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Cleansing with Incense: Does It Actually Work?

Cleansing with Incense: Does It Actually Work?

Cleansing and clearing a space, an object, or even a person, is a simple matter. What is complicated is why you are seeking cleansing. Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of that, cleansing is really just a final step of positive vibrations.  

Cleansing: Finding Your Why 

Reasons abound as to why someone might want to perform a cleanse.  

Perhaps you’ve just gotten out of a bad relationship. Maybe you’re moving into a new space, or just moved someone out of your space. 

You might even have just purchased or inherited a new object.  

In any event, you’ll want to explore the clear intention behind the cleanse, and then perform the cleanse with a new set of intentions and positive energy.  

Shadow Work in a Cleanse 

incense smoke

Far too many witches and modern spiritual people are on the “positive vibes only” train, and it can be incredibly destructive.  

I get it. And in many cases positive vibes are what we want. When we look forward, we need to do so with positive vibes only.  

But, and it’s a very big but, we quite often cannot move forward when we are not dealing with our past, and especially when we are not dealing with our present and our own energy.  

That’s shadow work.  

You see, the intentions we set for our lives are what determine our course. The law of attraction, one of the most important, if not the most important of the few universal laws, states that we attract what we are.  

Whatever we are is a manifestation of the stories we tell, our belief system, and our intentions.  

It is entirely in our hands what we attract into our lives, and make no mistake, whatever is in our lives, we have attracted in different ways.  

Once you tap into all of that, you can begin the shadow work of undoing, unlearning, and relearning and rebuilding.  

Nature versus Nurture 

colored incense

This ongoing debate has existed for centuries if not millennia. Are we born a certain way, or are we a product of our environment?  

The foundational thinkers of the enlightenment have perhaps solidified the two positions best.  

Thomas Hobbes, in his landmark work, Leviathan, states that humans are born corrupt and greedy and that we need a strong, powerful monarch to rule over us and keep our selfish proclivities in check.  

Now, why Hobbes thought that the monarch would not also be greedy and corrupt and therefore rule from that selfish place is beyond me. He lost me at “authoritarian dictatorship.”  

In contrast, John Locke, contemporary to Hobbes, wrote in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, that all humans were created equal and should therefore be guaranteed life, liberty, and property to ensure we grew to be good people.  

He called humans a “tabula rasa,” a blank slate. He believed we were shaped by our environments, and that if we could provide basic necessities and a good society to grow in, we were essentially much more likely to be strong, healthy, happy individuals prepared to pay it forward by contributing in good ways to society.  

If Locke’s theory sounds familiar, it is because the founding fathers of the United States basically borrowed, and corrupted, his theory.  

Jefferson took Locke’s words and changed them in the Declaration of Independence to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  

It is silly to me that we are still having this debate.  

Obviously, it is both. Humans are born equal, of course. But we do also clearly come into this life with our innate personalities, and spiritual set of intentions. Then, we are influenced by our surroundings and the people in our lives who have the strongest influence over us.  

Performing Shadow Work: Spirit and Story 


Thus, to begin a cleanse on yourself, on a space, or on an item, you will need to do shadow work around both the nature and the nurture aspects.  

If it is you, or another person, you will have to dive deep into the nature of the person.  

You can use myriad divination tools for this: numerology, astrology, tarot, etc.  

Explore the basic set of intentions the person arrived with, which will be directly related to their astrological sign, their life path number, and the life path cards you pull in a tarot reading.  

Meditation is essential to shadow work on a person as you need to separate the nature – the spirit – from the nurture – the story.  

Spirit is always good, loving, detached, and nonjudgmental. So all spirit work will find your clean and clear intentions, what you hoped to learn in this lifetime, how you intended to expand.  

The stories are what either support the spirit or challenge it. With supporting stories, you can build on them. With challenging stories, you must use them to move forward, essentially turning roadblocks into stepping stones.  

Remember, the universe always has your back. So even when horrible things happen in your life, they can be used as lessons, seen as gifts for growth.  

There is an intense and often extremely difficult process of surrendering your will to that of the divine during the shadow work that leads up to a cleanse.  

Your ego will certainly get in the way and demand control. And the more you allow your ego to lead, the more mired you will find yourself in those challenges that must ultimately teach you to stop giving the reigns of your life to a limited view ego.  

If it is an object or space you are cleansing, the shadow work of lower vibrational energies will be a bit simpler. Investigate and understand the history of the item or space as best you can, and work to undo, or support, the story around it.  

What is the origin of the object or space? What other people were involved? What are your hopes for its future? Sit with the object or in the space and work through all of these questions, setting your own intentions for the future.  

Meditate on it.  

Now, the cleansing can begin.  

Cleansing Rituals with Incense 

  1. Physically Clean 

The first step in any cleanse, object, space, or person, is to physically clean it. It’s a powerful tool to release stagnant energy. I like to clean my whole house once a week, then practice burning incense for the day to cleanse the space.  

I like to do the same with my body, as a spiritual practice, taking a long hot bath or shower that includes a face mask, fresh smelling soap, gospel music or light jazz, and lit candles.  

The idea is to make sure the object you plan to imbue with a spiritual cleanse is physically prepared.  

Soap and water are critical in this step, and you are meeting your water element need.  

  1. Fresh Air 

Open the windows or stand outside your physical space for your cleanse.  

One of the best memes I’ve ever seen on the internet is one that makes fun of witches who try to sage their whole house with the windows closed.  

“The demons are running around banging against windows and walls while you’re chasing them with sage. If you want to clear them out, you have to open the doors and windows!”  

It still cracks me up years later.  

Now, obviously, demons are not real, at least not literally. But it is true that if you are trying to cleanse and clear a space or a person, fresh air is essential to release the incense smoke.  

Now you have met your air element need and you’re in feng shui compliance. If you are outside in fresh air, you are also meeting your earth element need.  

  1. Pick Your Fragrant Herb and Light Incense 

The best way to choose the best incense is to align with your fragrance.

7 different forms of incense for cleansing are:  


Clove is perfect for cleansing negative energies and keeping them away.  


Cedar is a super strong smell and is great for clearing negative energy outside the house. Burn it near and open window.  


Lavender is for healing, so if you have been hurt or a space has been damaged, this is your fragrance.  


Myrrh is great for cleansing negative relationship energy. It allows you to release your attachment to another person.  


Sandalwood is a stress reliever. A light fragrance that encourages openness, use this fragrance to bring peace of mind.  


Eucalyptus is a lung supporter, so burn this one when you need to remind yourself to just breathe. “Ommmmmmmmm.”  


Pine is specific for colder weather cleansing and should be used to create warm and cozy refuges from the stark chill outside, literal or metaphorical.  

When you light your incense, you are meeting your fire element need.  

  1. Set Intentions 

Now, to complete the circle, you must set your intentions as to how you plan to move forward in this newly cleansed state.  

Ground yourself, meeting your earth element need, place both feet on the floor, and express in words, three times, how you expect this object, space, or body to perform in the future.  

Setting intentions from a clean, clear space is probably the most powerful way to set intentions, and so you can expect your magic to be pure.  

And as you will it, so mote it be.  

Happy Manifesting!