one of three things with the work. If the work is all natural fibers or supplies, then you may bury it. If you choose this, then as you bury it, say a cleansing prayer over it and the ritual is complete.

Another option would for the piece to be burnt, if this is safe for you. (Can you light a fire and not do any damage? Is what you’re burning safe to burn?)

Prepare a place where you can control a small fire. You can draw a sigil on the ground or place crystals or figurines at a safe distance around the where the fire will be. Once you have set up your altar, place the work into flames. Tend the fire ensuring that all parts of the piece are lit, keep the fire alive as it consumes the work. Let it burn to ash. This destroys the negative or blocking energy so that your spirit can truly rest. The ritual is complete.

If the earth and fire won’t do for you with this one, cleanse the piece with water or smoke, and give away (a thrift store, a friend, a landfill, if you must). As long as you’ve made peace with it and let it go, the ritual is complete.

Tips

If you choose to do any of these rituals, feel free to add prayers and spells where they feel most natural to you. Although these are complete rituals in and of themselves, that does not mean that you cannot expand or incorporate them into larger rituals.

I have provided some accommodations and changes that can be made to each ritual to make them more accessible but they can be even further adapted for a variety of lifestyles and abilities.

These rituals are designed to work with what you have. Do not feel compelled to purchase anything new or fancy (although you can if you want). These rituals are meant to be accessible to people at all stages in their practices.

These rituals are focused on cleansing for your home and self in order to help you gain greater rejuvenation during the restful months of winter. You are free to work cleansing rituals in the spring as well, there is a not a one per year limit!

Image credits: Mark K, Rex Hammock, Susy Morris, Gavin White, and Sheila Sund

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